November 17, 2013 § Leave a comment
At first, she called Ling ‘a girl who always smiles.’
She never saw a child who could constantly smiled to everyone like Ling.
Ling usually sat on the steps at the side door of a local restaurant, with her schoolbag. All smiling, reading books. Or watching people, dogs, and birds. Or cars on the street. As if this corner of city jungle was a cozy central park.
She still remembered the first time they met. It was a bad day when she walked out the mall where she worked. She needed a big ice cream portion from a stand across the main street. The intrigue from her colleagues—and, her sad love life—had boiled her head.
And there at the steps, Ling’s smile caught her. So warm that it could make her lips curved a smile too. So innocent that she was stunned how a simple thing like that could make a day felt better.
And since then they had became friends by smile.
Later on, they often made longer conversation, and then she knew that Ling’s mother worked at that small restaurant. After school, Ling walked there and waited to her mom. Ling would stay until evening, outside or behind a big busy room—with all cries and smell and anything that could be in a restaurant kitchen—and did her homework. Or just watched people outside when she bored. Or slept. Until her mom woke her up and brought her home.
When she asked Ling why she didn’t just wait her mom at home, Ling replied, ‘There’s nobody else at home. Besides, I can get leftover food here. They won’t let mom bring any of it out of the restaurant.’
It struck her. That explained a lot. Ling’s worn-out clothes and jacket. Her sometimes sleepy voice. Yet her smile never faded.
Once she asked Ling why she always smiled, the little girl answered with a grin, ‘Because mom said, smiling makes you happy and beautiful.’
She silenced. When did the last time she smile from the heart like Ling?
But then she tried to. After almost met Ling every day, she started to smile at everything (still bitter smiles at bad problems, by the way) —on the face or just inside the heart. She tried and she felt better every day, so much.
Until that day came. A month after their encounter, she saw Ling waited at the street corner. It was a windy day and Ling’s body was trembling a little, holding a small box.
‘What are you doing here?’ she asked, taking off her scarf and wearing it around Ling’s neck. ‘It’s cold. Get inside the kitchen.’
Ling looked at the scarf in awe momentarily, and suddenly remembered and gave the card box to her. ‘Fried-noodles for you. Mom helped me cook it, for celebration.’
‘Oh, thank you!’ she said happily. ‘Is this the super-noodle with a secret recipe you told me last week? What celebration, if i may know?’
‘Mom will work at a new restaurant. It’s quite far from here, but it’s bigger! She will be the chef. They also give us a room near there. And they even allow us to bring some fresh food home. They’re very kind, aren’t they?’
She stunned, watching the bright little face in front of her. But suddenly Ling’s eyes looked gloomy. And for the first time, Ling let her smile faded a little. ‘I’m happy for mom and me, but i will miss you, Laura.’
Laura kneeled and hugged Ling. ‘I’m happy for you. We’ll meet again. Don’t worry,’ she said softly. Ling nodded.
‘And this scarf is yours now,’ Laura whispered. She could feel Ling smiled on her shoulder.
Laura closed her eyes, filling herself with Ling’s onion scent. Yes, she would miss Ling’s smile, too. The smile that always greeted her at lunch break, relieving and warming like a cup of hot chocolate in her bad days.