Mr. Astronaut’s Yellow Mourning by Sarah Senese

Mr. Astronaut walked up to the gravestone. He zipped his jacket to the bottom of his chin and stood there, shivering, surrounded by dead winter grass and epitaphs. Mr. Astronaut considered the fact that he shouldn’t be so cold seeing as the majority of his time was spent in space where, clearly, more than a jacket was needed. But this kind of cold was different than the cold of space. The kind of cold Mr. Astronaut felt in space was desolate, lonely—the kind that emptied your ears of human sounds and made a man long for the blue marble that floated underneath.

The kind of cold Mr. Astronaut felt at this moment was real and alive. It crept within every bit of his being and reminded him how difficult it was to stand. Usually he would just float.

He shuffled his feet a bit, shifting around the pebbles that resided next to the gravestone. Mr. Astronaut liked the way that this particular cemetery felt when he stood right in the center of it. He liked being in the center of things. He liked floating in the main hold of his space station which drifted aimlessly about the center of a little solar system, which drifted precariously in his own center of a big, big universe.

Mr. Astronaut hadn’t figured out how he felt about people, though. He didn’t like being in the center of people, didn’t like big crowds or surprise parties, didn’t like lines at the supermarket or the DMV. Mr. Astronaut would rather have the solitary of space than the complication of earth. He was a simple man.

The air became a little sharper and the coolness of winter began to make his eyes sting and his lungs contract in pain. Mr. Astronaut enjoyed the recycled air that comfortably surrounded him in the space station. It was always warm and always comfortable. Comfortable.

Taking a few steps towards the headstone, Mr. Astronaut placed his hand on the smooth, new, untouched top of the grave. It felt cold and nice to the touch. His hands were always clammy. Mr. Astronaut was constantly in a place between the fear of frost and the nature of heat. Usually he would just float. You couldn’t feel anything when you were floating.

He decided to put one of the pebbles on top of the grave. People did that. At least, Mr. Astronaut heard that people did that. It had been awhile since he had an interaction with another person.

Standing in the exact center of the St. Bartholomew’s cemetery, Mr. Astronaut realized that it was exactly five months since he had returned to the big, blue marble. He never understood why it was called the big, blue marble. If the earth was a marble, it would also be green and brown and white and it would contain billions of people. It would be a beautiful marble, sure, but not just blue. Not just blue.

But right now, in the chill of the approaching night and in the exact center of St. Bartholomew’s cemetery, everything seemed yellow. Mr. Astronaut barely felt yellow.

He could feel the colors of the marble alright, but not yellow. There was barely any yellow on the marble. He liked the way blue felt—blue reminded Mr. Astronaut of floating beside the emptiness of the sky and the funny feeling he got all around his head and his legs when he tried to remember what swimming felt like. The brown was comforting. Mr. Astronaut liked brown because it was the color of his hair and the color of the hair of the woman he loves and it reminded him of big trees and standing in the center of something. He liked trees. Trees made Mr. Astronaut feel very, very small. And he liked that.

Green was special to him. Green reminded him of soft grass and wide open spaces and birthday cakes with frosting and how it feels to laugh and garbage cans being dragged down a driveway and candles that smell like a cool breeze. Green was simple. Green was simple and carefree and made Mr. Astronaut very happy.

But as the sun let its last rays lick St. Bartholomew’s cemetery, Mr. Astronaut felt less happy. He was standing in the exact center under the safety of the sky and everything was going yellow, yellow and unfamiliar. It was alien and confusing and didn’t remind him of anything but her hair and the way her eyes became honey when the sun shone just right on them and the way her skin became jaundiced when the medicine became too much for her little body.

It was about a year ago. Mr. Astronaut looked down at the gravestone and felt so much yellow within him that he began to sob. He moved back to look at the epitaph on the headstone and felt so much yellow that the dark, dark, world around him shone bright and blinding.

It was about a year ago when she was diagnosed. The beautiful brown-haired woman that he loves broke with the news. His little girl with the yellow honey eyes and the yellow hair and seven months later, her yellow skin. A beautiful, plump, healthy little girl whose eyes were a color Mr. Astronaut was unfamiliar with but felt like home. The honey yellow eyes that made him long for yellow when he floated above the blue (and brown and green) marble. The radiating yellow sunshine little girl who stared at Mr. Astronaut with the most forlorn of honey yellow eyes when he told her that he had to float back up to the safety of the stars.

It was exactly five months ago that Mr. Astronaut heard the voice of his brown-haired love crack on the radio transmitter. He had not felt yellow in months. Now the sky became yellow, and his shoes became yellow, and his soul became painted with that unfamiliar color that felt like home and honey and his little girl.

In the exact center of St. Bartholomew’s cemetery, Mr. Astronaut stared at a headstone roughly five months old. It was bright under the moonlight. Almost yellow. Before turning around and trudging his earthly steps, he read the epitaph one more time. It read: My Little Yellow Darling.

When Mr. Astronaut reached the edge of St. Bartholomew’s cemetery, he looked up towards the big, black nothingness that stretched out above his head. There was the familiar moon and some familiar stars, but suddenly his world didn’t exist with the familiar. His world didn’t exist with the space station and the nothingness, didn’t exist with the recycled air or the center of things. His world was no longer blue and green and brown, but yellow—a color that felt unfamiliar yet somehow like home.

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