Home Writers Creative Essays The Pain In My Smile by Chisom Arueze.

The Pain In My Smile by Chisom Arueze.


Sometimes a smile has nothing to do with happiness.

My cake sat untouched, it was my favorite but my appetite was a burning rubbish, that burnt with the laxity of a walking snail, until it finally disappeared. I’ve had quite a number of food from the pan this week, don’t blame me, these were the perks of having a baker as a friend. Cherry’s voice was a siren, it was everywhere. Her eyes were the color of fresh cocoa . Her exuberance and happiness was so obvious, even to the blind, though she didn’t mind that, there was an air of melancholy hovering around me in her shop.

The trees danced in the wind and one could hear the inconsistent groaning of thunder, threatening a downpour. Saturdays in cherry’s shop could be as quiet as a library and I was grateful for that. Just then, the door grumbled as two people sauntered in, holding hands. Cherry rushed over to them, exchanging pleasantries, as they progressed in their chitchat, I figured they came cake tasting. As these two conversed rather with their eyes, my eyes did a quick sweep of the couple and then it rested on the pendant of the lady.

It was an onyx . As in depths of many seas, my mind was drowned in memories I so much badly wanted to forget.


For months I’d been crying myself to sleep, while enduring every dawn that breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh. His voice was a constant echo in my head.

“I have the report of your MRI scan

“you see here in your brain. there is a medium sized tumor. At first it could look like it wasn’t there, but one has to be careful or else you could be misdiagnosed. That has been the cause of your constant headaches and……….”

As the almost never ending Tests and scans were carried out, it was found out that this tumor was cancerous. Due to it’s size, it was risky having a surgery. The doctors said I had one year to live.

It’s been two months since I received my death sentence, and as I ate my lunch at a snail’s pace, I inched over my thoughts like a measuring tape, wondering where dead people go to. I found myself thinking about death more often. At some point I wanted to like death, but every now and then, things happened that made me want to live. In those times, I would lock myself up for days and cry; heart wrenching, tear jerking sobs. So I had to accept my fate, after all we are all born to die anyway.

My only family was my younger sister, she was my rock. I worked at a tech company. I was anti- social, gave up on love a long time ago but there was a colleague, who was the closest thing to a friend I had, who made my heart flutter. He would go out of his way to carry my bags that were as heavy as a rock, get me lunch when I don’t leave my desk, and always reminded the security man that I was in there, whenever I worked late. Subtle acts like this made me feel special, I wondered if he was God’s death day gift. Most days I found myself smiling more than usual. I wondered if this was what love felt like. I knew I shouldn’t expect anything but with what he does for me, he gave me the smallest dash of hope. And You what they say with hope, once you get just a ray of it, you latch unto it like a parasite, with all you have got.

So while we waited out the rain after work one day, he cornered me and blurted out his feelings. A tear escaped my eyes and he took that to be consent and engulfed me in a bear hug. I did want to tell him I didn’t have much time to live but I couldn’t, because I guessed I liked the way he numbed all the pain. And for someone like me, who had such a short time to live, I just wanted to be happy.

So a new relationship is born. Don’t call me a weirdo but I felt like Greg and I had a connection. We spoke with our eyes, he could read my mind and I his. He knew exactly what to do to make everything right. The moments I spent with him, were wonderful and I wished my death could be as good as this.

Two days later was my birthday, and he couldn’t stop rambling about the present he had for me. I was elated, curious as a child. On that day after we had gone out, we came back to his house. As I sat, he ran into his bedroom and emerged with a boyish grin on his face.

“Close your eyes” he spoke . I did as he asked. My eyes were closed but I could still feel him behind me. He had his hands on my nape, and then on my neck.

“ Open them”. As I did my eyes went straight to the cold thin metal on my neck. I was not a jewelry person but this could be a start. It was a gold necklace that had a little black rhombus shaped stone encrusted at the middle. As I opened my mouth to relay my gratitude, he dragged me gently to his room, in front of the mirror. He stood right behind me. We stared at each other in the mirror

“ Do you know why I choose this for you?” I shook my head in answer.

“I got this for you because it matches the color of your eyes. I looked at my self, then.. just then I found out my pupils were jet black. He answered my question without me asking.

“It’s a precious stone.. an Onyx” he said.

I spun around and gave him a hug. That was the most memorable birthday I ever had.

A month later, I still hadn’t told him I had limited time on earth.. well who didn’t. This morning I had to go for my check up, because my headache was back in full force. After a while, a doctor came in, one I do not recognize. He said he’s the new doctor assigned to me because, the former was on a sick leave. So he says.

“ I see young lady you have, just a little bleeding in you head. Every thing seems fine”.

“ what about the tumor”? I ask. He gives me a weird look and repeats “tumor?” I nod slowly.

“Well young lady your file here says, you have a concussion” I told him that this could be a case of mistaken identity. So excuses himself. An hour later, he comes in with 3 more doctors and 2 nurses. So to cut the story short, I found out I was misdiagnosed. Something about surnames looking alike. They kept apologizing but I wasn’t going to have it. I didn’t know I could feel two opposite emotions at once. I was angry and Happy, but finally sadness took over.

After so much tears the first thing I did was, to pick my phone to call Greg but on a second thought I decided against it. Some things are better said in person. I took the bus to Greg’s house. My heart couldn’t contain my happiness. When I got to his house, I was shivering like a leaf because the rain came down in full cold buckets. My brain didn’t bother to notice that his door was unlocked. I ran in like a little child, straight to his bedroom. I burst into the room like a broken dam. I couldn’t believe it. He rose immediately to come close but I held up a finger. I bolted out of the room, almost tripping. There were clothes scattered on the floor as I left; clues I would have ordinarily seen while coming in if I truly had a tumor.


“Hello!?” cherry half screamed, waving her hands like it was a flag. I saw her lips moving like she was speaking in this strange alien language. Then I snapped back to reality. It was dusk already.

“Please can you help me out with these?” she said pointing at the sign post outside.

“Sure” I said plastering a big smile on my face. The standard look for the depressed because sometimes pain is not always present in tears but also in smiles.


Arueze Chisom Precious, a passionate writer can be reached through sommytilly1402@gmail.com

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