Even as a boy, he felt yellow, even just looking at it on a page, his skin heated by its invisible rays. In school he drew suns with fiery light rays shooting off of its surface.
“You should draw something else, Colin,” said his teacher Mrs. Lipshitz. “There are trees, grass hills and houses, too.”
“I like suns. I draw suns. I love their light. They make me happy,” he said, his green eyes sparkling with faint yellow streaks.
She tried to understand, nodding her head, looking down at the drawing on his desk. The other kids drew stick figures and bent trees, but his suns were explosive, like he’d visited their surfaces. His suns boasted fiery lakes, passionately real and alive.
“What an imagination you have,” said Mrs. Lipshitz.
“I draw what I see,” he replied.
“And what do you see?” she asked.
“I see the immortality of yellow. Even suns and flowers come and go. But yellow is forever.”
Years later, in math class, he’d look at the blackboard, admiring the elegant manner of quadratic equations. He solved the problems easily, as if with each stroke of his pencil he produced the answer instantly. After doing his assignments in class, he drew pictures of suns, of dandelions, and of sunflowers with ink pens and magic markers.
“Have you finished your work?” asked Mr. Murphy, his math teacher. Mr. Murphy was a big man, coach of the basketball team, too. He didn’t like boys who drew.
“I did the work,” said Colin, turning the paper around to show Mr. Murphy. His handwriting was impeccable. “I did it in a few minutes.” The classroom was silent except for the other kids’ pencils scratching the paper.
“You’re not cheating, Colin?”
Colin looked at him blankly. They both knew this wasn’t true.
“I don’t like you to bring markers to class.”
“But I do the lessons. I learn more from doing my drawings.”
The next day, Mr. Murphy sent Colin to the school guidance counselor, Mr. Thomas Lopez.
Colin liked Mr. Lopez as soon as he walked in the door. Mr. Lopez wore a bright yellow bow tie and high-water pants that didn’t reach his feet.
Mr. Lopez reached out his hand and said “Please call me Thomas.”
“Nice to meet you, Thomas,” said Colin.
“You are gaining quite a reputation with the beautiful drawings you make.”
Colin nodded his head saying thank you.
“Mr. Murphy says that you disturb the class.”
“I do the work he assigns. He doesn’t really get the problems he has us solve.”
Mr. Lopez wrote on his notepad.
“But why do you bring markers to the class?”
“I like to draw.” He looked at Mr. Lopez’s tie.
“Do you mind if I draw your tie?”
“No, please, go ahead,” said Mr. Lopez. “What do you feel when you draw,” asked Mr. Lopez.
Colin stopped drawing and fixed his eyes on Mr. Lopez.
“What if I told you that l can leap on the yellow of the suns I draw and travel great distances? What if I told you that people bother themselves with figuring out math problems about the speed of light, when what they really need to do is to learn how to communicate with color?”
“This is a little out of my league, Colin. I’m only a counselor.” Mr. Lopez wrote vigorously in his notebook.
“But you know about these things. You know that it would take one hundred years traveling at the speed of light just to get to the nearest star.”
“I’ve seen the movies,” said Mr. Lopez.
“You think I’m crazy?” asked Colin. “Is that what you’re writing in your notepad?”
“It does sound a little outrageous,” said Mr. Lopez, now putting down his notepad.
Colin picked up his paper to show Mr. Lopez the tie he’d drawn. Mr. Lopez saw that the tie was brilliantly yellow, exploding with shades of orange-yellow. The yellow tones reminded Mr. Lopez of the summer dress his recently deceased mother had worn in a photo on his desk at home. Had Colin seen into his heart and depicted his feelings?
As Mr. Lopez gazed at the drawing, he tried to conceal how affected he was.
“So you’re a terrific artist,” said Mr. Lopez, rubbing his cheek with the knuckle of his index finger.
“What if I told you that you could travel to another galaxy?” asked Colin.
“I would find it interesting,” said Mr. Lopez. “How could you know about these kind of things? You’re in high-school.”
“Then how come I knew that drawing would remind you of your mother.”
Mr. Lopez collected himself on his chair.
“What do scientists know anyway? They think traveling in capsules is the answer to space travel.”
“And what do you think, Colin?”
“Our scientists are trying to understand space travel through understanding math. If you could ride yellow you could transport yourself to any place in the universe in seconds. By comparison, math is like riding a bicycle to mars.”
“This is very interesting, but how can you prove any of this?”
“What can you prove?” asked Colin.
“I can prove that the earth travels around the sun and that the moon travels around the earth,” said Mr. Lopez.
“You need other people’s books and research to prove these things. It wouldn’t be your proof. In the future, the very idea of intergalactic travel will be something everyone can do.”
“And how will they do that?
“I don’t know yet. But I think people will be able to navigate time and space through some mechanism, some door. We will discover that there is no beginning and end. That god is so unbounded he doesn’t have to exist. When we discover the love of a dandelion and have compassion for even the Sun, we will arrive at these truths.’
“How can you love a dandelion?”
“When you realize that the yellow of a dandelion is the door to the memory of your mother, you can love it.’