by Belinda Roddie
The only gift she'd ever received was a smiley-faced towel. And I don't mean that she only got one present her whole life, which just happened to be a smiley-faced towel. No, no. I mean every single present she had been given throughout her fourteen years of existence so far was, indeed, a towel with a smiley face on it.
No one knew why. No one knew how. And no one exactly got why she didn't seem perturbed by it. In fact, she appeared to be perfectly okay with such an arrangement. She collected the damn things. Sure, they came in different colors - red, blue, green, purple - and sometimes she'd even categorize them by size or shade. In the end, each wrapped present provided to her by her mother or father or aunt or uncle or brother or sister simply added to the pile. All those yellow beaming mugs staring up at her. It was enough to give every common man the shivers.
Until her fifteenth birthday, when I gave her a new watch. It lay limply in her hand, silver glinting across her skin. I smiled. She didn't reciprocate.
"You like it?"
I suddenly became aware of all the smiley faces around me. They even seemed to creep into the frightened visages of her family, who sat around us. The next moment, I felt very cold. She looked at me blankly, as if requesting an answer.
I had broken a cardinal rule.
I had betrayed the Order of the Smiley Face.
This week's prompt was jointly provided by Arden Kilzer and Jocelyn Roddie.