You think that you deceive me with every fake smile. You say that you’re fine but your words taste sourly of pointless lies. The invisible scars that countless hoodies and leather jackets do little to cover – I see them, even when no one else does. I see your head tucked down towards the ground, shorter than all the people that surround you. You think no one can see you but you’re wrong. So entirely wrong. I see the hidden grimace when you say you’re happy and you smile weakly. And that day you showed me your notebook and there were splotches all over the page, I knew what they were even though I pretended I didn’t. You would be mad at me if I knew. I wonder what would happen if your smiles were ever genuine, ever happy? Would the earth shake and crumble? I’m certain it would. Your smile, your laughter, they would shine brighter than any other. You’re not like everyone else, and I’m well aware of that. It’s clear in the long pauses you take before you speak, deliberating thoroughly over every word before you let it brush past your lips. You’ve hurt more than anyone your age should’ve been hurt. You’ve cried tears until you couldn’t cry anymore, and you think yourself broken, but it is obvious to me that you’re not. I know that deep in my heart. It became clear the day you smiled at me through a veil of invisible tears; it was a crooked smile, as though your mouth couldn’t quite remember it was capable of making such a movement. Cracked lips pulled back over teeth that were chipped and broken from when you fell off the ladder. And with that strange smile, your dark, lonely eyes shone with something that wasn’t quite joy but just a little bit of hope. As if some feeling you had thought long decayed rose to the surface. Some melancholy memory from childhood that was unclear and blurry but you sought to determine its meaning anyway. You tried to remember this thing that sat right at the edge of your memory with that one crooked smile, tried to remember what it was like to feel happy. And before you were able to figure it out, just before you could remember, start over, try again, it was gone. That little wisp of happiness in that one little smile was snuffed out like a candle in a dark wind. Quietly, you retreated back, your smile fading and your hood turned up against the rest of the world.

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