Beautiful Smile

Cody watched his girlfriend through the window as she weakly played dinosaurs with her little brother. He didn’t want to walk into the hospital room and disturb them. It was the first time he had seen Elizabeth smile since she woke up. As he watched, Elizabeth’s dad, Jeff, walked up behind Cody.
“I hoped he would do the trick,” Jeff said. Cody turned to look at the man he had hoped would soon be his dad.
“She hasn’t smiled this much since the night of the accident,” Cody stated. The two didn’t look away from Elizabeth and her brother.
“Those two connected quickly and strongly. She would defend him with everything she had and give her life if that’s what it took to protect him. And even at six, we can tell Blake would do the same for her. Those two are the closest two of my kids. They’re the two who are going to try with all their might to keep this family together. They’re the two who would come running as soon as they heard me, or Rachel, or Ma Julia needed help. Those two are the most special,” Jeff said. Suddenly they heard Blake’s normal voice instead of his dinosaur voice.
“Are you hurt really badly, Sissy?” Blake asked, pronouncing his t’s and r’s very clearly. There was a slight pause as Elizabeth tried to think of an answer.
“Yeah. Sissy’s hurt really bad,” she answered. Blake was quiet for a few minutes and just looked at his older sister.
“You’ll be a beautiful angel,” Blake finally said. Elizabeth smiled a smile that broke Cody’s heart. It was so soft and sweet. He almost envied Blake for getting that smile.
“And why is that?” Elizabeth questioned.
“Because you’re pretty and you’re good,” Blake replied matter-of-factly. A shadow came over Elizabeth’s face. No one noticed it except her dad. Jeff knew why that statement made Elizabeth upset, but he would never tell Blake that part of Elizabeth’s life.
“I haven’t always been good, Buddy,” Elizabeth said.
“Are you sorry for being bad?” Blake questioned. He looked his older sister in the eyes.
“Yeah,” Elizabeth replied quietly.
“Well, that’s all that matters. You’ll be an angel. A beautiful angel,” Blake explained. Elizabeth just looked at her brother for a silent moment and then hugged him.
“Thank you,” Elizabeth said. A tear rolled down her face.
Elizabeth wiped the tear away and the two went back to playing dinosaurs until Blake fell asleep. Jeff and Cody thought Elizabeth was asleep too so they walked in. With her eyes still closed, Elizabeth spoke.
“I’m gonna die,” she stated. The two men stopped in their tracks.
“Nobody said that, babe,” Cody responded, walking to his girlfriend’s bedside. Jeff walked over to the side where Blake was sleeping in a chair and put his hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder.
“I know nobody said it, but I can just tell. It’s gonna be soon,” Elizabeth said, tears falling in a steady stream. Cody leaned down and hugged his girlfriend. Jeff kissed his daughter on the forehead. Elizabeth cried herself to sleep. When Jeff and Cody tried to move to leave the room, Elizabeth woke up.
“Please don’t let go,” she pleaded.
“Babe, we’ll have to sometime,” Cody said. Jeff and Elizabeth both shook their head.
“No. Don’t let go of...me,” Elizabeth said. Even Cody noticed Elizabeth weakening with every passing second. Cody stood for a moment, trying to figure out what his girlfriend meant. He looked up at Jeff for help, but Jeff shook his head. Just then, Cody understood.

“I won’t. I promise,” Cody said quietly. He kissed Elizabeth and gently touched her face. She closed her eyes and Blake woke up. He woke up with a start, like he had been having a bad dream and wanted someone to make it better. He looked at his dad and then his sister. He hugged his sister tightly. While the two embraced, Elizabeth began crying again.

“I love you, Sissy,” Blake said
“I love you, too, Buddy,” Elizabeth breathed. When Blake pulled away he smiled at his best friend and sister. Elizabeth smiled back at him. This smile was just as beautiful as the one she had given her brother earlier, but it was different. It was soft and sweet, but there was pain and sadness in it. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep, still smiling. She never woke up. Cody, Blake, and Jeff just looked at Elizabeth as the alarms started going off. The three walked out of her room and sat in the hallway. Cody started crying and Jeff teared up. Blake looked toward his sister’s room and then looked at his father.
“Elizabeth’s an angel now, Daddy,” he said solemnly.
“Yep. Yes she is,” Jeff whispered.
“She’s going to be a good angel. And a pretty one,” Blake said. The next to respond wasn’t Jeff but Cody.
“She already was, Bud. She was my angel,” he stated.


***Six Months Later***


“Lizzie came back,” Blake said one night at dinner. Cody had become attached to the family while he was with Elizabeth, and was over that night. He stopped midway through putting the fork in his mouth. Everyone else stopped what they were doing and looked at Blake.
“What do you mean?” Blake’s mom asked.
“She came back. She was in my room last night. At first she just looked at me, but then she came to my bed and kissed me on the forehead. She told me she loved me and gave me her locket,” Blake explained.

“We buried her locket with her, Blake,” his mom said.
“No look,” Blake said and ran to his room. He returned a few seconds later with the locket Elizabeth had gotten for her birthday. The picture inside was a candid shot of her and Blake, smiling. Both beautiful smiles.





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