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I was tired of convincing Lisa to smile. Every time we sat down with her, she simply crossed her arms and stared at me through a set of deep, solemn eyes, her mouth refusing to curl into a smile. It was a shame, really. She had a plump figure and a lively blush on her cheeks that suggested she was really someone enjoyable to be with, however, her permanent frown told otherwise. 

I tapped my foot impatiently on the intricately designed carpet, frustration slithering around in my head like a serpent. Lisa was yet again assuming her position with her crossed arms and her defiant gaze. 

I refused to give up. I wanted nothing more than to paint her wearing a smile. I was confident that I could create a masterpiece out of her—A Secret Beauty—only she didn’t realize it yet. 

“Miss.” I fidgeted with my paintbrush as I looked into her serious brown eyes. “If you would just smile a little–”

“I’m quite alright, thank you,” Lisa said, and her fingers twitched in irritation.

I shut my mouth immediately and gave a single nod. “That’s fine,” I replied in disappointment. I started mixing my colors, glancing back at her hopefully as if suddenly she would change her mind and turn towards me with a bright smile on her face. It didn’t happen. 

“Exactly how long will this take?” Lisa asked impatiently. 

I stayed silent, not wanting to answer her question. In truth, it would take several years to paint a masterpiece. I would have to request a sitting with her multiple times just to accurately paint her features on canvas.  

“Not long,” I lied. 


She clearly saw past my lie as, several years later, she grew tired of listening to me pestering her for another sitting. 

“I-It takes a while, Miss!” I repeated hastily, “I’m almost done.” And it was true. I was indeed almost done. In fact, everything from her mane of dark oak-colored hair to her crossed hands was painted to perfection. Everything...except her mouth, that is. Where her mouth was supposed to be was a stretch of blank canvas. I refused to paint her in a frown. It just seemed wrong, but convincing Lisa to smile was not an option. 

“Look this way please,” I asked Lisa who had turned her attention to a stray strand of hair. Lisa nodded curtly and I began planning out my approach. 

It turned out beautifully. I found myself staring at the portrait several times. Her eyes seemed to follow me everywhere I went. Even Lisa had been taken aback when I had showed her the portrait—the portrait of Lisa. Lisa with her crossed hands and serious eyes and smile. The smile that seemed to hide something. Like she knew all the secrets in the world. A Secret Beauty.

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