by J. Elis Morgan
My mother’s voice is the sound of blue.
It isn’t always a clear blue. Sometimes it claws like heat lightning jagging across a night sky. When she speaks, I have to open my eyes. Sapphire strikes, irradiating the darkness around me.
The doctors named my disorder synesthesia. It’s the colored hue that trails from people’s voices. Sometimes gold, sometimes green; luminous as a rainbow. No one understands. How could they? It’s mine and mine alone.
The house smells of cinnamon today, my mother’s favorite tea. I visit her more often. She’s not always strong, but now she lifts a petunia from its pot, roots dangling, and replants it. Look at that. Her hands don’t even tremble.
“Are you prepared?” She pats the soil gently.
The day grays around me until all I see are shadows. A touch of red snags my words. “Why didn’t you choose chemo? Everybody does.”
Everybody. They want to live. What is wrong with her?
She pauses. A petal drifts downward. “I have my reasons.”
“Explain why. Just help me understand.”
The air glistens with her sigh. “Tell me you’re ready,” is her only reply.
I’m left with glowing anger. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
She nods, and clips dead blossoms from the stem.
Yet when the day arrives, I sift through my mother’s things. I rage. I cry. There’s no such thing as being ready. Around me, people murmur. The rainbow arcs. Synesthesia. It is emerald and ruby and diamond.
It is the absence of blue.