A Real Smile

June 1, 2010
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The bell had just rung and Lisa was one of the first ones out of her class. Her next class wasn’t close, and she walked to it alone.

She felt a tap on her shoulder and suddenly Greg from math class was standing right next to her. She felt her cheeks turning red. “Hey,” he said cheerfully. “Hey”, Lisa said back, with a small smile.

This is so weird, she thought. Greg’s barely ever talked to me before. Why now?

“How are you?” he asked, still cheerful, but slightly tentative.

“Peachy.” She said with a fake smile, “and you?”

Greg didn’t answer. Lisa saw other kids passing by them and realized they’d stopped walking. She looked up at Greg. The cheerful expression was gone, replaced with a frown. He looked like he was studying her, looking for something not there on the surface.

“What?” she asked him.

“Nothing. . .I mean you. . .never mind.”

“Greg, you’ve been in my math class since the beginning of the year, and you’ve barely ever talked to me. I think you might’ve asked me to borrow a pencil once. So. . .not that I’m complaining. . .but why are you talking to me now?”

This little speech seemed to take him by surprise. Lisa understood why. She never did talk much, only when the teacher called on her.

The surprise faded and Greg suddenly looked sheepish. Lisa eyed him with suspicion. What are you so embarrassed about? She thought.

Greg bit his lip, he seemed to be looking for the right words.

“I’ve just been. . .um, Lisa I’ve been worried about you.”

She raised her eyebrows. Worried about me? She thought. You’re the first one to actually tell me.

“Oh, have you?” she said and started walking again, faster this time.

Greg met her pace. “Yes.”

“Why’s that?” Lisa asked, still walking.

Greg grabbed her wrist and twisted her around to face him. “Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.” He told her, his voice and eyes serious.

Lisa looked down at the floor. Greg put a hand under her chin and lifted her head. He was looking straight into her light gray eyes, and she stared back into his sky blue ones.

Lisa noticed that he had one hand on her waist. Her heart seemed to skip a beat.

“Listen,” Greg began again, “I know this sounds kinda lame, but you seem like a really great girl, and I want to get to know you better.”

Lisa cut him off. “How can you tell I’m a ‘really great girl’? I hardly ever talk.”

He grinned. “You don’t have to talk for me to know you’re a great girl.” His grin faded. “ But you always seem so sad. Even when you smile. I can see it in your eyes, it isn’t a real smile.”

“You’re the first one to ever notice that.” Lisa told him, highly appreciating the fact.

He grinned again. “Oh, I’m very perceptive.”

An almost smile spread over Lisa’s lips. “I’m sure you are.”

They were still staring straight into each other’s eyes.

“You, you don’t have to tell me why you’re. . .so sad.” The late bell rang, so they started walking again, and Lisa remembered Greg’s class was right next to hers.

“But if you ever want to. . .you can.” Greg looked down at her and smiled.

He still had his arm around Lisa’s waist as they walked down the hallway. Lisa looked up at him and smiled. It was the first real smile she’d had in months.

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