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PandaOki Short Stories

Tisu’s Big Smile

Tisu stood in front of her bathroom mirror, smoothed the facial fur that had been ruffled by the night’s slumber and looked at her reflection.  Usually she didn’t spend a lot of time staring at herself in the mirror but for some reason, today was different.  There was nothing new to look at. Aside from a few errant hairs that refused to lay flat, she looked the same as she always did, but that was the problem.  Her usual scowl, for some reason, was bothering her.
 
“I wonder what I would look like with a smile?” she thought to herself. Tisu couldn’t remember the last time she had smiled. She wasn’t even sure if she remembered how to actually smile.
 
She stood looking the mirror, grunting and growling in a vain effort to make herself smile, but her face stubbornly refused. For the next hour, she tried and tried to get the corners of her mouth to curl upwards, but her cheeks were determined not to let her have her way.
 
She was getting desperate. She tried to think happy thoughts, remember jokes that Doob had told her, she even tried to visualize the crazy looks on PandaOki’s face after he had eaten one of
MyOki’s toxic kookies but nothing was working.
 
Finally, after trying everything she knew how, she took her hands, put her fingers in the corners of her mouth and forced her face to smile. It had been so long since she last smiled that she had forgotten she had such white teeth.
 
She knew if she took her hands away, her smile would disappear.
 
“What am I gonna do?” she thought aloud. “I know what I can do,” she said, reaching for the tape dispenser on her dresser.
 
The tape was the invisible kind that she had left over from when she had wrapped her Giftigiftofus Day presents. After tearing off a couple of pieces, she attached one end to each side of her cheeks and the other end to the corners of her mouth.   Because it was invisible tape, no one would be able to see it. It would just look like she was smiling.
 
Armed with her new smile she put on her favorite blue monster kitty hat and headed out the door. It wasn’t long before she was able to put her new smile to the test. Mr. Tombo, the mailman was walking up the street.
 
He was so focused on sorting the mail in his bag, he almost didn’t see her standing in front of him.
 
“Uh, hi, Tisu,” he stammered. Something about her was different, he thought to himself.
 
He had seen Tisu nearly every day since she was a small cubbin, but today there was definitely something different about her. After what seemed like an eternity, he figured out what it was.  
 
“You’re smiling!” he blurted out. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile,” he continued.  “What has you so happy this morning?” he asked.
 
Tisu tried to respond, but she couldn’t. She had been so determined to use the tape to make herself smile, she never thought about being able to talk.
 
“Well, whatever it is, it’s good to see you smiling,” Mr. Tombo said, and he was on his way.
 
Tisu was thunderstruck. In all the years she had known the mailman, he had never greeted her with a morning salutation.
 
“Let’s see what else happens,” she thought to herself.
 
She walked to the Yummy Yum Yum Candy Shop to get some of her favorite sour candy.  Usually, when she shopped, the other patrons frowned and made an effort to get out of her way; even the workers who were supposed to be helping her.   
 
Today was different. As she made her way down the aisles, she was silently greeted with smiles by the other shoppers.
 
“Can I help you?”  A voice from behind her cheerfully asked.
 
Still unable to speak, she held up two fingers and pointed to the container holding the sour bamboo sticks. The shopkeeper carefully placed them in the bag and took them to the counter to ring them up.
 
“Since you have such a big smile, I’m gonna throw in some sour jaw breakers for free,” he smiled.
 
Tisu’s smile grew ever bigger as if was possible.
 
“Free jaw breakers!” she thought to herself. “Maybe there was some benefit to smiling.”
 
She took the sack and left the shop to find PandaOki and the rest of her friends. As she cheerfully walked through the town, on her way to the ‘What the Sip’ sippie stand, everyone she passed either waved or smiled at her.  While Katawillians weren’t usually rude to her, she wasn’t used to them being so happy to see her.
 
The ‘What the Sip’ sippie stand was directly ahead of her and, as usual, PandaOki was sitting at the stand with a large sippie in front of him.
 
“Hey, Sui,” PandaOki said, as he took a huge sip of his sippie.  Sui was the nickname that Tisu’s family had made up for her. The only other people allowed to call her by that name and not get hit were her friends.
 
To limit the amount of carnage that could ensue from others using the name, they usually only called her Sui when they were alone.
 
“Mmmhpp,” was all she could muster.
 
This response from Tisu didn’t surprise him. PandaOki thought she was just being her usual grumpy self. It wasn’t until he turned and faced her fully that he realized that something was different.
 
“What the fun?!” He exclaimed “Why do you have that tape on your face?”
 
“Mmmmmmmhhhppp und mmmmmhhhpppp, mmmpppphhhhh,” she tried to explain.
 
“I can’t understand you,” he chuckled.
 
“Hmmmmmp mehpp thhh taaaaaap oofff,” she said, pointing to the tape on her face.
 
They each grabbed a piece of the tape and carefully pulled it off.  Within seconds of removing the tape, Tisu’s giant smile disappeared and her face was back to normal. Well, it was almost back to normal.
 
“Are you ok?” he asked.
 
“My cheeks are numb,” she said, rubbing her face. “I think I smiled to long.”
 
“This should help,” Mr. Munga said, as he sat a wotoogie sippie on the counter in front of her.
 
“Thank you,” she said, taking the sippie.
 
“You’re most welcome,” Munga replied. After making sure the two were content with their
sippies, He left to go serve other customers.
 
“Are you gonna explain the whole tape on the face thing?” PandaOki asked.
 
“I wanted to try something new today,” she said, taking a sip. “So, I walked around all day with a smile. Well, I couldn’t really get my smile to work so I used the tape to help me. ”
 
“Why, was it so important that you smile?” he asked.
 
“Cause usually nobody is happy to see me. They’re always like ‘uh oh, here comes Tisu’. But today everybody was happy to see me.”
 
“So, are you gonna smile from now on?” he asked, expecting her to say yes.
 
“No,” she said taking a sip of her drink.
 
“No?” PandaOki asked. “If you liked how you felt, then why not?”
 
“Just because I’m not smiling on the outside doesn’t mean I’m not happy. I’m always happy, except when I’m mad. I live in a good town, I’ve got a great home, with fantastic parents and I have the best friends. I’m smiling on the inside all the time.  It did feel good to have people happy to see me but I don’t think my face is built for smiling all the time. Unless it’s being filled with a sippie that is.”
 
They both laughed.
 
“Hey, Sui,” PandaOki said leaning over, “you’ll never believe the story Mr. Munga just told me.  It started off like this....”

THE END