Smile

The last traces of a wonderful dream vanish before my eyes, a moment — and I can’t even remember what it was about. After a few blinks, my eyes adjust to the greyness of the room and I distinguish a dark figure by my desk. I try my best to keep quiet and flicker on the light.

“Gotcha, sis!”

The dim glow of an old lamp reveals a girl with a startled look on her face.

“Hahaha, look at you, Annie! So easily scared as always.”

She freezes in place silently watching me get out of bed. I pick up a bag she dropped on the floor a moment ago and a sudden thought flashes through my mind.

“You aren’t gonna run away, are you?”

Tight-lipped, she takes the bag from me. Not even a nod, but it’s already clear. She can’t take it anymore. I don’t want to be left here alone but …

I look at her slender figure in all-black rummaging through the shelves. She’s always been rebellious, my dear Annie. She deserves a better life and she will get it no matter what. I have no other choice but to help her.

I bend over and grab a box peacefully lying underneath my bed. There isn’t a lot of money, but it’s something.

“Here… Take it. I hope it’ll be enough to get by until you find a job.”

She takes a box and crams it into the bag. A quiet “thanks” drops from her lips and she turns around, ready to leave.

“Wait, not even a hug?”

She isn’t trying to hide her tears anymore when she comes up to me. A hug feels warm and comforting.

A noise comes from the other room and someone appears in the doorway. Must be her new boyfriend, could never keep track of them. He looks like he is about to say something but can’t get past the first word. I notice a metallic gleam in his hand, but he quickly hides it behind his back. When staring becomes uncomfortable, I pull away and kiss her gently on the forehead.

“Love you so much. Call me if you need anything.”

She nods and they walk out together. Minutes later I hear a car leaving the driveway. I hurry to the window to wave them goodbye but it’s too late.

I get under the covers and try to relax. I wish she’d stayed here with me, but I shouldn’t be so selfish. It won’t be long till we meet and I see her happy smile again. There are still several hours before Mom comes to wake me up, so I’d better get some sleep. Little by little I drift away into another dream.

Complete silence in an empty house is broken only by the soft ticking of a clock and peaceful breathing of a sleeping man. His bony hands are twitching restlessly, while a light smile is playing on his dry lips, gathering wrinkles on his withered skin.


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SUDARSHAN PALIWAL

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