In my crayon box, yellow always nestled next to orange, to the left of green. Ever since I was introduced to Roy G. Biv in the third grade, I took particular pride in lining up my Crayolas in their proper order. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (which was really just a fancy name to keep you from knowing you had two blues in your box), and violet.
Yellow always stayed sharp. It was never broken by careless fingers that pressed down too hard in the wrong place. It kept its pungent, waxen odor longer than the rest of the colors, and it never got its perfect, construction paper wrapper peeled down too far. Yellow was reserved mostly for coloring mammoth, out-of-proportion suns over two-dimensional houses drawn with four windows and a door.
But it didn’t seem fair to me to leave yellow so neglected. It really was quite a decent color, as far as colors were concerned. It was not given to emotional outbursts like red, nor was it brooding and proud like purple. Yellow was less eccentric than orange, but not embarrassed to be related. It kept good company with blue.
The more I thought about it, the more I began to feel sorry for yellow, although it was strange to feel sorry for so cheerful a color. Yellow practically laughed out loud. And it danced, too, disrupting the solitude of shadows and the quiet of summer afternoons. It didn’t seem right for yellow to be still.
So I began to use yellow to color everything. It became the porch swings on my two-dimensional houses and the lazy, lumbering bumblebees in my coloring book garden. I could almost hear them buzzing through molasses minutes on bodies too big for their wings. Yellow became the quilt drawn up on rainy Saturday mornings, for it seemed to me that yellow was the feeling of being awake but not up. Yellow was the petals, never the thorns, in the flowers I drew, and the glow of the fire but never the flame. It seemed to me that yellow should warm, not burn.
Over time, the yellow in my crayon box began to slip between the orange and the green until I had to dump out the whole box to find it. It was no longer sharp, and the construction paper wrapper had long been discarded altogether. I had colored yellow right into the paper. But I didn’t mind. I thought to myself that yellow should be just that way, colored into everything, and not reserved just for mammoth suns drawn over two-dimensional houses.