Jake was seven before he believed in rainbows. After a storm, his mother would sometimes lead him to the porch and point a long finger at the sky. “Look at the colors,” she would say. “Aren’t they beautiful?”
And he would look, squinting until his eyes watered from the sun peeking behind once gravid clouds. He didn’t understand her game, but he would play along anyway, because she was his mother, his all.
“Yeah,” he would reply. “Beautiful.”
It had taken multiple trips to see a man with cards that flashed in confusing patterns before he understood it wasn’t a game at all. His mother held him against her gray flowered dress as he cried, mourning his blindness to a bit of magic in the world.
It wasn’t until years later, standing on another porch with his new wife, that he let himself think of rainbows again. He felt a twist in his chest as the woman in his arms looked up at the sky, drawing pleasure from something he would never understand.
And then she kissed his wrist and began to speak.
It was an arc of bright bands, she said, as if God had brushed trails of light against the sky. Red was the first, and in it was the tartness of a raspberry and the savage snap of a distant wildfire. Orange was next, brought to life in the sweating excitement of a Marti Gras night, followed quickly by yellow, which was the sunlit scent of fresh hay. Blue was the trickiest, she cautioned, for it could be so many things. Right now, though, it could only be the sweet slide of his calloused fingers against her skin, gradually darkening to the sandpaper grind of beach sand in the aftermath of a storm.
As she spoke, the knot in his heart fell away. His eyes still only saw shades of gray, but in his soul a picture had unfurled; something that he could touch, taste and wrap around himself like a blanket. And for the first time, he saw that it was beautiful.
Sarah Wilson lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where she writes in her free time and attempts to dodge the moose.
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Is Rah El?: Before time itself…. The People lived a simple life; there was no need to Think, and so there was no Thought. This was Paradise ~ “Is Rah El?” by Max Stockinger
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