Smile From Your Heart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Commercial Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short story that I wrote a few days ago. It's kind of sad, and I'm not sure yet if it's actually any good. So I'd love to hear what you think about it.

Thanks!

Submitted: December 30, 2007

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Submitted: December 30, 2007

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"Smile."

She's told me this so many times.

I was five, and our brother Charles had just flushed Pinky, my plush pig, my childhood treasure, down the toilet.

"Smile."

I did, reluctantly. And then, out of nowhere, I laughed. She laughed back.

I was 9, and I had just been pushed to the ground in the schoolyard, into the mud. The filth was beginning to crust all over me, joined by my tears.

"Smile."

I tried to be defiant. I tried to frown instead. But then I saw my reflection in the mirror behind her and my front began to break. I realized that I looked ridiculous forcing a grimace to replace my true emotions. And then I smiled.

I was 14. I’d just gotten back from school, where my boyfriend had broken up with me. Tears were streaming down my cheeks, staining my new blouse. I felt as if things could never look up.

"Smile."

I didn't at first. I began by thinking. About him. And then I realised that he wasn't anything that special. He was great, sure. But he wasn't the only great guy on earth. There would be others. I sighed, like I was disposing of a large burden. And I smiled.

I was 19. I’d just gotten back home from work. And she was there, which was strange, since she normally visited on weekends only (we live a good 45 minute drive apart). And my mom was standing there with her, holding her tight. They had been waiting for me, I decided. They had something to tell me.

"I just got back from the hospital...", my sister began. I shuddered compulsively. She had been having health problems recently, I knew, and finally she had gotten an appointment at the hospital to have herself examined. I knew this wasn't good news they had to share. I waited, though suddenly impatient to hear what she had to say. She continued.

"They-they told me I have a brain tumor. A serious one. And somehow, it's progressed greatly without my noticing. They said... They said they'd be surprised for me to live another year."

This was it. The news. The news. The epitome of all news. She was only 31, and she was about to die. My mom wept loudly. I blinked.

Evie looked me straight in the eyes, and I felt suddenly unprotected. I felt she was reading my every thought. Don't say it, I thought. Don't say it. Not now. Not after this.

"Smile."

She'd said it.

I swallowed hard. The sudden silence swallowed my whole world. I tried to grab onto some sound: the ticking of the clock, my mother's sniffling, my own breathing. It didn't work. I couldn't. She continued staring right into my mind. I'm was sure she was transfering her own thoughts to my head. Because then, out of nowhere, I smiled.

And then I was 23, and a philosophy student at our local university. She was still alive, though she'd spent the last year in the hospital in the "Intense Care" wing. The doctors always thought she'd die the next day. But she didn't. The next week, they said. She didn't. And I knew why. I can't quite explain it, but somehow, she was holding onto her life. She had no will to die. She wanted to live. To see me start a career, to see me get married, to see my parents retire! She was holding onto her life by a thread, but the thread was thinning; I could see it in her eyes. I knew that as long as she wanted to live, she would. But the thread was diminishing because she was losing the will to live. I don't think this is because she wanted to die, but because she knew she was meant to.

Every day, after school, I would visit her. We wouldn't talk. We wouldn't play games. We'd just be. And I think that this was enough to keep her happy.

But one afternoon, things were different.

When I entered her room, she was asleep. I found this a bit odd since she never slept during the day. I woke her gently, tapping her on the shoulder. She opened her eyes, and spoke.

"It's time now. I'm sorry. But it's my time."

I stared deep into her eyes as she had done to me many times, trying to figure out why she could be doing this to me. All I found was peace, and contentedness. I knew she was ready. But the tears stung my eyes just the same. I waited for the word I knew would come. And then it did:

"Smile."

At that moment, this was the last thing I wanted to do. Then I looked up at her. Her eyes sparkled, but this was as always. Her mouth was a straight line; her cheeks rested in their usual positions. But there was something in her, something, that showed that she was smiling. I remembered words she had spoken so many times that they seemed to be ingraved in my brain -- in my heart: "Your mouth smiles at a moment, your eyes at a year. But your heart smiles at a lifetime." Some small, remote part of my brain had always understood this, had always recognized this power I saw in her every second of every minute. I had spent many hours of my life thinking about this and trying to grasp this knowlegde. But my mind had always held tight, as if it wouldn't let anything happen to it. As if it would give anything to protect it.

But now. Now, it relinquished those words, letting my whole being feast on them. And now, though my mouth did not move, nor did my eyes or cheeks, and she had now stopped moving as well, her eyes shut lightly, I smiled.


© Copyright 2017 Alice Dwaino. All rights reserved.

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