Quentin Paquette and Steve Smith

Carefully Avoiding, by Steve Smith
Response Piece

Sandrift Pearl, by Quentin Paquette
Inspiration Piece

Sandrift Pearl
It must have been the most popular color for the Toyota Tercel; I probably see one of them every day. It always draws my immediate attention, a sudden jerk of my vision and focus to it. I need to check to see if it’s got all those stickers on the back. So many stickers, like the person who owns the car is desperate for some kind of identity to confer from the accumulation of place names on their bumper. That may be an unfair judgment. I might be just working backwards from what I already know about this particular person, then over generalizing. Either way, it seems right.
Seeing that color makes me take notice, and seeing those stickers would make me take action. It makes me consider changing direction, putting some distance between myself and wherever that car is going. If I were walking, I might even seek cover, to step into a doorway or change my speed to keep that tree trunk between us or that lamp post. If it’s in my neighborhood, it makes me think about internet searches, and the availability of my new home address, and craziness.
I understand that sounds insensitive, that I’m impugning or belittling people with mental illness. I apologize for coming across like that, it’s not meant as a general statement, only specific to this person. I’d even apologize to her if she’d listen. If. I have these fleeting images of a scene where we run into each other, but just the very beginning of it,: I’m unable to construct how it would play out. It’s a small world, and it’s almost happened before, but I ducked, having no reason to think she’s changed since we last spoke. It’s not really that I can excuse her behavior at all, the feelings, sure, but not how she acted on them. Maybe that’s not truly forgiveness, but I think it’s the best I could ever offer. If she has changed though, if she’s gained any self-awareness, it would be her trying to apologize and me doing the forgiving.
It would be easy to forgive, because things have turned around for me, because, as it turned out, I found that I should expect happiness. If I ever think about that time at all, it’s with a detachment. I don’t recognize myself then as fully me, or that as really a part of my life, as if I remember it from something I read. But still, when that car drives by…

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