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The color of butter
What's in the box?
Everything around her is gentle yellow. The color of butter. The sky is in its most pure form, soft, non-threatening and uniform. She is four years old, when colors are closer to feelings than wavelengths of the light spectrum.
She opens the door to a storage shack. On both sides are stacks of boxes of all sizes and colors. Some boxes are colorful and large. Other boxes are dull and small. The girl understands that she is allowed to pick one box. Only one.
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She remembers a fairy tale about a girl who was allowed to choose a box. In the story the girl had chosen the smallest and ugliest box because someone had told her that it would hold something wonderful and important. The largest and most beautiful box would hold something horrible.
The girl walks slowly along the walkway. She notices several small boxes and wonders which one is the ugliest. It is easy for her to ignore the large and pretty ones. Then, tucked behind a few mid-sized pretty boxes, she notices a little and insignificant box. So small that she can hold it with one hand. This is the one, she is certain of it.
She must walk back outside to open the box. That is also something she understands. She is not permitted to exchange the box once she has chosen it. She holds the thin rectangular box and walks out. She stops below a tree and opens it.
The woman scrolls through the 30 000 photos on her phone. She holds it lightly in her hand while the right index finger moves up and down in rapid strokes. She looks for it. It will come to her when she sees it. There is no word for it yet. This is the first time she has tried looking for it in her own photos.
The first image is a hibiscus flower against a blue sky. Then a sunset over Bel Air. Next, her old and slumped over teddy bear. A Pacman game. A fire hydrant. Sunrise over the Atlantic. Sunlight reflecting off the cliffs of Cambria. A restaurant in Florence. Broken rose petals in a bowl.
She looks at the colorful boxes on the screen and sees it. She puts them in a folder and calls it ‘Yellow.’ She is not content. Something is beyond her reach.
She studies each photo. It’s easy for her to ignore the obvious wrong ones. She looks for a particular kind of yellow. A hue difficult to describe. A color she’s never experienced yet firmly believes exists. A gentle and kind yellow.
The last photo. There, in the desert sunset’s last gasp, she sees a fragment of it. Almost like the color of butter.
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