EVERY EASEL A RAINBOW
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
We’d been chosen as unwitting participants in a notorious Art Psychology study in the mid-seventies. Each five-year-old student received only one crayon per day for sixty-four days. By our sixty-fourth crayon gifting, our day one crayons sat puny and mangled upon our easels. Few of us had the idea of holding crayon one up against crayon sixty-four. Insights into the nature of our mortality inevitably followed. Gaudy Silver stood straight and tall against the crippled, bent Cyan.
I placed Cyan, once my favorite, at the bottom of my pencil box, sweeping it from my sight beneath a wide palette of other crayons and green drawing pencils. I felt it, buried at the bottom of that red plastic box and felt, too, a cold stab in my chest where the ribs nearly meet. I could no longer use old Cyan, nor could I throw it away, nor could I look at it. Early in November of my Kindergarten year, guilt, remorse, mourning overwhelmed me.
On day sixty-five, I arrived in class to find a single pink pastel sitting at my easel. I collapsed sobbing and had to be removed from class. A man and woman from the state visited me at my home. The study came to an end by the time I returned to class, every easel a rainbow polymorph of media. The students, the teacher, the man and the woman, they all looked at me and they expected.
We each went home that evening, empty and no wiser.