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I first noticed her in my dance class at the leisure centre. She was short, stout, dour with scanty short brown hair and pale skin. Her bearing was military and her lips a stern line.

I thought my aerobics moves were clumsy but she moved like a marionette on a crazy string. I loved to breeze in and beam at anyone that cared to look at me. Smiling is free and does not hurt so I have always smiled. The grooves on either side of my face bears testimony.

During a small break for our sips of water our eyes met and I smiled. She did not smile back.

That was a challenge. I made it a private personal mission that I would make her smile. I had no idea who she was, her name, her issues. It did not matter. A smile was not for sale.

I would see her at in different places each week – the cafe, Ladies and would smile. The blank look continued. Then one day she returned my smile with a nod, her lips tight.

I tried to guess who she was. Was she on the autistic spectrum. A lot of people were and managed their life well. I have personal experience of it.

Did she work anywhere. I did not imagine so. Perhaps she worked in a library. I know lots of librarians that have hidden away from life yet handled contact with the public well.

I stopped guessing and continued my smile each week.

Then yesterday, more than a year later she not only smiled but asked me a question! I happily replied.

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