Girl Behind That Smile

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just a curious man and a mysterious woman's smile.

Submitted: April 03, 2016

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Submitted: April 03, 2016

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Girl Behind That Smile

 

 

It was always there, that unassuming up-curve of blush-red lips. Swirling green eyes - flecked with gold - looked on through the train window as the soft smile remained unbroken.

What might she be thinking, to bring about that innocent expression?

Lucas pondered the ever-insistent question every morning and evening on his train-journey to work. Always the same girl; always the same gentle smile.

It had become a routine for them both, he would board the train at seven o’clock sharp each morning and she would be sitting alone at the third window seat on the left. He would find his seat on the right side of the carriage, two seats behind the girl. They never spoke, never once met the other’s gaze; her eyes were always fixated on the treeline beyond the dusty glass of the window.

 

It began with brief glances at her from his morning newspaper, and soon his eyes lingered longer as he noticed subtle things. By the third day he noticed the scrap of white through her hair that belonged to her earphones – he had only seen it as she moved some auburn hair from her cheek. After a month he noticed that she always kept one hand draped casually over her handbag on the seat next to her, to deter other passengers from joining her.

But what could she be thinking?

Her smile was always present, he would always see it reflected in the glass as she turned her head to look at the passing fields as the train began to leave the countryside. The cycle continued for four months and fifteen days; they took their respective seats and he would watch her intently over his newspaper – trying to solve a puzzle with half the pieces missing.

By the time the fifth month was reaching its close, he finally decided to ask. He knew by now that she would have to leave the train before he did – three stops prior to his in fact. Today however, he had no work to go to. As the train pulled to a stop at the station and the girl left her seat, he remained seated. Only after the last wisps of her red hair had left his view did he leave the carriage too.

 

He followed her, just a few paces behind, for a few blocks in the city. Sensing something, she suddenly turned her head around and looked directly at Lucas. Her green eyes appeared somewhat startled and her pale skin was faintly flushed, discolouring the dusting of freckles across her nose. Yet the smile remained in place.

Lucas opened his mouth to speak, to ask why she was always smiling… then a shout from across the street turned her head. A friend called to her and she began walking to join them, turning briefly back to Lucas to reward him with that soft smile. Then she was gone.

Lucas cursed himself for not being able to speak fast enough – for hesitating. He resolved to write a note instead. Yes, that would do.

That evening as they both journeyed home once more, he took his regular seat a few seats behind the red-haired girl and scribbled in messy, slanted writing on the edge of his newspaper. Before his stop, he got up to use the bathroom facilities and passed her on the way to the front of the carriage. As a balled up piece of paper was dropped in her lap, the girl - Hayley – was surprised. Carefully uncurling the delicate paper, she read the words hastily scribbled in the top corner;

‘Who is the girl behind that smile?’

Hayley’s smile grew wider and the hand always resting on her bag twitched slightly. Tucking the note into her pocket, she gazed out the window again. In the dark, this time only seeing her own face reflected back. Large green eyes framed by heavy blonde lashes, feathery auburn hair daintily brushing her shoulders and freckles splashed across her skin like glitter… and a soft, knowing smile etched across her lips.

 

The game continued, with Hayley finding the same notes left inexplicably in the pocket of her handbag that usually held her music player, and simply tucked into the magazine she had only left on her seat for a moment.

As each note was unfolded and carefully read, she would look into her window again and smile at the reflected face of Lucas as he deliberated over his newspaper with intense focus. One day, Lucas saw the girl was not at her usual seat. Wondering where she might have gone today he grudgingly moved on to his own chosen seat – to find it occupied by a smiling red-haired girl with green eyes.

Sitting down across from the girl, he finally met her eyes.

‘I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced,’ the girl said calmly, ‘my name is Hayley Brown.’

He took the hand offered to him and smiled back, as if her upturned lips were contagious.

‘Lucas Stevens.’

Nothing was said for a long time. Then finally Lucas managed to bottle up the remainder of his courage and opened his mouth,

‘Who is the girl behind that smile?’

The smile grew in response and the girl averted her eyes to the window – taking in the new scenery from this particular seat.

‘It’s just my way of coping I suppose.’

‘Coping with what?’

Green eyes turned back to him.

‘With everything. If I can’t smile anymore, then I know I’ve given up.’

‘Then, can I ask you another question?’

A nod.

‘What’s the story of the girl behind that smile?’

At this point, seeing her face in its entirety he could see that the encouraging smile never really reached those startling green eyes of hers. With a deep breath and a never wavering smile, she told him of her parents and their early death at the hands of a fatal illness, her life as an orphaned teenager and how she had grasped at straws until she'd built a life for herself she could be proud of. How she could only ever smile so that her resolve to live for her parents would never be broken – if that happened, she would only want to join them sooner.

When the story was finished, the train began to pull at her stop and she stood, thanked Lucas for his company and left the train.

As her figure disappeared in the distance, Lucas had the feeling that is would be the last time he saw Hayley Brown, after six months of watching and waiting they had spoken once to one another… and he couldn’t help but smile.

It really was contagious.


© Copyright 2017 Medea Rene. All rights reserved.

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