We Can Smile Again


© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

 Eventually, Sylvia was kicked out of school. She gathered together her few possessions and then dropped her pens on my desk. “Here,” she murmured, “You have more use for these than I.”  She shuffled slowly from the room, her shoulders slumped, her steps heavy.

I wanted to confront Samwell and demand to know what he was doing to her. To ask why there were black circles around her eyes … why her back was hunched so … why her feet did not dance anymore? I needed to save my friend.

I watched their comings and goings. I saw a difference in his walk, too. He would stagger up the hill, bumping from tree to tree, falling to the path––probably drinking too much. I feared, more than ever, for Sylvia’s safety. I prayed for a night when my parents would go out, so I could go up to the shack and find out what was happening. 

Finally, the perfect night unfolded. My parents were invited to a 25th wedding anniversary house party for some old friends, and an October pea soup fog had rolled in. The Marshall’s lived in the country and had insisted their guests stay over. Mom called, instructed me to lock everything up and go to bed. I had Mrs. Winter’s phone number in case of an emergency.

I smiled, headed to my room, dragged my rocker over to the window and sat down. Samwell would be along soon, and my eyes would have to be sharp to see through the blasted fog.

My alarm clock ticked softly. I kept shaking off sleep. I needed some music. I turned my CD player on. The heavy metal notes beat in my veins. 

Time passed.

The music stopped.

Silence, but for the ticking clock.


“Damn!” I jumped up, it was one-thirty.

I had probably missed Samwell’s return, but I needed to go up there anyway and put an end to whatever was going on.

I put my runners on, grabbed my jacket and house key, and ran downstairs. I almost tripped over the Halloween pumpkin by the back door. Outside, the fog closed in around me, penetrating the fabric, dampening my skin––or was that nervous sweat? 

I could have gone up that pathway blind folded, I had travelled it so many times. As I drew closer, I noticed a candle trembling in the window. I heard loud movements from inside, and then, I heard the ugliest voice.

“You witch! Where is the money?” There was a loud slapping sound, but no whimper followed.

“Tell me!” the voice roared.

“Go to hell and fry!” a female voice screamed. Then, there was another slapping sound, followed by a crash. 

I moved quickly to the door and with all my valour, burst into the room. Sylvia was cowered beneath a table. She was half naked, her clothing tattered and torn. Bruises and bloody scratches played snakes and ladders on the exposed skin. But her eyes held a fiery madness, like I had never seen before! She was glaring at Samwell with such hatred, that even he momentarily stopped his assault.

I seized the moment and grabbed the fire poker by the door––the one Sylvia and I kept there in case any unwanted strangers tried to invade our world.

This was our secret place––Sylvia’s and mine.

Samwell was unwanted.

I swung with all my might.


The clay felt good to my trembling fingers. Sylvia showed me how to smooth and shape it. “You can create anything you want with clay,” she smiled.

We worked all night on the new piece. In the morning, I ran down to my house and left a note for my parents, informing them that Sylvia and I were sleeping in the shack, and I would see them tomorrow. We slept for a few hours and then continued our work. Finally, we sat back and observed our creation. He was magnificent, just like when we had first seen him.

“Not bad, for a beginner,” Sylvia smiled. She began to dance around the sculpture. “You know what … I think we will enter this in the Pumpkin Fest pottery show. There is a new category this year: ‘Real Life Creations.’”

“I could write a story to go with it, an amalgamation of two arts,” I added with a smile.

“Good idea.” And, Sylvia smiled, again.


The town of Waterford is proud of their world renowned artist and writer. Sylvia inherited the property when her mother passed away. We live in the main house; however, we still spend a lot of time in our secret place. We fixed the walls and broken windows, though. We also expanded the cottage by adding two rooms––one, where I write my manuscripts, one where Sylvia works her magic with clay.

It is our statues and the stories that go with them that have truly made us famous, though. Sylvia and I won the grand prize with our first entry, ten years ago. We win first prize every year, actually, and after each show, we add another statue to our iron fenced garden on the hill. The stories are encased in a glass box beside their inspirations.

At the moment, we are working on another statue, one of the most exquisite we have ever executed. Unfortunately, it will not be ready for this year’s show, for the clay is too fresh, and I have yet to write the story.


There is a part of me that wishes it had never happened, yet the satisfied part of me cannot help but to smile. Sylvia smiles, as well. And she dances, too––like a mad fairy––in the garden of statues.



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