The Smile

the smile

I had decided to do it whilst brushing my teeth. They were disadvantageously discolored, my teeth. I moved my face closer to the mirror and folded my lips inward. Then I thought the thought. It seemed a silly thought at first, but it soon grew, matured, bloomed like a like a giant sunflower. It looked down at me and said, “Do it! For God’s sake, do it! Do you want to die like this? Depressed, hardened? DO IT!”

“But what about my teeth?”

“Hang your stupid teeth and just do it! Besides, don’t you want to see what the outcome will be? It could be the cure.”

It was at that precise moment that I resolved to go through with it.

My street was empty, with the exception of a few shopkeepers sweeping their front stoops. But their eyes were all bent toward the ground. None of them noticed me as I passed.

The next street was more active, but everyone was in a hurry. My face was just another blurred color on the giant canvas that was the world as it swept past their eyes.

‘It’s just as well,’ I thought to myself, ‘I may not get the opportunity.’

“Nonsense!” came the retort. “The opportunity will come sooner or later. It is an inevitability.”

Then it happened. I was boarding the bus when I felt a sort of pressure on my face, as occurs when one’s visage is being scrutinized by another. I returned the gaze. A short man of middling age was regarding me as if I were a leper. I struggled to swallow my emotion and forced a beaming smile, nodding for authenticity. Curiously, his countenance changed, first to a look of slight bewilderment. But his confused expression gave way to a smile that said, ‘hello brother’ just before he turned to exit the bus.

The muscles of my face–and I cannot tell you which–relaxed even as I was smiling. My forced smile became effortless, involuntary; and the strangest thing happened: it stayed.

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