Some Days Are Yellow
– Nonfiction by Rebecca Haas –
Winner of the Dreamers Flash Fiction and Nonfiction Contest.
Some days are yellow, some are blue. I know by heart my two-year-old’s favorite Dr. Seuss book and the rhymes repeat in my mind, maddening, as I drive my sister south on I-5 to a 30 day stay in rehab. This day is yellow and blue, mid-June, cloudless, soaring, framed, now, in dread. Black.
Earlier, I’d dropped my son at day care, arrived at the office, sat down in front of the screen, ready to be productive, prepared for a happy day, a yellow day.
The phone rang. “Beck,” my sister said. “Can you take me to rehab? In Eugene?” She was not crying. She was on the other side of that.
“When?” I asked.
“As soon as you can get here.”
Remember the time she called to tell you she came home from school and Mom was in her bed naked with some strange guy? Remember the time that little shit, the son of Dad’s boss, made her give him a blow job in the basement? Remember that time she snuck booze at one of your parties and tripped down the front steps scraping the skin off both knees?
My many colored days. One color, then crash, another. September 11 was like that. Blue sky, black smoke. There was the day my best friend texted, telling me the tumors on her ovaries were cancer. I was in the garden, cutting roses. Pink. A celebratory weekend with friends at Mt. Hood, the sudden gush of blood, my second miscarriage. Red.
My sister, eight years younger, five inches taller, infinitely more everything than I am, sits in the passenger seat, her clothes filthy and slept-in, smelling of armpit and stale beer. Later, I’d learn she’d blacked out on the coffee table. Woke with her head on the phone book, opened to the page for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, literally on her knees.
On Purple Days, I’m sad. I groan. She lights a cigarette. In a few hours when I pick up my son, he will be exposed to these chemicals, this smell.
When I entered her apartment for the first time in months, her addiction, a stealthy roommate, met me at the door. Piles of un-opened mail, a mountain of cigarette butts dumped in the corner of the kitchen floor. Rows of empty Jack Daniels bottles. She gulped a can of beer and tossed it in the sink. “Let’s go.”
I turn on some music and she winces, shakes her head. I turn it off. She lights another cigarette. I steer the car off the highway, onto the shoulder. “Can you please smoke outside?”
She slams the car door shut behind her.
Remember when she’d mess up and call you Mommy? Remember scuba diving topless through swarms of jellyfish in the Bahamas? Remember her face the first time she saw your newborn son?
Get out of the car. Go over and hug her. You’re my yellow, my blue, my purple, my pink. Sister, you’re my rainbow.
About the Author – Rebecca Haas
Rebecca Haas has worked as a journalist and public relations executive for nearly twenty years. Her fiction and creative non-fiction stories have been published in The New Ohio Review, Into the Void, The Oleander Review and performed by Liars League PDX at Literary Arts in Portland, Oregon. She lives in Portland with her husband and three children.
**This story by Rebecca Haas tied for first place in the 2019 Flash Fiction and Nonfiction Contest with “Fishing” by Sarah Blanchard.
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