A Sad Smile

Katarzyna Suchodolska

Cradle by Richard Garzou

“What time is it? Do you think he might have forgotten? He said he would visit me, that’s what he said, Daisy, he said, I’ll come. That’s why I put on my special dress. Do you like it? Do you think he will like it?”

(You look at her a little surprised. A skinny, old lady, with a shy smile and wrinkles around huge brown eyes is now all nervous and excited like a hyperactive teenager.)

“I made it myself for Rudolf’s funeral. I told you about Rudolf, didn’t I?”

(You nod unwillingly; how many times have you heard all those stories?)

“He was such a lovely young man. James, God rest his soul, suspected us of having an affair, can you imagine?”

(She blushes and covers a smile with her hand.)

“But he was just playing piano for me; he was such a wonderful piano player. Breathtaking! Do you play piano? Right, right, no one really plays piano nowadays… Well, when I was younger I used to play a lot! But Rudolf, Rudolf was much, much better…”

(She lowers her voice to a whisper and you can see her eyes smiling to secret melodies.)

“What a pity he died in that horrible accident.”

(Her voice is hard and strong again and you’re still surprised how fast she’s able to change her tone and attitude.)

“And poor Isabelle could never get over it, she has always been too sensitive. I’ve been telling her, Isabelle, you’re too young and too beautiful to cry over a dead man. If only she would listen to me!”

(Suddenly, she stops and listens carefully, like a predator or maybe a prey.)

“Is that an engine? Do you hear it? He’s coming! I told you! He promised he will visit me!”

(She smiles and laughs and you smile and nod, because, let’s be honest, what else can you do? You will smile and nod a few more times today, every time with the same polite, professional smile, but her smile will gradually become more and more sad. A sad smile, that’s what you have to get used to when you work full time in Peaceful Retirement Village in Hope, Arkansas.)
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Archives: Fall 2010.

2 Responses to A Sad Smile

  1. Suanna Davis says:

    Katarzyna, I thought this work was very well written and encapsulated the experience of folks who have family or friends with dementia. I enjoyed hearing you read it at the launch party.

  2. Gabrielle Strange says:

    I really enjoyed this story. It’s sad in a way. I like how you let us know what expressions and emotions changed throughout the passage. It was almost like I was there. The details were vivid, and that’s what I liked most about it.

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