The woman who smiles all day

There is a woman in town that smiles all day every day. She walks the streets of the town, no matter if it´s raining or if the sun is out, and she is smiling. She looks around and she smiles, she sees faces, places and things and she smiles.

When she gets out of her house, she is already smiling. She walks down the street and comes past a kindergarten, where the kids are running around, screaming with laughter, chasing after one another. She stands watching at the fence and is amazed by how vital the kids seem. She sees how they run around, how they climb the playground equipment, how they swing higher and higher on the swings, trying to touch the sky. She sees the pigtailed girls with their red faces and the loud boys with their freckles and she hears all the laughter and she smells the joy in the air and she smiles.

Somewhere further down her path, she never takes the same route twice, she comes past a school and she breathes in all the excitement of finally being allowed to go to school rising from all those children that just started school and she sees the determined concentration of the older kids and the incredible ignorance of educational chances from those students that will graduate soon. During recess, the young students run around outside and eat and laugh, but the older ones just stare at their phones, hungry for word from the outside world. She sees they feel trapped and she wonders if they know that they will never be as free as they are now. And then she smiles, even more so than before.

She walks on and comes past an office building and she sees the people streaming in and streaming out. Sometimes, she stands in front of an office building all day long, just watching the people. She frowns at their exhausted walk and their blank eyes and she sees their hunched backs and their grey clothes, and for a moment there she loses her smile. But then she sees a novice, just fresh out of college, bouncing all the way up to the building, so thrilled to have a job and to finally leave the class room and she smiles and watches him walk through the revolving door and disappear in the building and she wishes him a great first day and she smiles and walks on.

She walks through the town center and people recognize her and they greet her with respect and she smiles at all of them, shakes their hands. They talk to her and she smiles and sometimes, people walk beside her when she goes through the town center and they talk to her and she leans her head toward them and listens attentively and she smiles, when she is asked a question. She never says a word, but people still talk to her and she sees that it helps them. And so she lets them join her on her journey for a little while and she hears all those stories, all those fates and the furies and the problems and she takes it all in and smiles in response.

Her last stop is at the cemetery, where she walks through the rows of old friends, touches their headstones while she walks past them. Every once in a while, she stops to reminisce and old friend or a like-minded stranger and she is reminded of the value and the importance of leading a fulfilled life and she smiles. She smiles, because as a young woman growing up, she had little to smile about and she remembers that for most of her life, she went about her daily business with a deep frown and sad eyes and that she raced through all major events in her life and viewed them as nothing but the next step in life, the next thing she had to do. And her husband of 53 years had died and her daughter had married and moved away and her son died in a pointless war and her friends died and the people in her building died and people in town died and she knew they had all regretted not living a fulfilled life. And so she got up every day and she walked around town and she appreciated all the little things, everything she had never noticed before or had noticed, but had never paid attention to and she smiles.

She smiles to make up for all the lost time.

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