Enlightenment (of Sorts)

She had always been aware that she smiled too much.

Usually, it was the absence of a frown rather than an actual grin but she defaulted to it so often that she was always shaping up for the next one. People expected it and she never disappointed.

She used smiles to punctuate her sentences, to emphasis points and as reassurance (to herself as well as others). Humour, gossip, attractiveness; the degree varied but smiles were her stock response to pretty much everything. Some people laughed in the face of danger, she smiled in the face of…well, everything really.

When she was younger, the smile accompanied apologies for being right, for being wrong, for being walked in to and over. Meeker versions would even turn up when people were telling her that she was overreacting or being irrational – even when she knew she was well within her rights to frown instead.

She would try a smile as she sat quietly keeping her opinions and ideas to herself. Suggestions would be left unsaid, worries unaired and fears buried away and still she kept up the pleasantries.

But she was young then.

Since then, there had been births, deaths and marriages. There had been ups and downs, highs and lows, swings and roundabouts. For better or worse, people had come and people had gone. And she eventually figured out that she smiled so often because she had such an expressive face. She had to do something to keep from giving herself away at every turn. The smiles remained but she came to realise that she could be pleasant without being quite so agreeable all the time.

She was amazed to find that people still liked her.

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