His First Smile

By Jeffery Mitchell

Henry felt a sting from the cool fresh air that surrounded him. He knew it was too cold out for him to be without a coat and yet, he stood on the edge of the pool in his backyard in nothing but his briefs. He felt so sure that nothing really mattered anymore, that the nearly freezing water would soothe his soul and take him away to a place where he could finally smile again. He wanted more than just to smile though, he wanted to feel it. He wanted to experience it as it gushed out of him from within; leaving him with more than a mere curve on his face to mark its presence. Even if it were only for a moment, it would be worth it. He stepped closer to the edge. Everything he knew jumped back at him from the water’s surface. He leaned over it, ready to take the plunge and caught his reflection gazing back up at him with a starry look in its eyes.

The water splashed abruptly as two drops met its surface. They dissipated throughout the rest of the pool. In between the ripples, Henry watched as his own face grew larger and larger. Just before his head hit the water, he could have sworn he had seen her once more; that same girl. She had haunted him for so long, strikingly beautiful and eternally out of reach. There she stood, soaked, just behind him. Here she swam, mute, transcending. He swirled in the water and looked up. The surface bore her image.

Henry sat down on the kitchen floor with a towel; his head still ringing. The exertion had left him weary. He felt like blacking out. He tried in vain to summon another tear; anything to let the pain out. He slumped over onto the floor and made a pillow from a towel.

 

Henry counted seconds as he waited patiently for the light to turn green. He pressed the gas pedal harder than usual and felt the car’s engine force its way into powerful motion. He looked into his rear view mirror and noticed a red car moving smoothly across the black-top. He felt his pace slow, though not of his own volition. The car was at his side, unwavering. The window was down. A woman turned to greet him. Her golden hair whirled across her cheeks in the violent wind. Henry felt his throat shrink. Her car swerved violently, but she sat calmly in place with her hands pressed together in a silent prayer. She smiled at him. Henry, spellbound, watched as her car violently shifted and flipped over the guard rail. His eyes sprung open as car horns sounded behind him; the light was green.

 

The black heart of the computer monitor reflected Henry’s eyes as the machine booted up noisily. The clanking of the copier across the room, the hasty steps of his fellow employees and the thumping on a nearby desk as Rick’s heavy palms worked thumbtacks through sheets of paper all seemed maddening yet miserably acceptable. The light of the monitor cast a haze of blue across his face, rendering him more ghastly than ever. He typed and typed. He wanted out. The day aged slowly. The clock struck 5.

Henry descended the front steps slowly. He turned a few corners and found his way into the subterranean parking lot. He knew where his car was but took the longest route he could. The building felt cold. He remembered the water.

Suddenly, he heard something; a scream, a call for help. He broke off into a sprint. The sounds grew louder; panic seized the air and gave it weight. He ran faster. Around a corner, a woman fought. Her assailant wrenched her belongings from her. He stopped as Henry came into view and drew a knife from his pocket. Henry eased forward and the woman broke free of the criminal; stumbling past Henry in a blur of torn cloth and disheveled hair. The man drew closer; maliciously wielding his knife. Henry stood resolutely. He turned and looked at the woman; his eyes widened. The man jumped at him and sliced with his knife. Henry’s hand dripped freely as he clasped the blade with one hand and seized the man’s arm with the other. He wrenched the weapon away and turned it on his attacker.

The man fell to the ground with a chorus of curses; his wound was fatal. Henry turned to find the woman and sank to the ground abruptly.

 

Light filtered in between his eyelids as Henry woke. A brightly lit hospital room welcomed him to reality. He felt his hand restrained and found it secured neatly within a heavy bandage. A nurse entered; she asked him how he felt. He could not answer. The nurse’s face shifted worriedly as she informed him of his injury. He had lost blood, a lot of it. She hurried out of the room to bring him some food. Henry sank back into the pillow, exhausted. The door creaked softly and he raised his head to find a woman standing before him. She drew nearer to the bed and lowered herself to his level. Henry felt unprecedented warmth as she silently kissed his cheek. Her golden hair whisked across his shoulder. She rose and looked at him; her eyes exquisite and bottomless. The warmth sweltered within him and his eyes watered as the curve of a smile worked its way across his face.

 

Jeffery is a young, up-and-coming writer with a vast and varied skillset. He enjoys writing, painting and playing a variety of musical instruments in his free time. You can check out his site and get in touch with him at jayjwol@gmail.com.

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