• The stranger was weird.

    He liked to ask weird questions, ones that would either require me to think for a very long time (I think he took my silence as incompetence) or would cause me to tear up from suddenly remembering a memory I didn’t want to remember. When the latter happened, Quin would always come to my rescue, enveloping me in a hug and glaring venomously at the stranger. Tuesday. Quin always said I needed to be more specific when describing things. He was, as Quin liked to say, absolutely tactless.

    And yet, there was something about him that always drew me back. Having lived with Quin and her family for the past few years, I was used to people tiptoeing around me with their sideways glances and hurried apologies. It was as if everyone treated me as a fragile doll that could break at any time. I guess they weren’t wrong, but the nervous smiles and slight nods towards me during dinner conversations could sometimes be off putting.

    Tuesday was different. At first, I hung around him because he seemed like he was lost. It morphed from weekly checkups on his wounds to daily visits just to sit and ask questions. “What were you doing on the explosion site?”

    His face told me he didn’t like that question. “Skip,” he said. I obliged.

    “Ok, what were you doing before the explosion?” He closed his eyes and leaned back in the wooden chair he was sitting in, the wood creaking at the change in weight.

    “Skip,” he said again, exhaling softly afterwards. I thought hard, my range of possible questions growing smaller and smaller by the minute.

    “Ok, but you have to answer this one.” He grunted. I was unsure if that was supposed to be affirmative or not. “What’s your favorite color?”

    He opened one eye to study me, looking up and down before he finally closed his eyes again and leaned forward. I leaned towards him in anticipation. “Gray.”

    “Gray?”

    “Gray.”

  • Madison