Finalist in the short story category, Mensa Canada 2018 Literary Contest
“Make a wish!”
‘What does one generally wish for in these scenarios?”
“Anything you like. It’s your wish. It’s all possible.”
She paused, looked up at the those around her, and frowned at the glare of light off their emitting from their toothy smiles.
At what were they smiling? From where did they appear?
“Make a wish!”
To be happy.
Cue the lights.
Cards. Cash. Empty sentiments. Paper cut. Pain.
She sighed and merged the cash from each card into a singular yellow envelope.
A freshly sharpened yellow number two helped her relabel the package.
Time went by like incoherent scribbles in an overvalued notebook.
She’d watch as others pranced about.
Interacting, laughing, kissing, trying, skipping, falling, shopping.
She rolled her eyes while passing by an exceptionally ecstatic group of hens as she listened to their conversation. The same words repeated. Over and over and over again. The possibility for new ideas to emerge met a swift demise and the wheel remained the same shape.
One hen seemed to notice her intrusion.
Yet she sat, ordered a whatchamacallit from the endless list of options and continued to silently listen.
They spoke in the ever irritating, wildly popular, current vernacular.
The shrills of the blondest rang out.
Blah blah… tan… bland… giggle… dribble… inane… latte… shoe… new… sale….
The sentence ended in an overly exaggerated and drawn out last syllable, the word smiles was heard.
The drones cheered.
She stood up and began walking in the direction mentioned. Might this action have the potential for change?
She went inside.
Smile, stacked floor to ceiling. Boxes of smiles. Rows of them.
On shelves and stands.
In all different colours, shapes and sized. Everywhere.
Crystal smiles in the locked display case.
Silicon smiles in bulk in a sale bin.
They had all been here all along. Waiting.
She took out her tattered yellow envelope and bought three.
With no bother to try them out.
She exchanged her entire envelope. Emptied the contents.
Years worth of other’s false smiles for this little satchel of tissue-wrapped, manufactured happy faces.
The customer representative disposed of the yellow envelope. Into the trash.
The end of it’s cycle.
Who Cares, thought she.
She felt what she imagined might be a smile-forming sensation inside of her, somewhere.
She walked home, turned on the light in the bathroom and put the little bag on the counter.
Took out the smiles.