The Smile

For Amberyl

Writing Prompt: “Her smile was a bit too wide, a bit too cheerful, considering the blood on the walls”


She was painting.

Dr. Conrad, her therapist would be so proud of her. How many times had he not told her it would be good for her to get a hobby. She had always said yes, but whenever she got home, all thoughts of a hobby had vanished.

It was not that she did not want a hobby. How often had she not looked at the beautiful sculptures in the hall of dr. Conrad’s waiting room, wishing she could do the same?

But everything caught up with her as soon as she stepped within the confines of her own home. All the reassuring words of dr. Conrad. All the daydreaming. All the courage. Everything just vanished.

It was not so much the voices. She was used to them by now. She had learned to differentiate them by now. Conrad called them her “other” personalities. She just called them voices. 

She knew she was not crazy. The voices had always been there. To soothe her when she was anxious or frightened. She did not consider them friends, because they frightened away her friends.

She had begun to feel lonely and isolated, but the voices had assured her that she did not need anyone but them. That had triggered a warning in her.

Then she had been let go from her job. That had changed everything. 

“Instability” had been the word they had used. They had asked her to seek out a doctor. They had even offered to pay for one as severance pay.

The voices had tried to convince her that it was not her fault, but she knew differently. She had tried to ignore them, but in vain.

The more she ignored the voices the more persistent they became. She had tried everything. Loud music to block out the voices had not helped. They were always there. If not loud then a low whisper in her ear.

What was worse were the way they began isolating her. Made it hard for her to concentrate in a normal conversation. Thats when the anxiety set in. After a series of misunderstandings and unsuccessful tries she had found herself sitting at home staring into the walls.

It was purely by coincidence that she had found dr. Conrad. She had been out shopping for groceries when she had seen the ad.

It had taken her four tries to call him and set up an appointment. The first time she had lost courage. The second time the voices had convinced her she didn’t need him. The third time they had frightened her. The fourth time she had finally ignored them.

She now knew that dr. Conrad had been her saviour. Already the first time she had been there, she had felt better. More empowered. His voice had been more dominant than the others and for the first time in a long time the voices had vanished while she spoke to him.

They talked about everything. About her life. About the voices. About her choices. They had tried medicine but it had not helped. Only made her weaker to withstand the voices.

Slowly she had progressed. She even showed up regularly at the appointments, the voices no longer stopping her. She even got a part time job sorting mail at a local firm. But she was still lonely.

So she had started with the group sessions. They were different and at first she did not like it. But because dr. Conrad usually were there she could maintain a conversation. She even made one or two friends.

She lived and breathed for those sessions. It was like a small slice of heaven. Peace and quiet.

But the voices always returned when she got home. Thats why they had discussed what she could do to dampen them when she was alone.

“Hobbies” had dr. Conrad said. “Hobbies will engage your mind and make you concentrate. Block out the voices”.

It had been worth a try. And it had worked.

She had painted for the last half hour and there had been no voices. She smiled to herself, finishing two short strokes to complete the red flower. She knew that she could not keep on painting on walls, but it was a start. Maybe she could go buy some real canvas later after work tomorrow. The main thing was that she had started.

She almost did not notice the sound so preoccupied was she.

The door opened.

“Good morning all. I’m sorry I’m late. Are you ready to – “

Silence.

“Oh my God, Evy. What have you done”. Dr. Conrad looked at her with a look she really could not decipher. Was it surprise or happiness? Probably both. He would be so proud of her.

She smiled wide, showing her teeth. She felt happy.

“I’m painting. I finally took up a hobby as you have said”. Even she could hear the cheerfulness in her voice. “I know I’m only starting and that the colour is a bit monotome, but it is a start. And you were right. The voices went away”.

She did not even notice the bodies when she stepped over them in order to hug him.

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