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The Edge of Yellow
I peer out from the front of my shelter and see yellow: yellow grass, yellow trees with yellow fruit, and yellow people leading yellow kleiv. I almost forgot! — the sky is yellow, but a vastly different shade in comparison to the plants and animals.
I am lying defeated on my cadaverous spine, yet awkwardly manage to roll up the twined flap which covers the opening to my shelter, and pull straps over the bristly roll of material to secure it in place. Now I can see my yard much clearer — the place where I had spent my entire life.
For a second I had had a trifling hope to see not-yellow… but alas: more yellow.
I roll laboriously onto my front and watch the world spin around dizzy. The apex of a distant grass-hill stays in the centre of my vision, doesn’t blur with the rest of the scene. The hill is called Yellows-Edge… but I don’t know why. Maybe it is literal. Maybe it divulges another colour. I am too tired to find out now, too old. I lay now on my front, delaying the inevitable start of day.
A yellow star rises over Yellows-Edge, and things just get brighter: relentlessly more yellow. I simply cannot lay here any longer, and must do my job if I wish to remain a resident of Juane. Must “pull my weight”, as they say. So I employ my wiry yellow arms to raise my yellow body from the yellow floor.
The checklist: basket, knife, juice. The knife is in the basket… but the juice? — it has rolled into the corner of my shelter and some of it has spilt onto the rough insulation layer. And my knife — it grows blunter with each passing day. I barely summon the enthusiasm necessary to keep its edge.
I almost walk out of my shelter without my loin-cloth! — and now crouch on my mat with my wrinkling genitals drooping onto its itchy surface. The thick bith-feather doona was a spring cloud in comparison. I lazily pull on my loin-cloth, and drag my yellow ass out my shelter door.
I wish there was someone to shout at for making everything so damn yellow.
Work is the same as it ever was. I walk, lamely, on the left side of the citron trees cutting pulsing, fleshy fruit from thick branches riddled with puncturing thorns. On the other side of the citron row, my colleague, Lal, catches up to my grim pace. She is still young, still enthusiastic, still infatuated with the yellowness of it all.
“You’re falling behind Prem, getting old… are old. They’ll bury you under a citron tree in the new row if you don’t start pulling your weight,” Lal badgers me. She is imprudent and young, but she is right. She takes a sportive swig of her juice. The juice is squeezed from citron fruit. My tribe eats and drinks citron fruit.
I force my stringy muscles to reach. I reach high, and gnaw through thick branch with my knife, twist off the fruit. I reach low and basket the fruit.
Maybe I would be better off decomposing in the yellow soil? Was I not already smothered in yellows blush?
The day crawls on. I fill three baskets: five less than average.
Night approaches, and bioluminescent critters fill the sky. Between them, and a rough spit of yellow stars, the world remains a pungent shade of yellow… but darker. Night is somewhat of a relief… but barely.
The tribe dances by the ghostly yellow hue of a citron tree bonfire. They sing in unison:
Under the Edge of Yellow, under the flying night sky.
We dance a colour eternal, we dance a colour known.
We dance to the light of day come.
Bath us, bring with the blaze of day.
Fill us with the fruits of your labour.
… Something like that. (The language seems to be the only thing that does ever change.)
I crawl into the soothing embrace of my thick bith-feather doona. My old bones shudder with the inevitable rise of day.
I dream of Yellows-Edge and the perimeter of steep grass-hills which connect it and encircle our village. I float to the Edge and strain my twisted neck to gain a view of its far side. So close — —
I wake up to the hissing of a kleiv.
The kleiv drags me by my flappy yellow ass out of my bith-feather doona and across my itching mat through my rectangular shelter door. I make out, in my delirium, a circle of my tribesmen chanting some nonsense about yellow. They each restrain a kleiv. I feel the vicious jaw of the kleiv that had dragged me clamp onto my foot. I feel the tear of skin, the crunch and splinter of bone. The gnarly carnivorous quadruped begins pulling me through the circle of tribesmen. I now have only two toes on my right foot — torn and exposed.
I hear a female voice over the tribesmen’s banter: “I told you, old man!”
I am dragged helplessly into a yellow-soil ditch. My yellow blood spills through the decline, mixing in a rank mess of texture and grit. Yellow sand rains scattered and loose upon my yellow head. It is almost as dark as the yellow sky.
The soil and sky endorse each other’s yellowness as they smother the three of my dry, old eyes. It is difficult to tell which is which now. It was all I had ever seen.
I roll laboriously onto my front and watch the world spin around dizzy. For a second I had had a trifling hope to see not-yellow… but alas: more yellow. I wish there was someone to shout at for making everything so damn yellow.