…..maybe I don’t want to
don’t be so blue
…..maybe my face
…..feels better this way

The day that my brother committed suicide the nurse at the hospital, who knew nothing about me, took one look at me and said, “Smile. It can’t be that bad.”
I spun around and snapped, “Fuck you,” at her.
She looked stunned and then under her breath, afraid, she responded, “How dare you?”
It took every bit of my strength not to grab her by the throat as I screamed, “This morning, my brother put a plastic bag over his head, hooked up to a helium tank and ended his own life with the meticulous care and planning of someone plotting a bank heist, so I don’t fucking feel like smiling. Sorry if that brings you down.”
She had nothing to say in response and just walked away.

turn your frown
upside down
…..maybe it hurts
… constrict
…..the corners
…..of my mouth
don’t be a party pooper

I’d been awake for three days on crystal meth when a customer walked up the counter and said, “Smile. It doesn’t cost anything to smile.”
I looked at him with bloodshot eyes that felt like they were going to explode from my head. I felt fairly certain they were shaking from insanity. I was having some extreme difficulty keeping myself upright. I was worried that, if I moved my facial muscles at all, it might cause me to lose control and vomit all over this fucking asshole. Oh well, he had it coming.
I drew the corners of my mouth back in imitation of some distant memory of what smiling had been like. At the same time, I tried to widen my eyes in what I hoped would give the impression of warmth and contentment.
It must have had the opposite effect, however, as his expression turned from condescension to fear, he backed up three steps and then just turned around and ran.

you’re bumming me out
…..maybe you should
…..if you like it so much
you’ll make me feel better
if you

I could see that she was getting ready to leave. For good, this time. Her suitcases were packed and she was heading out the door. I f I hadn’t left work early, she would have already been gone.
“Smile, honey,” I said, “Please?”
She put down her bags for a moment as she let out a long sigh of resignation.
“Fine,” she spit, through gritted teeth.

And then…she smiled. A smile so filled with hatred and triumph and pity that I felt all the air sucked from my lungs and the tears begin to pour, against my will, from my eyes.
She laughed from her gut. A laugh that felt to me like suffocating in a bag filled with nails.
She said, “There. I hope that makes you feel better.” Then she picked up her shit and walked out the door.

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