Sweet Smile

“Here I am, again,” she thought to herself, “stuck in this ponderous loop. Hating. Loving. Mostly hating.” It wasn’t the first time that she’d found herself in the deep rut of life’s arm pit, but something felt drearily different this time around. There was a stench of permanency that unsettled her to the core. It was as though she could do nothing other than sit for hours thinking, rethinking and overthinking all of the things that puzzled her about life. “Why is it that the door of opportunity seems to open so much more frequently to the selfish and undeserving?” “Can one person’s luck only exist with another’s misfortune?” “Is there a cosmic balance that has to be maintained?” “For all the luxury and indulgence, must there be pain and suffering?” “If it were really that simple, would anyone be prepared to sacrifice in order to create a new and proportionate balance?” “Is there such a thing as fairness, or is the word and its sentiment nothing more than childish folly?”

She’d think like this for days on end, breaking only to go through the motions of a normal life. She’d follow routine in body only, but every now and then a tiny light would carry her back to herself. Something she said, someone’s reaction. A smile. A laugh. She found a comforting peace in the smiles that she put upon the faces of others. She basked in it. So she’d joke, she’d entertain, she’d do everything she could to chase that smile, that warmth, that love. But it was never love and she knew as much. Despite the lies she told herself, she knew as much. She thought it would be easier to tell a lie and live a life. After all, she was only lying to herself. Who would that hurt?

“If only peace were as simple as a smile,” she often thought to herself. Simplicity being the bed friend of stupidity, she had pondered too hard and too often to entertain such thoughts, but, oh, she wished it so. Knowing how she used sweet smiles to mask deep sorrow, she wished it. Her smile was her mask for all things dark, yet a smile was the healer of her battered heart.

At odds with herself, she lived this way for many years. She forged a surface life that others had even come to envy. A life full of people and relationships. Would anyone ever notice that she surrounded herself with so many people because she didn’t know how to get close to even one? She suspected that no one cared to notice and she was fine with that. She knew the reality of the lie she lived and didn’t find it necessary for anyone else to know. The lie was hers alone. The one true relationship in her life.

There were glimmers, over the years, where she thought that things might change. She was open to change, you see. Never wanting to be the wallower, she kept a place deep in her heart for the brave adventurer, daring enough to find it. While she fiercley enjoyed her time with her courters, ultimately, no one ever got close. Why smash the joyous façade to leave only darkness and fear? She didn’t blame any of them, but she always hoped.

The more years that passed by, the more she came to resent that hope. It chewed her up from the inside out and spat her to the ground, repeating the process over and over again until all that was left was the mush of her existence. She no longer had the strength to maintain her façade or dance with her lie. She did nothing but court her resentment, the one true conqueror of her wilted heart. Both now bitter to every sense. She was gone, eventually, and that was that.

When spoken about, in memory, people were always kind. They spoke of fondness and laughter and joy. “She always had a sweet smile on her face.” “Such a sweet smile.”