Down in Yellow

Kyle Lung

Her name was Georgina, I know that. I used to pass her in the stairwell to the church basement when Id be coming up from grief counseling and shed be going down to AA. I knew her from this fracas at the grocery store, when a guy knocked a bottle of wine off the top shelf and it like, landed on her baby, who was sleeping in the stroller. This was a little while ago, before my girl left, and Ive forgotten a lot since then, but there was a good chance the pinot noirhit off my hand before it hit the babys chest, which made me feel bad, but not as bad as the baby. The whole thing went down because of an argument between her and a guy who cant remember movies. They were arguing about the pollution coming in from the new city; about half of us think it makes you forgetful with details and memories, stuff like who-when-where-why, so yeah. I know I said it was a little whileago, but it mightve been a while.

This was at Yellow Market. I remember the lines were long that day, and that Georgina had dirt on her shins and knuckles from gardening in the garden. I started paying attention when she turned to the guy and said something like, So here, tell me the director of your favorite movie, go ahead.

Guys like, Theres a difference between memory loss and just not being a movie buff.He was a young guy, big kid, in those sunglasses with reflecting-lenses that make it look like youre looking at yourself.                  

“Let’s start with the basicsshe said. Whats your favorite movie?Georgina was small but shed argue big.

You know. I keep wanting to say its Momento, but thats not it. It definitely begins with an ‘M’ though.

She laughed through her nose. And you think we still have our heads? You cant even remember the name of a movie you like. This isn’t trivia, it’s more personal than that.

I thought that was a killer line, more personal than that, so I chimed in, like an idiot, said, One point for the missus, bud.

Then Georgie really got going, talking fast, giving it to the guy like, I mean next week Ill ask what color eyes ya got, and youll look at me like I wanna know if Pluto spins a different way than it turns. Tell me, is forgetting a way to be or a thing you do? Im all ears, but the other day I was driving down Main, thinking, didnt the park used to have slides? Didnt the creek used to have ducks? I mean it feels wrong, and if were all forgetting our ass from our elbow, whos right? Would I know right if it was right here? And look at our beloved Yellow Market, a paradigm of normalcy, until they build a new city and now we got robots for cashiers and booze for produce. Soon theyll buy the whole town, and how convenient, were too dumb to be mad.

After that she turned away like she was done with it, but the guy had this big smile on his face, pushing his sunglasses up with his cheeks. And thats when he reached over the stroller to the wine and yeah, the bad thing happened.

A few weeks after the thing with movie guy, I saw Georgie in the Market with an empty stroller. Couldve been months though, who knows. This wouldve been after my girl left, cause I thought Georgie was pretty, so I did my old classic move—ring glancing—which Id stopped when I bought my last girl a ring. But in the market that day, I asked her how the babys doing, and what she said stuck with me: For this, little can be done, but from this, much can come.She said thats what the doctor told her. I didnt know what to say to that, so I said Id been meaning to tell her that for me its the opposite: how I know Paul Thomas Anderson directed my favorite movie, but I dont know what the movies called. I thought it was just grocery store small talk, but then she started crying, face in my chest, snot on my shirt, whole deal. Mightve been around then I told her to come to Group Grief Counseling with me on Wednesdays, down at Yellow Chapel. I said, “GGC’s free and Ive been going since my girl left, and it might only help a little, but sometimes a littles a lot.

Later, she showed up to counseling with a box of donuts in that empty stroller. Group was same as usual, fifteen or twenty of us sitting in a squarish oval, drinking Lipton, there to listen. One of us mustve sat next to the other cause I remember whispering to her that you can tell whos not going through much cause theyre the ones who talk most. I told her for a while the meetingsd been getting less sad—not that there were balloons and lap dances now—just that when its time to share, nobody does, which might have an effect on the sense of like, communal suffering.But I remember what Georgie said that night, cause when the guy moderating asked what brought her in, she said, You know, I dont really know. But it feels like somethings missing. It feels like somethings off. Few times a day I flinch for a cigarette and I dont even smoke. I go to call someone and I dont have their number. Lately Ive been buying Cheerios, has anyone else been buying Cheerios? I have this feeling theyre for someone, but not me. Even when I remember the thing Im trying to remember, its like Im remembering the memory, not the actual thing. And this stroller looks borrowed. Yoon, Jung, Freud, you tell me. Either way, whatever the citys doing, its enough to change the color of the sky to this bone-white dome, the color of talc, and if they can take the blue out of the sky, they can take something from me. But its weird, not knowing what.

The rest of us were nodding our heads like I know that feeling,cause after she finished we all spoke at once, like, Yeah even on a clear day the skys the color of milk spilled on a grayish carpet—Exactly, and then if you put Tylenol in a blender and poured the powder on the slightly off-white puddle—And if a cloudless sky is not blue at noon, its somehow harder to talk to God—Even harder to trust in Gods good and omniscient plan—No I completely agree—Really I couldn't agree more.

Because lately in Yellow its been like that, not so much weeping for death and despair, but more how Georgie said it: a feeling that somethings missing, someones gone. Most of us cant say who or what, you know, when or why, but you wont hear me complaining, because whatever it was, I think its enough, knowing its gone without knowing what is. Or thats what we usually say around here, but hearing Georgie talk made me want to say more, so when it got to my turn I said, Little while ago I went to this funeral for a kid. It was awful, but the pastor, just doing his job, kept assuring the girls arrival to a heaven Im not sure she believed in. Just cause she was young. But the guys strategy for dealing with death was to exaggerate the like, piety of a kid. Something about it made me think of my dad. That was the last funeral I went to, and it was the same thing there, lots of talk about a secure salvation. I just wished theyd asked him. I couldnt help but think that if he could hear what the pastor was saying hed sit up from that casket, tell people to share a few stories then go for a drink, get laid if you can. He said his life changed when he went to the catacombs in Paris, saw all those forearms and femurs stacked on top of each other, unable to feel. Said thats why I was here: to feel what life is like, whatever its like. It was my favorite thing about my dad—he believed in life on earth.After that I kinda blacked out, but Georgie said what happened next is the moderator told me, And you wanted to be that for your daughter,and that then I attacked him.

Sitting on the church steps that night, Georgie told me that he got his and I got mine. The two of us were hanging out, smoking some weed. She skipped AA to stay with me.

I asked her, Since the fog got bad, whats the last thing you remembered? Like really remembered.

She laughed like she does. It came to me the other day at the market. I remembered something for you, actually. Does that count, if I remember something that someone else forgot?

Georgie passed me the weed. At night around here the sky has this navy blue rim to it, no matter how late, like darkness is a thing that used to happen.

Whatd you remember for me?

That your favorite movie is Magnolia. Its me who likes Momento. You used to love those Paul Anderson flicks. Make me sit through them, three-and-a-half hours, felt like forever. Why do I remember this? The things I forget, and here I am, talking about long nights on the couch watching movies I didn’t like.”

I shrugged; we sat there a while. There was blood on the end of the joint. I asked her, You go to church here, right? Not just AA, but Sundays too.

Yeah I go. If Im not wasted, I go.” 

You go for the people, or the faith?”                                   

Faith,she said. There are people everywhere.” 

The weed went out; she gave me her lighter. I looked around. Out on the lawn, where the grass met the sidewalk, the church had a sign with those changeable letters, and that night it said: 



There was that, and I didnt see her stroller. Wheres the stroller?I asked. Leave it downstairs?

She rubbed her knuckles on her eyes. Jesus, Matty. Its enough knowing shes gone without knowing where to.Then she stood from the steps and walked away. I remember that.