All or Nothing
Smile Miriam N. Kotzin and Bill
Kelly always worried about his name. The feminine sound of it made
cringe. So when Chris said it, she made him nervous. Her
name could have
just as well been Christina, but she was an obstinate sort. And he
take her or leave, allowing her to get away with it. She was,
gorgeous and smart and witty and everything else he thought a guy named
Kelly could never hope to land.
Being an all or nothing, always or never sort narrowed his options.
she walked through the door, he thought she might well be the loveliest
woman alive. “Do you think I’m an idealist?” he asked.
“You’re a pessimist and a cynic,” she replied.
“But if I think in the affirmative,” he said, “I’m the
“You’re beautiful,” he said. She always smiled when he said
it. That was
why he felt uncomfortable when she didn’t smile. The order of
violated. He might need to investigate.
He would try to make her smile without telling her that she is
He planned it all out so that on their next date he’d experiment.
And so he
Chris opened the door for him. She was wearing a pink angora
jeans. He thought that the pink sweater looked great with her strawberry
blonde hair. And he noticed that she had a new hairstyle.
She wore her
hair up, with wisps falling around her face. Tiny diamond studs
her ears. A white pearl dangled on a chain in her cleavage.
She was a
knockout, and that new hairstyle was really different from the way
been wearing her hair. She reached up and smoothed the back of her
with her fingers then looked at him.
Normally he would have told her right then that she looked beautiful,
she looked beautiful before, and her new hairstyle made her look even
He knew that his mother always preened when she came home from the
parlor and wanted to hear his dad say she looked great, even though
couldn’t see anything much different. His mom had a gesture just like
one Kelly was making. And that’s when his dad would tell her
looked nice. But he had decided that he would investigate.
If he told
Chris she looked beautiful now, he’d ruin everything.
“Um, so are you
ready to leave?” he asked.
Chris had a puzzled look on her face.
“You know, is there anything else you need to do before we go to the
“Gee, Kelly,” she said, “I’m ready.” She looked him in the
eye. “Is there
something else you think I should do? I’m all dressed and I’ve
hair.” Then she looked away as though she were searching for
in the neighbor’s yard.
“Great,” he said, “then I guess we can be going.” He
searched her face.
Not a hint of a smile. “I really like it that you’re on
time,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said, looking solemn. “I’m glad.”
They were sitting in the car when she said, “I bought this sweater
“Wow!” he thought, “good choice. And she wore it on our
date. Maybe she
had me in mind, too.” He wanted to reach over and touch the
sleeve of her
fuzzy sweater. He said, “Oh. It’s new. That’s
why I didn’t recognize it.”
She said nothing. She didn’t smile. She hadn’t moved for
some time. He
could see her reflection in the window. Her reflection wasn’t
Kelly knew that he’d made a mistake. His scientific experiments
fail. He would never quite understand her. He couldn’t
bear another moment
of this. It would kill him to admit it.
“I really like the sweater,” he said.
“Uh huh,” she replied.
“Can I tell you something?” he asked.
“I suppose so.”
“I can’t seem to make you smile and it is driving me nuts,” he
“You think ignoring how I look will make me smile?”
“I wasn’t ignoring, I was thinking of new ways to appreciate you.”
She paused for a moment and looked at him. Her expression was
swallowed hard. She sat with her lips pressed tightly together and
slow, deliberate breaths.
“I was running out of ways to say that you are beautiful,” he said.