What question do you hate to be asked? Why?
“How are you,” they say, smiling with their lips. Their eyes are unhappy. They don’t want to know. They don’t want to hear. It’s a ritual. They ask, I answer. We both hate the exchange, but for some reason, they feel it’s obligatory. Civility? Manners? They need to ask, but they don’t have to care. I give them the answer they want, because anything else would be unbearable.
I curve my mouth into a big, bright smile. With as much enthusiasm as I can muster, I say “I’m fine, thank you for asking. Just fine!”
If I’m lucky, they go away after that. Because they are just fine too. We are all just fine.