Sometimes, he likes to smile for no reason. Other people notice and may opt to suspect him as a bit kooky in the head but he doesn’t mind. He just smiles, peacefully, calmly, like he’s letting go of the world that’s supposed to be on his shoulders. He smiles.
She notices it every single time. He’s five tables away but she will always sneak a glance his way to see if he’s doing it again. She never fails because he always does.
She’s rattled, to say the least. Never before has she seen such person. Smiling like that, as if he doesn’t have a paper to finish by tomorrow, an exam to pass on Monday and a meeting to attend before the day ends. She knows him and she knows that precious time must be held between careful hands. He must not let it go to waste. He doesn’t. But still he smiles.
She decides to amble towards his seat. She pulls up a chair and sits across him. She tilts her head and asks, “Why are you smiling?”
He doesn’t answer but he opens his eyes. You see, his eyes also droop close whenever he smiles in that weird way of his. She has always deemed his mind must have a loose screw somewhere.
His dreamy smile melts into nothingness. His eyes drift past her. He clears his throat in order to avoid the potential awkwardness. He slips on his mask. The smiling man is no more.
This is a common occurrence. She has done this so many times before. But she fails to catch him off guard.
He smiles whenever he thinks no one is looking. It’s like he’s letting go of his grip on his life. It’s like he’s letting any high deity to take over for him. It’s like he’s content with whatever the natural course of his life is.
But she notices. So he slips back to his old self. The slight summer is a false comfort for the coming winter.