Ghost of a Smile

The lingering smell of summer filled up the grounds. Traces of abandoned flowering bushes grew on the cold cement. An occasional gush of wind played hide and seek with the few trees.

The villagers complained of unexplained chills on cloudless nights. He stood near the rusted gate and waited for her, like he did every night since last autumn. They weren’t like the others; he agreed thinking about her choice of the village graveyard to meet.

The humble preference of the cinema hall, the only museum in town and Toni’s diner did not excite her. They met everyday in the dead of night near the gate and from there, their adventures were endless.

Just like any other pair of teenage lovers in their village, they met in secret. But he was convinced this wasn’t like the false faces of love his friends at school and neighborhood wore.

The cool coastal air softened his facial features. She peeked from the corner of the gate, peeling the old paint from its rusted texture.

She looked so extraordinary yet so simple, her dark hair rubbed against her pale skin as she moved her head when her lips stretched into a big grin.

“Did I make you wait again?” She enquired, taking his hand and walking forward with a little hop in every step.She was a child, a young woman. He was smiling too, to himself thinking about how unreal she was.

The uneven grass near the hill was their hideout tonight. The faint sound of crickets and a rare howl of the wild beasts of the surrounding wilderness were the only sounds they could hear.

He talked amiably as she made a small circle of wild flowers by linking them up on her thin neck. “You are like a white little ghost of my dream, you know.” He teased her as she looked up with a jerk. “My mama was very sure she saw my father after he died in the war.”

She said with a serious expression. He wanted to ask her about her father and the war she talked about, but often held back his curiousness. What if his questions arise a dozen of bad memories from her youth? What if she gets offended?

He had never seen her angry or even overwhelmed, but somehow, he could never imagine her like that. She was always so animated, full of life and smiling to the blind spirits in the graveyard.

Sitting here in the wild weed and spoiled sand, everything felt like a dream. He knew he was not the person that he was taught to become with her, but it was okay; he was free. He was happy. He was infinite. He thought about her soft face as he walked back home as the sun rose beyond the horizon.

In autumn, her face froze to a wide smile as she ran across the leaves in shades of orange and yellow on the ground. In winter, she made snow angels in the snow and giggled when snowflakes sat on her eyelashes.

In spring, she quietly sat near the flower bed and caught ladybugs on her delicate fingers. By summer, she grew quieter but her activity never slowed, she climbed trees and sneaked apricots from the farm outside. Her silence didn’t make him uncomfortable.

Her presence was enough, childlike but with such immense grace. She often had these moments where she looked up from whatever she was doing, and stared at the sky.

There was so much to her he wanted to know, there was so much she kept to herself and yet it felt right at the moment. She never told him where she lived, where she studied or even what her name was.

She was a little white ghost indeed. Like a stolen memory from a broken childhood or a figment of a teenage boy’s imagination. She was a fragile piece of his entire universe.

People often say, “There’s no such thing as ghosts.” What is a ghost- imagination, make-believe or something supernatural? It was almost the end of summer, and even though he never admitted it, these questions haunted him.

He subconsciously knew her secret. He unconsciously knew his secret. Still everything was a haze, a beautiful string of events and memories. It was a dream. It was his dream.

What if life itself was a dream but she was real? What if death woke us up from our prolong dream? What was unreal and what was real? Was her smile just a thought?

What if we all build our world up? None the less, the sweet smell of summer grew fainter and fainter by time, but by then, he stopped waiting for her at the rusted gate, he knew where she was finally.