Bright As Yellow: Darkness And Light
by Käthe

For eight years I thought I would live out the rest of my days in the dark and dank world of my parents basement. In the back of my mind I worried about what would happen when they died.

I haven't been part of the world since I was eight years old. I can't cook or take care of myself in any way. I was trapped in a world of my own making - that is to say that through the books I read I could see places that I never would with my own eyes.

Now that's all changed. There might be a cure. I could go out into the sun, into the world, without harming people. I could live. But I don't know how.

Before I was angry because my life had been taken away from me. Now I'm angry and sad because I do have a chance at a life, but I'm terrified to confront it.

I almost want to go back to the basement, to the chains, and forget this ever happened.


"That was a really nice article you did on Byron, Chloe."

"Oh hey, Lana. Thanks." I could tell her that I'm here to pick up a piece of cake to smuggle to Byron. But I'm not. I don't know why, but I want to keep these visits with Bryon a secret for now. "Can I get a piece of your famous chocolate cake to go?"


Lana disappears into the back, where I'm assuming she's got the cake, and I take the chance to survey the crowd in the Talon. It's packed with the after school crowd, and I spot most of my English class in the corner studying for the exam we've got on Friday.

Clark is nowhere in sight, and I'm thankful for that. Things have been awfully tense lately, and not just between Clark and me. Now Lana seems to be getting in on the Siberian action as well, taking little jabs at Clark right along with me. I'm sure she's got some motivation, but as friendly as we've become lately, we aren't friendly enough to where I can go asking her why she's snarking so badly on the sweet and dopey guy from next door.

Sweet and dopey. That's how I have to think of Clark these days just to give myself some distance. I guess the shine really is gone from him. Too bad, it was nice while it lasted.

"Here you go, Chole."

"Thanks." I smile brightly and start to hand over the cash for the cake, but Lana pushes the money away.

"Nah, it's on the house. She nods to the book that I laid on the counter. "What are you reading?"

I try to deflect her question. I brought it for Byron. "It's not for class. Personal enjoyment."

She gives me the full on Thoughtful Lana look. "You know," she pauses in a way that I'm sure she thinks is conspiratorial. "We should do a mini-book club. I'd love to have someone to discuss them with - even though I don't get to read as much as I'd like." She opens her arms to gesture to the Talon.

"I still don't know how you manage it all. School, riding, work. You're a one-woman juggernaut, Lana. No wonder you've got so many admirers." Now it's my turn with the conspiratorial look.

"Oh, Chloe."

And she gives me that look that says, 'You have your admirers too.' I get the same look from my dad all the time. Just because I remark on things like that doesn't mean that I actually care whether or not I could fit in the same category. I've got my own category dammit. The Chloe Category, and it suits me just fine. Yeah, too much girly bonding for today.

"Listen, I've got to get going. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

"Sure. And Chloe?"


"You look really nice today."

I'm sure I'm blushing. No, I didn't try on three different outfits this morning just to find something suitable for when I see Goth Boy.

"Thanks." And I'm out the door before anything else can happen.


"Beware snarky girls bearing books!" Okay, for a greeting it's a little off. Sue me. "And cake. Lana told me that you really liked the chocolate cake from the Talon so I brought you a piece."

It seems that I've marched right into Mope Central, current occupant, Byron Moore. He looks at me with listless eyes and not even the bizarre purple paint of this room is cheering him up. Like it could cheer anyone up. Really, purple paint? On second thought, maybe I should've brought Lana along. I'm sure he'd perk up for her.

"Hello, Chloe."

"Awww, is that all I get? Look, I brought you something to read. Sure, it's not really Gothic moor material, but I think you'll like it."

He seems to be at least slightly interested at that. "What is it?"

I pull my now customary chair over to his bed and sit down. "It's one of my favorites. 'All the Kings Men' by Robert Penn Warren."

"What is it about?"

I could talk about this book all day. "It's more about the style of writing than anything else. At least that's why I picked it out for you."

Byron looks a little skeptical, and I guess he's right. Picking books out for people you know really well is a risky proposition, for people that you've only talked to for five seconds, well; maybe it is a little presumptuous.

"Will you read some of it to me?"

The book is full of passages that I could quote, but Lana told me how big he was on the romantic stuff. I pick a passage that I hope he'll like.

'I sat up in bed and was absolutely filled with rapture. It wasn't like anything that had ever happened to me. It stopped my breath and I could feel my veins swelling to burst as when you take your deepest dive and think you'll never come up. I felt that I was right on the verge of knowing the real and absolute truth about everything. Just one instant and I would know it. Then I got my breath. "Jesus," I said out loud, "Jesus!" I stretched out my arms out as wide as I could, as though I could grab the whole empty air...'

Well, I certainly have a captive audience. I skip down a couple of lines to finish the passage. 'Then I thought, quite objectively as though I were observing the symptoms of a total stranger. You are in love.'

"It might be a little much to use on Lana, but it never hurts to broaden your horizons," I conclude.

He's digesting it, and god; I love the way his eyes look -

"May I?" Bryon holds his hand out for the book. I turn it over to him and catch a glimpse of the scars on his wrist once more.

He flips through the book and I watch him. His mouth turns down a little at the corners, almost a frown, but I can believe that with the life he's had. I may not have interviewed Byron for the story, but I did get a chance to talk to his mother. I wish Byron were a character one of the Bronte sisters made up, rather than this sixteen-year-old boy lying in a hospital bed in front of me.

I'm jerked out of my contemplation when he asks, "Lana showed you the poem I wrote for her?"

His tone isn't accusatory, but I can't help feeling like I was let in on something private. Which I was, but at the time - hell there's no excuse for it. "I did."

"Did you like it?" He's still not looking up from the book. His eyes aren't moving like he's reading, so he's just avoiding eye contact. Which is fine with me. Any minute now I'm going to start squirming in my chair; this is a damn uncomfortable situation.

"It was very nice." He finally looks up at that. "Though it was kind of a creepy presentation, in the graveyard and all." Go ahead Chloe; speak your mind. "But I know why you left it there. You must've been watching her for a long time."

"She was just so beautiful. With the moonlight, and the way she'd smile -"

I brought it on myself this time. The Lana Love knows no bounds. Even boys locked up in the ground for eight years are in love with her. Maybe Desiree Atkins wasn't the only one with the pheromone thing - though Lana's are more likely to inspire bouts of moonieness than raging testosterone.

"But you didn't like it did you?"

"Huh? What?" Nice with the paying attention there. "Poems aren't really my thing." God, please let him leave it at that.

"So if someone said you were beautiful -"

I'd ask them to get their eyes examined. No, I'd just know they weren't from Smallville. "I'd thank them and -" Well hell, I don't know what I'd do. Probably sit there like a fish with my mouth hanging open, just like I'm doing right now.

I don't believe it. Goth Boy, and that's sort of an unsuitable title now, is smiling at me. Damn little romantic freak.

"Then no one says things like that to you?" He asks innocently.

"Uh, not really. Mostly requests to Google things and to help with homework. Besides, we're not the most open society nowadays. Nobody really goes around professing his or her love all the time. Unless you're on TV or in the movies or something. Don't you remember that from before, y'know?"

Byron looks a little confused and maybe a little hurt. He's been on an emotional whirlwind and I come waltzing in here saying that his whole way of communicating is outdated and well, weird.

Mouth? Meet foot. You two should be really good friends.

"I guess I really don't fit with your world." He's petulant. Angry. All perfectly understandable.

I spit my answer right back, my frustration getting the better of me. "Byron, I don't fit in. Clark doesn't fit in. Hell, even Lana doesn't fit in. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. One I'm probably not even allowed to know. Nobody fits in with this world."

"But -" I think he's taken aback by my attitude. I have to remember that no one has ever really talked to him like this before. His mother seemed rather on the meek side, and god only knows who talked to him before the drug testing made him go all Mr. Hyde.

"No buts." I soften my tone just a little, "Listen Byron, you're going to learn real quick that you're different from other people, and that's fine. You've got this gift - you're an artist." I can't believe it but I actually take his hand in mine and give a little squeeze. "When you speak the world will listen because you speak from the heart. I know it. Do you think that Lana would go sleep in a graveyard because anyone sent her a love letter? Okay, maybe she would but that's neither her nor there right now," I make a dismissive motion with my hand. "She went because what you said meant something to her -"

Jeez, I probably sound like Dr. Phil.

"Listen, your friends will help you transition into the modern world. Clark, Lana, we'll all help."

"I don't know what to say."

"Then say 'thank you,'" and I'm not getting misty here. No way. "And change the subject before this gets entirely too weird."

His smile answers mine and he gratefully changes the subject. Yeah, he'll do just fine.


I like the book that Chloe gave me, and I can see why she likes it too. It's about love and loss and trying to make sense of who you are and what you believe - just like I'm trying to right now.

I haven't turned on the television yet, even though the nurses keep asking me if I want to watch anything. I remember watching cartoons and certain shows as a child, but that seems so far away now.

I have many things to learn and relearn and I think Chloe is going to help me with my "transition" as she called it. I'm sure Lana will help as well. And Clark.

I loved watching Lana through the shadows. I liked to think that we both existed in our own little world, our world of moonlight. I am starting to realize that there's a world of sunshine that I can live in as well. That's Chloe's world.


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