You know if you weren't strangers, I wouldn't be able to tell you this, but after Seth took off, Millie's mother went half-crazy. She spent hours rocking back and forth on her heels, muttering to herself. Millie said they called her "Happy, on a count of her undying smile." No matter what went on around her, she smiled. It wasn't a comfortable smile, but one that cloaked the confliction inside of her.
It all started when Millie's younger brother, Seth, ran off with the neighbor boy. Millie's mother could not accept, nor understand how he could be "in love" with another boy. Upstanding citizens had raised her; they were God-fearing parents who believed there was only one-way in which to view the world, and that was through their eyes. She had passed on the values entrenched in her to her two children, and she would not understand how Seth could have gone so far in an opposite direction.
"Do you think she'll ever come out of it Millie?" I asked quietly enough that Happy could not hear me.
"I used to think so, but it's been 13 years since Seth ran off with Billy. She's been out here for 12 of them," she shrugged her shoulders uncomfortably. "Dad thought she would come out of it, but he says on a count of the way she was brought along that her two worlds don't meet up right."
Millie and I had been friends for nearly 5 years, and it was only during the last couple that she trusted me enough to take me with her to visit her mom. She told most people that her mom had run off with the mailman, it kept people from talking about where she was.
Millie stared down at the blacktop so that I wouldn't see the tears welling up in her eyes. "She used to be attractive, one of the prettiest ladies around," she whispered.
She might have been a pretty woman at one time, but her blonde dish mop, tangled bed of half-dreads took attention away from the bones of a face that could be beautiful. She wore the dirt of the streets like a veil on her face. She was one of the invisibles who lived in alleys between Brownstone and Mercury Avenues; some of them pushed their commandeered cage on wheels up and down the sidewalks, but not Happy, her container of choice was a bright red, alligator suitcase with brass clasps.
"Well she still has great taste in luggage," I said, hoping that it would make my friend laugh.
"She sure does." Millie said.
Even now, Happy would have lucid moments where conversation was understandable, and her thoughts were displayed like stunning flowers, fresh cut and placed meticulously in the space where darkness existed. It was during those times, when the veil was lifted to welcome the darkness, that her smile was replaced with a dramatic misery. Reality had been harsh for Happy, and Millie knew it was unlikely she would return to this world anytime soon.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Leo challenged me with "And the veil was lifted to welcome the darkness..." and I challenged Kirsten Doyle with "Beautiful disaster"