The short story "Viral Smiles" is about a young lady who reads an article about how contagious smiles can be, so she decides to put that theory to the test. The results of her experiment are not what she expects. Her entire day goes horribly wrong, which makes for a humorous read.
I come up with this story after the big swine flu outbreak in 2009. I read how some people just seem to have immunity to certain viruses. My daughter is actually one of them. She is almost 21 years old and has been exposed to chicken pox several times during her childhood and never got them. So, it seems that there are always some people who just don't get certain viruses.
This is what started my imagination stirring. Maybe smiles are contagious and maybe they're not. It all depends on the person you're trying to infect. And for pessimistic people, smiles don't seem to change their attitude at all.
Here's an excerpt:
Smiles, according to an article I read entitle, Viral Smiles, smiling is supposed to be contagious. A smile sends out little contagions that attack a grouch and infect them with happiness and understanding, at least in theory, but I have to disagree after putting that theory to a test.
It all started on a beautiful Friday morning. The sun was glowing orange against a clear sky. The birds outside were singing and the tree limbs were waving as if inviting me to come out and enjoy the day. The view outside my window was lovely, until I saw Mr. Grammar, the neighborhood grouch. He always wore the same gray wool sweater over a white wife-beater shirt. And ironically, his nose hairs were the same dusty gray as his sweater. His scalp was dotted with age spots that dodged a white hair here and there, and I argued with him daily about his scruffy little poodle leaving presents in my yard. If I didn’t complain, he’d never pick up the dog’s pooh.
I decided to try infecting him with a lethal dose of viral smile. On my way out to the car, I checked to make sure my front door was locked securely before turning toward the steps. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mr. Grammar watching me. I walked down the steps to the driveway before I saw it. A tiny turd lay by my car. I waved at Mr. Grammar, “Hello, nice morning, isn’t it?” I proceeded to bend down, tissue in hand, and remove the brown squiggle without complaint.
The old grouch lumber up to me. “What are you going to do with that?”
I stretched my lips back into a cheerful smile. “I’m going to throw it right over there in the trashcans.”
“You don’t fool me, Miss. You’re up to something.” He snatched the little poop from my hand. “Give me that.” As he walked away he mumbled, “I know a mischievous smile when I see one, that girl’s up to something.”
I stood stunned for a moment before getting into the car. On the drive to work the more I thought about his behavior, the angrier I got. What did he think I was going to do with dog feces? Does he own the poodle that secretes golden turds? I was fuming by the time I got to work, but I decided to take a few deep breaths and enjoy the rest of the day.
"Viral Smiles" was first published in The Other Herald in the April 2011 Volume 5, Issue 2.
You can read in now in Flashes of Fiction: Volume 1.