The text message came in just before he raised his head. It made him smile. His head came up and his eyes met those of the woman standing across from him, she smiled because he had smiled, showing gold in her teeth. She looked down at the eight year old tugging on her dress, asking to go play with his friends. She had been about to scold him for coming home looking like paper in mud but when she looked at him still smiling, her heart lifted. He grinned back at her so she sent him off to play. Happily he took off, hurrying to go play street football.
Blind with excitement, he ran into outstretched legs protruding from the doorway of a shop. They belonged to the grumpy old man who fixed watches. Another day he might have stopped fearfully but not today. Barely slowing down, he glanced briefly at the man and yelled an apology. All the old man could see was the joy in the boy’s eyes. It made him chuckle to himself. Kids.
A young woman strode hurriedly towards the shop. “Be careful, he’s mean,” they had said. She walked in tentatively expecting some troll but his lips curved brightly when she walked in and charmed her heart until she left his shop satisfied. He wasn’t as bad as they said he would be. She walked out still smiling and a bike man passing smiled back at her. He didn’t know why he did but something about her smile required that he should. He struck up a conversation with the passenger he was carrying. Tired and stressed from a long day at work, chitchat with a bike man was the last thing he wanted but slowly he thawed out and let himself be drawn into the bike man’s words. By the time he was getting off, they were laughing hard at the jokes they had shared.
He paid his fare and walking away bumped into a girl fixated on her phone. They both looked up to apologize and then laughed as apologies tumbled out together. The girl moved away smiling as her text was replied, “You just made me smile at my phone and an Alhaja thought I was smiling at her because our eyes met.” Quickly she typed, “Spread the happy” before looking up to take her own advice.
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