They have no idea how beautiful it is. It’s a large, sad eye in the sky. It’s crying an enormous tear that’s being subsumed into the ocean below. I can’t tell where the tear ends and the ocean begins. I can’t tell whether the tide is in or out, but I feel the ebb and flow of human suffering. It’s distracting. It’s a flyer for Suicide Awareness Week. It’s just fallen off the wall, and the big sad eye is looking off into space. It’s taking place in Dwinelle Hall this month, and I might go out of sheer morbid curiosity, but something about the information being in Arial Narrow breaks my heart.
There’s a lot going on here. The entrance to a university is a gauntlet of flyers, pamphlets, weeklies, monthlies, dailies, and insane gibberish someone just wants to send out there into the ether—a politically confused Facebook wall come to life. I don’t want any of it, but I want that flyer I saw earlier in Dwinelle, because it was on the floor. I want it because it didn’t have an opener. I’m subject to openers all day. Excuse me miss, do you like to laugh? Don’t you think women and children in Afghanistan deserve the right to education? Do you have minute for the environment? You look like a discerning person.
A neglected flyer doesn’t have an opener. A piece of paper on the ground forces one to go back to the text, some professor of literature might say. That’s why I always traverse these blocks with my head down. I don’t want eye contact. I don’t even want cultural artifacts, though my growing collection of them might suggest otherwise. I just want some incorruptible piece of text. There are no parameters, just reactions. Something that makes the eye motes click in recognition. I’m halfway to the bus stop but I turn and run back to Dwinelle. I want that flyer like I need it to help me understand something, but I’m too late, it’s gone. I’m upset beyond all reason. I can only hope someone else has saved it, that one day it will serve as a cornerstone of some psychological portrait of the decade, because we’re all putting off writing that book. It’s been weeks now and I still miss it, but it’s okay. I’m always looking.
—Christina C Martinez