Her sorrow is white. Like the sky before a storm, still. Like the blindness that follows staring into light, or the head rush that punishes a body for breaking stillness. Her room is careful and imposed imprisonment. She meant to put a painting on the wall behind the headboard. Something to puncture the starkness. A punch of crimson or a poster of the bridge—her tribute to the city that raised her. Secretly, it is not the image of the bridge at all that brings her comfort, but the headlights on the cars as they cross the bay. Shining constellations that bring her home again. But there is no kiss of color, no golden gate. Just a wall that shivers in silence and a bed that reminds her of war. Egyptian cotton, once strangled by restless limbs, now hangs over the bed frame like loose skin. The emptiness of unmade sheets is a mundane, yet sudden tragedy. Once noticed, the particulars of the room can make her feel hollow without warning. Unhinged, gaping…there is no, “home again.”
She lights candles every night, for beauty. For the memory of reverence: a little girl, in uniform and plaits, pushing a dollar bill into a wooden box, lighting a match with the flame of another candle, gingerly transferring her borrowed fire to another tired wick, then kneeling, hands interlocked, waiting for the prayer to come. Years ago, in a sleepy chapel, she learned that a vestibule is a place where people pass through and deposit their longing. The smell of melting wax is welcome grief. Smoke, a familiar ghost.
There are rituals and then there is this space of blank walls and empty insides. White, like things taken away. Like heat on the skin, just before nerves process pain. Her white is a quiet violence for which she imbibes blame. Is it such a bad thing? She asks herself. To drown in the flame of a candle or melt in the shade of a memory? To climb out of her chaos is too much work. So she says, with words that now mold to her lips effortlessly, “another day.” Another day.