hell oh stranger

Seven Colours Of Sara: Yellow

She died in the winter. There was some foolish, naive part of him that thought she might come back in the spring. Life always returned then; all colours were reestablished, all hope restored.

For him, those cold, waiting months had been beyond bleak. Even when the sun returned, it was as though his eyes were tinted. He just couldn’t see the light. Couldn’t find the taste in food, when he brought himself to eat. Couldn’t dream. That was the worst part. The whispered blow. That he couldn’t even dream her when he slept, no matter how hard he tried. And he always woke up sweating. Sweating or screaming.

That spring he saw yellow. For a moment, his heart skipped a beat, but it wasn’t the yellow of her hair, or the yellow of her favourite flower (daisies—God, she’d loved daisies). It was the yellow of a manila envelope.

Divorce papers.

Hopper had taken them. He’d barely deigned to touch them before throwing them on the kitchen table; hearing the smack of the heavy stack slapping against the wood. Then he’d walked away.

Four months. That was all it took for Diane. She’d thrown him out; after one too many beers, she’d said, bawling in the way she hadn’t when Sara had died. It was like everything had come rushing out of her at once; everything she’d held back. And he’d stood there in the middle of their living room dressed in the same sweats he’d worn for weeks, taking it all like some impenetrable dam.

She had screamed. Thrown shit at him that she’d once held at value (china plates, those little figurines from her mother’s house, books with flowers still pressed into them that flew out after impacting his chest and cracked in half). And cried. Cried until her makeup looked like dirt falling off her face.

At least she was wearing any.

So he’d packed a bag and drove down to Indiana. Spent a couple of months with his cousin, saved up. Now he had a place. In Hawkins, of course, because there was nowhere else to go. His inner compass had been vandalised until the only direction it pointed was home.

Except that was a lie. Home was a graveyard on the outskirts of the city, where his daughter’s gravestone had been placed under the boughs of a willow tree.

Six days he’d spent fixing up this piece of shit house. Putting in carpet, painting the walls, building a goddamned dresser so he had a place to put his clothes. He slept on a boxspring rather than a mattress, which had to be the most uncomfortable thing he’d ever done. But he couldn’t feel the pain. Nothing compared to the ripping he felt in his chest when he thought of her. When something reminded him of her.

And that ripping… like something inside of him was tearing his chest in two with a knife… it never went away. Everything was a dull throb next to that. His chest was a void and his heart wasn’t even there at this point.

He’d given it to her—for safekeeping. He’d stood at her bedside and held her frail hand which was lined with veins, and kissed her forehead. And then he’d walked away. He couldn’t watch. The edges of the world were fuzzy and his body was heaving and he would not watch his daughter die. The only good thing in the world he’d had. He could not watch her go.

Instead he’d sat on a stairwell and cried. He was a broken man who hadn’t been given the chance to break. The wind had swept his feet from under him, taken away his balance, taken away his sanity.

Taken away his little girl.

The carpet, he noticed now, laying on his back against it, was white. Why he’d chosen white carpet was beyond him. But a rainbow stood out against it from the light shining in through the window, through the glass of whiskey at his right hand.

She’d had a prism in her room. Hanging from a hook so that, whenever the sun was out, there was always a rainbow on her wall to admire. She would have loved this one, he thought, eyes burning.

He looked away, unable to stand the sight. A hot tear fell down his cheek, which made everything so much worse. Made him so much weaker. Took away the dam and let the water fall, rush, destroy. He destroyed.

Suddenly he was sobbing. Clawing at the carpet. At that stupid fucking rainbow, because he hadn’t been able to save her, and that wasn’t fair. He’d promised—after every horror movie and scary story and goodnight kiss—he’d promised. To always protect her. To always guide her and love her.

He hadn’t loved her enough to see her die.

These heaving, gut twisting, breath stealing sobs exhausted him. She was gone. He knew that. Gone, and she’d died alone, and he’d died that day, too.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

There was fire in his lungs. But what came next made it burn so heatedly he gasped.

Daddy. Daddy, don’t cry.

Hopper managed to sit up. Managed just that, and that alone, because that was all he needed to know he wasn’t dreaming.


Daddy! It’s dark here.

Dark. Hopper wiped his eyes, burying the heels of his palms into them, and laughing, because all he could do was marvel at how mad he’d become, and think how much he’d like a smoke just about then.

“It’s dark here, too,” he said, to the ground through the gap in his legs. “So dark without you, baby. Like there’s no sun.”

She wasn’t here. He wasn’t talking to her. That wasn’t real. It was torment. And it hurt too much for words.

“I miss you,” he told her. “Every day. Daddy misses his baby, okay? You hear me? He misses you so, so much. And I’m sorry–I’m sorry, Sara—” the tears were spilling out so fast he couldn’t catch them. “I couldn’t handle it. But it wasn’t fair for you to… it wasn’t fair at all.”

There was nothing. No response from his deluded mind. A part of him was let down, because he’d half expected something more. And once again he was reminded that his little daughter who hadn’t even reached seven years old was dead and gone and buried, and he would never see her again.

He sat there for a moment, crying away the last of it all, crying for her. Cursing the whole world for taking her away.

Hopper drew in a deep breath and stood. The sun was hot on his back, and he could feel it, at least. He reached for the pack of smokes on his mantelpiece, took them, unwrapped them carefully. Lung cancer. That’s what had killed her. Hopper slid out a cigarette and placed it between his dry, cracked lips.

“I’m on my way, baby,” he said, and lit up.