The Face That Stuck

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Once there was a little girl who made a face, and it stuck that way. This was most unfortunate, because she had been the kind of girl who was always so sweet when her parents were around, and all the adults at church used her as a good example when they were exhorting their children. This, of course, did not help her very much with the other children, especially since they knew what she was really like.

She was the same with the teachers at school, and always got glowing comments on her report cards, and she had won so many faculty commendations by the time she was in fifth grade that she had to find a special box to store them in.

She used to enjoy receiving praise from adults, especially when it involved how unlike the other children she was being, and then when the children were all alone, she would make her ugly face at them. And it was very ugly, and hard to describe. It was not a funny face, but an ugly face, and one day, to her absolute horror, it stuck.

She ran into the bathroom and looked at herself, and tried as hard as she could to straighten it all out—but nothing would straighten. She started to cry, but that made her even uglier, so she choked back the tears.

She evaded everyone until dinner, but eventually, there was nothing she could do but go out to be with her family. Her father gave a gasp of surprise, and her mother exclaimed, “Susan! What happened to you?” It took the other children a few minutes to figure this out, because they were not at all surprised. The only thing that was different was that their parents were there. But when dealing with this particular kind of ugly face, that was the big difference, of course.

“Mom,” one of her brothers said. “She’s like this all the time.”

“Shush, Billy,” his mother said. “We have taught you not to be a tattler.”

“I’m not tattling,” he said reasonably enough. “She’s right there.”

“You still need to shush.” Turning to Susan’s father, the mother said. “We need to take her to a cosmetic surgeon right away! What has happened to our sweet baby?”

And Billy said, but under his breath, “Nothing.”

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