From Dave's View:
I see her smile. She laughs as though just seeing my face is the best thing in the world. She sounds so carefree, so joyous... I wish I could laugh like that.
How does she do it? She must be so happy, so optimistic, so unburdened... I wish I could smile the way she does. She bounces towards me, a huge grin on her face.
"Dave! Guess what! I got my eraser back from Marie!" She's waving her hands and gesticulating widely, full of enthusiasm and ecstasy.
I force my typically solemn expression into a happy smile.
How does she get so happy over an eraser?
She chatters on, "I lended it to her yesterday, and she returned it during class today, and it was so thoughtful of her to rub off the pencil smears and apologize for returning late!
She's such an amazing friend!" Her laughter is contagious and bubbly, and even I can't help but join in. I share a real laugh with her.
"Wow, that's great, Selina!" She sits down next to me on the grass, hugging her knees to her chest. Selina starts kicking her feet gently, humming.
I'm suddenly overcome with despair at the sound of the familiar tune. It reminds me too much of- of- of someone.
I turn to her, pain in my brown eyes, and ask, "How are you so happy and carefree?!"
From Selina's View:
I'm stunned. Did he really just ask me how I was so happy and carefree? I can't help but let out a snort. Happy and carefree? Me?! Dave has got it all wrong.
I open my mouth, and force myself to grin as though the question doesn't bother me.
"Happy and carefree? Well, why not? I think smiling and giggling is way better than frowning and crying, don't you think?" I watch Dave's face closely. Emotion flares in his sad brown eyes.
He tries not to reveal his pain, but I know he's heartbroken. I know, because I go through that everyday. But I always hide my pain.
Dave snarls, "But what if someone can't do anything else but frown and cry? What if-what-if- " He draws in a deep, shuddering breath.
"What if no matter how hard they try, they can't smile? They can't laugh, can't find anything good?" I look away. He's hit too close to home. I gulp, and tears start to stream down my face.
Dave seems surprised, but listens as I mutter darkly, "Don't you think I also feel that way sometimes? No- not sometimes- all the time. Some part of me, deep inside, is always crying.
But I lock it away and hide it and bury it deep, deep down under, under my fake laughs and grins.
I try to focus on all the good things, things I take for granted, that could always be so much worse- but all the while,
that tiny crying voice hidden away wails at me and demands how I can lie to myself and act so happy. It's disgusted with me.
But I- if I don't hide my feelings, how will I go on with my day? How will I make it to the next day, or even the next year?
The voice inside of me torments me and criticizes everything I do, and all I can do is just smile and chuckle, because once I start sobbing... I'm afraid I won't ever stop." I bite my lip.
I try to force my lips into a smile, but it doesn't work. I won't stop sobbing now. There was always more to me behind my smile. But today, my smile is gone, broken.
Will I ever smile again? As Dave puts his arm around me, I sniff. Who knows? Maybe I will, maybe I won't. We'll see. We'll see.