Thursday, February 23, 2012

She Smiles - Flash Fiction

The bus door opens, and Becky smiles.

I am tired and cranky because my hair just wouldn't behave this morning.  The bed had been warm and inviting on this bitter winter day;  after begrudgingly rolling out, I had scoured the kitchen for something more appetizing than toast and jam, but found nothing.  Even the coffee was stale.  Now my phone is filled with calls to return and emails to answer. There never seem to be enough hours in the day.

The weekend beckons with the promise of sitting around and doing nothing.

Pulling my scarf tighter against the biting wind, I inwardly curse the fact that it's itchy against my skin.  I rush Becky into the school, blonde hair flying;  her coat is thin and she has no hat.  She's probably freezing, but there isn't anything that she can do about it.

Once inside, the others greet her and she grins happily, delighted to be here and patiently waiting for someone to attend to her.  We lift her onto what looks like a gurney;  wooden-backed and covered with hanging straps, it resembles an instrument of torture.  Her legs are gently yet forcibly straightened and immobilized, and she cries a little as we crank her into a vertical position.  Yet seconds later, Becky once again looks upon us with joy and even laughs out loud when one of us sneezes.

Let me tell you about Becky.

She cannot put on a coat if she is cold or ask for a toy that she wants.  She cannot brush a fly from her face. She is completely at the mercy of everything, and everyone, around her.

She cannot walk, nor stand, nor move her legs except in a sort of reflexive kick.  She does not eat or drink by mouth, but rather through a feeding tube.  She has little control of her arms and hands;  she has never spoken a word.  She cannot tell us when she hurts or what she wants.  She communicates with her eyes as best she can.

And yet...

She is one of the happiest people that I know.  Look her way and she will meet your gaze with perfect charm. Laugh, and she will laugh with you, kicking her feet at the joke.

Just as I'm grousing about what's on the menu for lunch, I turn around and see Becky scanning the room.  I give her a little wave, and that tiny movement, that split-second of attention, is all that she requires. Her face lights up, in the truest sense of the word.  I have paid her some attention.

She smiles. 

Author's note:  Composite character sketch. Any resemblance to an actual child named Becky or Rebecca is a coincidence.

Also, technically I don't consider this to be a true "flash" since it isn't really a story, more a vignette.  But hey, it's MY blog and I'll do what I want. Mwah ha ha ha ha cough cough 


  1. Sweet story. We take so much for granted!

  2. Great story! A reminder of how fortunate we are and how quickly we overlook our blessings. I have known people like Becky and I'm always amazed by their happiness, it is refreshing. Hope all is well!

  3. At least this went out on a smile! Some days it makes braving the cold outside of bed worthwhile.

  4. Lovely, really touching tale Lisa

    marc nash

  5. Becky has an amazing resemblance to a boy that I assisted for half of a school year. He had muscular dystrophy. Funny, but the only use that he could find for his hands would be to knock someone's glasses off - and he would laugh. I took this job during an off-semester from college. Very entertaining story ...

  6. Love how a simple piece of paying attention, and a smile, can turn a day around. Great story, Li.

  7. whether it be a story or vignette, this is one of those pieces that makes us realize that we should be grateful for what we are, and what we are blessed with. Nicely written. :)

  8. Really wonderful... I wonder what keeps them so happy...maybe they are untouched by the cynicism of the grown up world, where we place too much emphasis on things that don't truly matter. Its hard to tell a proper story as a flash but this felt like a scene out of one.

  9. Aww. You definitely provoked an emotional response from me. Great work.

  10. Mwah ha ha ha ha cough cough to you too!