She recognized him from across the room.
The resulting smile ended all confusion he felt to this point.
His life had been aimless, purposeless, but in this moment he knew his calling.
He was to keep that smile in place. At all costs.
As she crossed the room, though, she saw no hint of recognition in his eyes.
Her borderline run slowed; doubt had been introduced.
And the smile faded.
He panicked, and closed the remaining distance.
Keeping himself upbeat, he greeted her with a smile,
"Hi! I'm Derek."
She smiled again, but out of politeness. Disappointment and pity reigned in her demeanor.
"You don't recognize me?"
His heart sank as he realized his guilt in killing the smile he had determined to defend.
Unable to abide the thought, Derek adopted a new objective:
He would undo his own damage, and resurrect the cheer he'd witnessed moments ago.
Judging by the look she was giving him now, that could take years.