The Smile

I saw her walking down the hall and as I always do, I shot her a smile.

She seems to need it: there’s always apathy just at the edges of her eyes, sadness just at the corners of her mouth. When she smiles, her dark cheeks set off the whites of her wide eyes and glistening teeth. She is transformed.

“You need to smile more often,” I tell her.  It’s not just honey and vinegar and all that. The ability to create a positive affect is a basic skill that everyone needs to master, and when one is as gifted with physical beauty as she is, something as simple as a pleasant smile puts everyone in the room at ease. She has that advantage, and she rarely uses it. In fact, most of her peers and teachers, I believe, think she’s ambivalent to the world, lazy at best, perpetually angry at worst.

Every time I smile at her, she smiles at me. That’s progress.

So I shot her the smile, and she smiled back. “Who else to you smile at?” I asked. “No one,” she replied, the smile disappearing.

Heartbreaking and heartening at the same time.

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