Smiles

Prompt: “Begin with ‘he dreams about the smiles she suppressed.’” 

He knows that every one hides behind her mask, every happy memory striving to be expressed in any way it can. They can’t escape, because she won’t let them. She won’t fall into the same trap she’s lived in her entire life: the lifestyle where the happiness takes over and leads to recklessness. That lifestyle has only ever caused her pain.

So she focuses on other things. She puts all of her thoughts into her work, spends every waking moment being productive. In her structured life, there is no time for leisure.

He watches her from afar as she unconsciously throws her life away in her work. He hasn’t seen her smile, really smile, in months. Happy moments pass her by quicker than she can even imagine, and he sits back and watches as she lets them go.

All of this he can see because it’s the same for him. He was content to go through his life not paying attention to his own wants or needs, but when he saw his baby sister doing the same he had to wake up.

They couldn’t spend their lives ignoring everything they wanted so that they wouldn’t fall to ruin. They had both effectively deleted all risk from their lives, but at the same time, removed all of the happiness.

He tried to tell her this, not too long ago, but she was immediately defensive. Talking about the subject of their woe only made her feel worse. She wouldn’t listen as he tried to explain that happiness was not their mother’s killer, alcohol was. She wouldn’t listen as he yelled that she was throwing her life away by trying not to.

She continued on the next day in the same routine, putting her brother’s words behind her and delving even further into her work. She didn’t listen fully to him until she lost him too.

Her entire life came crashing down that day: abandoned by her dad, her mother lost to alcohol, and now her brother lost to an automobile accident. She had lost every person that she loved, and though she had plenty of experiencing dealing with grief, she had never been personally accountable before.

This last time, her brother’s death, was her fault. She had been so caught up in escaping her pain in her work that she hadn’t answered her phone when he called, or when the doctors called, or when the police called. They showed up at her doorstep, and she wasn’t home. She was at the office.

Eventually they found her and broke the news.  She had officially lost everything, and hiding in her work hadn’t fixed anything. Her life came to a standstill, and she couldn’t imagine a future without everyone she loved.

The next day she replayed her brother’s words in her head, and now she truly listened. She had to move on, to enjoy her life. She may never get over losing everyone, but even worse would be going through life and not having anything to say for it at the end.


Prompt courtesy of Tumblr

Photo used under Creative Commons from Michael Dorokhov

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