October 19, 2008
By Ayse Yilmaz, Paterson, NJ

"Rough day today, huh?" A stranger, a random stranger asked him. He made the effort to look up.

"Is that any of your business?" He replied coldly. He took a look at the stranger. The stranger was female. She was wearing a light blue denim jacket, a light pink shirt underneath, and jeans. She held a purse in one hand.

"Not really," She paused. "But you look like you've had a bad day." He took in her shockingly bright blonde hair.

"Maybe I did. Why do you care?" His eyes were drawn to the smile she wore.

She shrugged. "I guess I have no reason." She paused for another second. "But you're frowning. It's better to smile." She offered her own as evidence.

"Smiling is a sign of happiness- no, ignorance. I believe I'm not ignora-"

"You're not happy?" She said, interrupting him.

He glared at her for a second. "I didn't say I'm not happy. However, I'm not... depressed with my life. There's just some things I have to deal with." She kept the smile on her face.

"It gets easier to deal with when you have a smile on your face." She told him softly.

"Thanks. I'll let you know if it works." He smiled, but it was more of a smirk just to spite her.

"No problem." She flashed him a grin, oblivious of the sarcasm that was practically bleeding out of him. She turned to walk away.

"Remember to smile!" She called out to him.

He turned away, and stood at a street corner. While waiting for the opportunity to cross the road, he caught a glimpse of the street address. He was going the wrong way.

With a huff, he turned around and headed toward the way that the woman had gone. He saw her cross another street, and he also saw a bus. The light had changed to green and the woman hadn't noticed. Neither did the driver.

He wasn't aware of what had happened until he saw her body laying on the ground. Everyone around him started shouting and crying. A few people went up to her to see if she was alright. Others tried to call for help.

But... he knew before anyone else. He didn't see her breathe, and he didn't see her move. He didn't have to hear the brave man confirming what he already knew.

He finally saw her. The denim jacket she wore, was all patched up and faded. The light pink shirt had a rather large tear in it. Her shockingly bright hair had a few strands of white running through it. The purse she had clutched in her hand was well worn and the strap had been broken. And one look at her face, he noticed all the wrinkles. How had he missed all that before?

Still... Her words still rung in his ears. He took a step back and another and another until he backed into a wall. He found himself leaning heavily against it and fell. He remembered her words.

'Remember to smile!' He didn't want to remember...

For the first time in a long time, he smiled.

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