Haunted by a Smile

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“Do you need me to help you take that picture?” she asked.
Who was she? I have no idea, but her smile was breathtaking.

This incident happened three years ago. Can you imagine? So many years had gone by, but I still remember her exact words. If only I could also remember her voice!

Let me rewind everything and start from the beginning.

It was one warm spring day and I was walking home from school with one of my friends. As we were walking, we decided to take a picture in memory of the last days at school. That’s when she walked by. She, a stranger to us, someone I’d never seen before, offered to help us take the picture. She asked us with the widest smile and purest heart. We’d already taken the picture so we politely answered no, and went our way until she was behind us. For a second there, I turned around (just like those dramatic moments in Hollywood movies) and looked at her only to find her turning around and looking at me, still with her smile as wide as it can be.

A few days later, I saw her again at the same place, and at the same time. At first, I didn’t recognize her until she smiled at me; that’s all it took for me to remember her. She waved at me and said hello from across the street, while I just nervously smiled back.

Another few days passed and there she was again. This time, she was holding this little 5-year-old boy’s hand, walking him home from school. In my head, all I could think of was how sweet she looked holding her little brother’s hand, until he called her “mom”. I was shocked and speechless. What did he mean by the word “mom”? She couldn’t be a day older than 23! She saw my shocked expressions after hearing the boy’s words. She knew I didn’t expect it. But she still smiled blushingly. You could see her teary eyes a mile away. At that instant, all I wanted to do was go and hold her, hug her. I don’t know, I just wanted to do something to comfort her, but I didn’t.

I kept running into her always at the same place, and at the same time. She would always smile at me until one day, I saw her with that same little boy holding both her hand, and the hand of a 40- or 50-year-old man with the meanest look on his face. He was her husband. Suddenly, everything changed. This time, she wasn’t smiling. On the contrary, you could see the fear and sadness on her face. I could just sense it. She was unhappy and afraid of him. She couldn’t even look at me. Oh how much I wanted to walk up to that man and punch him, maybe that would… Well, I don’t know what that would’ve done, most probably nothing, but at least it would’ve felt like I did something for her.

This was the last time I saw her.

Today, three years later, I just hope that she’s happy somewhere and smiling.

- Contributed by V 

Guest Contributor

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