No one knew what to make of the carefully arranged colors applied to the wall in the Institution’s common area. A crowd of students had gathered around it, but no one had yet summoned the courage to get close. I walked carefully past the silent witnesses. Each person was dressed as I was- in our institute-issued gray. Without prompting, they moved aside to allow me a better look. As I did, every pair of eyes settled on me. What did they think I would do? I stopped when I was close enough to touch the “thing,” but I did not touch. I quickly categorized the colors: indigo, moss green, violet, varying shades of white. Yellow. But it wasn’t the colors that drew us in. We were used to colors— we were trained to utilize them to regulate and correct our emotions. This had the opposite effect… something tightened in my chest, and I started to perspire. I found it hard to swallow, and was mystified by the dampness in my eyes. I let my gaze settle on the blue swirls and hoped to be calmed by the peaceful hue, but I was not. Moving my face closer, I saw something that astonished me, the colors showed streaks, marks made by a brush of some kind. These colors were not projected, they were painted. This was done by a human— not a bot. This is what everyone had realized, and indeed, what they witnessed me realizing. Something stirred in me again, what was this emotion I was feeling? I turned to a student to my left and locked eyes with them. Their lips slowly turned up at the corner, and a light came on in their eyes. They felt it too.

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