Smiling (Sometimes)

There, do you see her?




Eyes like molten amber


frozen in time and tragedy.


You’d never guess, would you?


That beneath the papery pretense


the over-bright teeth and even brighter laughs


is a fatigue so deep


so consuming


that it’s all she can do not to get pulled underneath.


Because she knows once she’s gone, she’s not coming back


she isn’t sure she’d even want to, really.


So she bakes a cake instead


and pours her unshed tears into it


drop by salty drop.


No cake has tasted more real.


(Heartbreak is surprisingly delicious.)


She lets the words wash over her


“You’re such a brave, strong girl.”


“You’re going to be fine!”


Smiles bitterly, and goes back to stitching herself together


scrap by shivering scrap


but the damn stitches just won’t




The days are fine; she’s almost finished the last knot


securing it with a couple of grins and a chuckle thrown in for good measure.


A chuckle echoed by her heart as it laughs at her charades.


She ignores it like always


stuffing her fist into the gaping hole inside to make it shut up.


And then the night saunters in with its trademark smirk and








she is undone again.


Nerves flailing; vessels splintered


It’s times like these that she just




to fold herself into a suitcase


and disappear,


coppery strand of hair caught in the zip.


Because she can manage quite well without the sympathy and cold tea,
thank you very much


It’s the void she can’t quite fill up


No matter how many


teaspoons of love


brass kettles of hugs


she tips in


Or cups of happiness she crams within


It’s never






She tries, though


She tries until her smile dries up and her lungs hurt


and her laugh forgets itself.


She tries until she’s slowly crumbling


into a tangled mess


of nothing at all


But she keeps right on trying.


Are you wondering what her secret is?


How she wades through each day and survives


Drenched to the bone, dripping pain off every pore


but alive


and sometimes, smiling.


The secret, my friend




in the tiny ant that tickles her nose when she’s sleeping


the curious sparrow pecking on the windowsill at dawn


the bubblewrap that bursts into giggles within her palms


her sister’s tired fingers lining her eyes with kohl


the old lady who grabs on to her arm at the crossing


her father’s shaking hands squeezing hers tight


the laughter in her friends’ souls


burrowing their way into hers.


The secret, sweetheart,


lies in the way


the world is constantly shattering



only to explode all over again


just like her.


So she inhales the bitter stardust


and exhales the sticky darkness


and wills her aching synapses


to pull themselves together.


Because she knows,


deep down in her toes


that life is too darn beautiful


to give up on.



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“Smiling (Sometimes)”

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