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"Have a good lunch. Read lots for me!" she calls reverting to that babytalk voice she likes to use.

"I don't read, I write."

"Watcha writin about? Me?"

"Yep, sure am."

"Like what stuff about me?" She is curious now, her eyes narrow.

"Only what I see..."

"What do you see?"

I see that your eyes are tired from lack of sleep. The dark blue smudges, the bloodshot eyes give you away. You look uncomfortable in your belly swollen with child. I see that at a time when others look their most radiant, you look dull, almost lifeless. You look worried. I know that you are. You are concerned about what damage you've done to your eldest daughter who witnessed the hitting, swearing, and abuse between you and your ex, who witnessed the drugs and alcohol. I see that you are afraid she will think ill of you. I see that you need constant reassurance from everyone around you. (even more so than I, but you would not understand that) I see that you prefer to endlessly rearrange the dresses in your section, trying to create order out of chaos, constantly ordering them by size and color, rather than talk to a customer. I see you hide away from the registers busying yourself with other things. I see you telling everyone to look at your dresses and tell you you've done a good job. I see that you need this like you need to breathe. I see that when you do talk to people it's with that condescending babytalk voice. You say negative things and then qualify it with "just kidding" and a laugh and a smile. I see that your smile never reaches your eyes. That they are hard and cold from living a hard life. I see that you surround yourself with a tough outer covering. I see your smile, phony, fake. I can't trust what you say to me when you turn that smile onto me and use that voice.

"I see that your section always looks the most visually appealing in the store"

She smiles, halfway, with only her mouth, no further. Resumes with the babytalk. "Why thankyou missy Chrissy. I think you're stupid wasting your time writing"laughter fills the air "only kidding!"

I know that when I return from lunch, she will start searching the stockroom for my journal. I'll leave it bookmarked for her. She will find...

Diana's pad is the best kept of us all.
The colors blend together in perfect harmony.
She has a wonderful eye for color and a keen sense of style.
It's obvious she puts a lot of care and attention into her dresses.
We could all learn something by watching her.

Maybe it will make her smile for real this time as she lets her guard down when no one is looking.

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