Emily Rae Robles

the paradoxymoron

The Smile Maker (Flash Fiction: Day 16)

Prompt: renovate

My job is to make people smile again.

They come to me: the hurting, the fearful, the tired, and they all have the same request.  Make it stop, they say.  Make it go away.  Make me better.

Clear your mind, I say, and I will wipe off the residue of your pain.  Smooth out the wrinkles in your face, and I will put a smile in their stead.

They never know how to do this, so I sit them down in the chair of forgetfulness and iron their memories until they are blurred into oblivion.  Then I whisper a single word into their obedient ear: Smile.  The corners of their souls turn upwards, grasping for the air of hope.  It is false air, of course, but to their newly renovated selves, it is life.

When I have finished remaking someone, I send them off dressed in bright colors, with a smile on their face.  I get to choose the smile.  Usually, it is a recycled one I have seen on someone else’s face.  It looks slightly off when put on one of my patients because it is a smile that goes with different experiences, different sadnesses, a different life.  My patients have no recollection of sadness, so the pasted smile is incongruous with their lack of memories.  It is lucky for them that they do not notice the difference.  Of course they do not notice the difference, how could they?

They need memories, so I filter out some of the best that they had; ones that are not tinged with sadness.  They are happy now, always happy, filled with sunshine that never sets nor sees no shadows.  Their past is tucked away in a jar in my office.  I collect pasts.  It gives me a feeling of power, to own a tragedy that is not my own.  Some days carry one when I walk past the wilted flowers in my dried up garden, and I listen as the stories in the jar cry out to be told.  But I shall not tell them.  The stories have been replaced with someone else’s smile.

I have never had a patient return to me after their first surgery.  Their minds are no longer capable of processing sadness, so there is no need for another surgery.  Sometimes I sit in a coffee shop and watch a patient come in and order, or sit in a park and watch one walk purposefully, even if they don’t have a reason to walk purposefully.  They no longer know how to wander.  They no longer know how to wonder.  But they will always smile.


February 28, 2011 - Posted by | flash fiction, writings

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