quintessence.

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Authors: Sarah Buhl
trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. It was boredom most of the time, with the occasional high points. But any wound I received while in the military is internal,” I said as I waved my hand in front of my face.
    “Okay, now a healing one,” she said with a smile.
    “A healing one—well, that would be Bob,” I said.
    “Bob?”
    “Yes, Bob the squirrel. He’s a friend of mine at my spot. He’s always there and guards the place while I’m away.”
    “You have a guard squirrel?” she asked, pulling her lip in and trying not to laugh.
    I nodded. “Yes, he’s great. After I came home, I spent a lot of time in the woods near my spot. I had to decompress and reconstruct who I was. Not in the way of finding myself or anything, but in aligning who I was before the military, who I was in the military, and then figure out who I wanted to be in the future. Then the me of now came to light. I met Bob, and he helped me find my present tense. Here was this squirrel—a wild animal— that came right up one day. I had been out there for almost two weeks, and I think he just saw me as another being in the woods. Which I was, but having him see me as another creature made me realize that that is how we have to look at each other. We’re all so afraid of each other anymore. I was afraid of myself and everyone else, and I knew when Bob came up that first time that I had to embrace that and show people something different—something authentic. Now your turn,” I said as we rounded a corner toward the park.
    “Well, I used to be a dancer,” she said.
    “Used to be—like when you were a kid?” I asked.
    “Yes and no. Used to be, before all of this happened,” she said as she waved her free hand down her body. “That was one of the first things I saw as something being wrong. My leg was bothering me and I thought I just worked it too hard. Then one day I went to go up on my toes and do what’s called chaines turns. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get onto my toes and it was the scariest thing in my life. I became trapped in myself and couldn’t control my body. The class instructor said I looked like a scared dog. She had never seen that fear on someone’s face before,” Maggie said with an attempt at a smile. “But there’s the wound. How about the healing?”
    I envisioned myself gathering my pieces of fabric and putting them in a pile on the table at my grandma’s house. I smiled to myself as I hadn’t thought of that table in forever.
    “So the healing—I’ve become a fan of horror movies. I used to be scared of them; now they’re less intimidating, because they’re so obscure and out of reality that I find them amusing and distracting.”
    I guided us to the playground and took a seat on a swing as Maggie sat on another.
    “What do you love most about dancing?” I asked, keeping it present tense in my question. This was something that made her light up and I wanted her to remember it didn’t have to be in the past.
    “I loved spinning. I always did.” She looked up the chain of the swing and wrapped the chains and herself up in a circular motion. “Like this,” she said, as she let her hands hang free, outstretched to her side as the swing unwound itself in rapid succession. “That’s what I loved about it; that freedom it brings when the whole world around you spirals. I used to imagine that’s what the little helicopter things falling from trees felt like. They had that one amazing dance as they fell to the ground to start a new tree.”
    “I’m sorry I judged you last year. I wasn’t in the right place yet. I hadn’t met Bob,” I said.
    She laughed. “Well, I accept your apology and I hope to meet Bob one day to thank him.”
    “What made you want to work in advertising?” I asked.
    “It had nothing to do with the graphic design or selling products and everything to do with the psychology behind it. The influence—I know it can be bad, I know that. I’ve seen it. Some

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