It had been a difficult day, with constant interruptions and irritations. They were all part of Dan's job and he didn't begrudge anyone, but by 3 p.m., with three hours of it still ahead of him, he felt some wear and tear. Seeing the sun shining brightly on the warm spring day he walked outside his office to the small park nearby and sat on a bench.
He looked across the street at a bodega with a fruit stand in the front and saw a young woman in a light-colored dress walking down the street. She was pretty but not extraordinarily so – what caught Dan’s eye were her smile and the way the hem of the dress moved as she walked. It swayed and fluttered in the way that every designer wants, and even though it was of modest length, it nicely set off her pretty legs in her flat shoes. She walked with long, confident strides, smiling broadly.
This alone made her remarkable in Dan's eyes. Nearly everyone he saw walking in New York seemed to wear a permanent scowl or an oblivious expression as they stared into cellphones or listened to whatever was playing in their headphones. They were disengaged from everything around them, he thought, lucky they didn't bump into parking meters and construction scaffolds.
The woman didn’t seem to be smiling at anyone, just smiling and enjoying herself. He’d gotten used to seeing everyone eclipse their their good looks by looking bored or sad or hostile when they walked down the street.
This woman’s smile made her a stunner.
He saw her stop at the fruit stand and she talked to the old man who came out to help her. They chatted for a minute as he put peaches and a couple of apples into a bag. She smiled broadly; he looked as if he were flirting a little with her as elderly men do with pretty girls. And then she pulled her wallet from her purse and gave him some bills. The man smiled and put one more peach in the bag, and they both laughed. He handed her the bag and she touched him lightly on the arm, then gave him a friendly finger wave and walked off, still smiling, her hem swishing back and forth.
Dan gazed across the street at the old man, who touched his arm where she had touched him. He looked as if he'd just been given a prize and watched the young woman walk down the street. Then, still smiling, the elderly man walked back inside the store.
Dan thought for a moment about how good a smile could make a person feel. He spent another minute enjoying the sunshine and then walked back to his office, smiling.