Doug Must Keep His Smile

Benjamin looked down into the brown mop of hair that was curled into his breast. Somewhere underneath that hair were a pair of dark blue eyes and a six year old child crying into his daddy’s sweater. Slowly, Doug rose his head to Benjamin’s clay red eyes. The brown and freckled face was still sharp and square but there was something different in Ben. Behind his eyes, Ben was shaking.

“Now they’re going to take you away. You need to do something.”

“No, they can’t.”

“They will and you need to do something for me.”

“What?”

“You need to keep yourself.”

Doug was baffled, perturbed and sad. It screwed his face in a way that would be funny at some other time.

“I know this doesn’t make sense but they can take things from you.”

“Like my teddy?”

“No, I’ll keep Joe for you but you might not remember him in a year. They can take your memory of him. They take parts of you.”

“How?”

“They overwhelm you.”

Doug’s vocab was lacking and his face showed that.

“Sorry, what I mean is they put so much stuff in your brain that the old stuff is kicked out.”

“They can’t do that.”

“Yes they can, if you let them.”

“How do I stop them?”

“You think, you keep everything you want to keep in the front of your head.”

“Okay.”

“It’s going to be hard, as the process continues you’ll start losing stuff you want to keep. You might have to lose me.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Promise me, if you have to choose between my face and the love I gave you, choose my love.”

“I will Dad.”

Somewhere within fifty miles, Doug’s mother was working with heavy machinery. Ben had seen her once but she didn’t see him. He was no more than a face in a crowd to her. Her face was as if dead and she moved accordingly. Doug would be different, Doug would be smiling.

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