By Marina Campoy-LoVasco (‘23)
When something disappears, how long does it take you to notice? I mean, it depends, right? If you have no food in your cupboards, you’re bound to realize at some point. But what if the smudge on the wall in the corner of your room vanishes? Did you realize it was gone? Did you get up every day and look at that smudge and wonder how it got there? Did you ever think about washing it off, but then forget? And then you’re comfortable with it being there. When you wake up and see the smudge you feel kind of happy. It’s just a smudge on the wall, but the more you stare at it, the more it looks like a smiley face. So now, when you wake up in the morning you always say ‘Hi’ to the smiley face on the wall. Sometimes you whisper ‘Hi’ back under your breath and it’s like you have somebody watching out for you even though it’s really just yourself. Then you go down the stairs and hear those familiar creeks on the fifth and seventh steps and it’s like they’re saying ‘Good morning’ too. Even the way the lightbulb flickers in the kitchen because it’s old and dying is kind of nice. You’ve been telling yourself to change it, but you haven’t got around to it, and really what’s the point? I mean I guess it might be nice to have a little bit more light when you’re chopping up stuff with knives, but it’s good enough for now. You haven’t cut off any limbs yet. Then you go off to school or work or wherever for a little bit. You talk to people, do important things, finish that assignment you’ve been working on for weeks now, and eat the lunch that you prepared in your dark kitchen. The ham and cheese sandwich which is really just two slices of bread because you may have run out of ham…and cheese. Then, you crumble up the ball of tinfoil you wrapped your sandwich in and throw it into the trash can. Except you’re really not that good at basketball, so you miss the shot and have to walk all the way over to pick up the tinfoil and place it gently into the trash can. You talk to some more people, do some more things, then you go home. You turn on the TV and watch the first channel that plays about some exotic lizard that eats crocodiles, or something like that. Then you make dinner, and this time you put in a little more effort than just two slices of bread. Yeah, you’re a decent chef, it was a decent dinner. You’re full and tired and you have places to go again tomorrow. So you go upstairs and put on your pajamas. You take a shower and brush your teeth, rinsing your mouth with the fancy mouthwash that sort of tastes like mint chocolate ice cream just without the chocolate. With that pleasant thought, you walk to your bed and get under the covers. You reach over to turn off the lights and look into the corner of your room to say goodnight to the smudge, but it’s gone. Now it’s just a clean wall. There’s no one to smile at, so you turn off the lights. And in your dreams, you see that nice smile from the dude on the wall and you say ‘Hello’ and they say ‘Hello’. And because dreams are weird, the smiley face comes up to you and hands you their smile, so now you’re smiling too.