Living Life #23 “Smile”

I have only seen her frown once.

Granted, I have never seen her outside of work but when you work as many hours as I do with the same people day after day… you tend to notice things.

In the early morning, when the sky is still painted night and the air chilled with dew, whoever she greets on her way in she’ll flash a smile. It doesn’t matter if her eyelids are still a little droopy with sleep, or her sweet voice a little heavier as if coated in honey. No matter what, you’ll still see that smile.

At our weekly meeting we learn about new procedures, rules, or programs we need to know how to run. If she doesn’t understand she’ll raise her hand and ask her questions, always with a coy quirk in her lip. As if in apology for speaking, when in reality she is voicing the question in all our minds.

Casual meetings in the hallway with everyone’s coming and goings, when if you’re lucky enough to meet her eyes, there that grin will be. It doesn’t matter that she already flashed it at you an hour ago when you walked in together.

Disgruntled customers are frequent and normal. I once watched a man spit at her, saliva getting stuck to her blouse and she didn’t even balk. That smile came to her defense and it calmed him, and the rest of us, down from coming to her aid.

When Tracy accidentally dropped a cup of coffee and it splashed onto her shirt.

When her computer broke and she had to stay late to finish her assignment.

When it started to pour just as she was about to leave the other day.

Everywhere she goes, she smiles. I don’t understand. Or at least I didn’t, until the day I saw that frown.

I was coming around the corner when I spotted her at the window. It was the only time I ever saw her eyes look so far away. Her arms were crossed tightly across her chest, and her hands were clenched around her elbows. I realized in that moment that she thought she was alone. I would have left it that way too… if not for the frown marring her face.

For someone who had always seemed so happy, and brought joy to everyone else… I wondered at the depth of sadness she must have kept bottled up inside. There was a lifetime of disappointment and worry in that upside down turn of her mouth.

I didn’t mean to stare… but that’s how she caught me. Her expression careened from sadness to surprise to a calm expression with her lips set into a straight line. I didn’t even know what to say, I was caught just as off guard as she was.

Are you okay? came to the tip of my tongue but my words weren’t working. She inclined her head at me then and passed by. That was the only time she didn’t smile, at least to me.

I wonder, sometimes, if she is as aware as I am of the powerful effect a smile, or lack there one, can have… because after I didn’t see one the rest of my day was wrecked.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

“Question”

Sometimes,
she’ll ask
me
a question.

Then in return,
I’ll give
her
an answer.

Bundled
in a sweater
with purpose
puncturing her words,
I hear her smart
yet sassy
inquisition.

(She never lets me down.)

It’s those moments,
where my heart
beats a little
too
fast.
But still…
I try to keep
my distance
(and curiosity)
at bay
for what her next
question will be.

She brings up
the clouds,
the mist
the breeze
trying to get in
through my window.

And I want
to open the window
and feel the sun on my face
because it is just like
her smile.
(But instead
I bury my head,
back to the calls
flashing on my phone.)

Every time
I see
her
there’s so much
to do
I want her to leave
(and need her
to stay
to make this
dull gray light
stark sunshine bright.)

Sometimes
she’ll ask
me
a question

(Too close to the truth.)

And I
won’t answer
her
at all.

(And we both
know why.)

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

“Valentine’s Day”

Chocolate hearts,
sweet tarts,
honey dripping
off your lips.

Written out paper card,
walking down the boulevard
not knowing where
but happy all the same.

Red rose,
bantering prose
nothing can ever
compare to this.

Cuddly teddy bear,
my mind without care
as long as you
are next to me.

Love of my life,
your future wife
doesn’t need
all these things.

Only you
and me too
together
forevermore.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my dear

Photo by Alejandra Quiroz on Unsplash

“Answer”

Sometimes,
I’ll ask
you
a question.

Then in return,
you’ll give
me
an answer.

Fastened
in a business suit
with logic
licking your lips,
I hear your polite
professional
response.

(Good for you.)

And I notice,
disappointment
and relief
tying my hands
behind my back.
But still…
I’m curious
(and struck)
so I change
my tactics.

I bring up the sun,
the air,
the rain brushing
the windows
near your desk.

And you say,
“It’s been so
so busy.
There hasn’t
been time.”

You are either
so absorbed
in your papers
or so disinterested
in everything else
except
your phone.

Trying to get
you
to look
at me
is my favorite
game.

Because,
there have been
certain times,
when I know
I’ve gotten through
to you.

Sometimes
I’ll ask
you
a question.

And
you
won’t answer
me
at all.

(And we both know,
you heard me.)

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Living Life #22 “Mirror”

The shards were scattered all over the floor.

Each edge was jagged, and unlike any of the others. Of course they would all be different. They all came from different experiences.

The shard closest was derived from the boy who pushed her into the sandbox when she was five, just because she had been born a girl and for no other reason more.

The one to the right was one of the bigger ones. It was from when she was seven and her father had left. She thought it had been her fault. It was not her fault.

All the way to the left was a tiny chip, nearly in the shape of a heart. Nearly. It was from the eighth grade when the boy she liked had tried to set her up with his best friend.

Then all the way in the back, that piece with the most uneven sides… the piece with the sharpest angles…. that was the one from her first job out of school when her boss had tried to sand her down. That boss hadn’t liked the bumps on her skin, the angle of her eyes, or the color of her hair. That boss had balked at the smile she wore to work every day no matter how many backhanded compliments and disguised insults were said to her face. That was the girl’s favorite piece. That was the piece that cut deepest from her skin and made her never look back or question who she was ever again.

All of these shards on the floor were an important piece of her soul. So the image left standing in the mirror, after it was fixed once again, was a smarter and stronger girl.

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

“Stay”

I want
you
to stay.

Please.

Don’t leave
me
with those
skinny
reckless
young boys
trying to catch
grapes
in their mouths.

Stay
with me.

Please.

They don’t know
how
to be men
yet.
And that
is what
I really
need.

Please.

Don’t
leave me.

I need
the man
who holds
the door for me.

The man
who notices
and helps me
without a word.

The man
who said,
“If you need me,
let me know.”

I need you.

Right now.

Please.
Don’t
go.

Read my mind.
Cause I
can’t
say those words
(the ones
I really mean)
with her
so near.

Please.
Stay with me.
I
don’t
want
to
be
alone.

Photo by Dan Gribbin on Unsplash

“K.”

Photo by Alex Ware on Unsplash

I’m sorry
it had
to go
this way.

I hurt you,
I know.
But I don’t
regret it
still today.

No choice
was left
for me.
You made
that clear
and unfortunately
too easy.

I don’t feel
how you
do.

Caught
off guard
and alone
I had to
speak
the truth.

I don’t
feel
the same
way.

I’m sorry.
Neither of us
wrong,
just no more
to say.

In the end
it will
make us
both
strong.

Not now,
no,
not right now.

I answer
your text
with a
simple
“K.”

Then you got
the message
clear as day.

“Correlation”

Photo by Norbert Buduczki on Unsplash

I see him
every Sunday.
My dog and I
always taking
our stroll.

Bustling,
with a cloth
in hand
he cleans
and scrubs
until the windows
and blue doors
of that car shine
like diamonds
in the summer
or sapphires
in the winter.

Every Sunday,
he hustles
around that car
as if it’s a high strung
girlfriend
instead
of a means
of transportation.

As if it isn’t
our day off.

This is all
I know about him

and I wonder,
if he treats his car
that attentively
how would he treat
a girl?

Jumping
over puddles
or meandering
in the shade
of the sidewalk,
I look for him

and I wonder.

It wouldn’t
be normal
to see that car
without him there.

I see him
every Sunday,
and I think,
he sees
me too.