I Am The Villain

I haven’t had this problem since I was a kid — but for the past few weeks, whenever I see you cry, I have to stop this smile from spreading over my face. You are sitting across from me, overwhelmed with grief. You have just told me something awful. My face pulls at the corners — no, no, don’t do that, not appropriate! My god, what is wrong with me? And then you may up the ante. Take it to the next surprising level. I can see my reaction coming even before I comprehend what you’re saying and I dread it, this cruel toothy stretch. The cheekbones ache; I choke on my own mouth to apologize, force my lips to move a different way.

And it’s not that I’m pleased, it’s never been that: but maybe I’m going crazy, a little bit, or I just don’t know what to do with my face. I’m smiling, I’m so sorry, I don’t mean it.

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  1. This kills me. I always smile when giving bad news. It’s the worst. People think I’m joking, or making fun of them. “Why are you smiling?” they ask after I say, “I want to break up.” And the weird thing is it’s always when I’m really not happy about it– I guess as a defense mechanism I throw up a mask whenever I’m really hurt — when I’m secretly delighted I have no problem at all playing it straight.

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