My first crack at so called ‘flash fiction’. Not entirely sure if I’m comfortable with that phrase.
The Smile Jar
Someone shot me a warm smile in a coffee bar this morning.
Normally I can take a warm smile in my stride. But this one………well, I wasn’t ready for it – nearly fell off my chair, in fact.
Let’s just say it came from a rather unexpected source. You see, there’s some water under the bridge between her, and I.
She didn’t need to smile, didn’t have to. But she did so anyway. And within a short while, I kind of rediscovered the ability to empathise. Things came flooding back. They were not particularly pleasant things, but they nonetheless were important things.
Nothing else would have worked. Funny, that a warm smile could have done what a thousand arguments and a hundred public house conversations wouldn’t, and couldn’t.
I tried to return that warm smile.
Really, I did.
It’s been quite a while since those particular facial muscles have been exercised.
I think I managed some kind of response. I don’t think it was a warm smile.
But life is too short for resentment. And for denial, and for double-barrel surnames.
So I rummaged around in my rucksack to see if I had any warm smiles on me.
After I had thrown out all of the pens, notebooks and iambic pentameter (its amazing how much space that shit takes up), there remained-but half a packet of Brazil nuts, some headphones in the usual spaghetti-tangle, one sweaty sock from yesterday’s gym session, and some notes on IFRS 2: Share-Based Payments that I was going to need for work.
But alas, no warm smiles. I wanted to give a warm smile in return, never mind receive one. Where are they when you most need them?
Back at home, I checked the kitchen cupboards.
There were the lentils, the chick peas, the black eye beans, all present-and-correct.
Then I found a jar labelled: furtive glances.
………..then another: failed romances,
………. then another: courtship dances.
The warm smiles had to be round here somewhere, surely.
And right on the point of giving up, I saw two further jars. One was labelled:
and then finally, the other:
It was little more than a pill-box really. I unscrewed the lid, and there they were. Five rather dated-looking warm smiles that were past-best, judging by the whiff. Brown at the edges and bouncy-hard, as they cascaded onto the laminate worktop like poker dice.
I put them in my rucksack. Maybe they will come in handy.
And yes, I did remove the sweaty sock.