Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Traces of Smiles By Nathanael Wheatcroft-Brown

Darkness usually beats with an irregular heart. A rebellious venom that stirs in the air, catching children’s throats and surrendering only to the will of human conscience.

In a room that echoes reflections and the eyes of lost voices, a girl sits by a piano. The level of terror in her lungs rises, demons pushing through broken cells. She counts dust passing by, each speck transformed into cosmic remorse. It’s the air she breathes.

It’s what could’ve been that hurts. It’s the moments she gave to anger and cruelty she regrets.

Because when you’re dying there’s nothing you want more than to love.

The piano plays softly, pieces of time caught together in a magnetic symphony. The notes get lost in repentance, trailing through the room in silence, carrying only the vibrations of a young mind. A mind that feeds constant, potential power, thunderstorms of passion and doubt.

“I’m afraid,” the girl whispers out loud. Her hands come together by the piano, the wooden boards marked with age and faded memories.

A young man was once sat shivering underneath scraps of cardboard and torn fabric. The cutting night laced its fingers with his. He had no real hand to hold. A desperate sign over his naked body begged for money, for anything, and she walked past with her head hung low.

She thinks an angel might’ve died that night. If only she held his hand and told him he wasn’t alone.

Scattered memories rewind in black and white, void of warmth and compassion. The sunken lines of time draw an improved image of history where she smiled more, where she didn’t turn blessed hearts away. And it’s now she wish she’d helped that old man find his way home, wish she’d asked that stranger on the train why they were in tears.

It’s only when you’re dying you want to see the sincerity of another pair of eyes. A kind of ethereal gratitude that transcends the beauty of a sunset or the comfort of routine. Through choice, woven paths connecting strangers were severed, faces weren’t seen, voices weren’t heard.

“Mum,” a voice plays in her ears, “Please don’t be scared.”

The girl in the room grows old, the seat now a bed, the piano her spirit. Reflections of warm faces look into her tired eyes, infinite moments leading to an end.

“You’re beautiful,” one of her children cry.

“I love you Mum.”

She beckons her children closer, to hold her in these last moments. “Please remember to be kind,” she breathes into the loosening air, “Life is too beautiful for anything less.”

The last notes on the piano are played. They carry light with them, from the translucent dreams they dwelled in, and it’s a fusion of strings and wires that hold her soul together. She has loved and was loved, and there’s hope that the children she left behind will make the changes she forgot to make. It’s the hope we’ll learn to smile more.

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