How do you explain colors to someone who cannot see them? (Written a year ago)
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"Describe it to me," she whispered. Her eyes closed in a way that was almost peaceful as she stared, sightless, out over the waves.
"Describe what?" I asked in bewilderment. I had just met Alexis last week and already we were close friends. I had become her eyes, as she was blind. But now, as we perched on the sand dunes gazing out at the rolling water, I had no idea what she was talking about.
"A miracle," she murmured.
I rummaged around in my mind; digging for something I had seen that could be considered a miracle. My memory unearthed something sweet and beautiful.
"When my English teacher first brought the tiny plant into class, I was pretty skeptical of it blooming by Christmas," I began. "How could that tiny green leaf ever get three feet tall, not to mention blaze flowers of pink, white, and red, in just one month?"
"What is green?" she sighed. Guilt coursed through me; of course she wouldn't know. I was still adjusting to speaking in terms that made sense to her.
I reached out for the words I needed and found them surprisingly quickly. "Green is polished wood on your fingers, smooth silk on your palm. Green is what you feel when you hold a baby plant." I grasped her hand, guiding it to a sleek, budding flower. "Green is what you hear when the trees whisper with the wind. Green is the taste of a salad slathered in ranch dressing. Green is spring."
"Green," she echoed blissfully, her hand caressing the pale little flower.
"Pink," I continued, realizing what her next question would be, "is the touch of a baby's skin. Pink is velvet beneath your fingers. It is the taste of chocolate on your tongue. You hear it in the rustle of candy wrappers and when someone says 'I love you.' Pink," I ran her hand over a chunk of chocolate I'd been saving, "is love." She bit the Hershey's bar. I broke off another lump for me, letting the sweet taste melt on my tongue before speaking again.
"White is the touch of a book beneath your fingertips. White is the cold embrace of snow when you catch it on your tongue or roll it in your hands. White is what you hear when a cat purrs or a deer leaps on fresh, unspoiled snow. White is what you taste when vanilla ice cream cools your tongue. White is purity." She rubbed her hand against the pages of her books (written in Braille and unmarked with black ink).
"Red is what you feel when you pick up a hot piece of food that burns your fingers. Red is what sears your feet when you race down the beach over the scorching sand on a warm afternoon. Red is what you feel after being sunburned. You taste it when you eat a spicy piece of chicken or a chili pepper. You hear it when thunder roars. Red is anger."
"Red," Alexis smiled. "Go on with the plant."
"It was only a few inches tall when it first joined our class room," I resumed. "But we measured it everyday and it grew - oh yes, it grew! - every single day. But Christmas was fast approaching and no buds had appeared. Finally, one caught the eyes of the middle school: a flower was about to open."
Alexis tensed with pleasure. She hadn't released the baby plant and it shuddered in her grasp.
"Unfortunately, the holidays arrived before it showed its colors, but we were in for a magical surprise when school continued in January. Two gorgeous flowers were opened! They showed their faces to the world, a statement of nature's beauty. At the heart of the blossoms, several yellow, orange tipped stamens rocketed out into the view."
"What does yellow mean? And orange?" Alexis sounded eager this time.
"Yellow is the warmth you feel when you face the sun." I tipped her chin towards the slowly setting globe in the west. "It is what wraps around you at night and consumes you when you are cheerful. Yellow is the sound of someone laughing and it tastes like a melting lemon Popsicle on a warm summer's day. Yellow tells pleasant jokes and is lemonade shared with friends on the beach. Yellow is joy."
"Yellow," she whispered again, still facing the sun.
"Orange is the sleek skin of a pumpkin in a field, warmed by the sun. It sounds like the rustling of leaves in the fall and it tastes like a juicy orange fresh picked." I remembered Florida, plucking the small, round fruits. I handed her a golf ball which was roughly the same texture. "Orange is autumn."
"And the flowers?" she prodded, but her sightless eyes glowed with joy as I spoke of the colors she had never been able to see.
"More bloomed each day and it grew and grew. I had never seen such a beautiful plant. One day, a miracle was witnessed within that plant. Everyone was dutifully taking notes on verbs when someone mentioned that they could see the final bud that had not yet blossomed growing.
"Naturally, everyone crowded to the front of the room and it - popped. It swelled and the stamen came spurting forth. Nothing happened for awhile, but then again - whoosh. It opened, right there for everyone. It continued to grow throughout the class. I've never seen anything like it before. It was truly amazing."
I paused, remembering the gorgeous plant, displayed there on the teacher's desk.
"And?" Alexis urged. "What happened?"
"There were only a few other flowers after the miracle blossom," I admitted. "But it never lost its glory. It stood so tall and straight, a display of artwork. It proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that nature is truly living - even breathing. It was covered in the fingerprints of God."
"Fingerprints of God," she murmured again.
I nodded even though she couldn't see me. I missed that plant. But it certainly left a mark on me that I could now share with Alexis - and maybe that she could share with others.
"Thank you," she laughed. "You are yellow."
I smiled; yellow, after all, is joy.