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Be Happy, part one

September 27, 2010

     Harold wiped off his cheek in disgust where Emily had kissed him.
     “What are you doing?”  His teacher, Ms. Lemon asked sweetly.  Emily watched on with big eyes and an adoring smile on her face.  The other students were too busy drawing pictures of sunny pastoral scenes and too polite to watch the interaction between the teacher and Harold.
     “Rubbing my cheek.”  Harold answered.  He tried to smile as he said it, but he didn’t really feel like smiling.
     “Where Emily just kissed you?”  Ms. Lemon’s sweet smile turned into a smile of concern.
      Harold wanted to lie, but he knew that was wrong, so he didn’t say anything.
      “Now Harold, Emily was just showing her affection for you.  It isn’t nice to act like you don’t like her kindness.  You want to be nice, don’t you?”
      Harold nodded forcing another smile.
      “What do you say to Emily?”
      The words he knew by rote came out without thinking, “I’m sorry Emily.  I want you to be happy.”
      “I want you to be happy too.”  Emily said exuberantly, kissing Harold again.
      He visibly flinched and Ms. Lemon saw it.  “Harold, what’s wrong with you?”
      “Nothing.  I didn’t want to be touched.” Harold blurted out.
      The smile disappeared on Ms. Lemon’s face briefly.  It was the first time that he could remember that she didn’t have a smile on her face.
      “I think you need to go see the principle.”  Ms.  Lemon’s lips returned to their upward curvature. “Class, Harold and I will be seeing Principal Birch. I’ll be back in a moment, just keep working on your art projects.”
      The class looked up cheerfully and said in unison, “yes, Ms. Lemon,” before returning to their sunny drawings.
      Ms. Lemon led Harold down the gaily colored halls of the school, past the murals of children and animals with big smiles and even larger, innocent eyes.  Around the murals, words written in the fluid hand of a woman’s calligraphy swirled saying things like: Love is a joyful experience to be shared with all people.  It is the pleasant experience of sitting in the park eating milk and cookies surrounded by all the people we touch each day. There is no loneliness in the human heart that is open to receive the love of everyone around them.  Love is kind, always nice, always open, there is no limit to the love of the human heart. . . .  The words spun around and around, never-ending.
      Principal Birch was an older woman wearing a lime green suit and a flora shirt that were a size too small.   The walls of her office were lined with shelves filled with porcelain dolls of doe-eyed children and animals.  Harold could feel all those grinning eyes staring at him.
      Ms. Lemon explained the situation to the principle.  When she was finished, Principal Birch excused her to return to her class and then turned to Harold.  “Is everything ok, Harold?”
     “Yes.” Again he tried the fake smile.
     The principle wasn’t fooled. “Harold have you been taking your phenotype inhibitors?”
     “My meds?”
     “Yes, your meds.”
     “Of course, I take them like everyone else before I get to school.”  Harold lied and felt his cheeks flushing and he itched all over.
     “Who’s your family’s social worker?”
      “Ms. Wicker.”
      Ms. Birch pressed her desk display and sent a message to Ms. Wicker.

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