I've been walking the woods behind my house for three years now. Often, I run into the man who takes care of the grounds; he's around my age and fairly unremarkable except that I've never, once, seen him smile.
I'm like a cheshire cat, take an eraser to me and my blinding smile will still be there. If you blurred the grumbly groundskeeper out, you'd only see his unending black hole-esque tired stare.
He's got a fairly common name but in my head he's either Mr. Sullen Eyes or Mr. Gloomy face. I've never particularly been excited to see him, I always wonder what's the matter. We've never talked except the cordial, "Hi how are you" that neither of us actually expects the other to respond to.
But the other week, I ran into a sketchy dude back in those woods. Something about this guy's posture and walk made me shudder. I felt so alone and vulnerable, trying to figure out how to escape, when Mr. Sulky Face walked up.
I looked into his glum, deathly face and his beady black eyes, and everything within me relaxed. I kept an eye out for sketchy dude for the rest of my walk, but I felt like, okay, the semi-lifeleless groundskeeper is also somewhere around here, and I'm not even sure he'd protect me, but I still feel better.
Now when I run into Frowny Face, I light up. Something about him has gotten so charming since the sketchy dude situation. Now, I'm calmed by his scowl.
Today I came upon him wearing all black with an oversized round fedora.
"✨Hi!✨" I said in my golden retriever voice.
"Hey. How are you." He said, deadpan, turning around before I could respond. I smiled at his complete lack of emotion. Feels like home.
The sun lit up the brilliant green meadow behind him, and I gasped. At both of his sides stood two handsome bucks with majestic antlers, gazing calmly at me, unafraid, because they too were in the presence of the protective, quiet energy of Mr. Sullen Eyes. Falling autumn leaves lit up gold in the sun as they floated down around the pessimistic man and his magical deer, and for a moment I wondered if maybe this stormy guy was actually a forest spirit. If maybe he protects all those who enter his domain: the deer, the trees, and silly smiley women.
Neon colored caterpillars inched around my feet as I gazed at the bucks, the bucks gazed at me, and the forest spirit got on his bicycle and glided away over crunchy leaves and through dappled light towards his other realm.