She couldn't fucking stand to see someone smile. It drove her insane. Just like all the others in the rooms that surrounded hers. Insane. Crazy. Lunatic. Those were the names that they were all called by the people outside the walls of the place, but what made Sharree Davis different was that she was there on her own accord. She wanted to be there in the so-called 'loony bin'.
Jackson Hospital for Behavioral and Mental Health. That was the place Sharree had called home for seven years, but it hadn't even felt like a day to her. In fact, she felt like she couldn't separate herself far enough from society, and even though time ticked by, it was never enough. If Sharree had put herself out in the real world, she'd be classified as one of the criminally insane. She'd tried to kill the last person who smiled, and it wasn't even for a split second.
It was during a lunch break on the week Sharree had arrived, and she was just watching as Nurse Gilda opened her door to give Sharree her lunch. "Here you are, dear." She said with a kind smile. Something snapped inside Sharree at that exact moment. She didn't see Gilda anymore. Instead, she saw her dead father, a wicked grin etched upon his face, looking just as he did when he died. It was almost as if her were laughing at death, telling it to fuck off with a smile acting as a middle finger.
Sharree tackled Gilda to the ground, only seeing the 'cigarette burns' that her father had constantly told her about. She scratched at her face, trying to permanently erase her capability to smile. She then grabbed a fork, that had clattered to the floor, and attempted to stab the nurse in the neck before someone caught her arm and pulled Sharree off of the older woman. It was then that the other staff, and Sharree herself, realized that she needed to stay there. She was only seventeen at the time, and she was putting herself in a mental institution. And fucking La Fin Absolue de Monde was at fault for the entire thing.
A scratchy voice interrupted her thoughts, filling the white, padded room with words that were rarely spoken to her. "Sharree, you have a visitor. He says he's come a long way. Do you want me to send him up?"
Sharree ran a pale hand through her dark brown hair. "Yeah, Mary. Send him up with a smoke, would you? I'm getting antsy in here."
"Will do, sweetheart." Mary replied. "Just don't tell on me."
Sharree then laid on the small cot that was in her room. It was small, white, padded; just like the rest of the room, except for the small, metal toilet and sink on the opposite wall. It was more like a prison cell, if you thought about it, with a two-by-two, barred window that only overlooked the grassy backyard of Jackson Hospital.
She rubbed her legs together, enjoying the feel of smooth skin. It was one of the many pleasures she had there that the other patients didn't. She could shave, smoke, and even have the camera, that hung in the top corner of the two left walls, turned off for a certain amount of time if she wanted some privacy.
A small knock made her flinch from the sudden interruption in the silence that surrounded her. "Come in." She sat up and ran a hand over her small hospital gown, smoothing it. She couldn't wait to inhale the nicotine and let it pour through her system, but she was also curious as to who was visiting her, and why.
The metal door opened, revealing Mary, whose grey hair made her look stressed, and a younger man who looked around Sharree's age. He had short, dark brown hair, a slightly pale complexion with a hint of stubble on his fine face. A small mole rested above his full, yet thin, lips, and Sharree couldn't stop herself from staring into his crystal blue eyes. His gaze was captivating, and then she realized that she was only in a hospital gown and nothing else. She didn't feel the need to wear underwear since she wasn't in public, and she hadn't had a visitor in, well, never.
Mary nodded in greeting. "Sharree, this is Mr. Kirby Sweetman."
She held out her hand to him. "Sharree Davis. What's up?"
His grip was gentle, yet firm as the same time, and for some reason, he made her self-conscious. "Actually, I was wanting to talk to you. Ask you a few questions."
Sharree raised an eyebrow. "About?"
"About La Fin Absolue de Monde and about what happened to you father."
Her eyes widened. She shifted her feet uncomfortably, then swallowed. "Okay." She said in an unwilling whisper. Then she looked at Mary. "That camera's going off, though, okay?"
Mary nodded. "That's fine. You'll only have twenty minutes, though."
"I believe that's enough time. Would you agree, Mr. Sweetman?"
He nodded, almost failing to hide a polite smile. Sharree's eyes darkened as a thought crossed her mind. She almost wanted him to smile, but mentally kicked herself at the thought. "It won't take that long." He said.
"Alright, then." Mary said. "Then I'll leave you two to it." As she left, she closed the door behind her, leaving Kirby and Sharree to themselves.
"Oh." Kirby felt the pocket of his dress shirt before pulling out two cigarettes. "She told me to give you this." He explained as he handed her the tobacco stick. He then lit his lighter and offered to light hers. She accepted, then took a long, anticipated drag off of her cigarette. She sighed happily, exhaling a stream of smoke in the process. "Okay," He began as the small red light on the camera went black. "So, how did you end up in here?"
Her eyes narrowed, but she went ahead and started explaining. "We watched it together, you know. La Fin Absolue de Monde. He took me to what's her face's house up in Vancouver, and he asked to watch it. He didn't want me to watch it with him, but I was a horror movie buff, so I snuck in and sat down right next to him. He didn't even pay attention to me; he just kept watching, eyes glued to the screen." She inhaled, then started twiddling her thumbs. "He didn't talk the entire way home. And he only said three words that week. Then he started getting... Weird. Talking about it, wanting to see it again, telling me about the cigarette burns that he kept seeing. It wasn't long before I started to see them, too. They'd wake me up from a dead sleep and I'd see my friend that had killed herself, or my mom that died in a traffic accident." She looked over at him as he studied her, then she continued. "Around a month after we watched it, he became... Violent. He used to have a poker game over at our house every month or so, because all the players took turns at who's house they'd play at. I tried to talk him out of it, because I suspected something, but he shook my warning off, telling me that everything was fine.
"Around an hour into the game, I was in my room sleeping. I woke up from a cigarette burn again, but I didn't see anything, like a vision or something. I only heard the guys screaming from down in the basement. I was scared to go and look at first, but something told me that I needed to go down there. When I got halfway down the stairs, I saw blood splatter on the walls, and on of his friends was holding his own throat, looking up at me from the floor. There was so much blood, Mr. Sweetman."
"Kirby," he interrupted. "Call me Kirby."
"Okay, Kirby. Then I went to the bottom step, and automatically puked. There were four other players there besides my dad. There was the one that laid on the floor, one that was beheaded and his head was substituting the lamp shade." She paused, trying to make the tears not spill. "Another guy was already dead, his eye sockets and mouth were filled with poker chips and bills of money. Dad was stabbing the last one to death. He was smiling the whole time... Just smiling. Then he saw me, and I thought he was going to come after me, but he didn't. Instead, he started bashing his head on the concrete wall. He was still fucking grinning the whole time until he dropped dead. He died smiling, Kirby."
"Is that why you don't like people to smile?"
"Not liking it is understatement of the year." She said glumly. "What's your interest of this, anyway?" When he didn't answer, she asked him. "You want to see the movie, don't you?"
He nodded. "And I'm getting paid to find it."
Sharree shook her head. "Don't. It'll ruin your fucking life. It puts thoughts inside your head, Kirby. It's dangerous."
"You're not the first person to tell me that." He said glumly.
"Then that tells you that I'm right." She pointed a finger at him. "It cost five people their life from where I'm standing. Six, if you include me. I'm scared that if I see someone smile, I'll kill them, like I tried to do with Gilda. There's probably more out there. That film was made by the fucking Devil, himself, Kirby Sweetman, and I'll be damned if I'm going to sit here and watch you end your life."
He completely ignored her. "You said something about cigarette burns. What happens when you see them, I mean, why?"
"You've seen them?" He nodded. "Then it's already started. It gets inside you. Takes over you until something happens."
"What will happen to me?"
"What do you see when the cigarette burns are over? Do you see someone you love that's died?" He nodded again, sorrow taking over his eyes. "She'll get to you, somehow. Mark my words, Kirby Sweetman. If you continue with this search," She took his hand in hers. "You'll go insane, or worse, you'll die; by someone else's hand or your own."
"Don't take this personal, but you don't know anything about me. That'll never happen. I won't even watch the thing if it makes everyone happy." He squeezed her hand, then she went to kiss his cheek, but he moved and their lips brushed. Sharree couldn't help but lean into him, creating a full kiss. Her other hand caressed his face as he slipped his tongue into her mouth, tasting her. She breathed through her nose. He tasted of cigarettes and mint toothpaste, and she could tell that he had something chocolate earlier in the day. He moved his mouth along her jaw, leaving wet kisses, then he sucked on a spot on her collarbone, making her moan.
"Alright, Sharree, you have one minute until the camera comes back on." Mary's voice filled the room.
"Okay, Mary. Thanks." She said breathlessly. "Fucking A."
He pulled away from her. "It's fine. I'll be back to see you soon, Sharree. Promise." He kissed her cheek, then got up and walked out the door.
"You lie." She whispered when the door closed, leaving her rubbing the sensitive spot on her collarbone that would soon become a bruise, and knowing that she would never see Kirby Sweetman again.
Sharree skimmed her fingers over his picture in the newspaper. She was reading his obituary, which said that he'd killed himself with his stepfather's gun. She let a tear make its way down her high cheekbone. Then she tossed the newspaper to the floor and laid on her cot. Closing her eyes, she imagined herself kissing Kirby again. The way he tasted, the way he looked, the way he smelled. A sudden flash of a cigarette burn made her jump awake. When she opened her eyes, she gasped as Kirby stood on the other side of her room. Blood was dripping from his mouth and onto his shirt, and his eyes were glazed over. "Come with me, Sharree. Be with me. Be my lover."
She wasn't going to say no. She had been thinking about him ever since he left. She wasn't in love with him, but she wanted to be. "How?" She asked him. He simply looked at the loose metal bar on her cot, making her realize what he meant. Something inside her told her to do it, to be with Kirby Sweetman forever. She yanked the bar loose and held the sharper end against her throat.
She smiled at Kirby as she drove the sharp object into her flesh, and the last thing she saw was him smiling back at her.