She is wearing one of her ‘cover-up’ t-shirts; those pieces of clothing that she is convinced hide the things she wants hidden.
The soft, drooping mounds with tips that burn holes in my chest every time we dance.
The heart that has been broken and put back together again by the same ancient culprit-love.
The ripples on an otherwise smooth belly – a testament to how nothing escapes the law of gravity, how nothing escapes time
She is convinced that clothes can conceal these secrets, that mere cotton can stand between her and a man that knows what he wants, that all the things she wants hidden can be completely cloaked by silk and wool.
Her t-shirts come in different colors.
Yellow for good days. For days spent idling away in bed; me with one hand up her shirt, tracing my way into the hidden recesses of her heart. Yellow for a woman named after gold, yellow for her smile that is sunshine and tastes like sweet lemons.
Red for in-between days. For days when there is blood, love and fire. For days when love is hard to do but we do it anyway.
Gray for the cloudy days. For the days when she hides under more than just t-shirts, days when I am the enemy, a mere thief who is trying to break through enemy lines and into her heart. Gray for storm clouds that block the sunshine.
“Can we take off the t-shirt” I ask on yellow days.
“Why? Wouldn’t you rather take some more revealing off?” She winks, smiling the answer I want to hear.
“Can we take off the t-shirt?” I ask on other days.
Red days are tougher than yellow days but the t-shirts eventually find their way to the floor too.The gray days are the days that I curse him; the man that had her heart first. Gray days are the days that I curse myself too; for not getting here on time, for waiting till the autumn of my life to find the woman I was meant to spend spring and summer with.
I fell in love with Wuraola on a yellow day, married her on a red day and I will never leave her even if all she has left are days the color of her graying hair.
Lately though, there have been more gray days than any other and even as we sit here drinking wine and smiling at each other, I am not still sure what day today will turn out to be.
She is wearing a color I have never seen her in. It suits her, this color. It mutes the age that is beginning to show up on her skin. It helps me imagine what she might have looked like as a young woman. It is a good color but I’d rather have her naked. I haven’t seen her naked in a while.
The new t-shirt also fits better than all of the other shirts; I can easily make out the ravages of time. She doesn’t seem to be trying to hide anything with this one.
“Nice t-shirt” I say to her.
She says nothing, sips some more wine and smiles coquettishly at me from beneath the dregs of her wine glass.
“What are we celebrating again?” I ask . She is sitting across from me, her small frame swallowed up by our sofa.
The sofa is the only thing in this house that is jointly ours. Everything else are mementos from the lives we lived previously, without each other. We haven’t gotten around to redecorating even though it has been 6 months since we started living together. We keep butting heads over colors.
I like it when she sits on our red sofa. I like it even better when she is naked on it and I cannot tell where my love begins and hers, ends.
“Your nipples are at attention,” I say when she ignores my question.
I dodge the brown throw pillow that she directs at my head and it tears open, unleashing the God-knows-what material it was stuffed with. I have never liked that color anyways – maybe we can buy nicer colored pillows the next yellow day that comes around.
“Look what you have made me do now. You are such a dirty old man.”
The silvery ball of curly hair on her head is shaking with laughter and her eyes are twinkling. She is happier than I have seen her in a long time but I am still not sure what color today is.
Pink is the color of this new t-shirt. It is also the color of scar tissue, the color of wounds that are ready to begin healing, the color of quiet, unconditional love, the color of hope…
She finishes her wine and gets up from the sofa. She walks towards me slowly and deliberately. I do not have to ask to take off this t-shirt.
When our hearts are back to beating out their normal rhythm, she tells me about the lump she found last month.
“The results came back today. The lump is benign.” She says.
“You tell me now?” I ask incredulously.
“I didn’t want to scare you,” She says.
“You scare me every day already but do you see me acting scared?”
She laughs again, that tinkle that I could hear anywhere, even in my grave and my heart would beat faster.
“I got you a pink t-shirt too. I know it’s a girly color but you can wear it indoors…”
“And the doctor is absolutely sure that the lump is benign, right? We can do more tests just to be sure…” I interrupt.
“Yes, yes he is sure. We are ‘in the pink’! ”
“Then I will wear a thousand pink shirts anywhere, anytime.”
“As you should, ” she says, just in case I had any doubts about who is queen and what colors her knight will be wearing.
We laugh and she falls asleep. I stay up a little longer to silently say my thanks for this new color in our lives; it could easily have been black, the color of mourning or some more gray. I say my thanks for pink days, for benign lumps, for wounds that are ready to heal, and lastly, for the extra time that I have been given, with the woman that is my rainbow.
Song of day: Beautiful Nubia – What a Feeeling