As Bob poked his fork into his egg, he noticed that the yellow of its yolk matched the yellow of the kitchen walls. The yellow was bright, far too bright for his taste, but it was Bev’s kitchen, Bev’s pick, fair enough. Yellow yellow yellowest walls, with red and yellow and white curtains with a rooster print on it. There was a wooden sign hung nearby with a crowing rooster that said, “GOOD MORNING!” out of its beak and “THE HAMILTONS” printed underneath, and a rather substantial and multicolored ceramic rooster that sat on the kitchen counter, guarding the dish rack. The yellow yolk ran into Bob’s golden brown toast, soaking it, warm and sunny, sunny morning, sunny yellow, good morning, good morning, to you.

The kids were nearly finished with breakfast, clattering around and chatting with Bev as usual. They were getting big now: Melissa, tall and thin and dark-haired like her mother, with Bob’s implacable, serious face, newly teenage; Timothy, two years younger, always laughing like Bev, sparkling blue eyes, with Bob’s reddish-brown hair in a shocky mop on his head. Bob looked at the boy’s unruly hair and thought that he preferred his own old Army haircut days, when you didn’t have to use VO-5 to keep things in place: simple, neat, clean.

The yellow schoolbus beeped outside, and the kids jumped up from the table, Bev reminding them to grab their bookbags. Tim gave a pat to the rooster on the counter, saying loudly, “G’bye Harry!” and laughed as he ran out the door behind his sister. Bob smiled to himself, knowing that the boy didn’t realize that Bob caught his off-color joke, boys being boys. Harry’s beady glazed-glass eyes stared forward, unamused and somewhat regal, as Bev cleared the children’s dishes from the table. Bob excused himself, wiped the yellow from the corner of his mouth with his rooster print napkin, kissed Bev’s cheek as she smiled. Plenty of time to catch the train into work this morning, sunny day, easy walk to the station, yellow daffodils just beginning to poke up through the dark moist garden soil.

Yellow became Orange.

A rusty, dusty sort of orange, flat and fall-ish. Bob didn’t much care for this color either, but Bev said it was very “now.” Bob thought it looked like pureed canned pumpkin that had expired a few years ago. Bev changed the curtains to an orange, mustard-yellow, and black Marimekko flower print. She has taken up some art classes, talked a lot about design and color and form and expression. Bob had considered growing a mustache, but decided it wasn’t really for him.

Melissa was all set to go to Brown in the fall, earned herself a good-sized scholarship, too. She had grown her hair nearly to her waist now, like all the young girls. Tim had a good job after school delivering groceries; he was a popular, good-looking kid, his group of loud happy friends always in and out of the orange kitchen. The rooster was set on top of Grandma’s hutch in the hallway, and Tim still called him Harry, and still laughed.

Bob’s train was new, with much-better seats, softer with a bright orange fabric, threads of red running through it. Never ran on time anymore, though.

Orange became Blue.

Icy, pale, Nordic, quiet, foggy blue, set off with stark white curtains, white tablecloth, white dishes. Bob liked this kitchen; it was calm and pretty and soothing. It was a place to sit with a coffee, in a white Corelle mug, sit and be able to think for a moment. The house was always quiet now, save for Bev coming from or going to work or class. She had gotten a part-time job at the high school as a classroom assistant, liked it, decided to go back to college to become an art teacher. Bob missed her, but it was good she was doing this. It was good for her to be busy, focused. He was grateful for his work now, just for that alone.

Melissa had graduated from Brown, went off to Europe with a professor who was too close in age to Bob, sometimes sent a postcard from somewhere or, once, a photograph of her wearing sandals, dirty baggy clothes, a backpack, same serious face looking back at Bob. Tim had done his time in Vietnam, lucked out with an MP assignment in Saigon, spent his time with the local girls and smoking marijuana, Bob figured. He came back, got a job right away with a trucking company. Three months into it, he hit an icy patch on the highway, in the chill blue of an early March morning, jackknifed his truck. Closed head injury, they said, that’s why he just looked like himself lying there, perfect, like he was sleeping.

Bob had taken the rooster, carefully, and boxed him up in the basement. It was too hard to pass in the hall every day now. The train stopped its route, and Bob had to drive into the city now, crawling traffic to and from, to and from, to and from.

Blue became White.

Clean, endless, perfect white, white cabinets, white appliances, set off by black plates, a large black bowl Bev had made that now held shiny green Granny Smith apples in the middle of the kitchen table. Bob thought the kitchen looked as good as in a magazine now, all due to Bev of course. He had found a good contractor in one of Tim’s old high school pals, good man, did a good job. But Bev had all the ideas. She had so many good ideas, Bob realized, and always seemed to just know how to do the right things, so many times. She often pulled her hair back now, graying and flyaway, but she still had that beaming smile, the one she gave to Tim.

Melissa returned from Europe with a five-year-old son named Alain who spoke only French. His father, from what Bob could get out of Melissa, was a political journalist who spent more time raging about injustices to humanity at the bar than spending time with his son. They moved in, Alain taking Tim’s old room, and Melissa found work in the city assisting the curator at the Museum.

Alain sat at the breakfast table now, before the yellow schoolbus came, in a white shirt and black pants, new school uniform policy. He rattled on merrily in French as Bob poured him a bowl of cereal, nodding, smiling, pointing to communicate as best he could with this new grandson. The boy had been thrilled to go exploring all over the house when he arrived; it was so much space compared to the tiny two-room flat he had lived in before. When he bounded up the basement stairs with the ceramic rooster, smiling and laughing, Bob smiled back at him as his heart skipped, and sunk, and filled again. Harry took his place again at the kitchen counter, even though he did not match a thing.

Melissa drove with Bob into the city every morning and returned with him at night, and taught him a few words and phrases in French, as they sat in the car and remarked that they really should set out 45 minutes earlier, traffic was so bad now.

White became Beige.

The real estate agent, a busy well-dressed women in her late 30s, said the house should be painted and decorated in a “neutral palette,” that was what would appeal to most buyers. So beige it was, along with new granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, light maple cabinets. You won’t regret the investment, she told Bob, people these days will pay good money for a turn-key house. Bob thought of the yellow kitchen; that was no “neutral palette.” Bev never liked beige. There’s just nothing to do with it, she said.

She had fought hard, but didn’t quite make it to the five-year-all-clear mark with her breast cancer. Bob had retired, had spent every minute with her, which was all he really could give her. He had been a lucky man, and told her this, and she had patted his hand, smiled her beautiful glorious smile, and told him, “Me, too. Me, too.”

Melissa had married, a man named Edward, another journalist, and he seemed very stable and kind. She and Edward and Alain moved into the city, where Alain could attend the magnet high school he wanted to, a cheerful and talented young man, artistic like his grandmother and mother. There was nothing left of his French now, although Bob still could remember how to say, “Voulez-vous la céréale ou des oeufs pour le déjeuner?” Melissa had found a good assisted-living place in the city, and Bob did not disagree with her; it was time, the house was too big, he was too frail for the stairs, and a change could be good, he knew. He looked forward to seeing Melissa and Edward and Alain more often, perhaps Sundays for breakfast, with a little walk in the park if the weather was good.

He didn’t need much to bring along, just enough to fill up a bedroom and a small living room. The centerpiece to his living room, he already knew, was going to be Harry the rooster. Bob would stare him down, that old King, and Harry would always win.