On the Way to a Smile, Episode: Tifa [Revised]


Revised Audiobook Edition by Pixel

Tifa saw the last customer out of her bar before returning inside to clean up in the galley. The room was dimly lit, with minimal, but adequate lighting. Tifa stood alone in the gloom. Just days ago, she would have done the work without a care as she watched over her family, but now the water felt colder than usual, and the dishes seemed as though they would never get clean. Tifa tried turning on all of the lights that illuminated the bar to try to change the atmosphere. For a brief moment, the room lit up, but due to the instability of the electricity supply, it became dimly lit again. A surge of uneasiness came over her. She wondered if she was all alone in the house. As the thought crossed her mind, it proved too much for her, and she called out:


Before long, soft footsteps could be heard from the children’s room at the back of the bar, and Marlene appeared.


She put her finger to her lips and frowned. Tifa apologized, but was relieved.

“Denzel’s finally fell asleep.”

“Was he in pain?”


“You should have given me a shout.”

“Denzel didn’t let me.”

“I see…”

Tifa looked as if she was blaming herself for not paying attention to the children.

“So, what’s wrong?”

“Oh, um… I just…”

Tifa tried to hide her feelings as best she could. Marlene looked around the bar, where only Tifa and her stood.

“Did you get lonely?”

This little girl saw through everything.

“I won’t be going anywhere.”

“I know. Thanks. You should sleep soon too.”

“I was just about to sleep!”

“(slight laugh) Sorry.”

She’s my daughter. That’s how I introduced her to people. Her parents died not too long ago and she was brought up by her father’s closest friend, Barret.

Tifa had known her for as long as she had known Barret – almost half of Marlene’s life. So when Barret decided to head off to settle his past, it was only natural that Tifa would be the one to look after her.

Tifa left the dishes and followed Marlene inside. In the children’s room were two beds, lined up next to one another. There, Denzel lay sleeping. The stigma on the eight year old’s forehead was a painful sight. Nothing could be done to ease the symptoms as the boy suffered, and his condition wasn’t improving at all. Denzel grimaced a little as Tifa wiped away the ichor oozing from the lesion on his forehead, but he continued to sleep. Marlene had been looking on, but now she had crawled under the covers of her own bed and called out Tifa’s name.

“We’re here with you, but you’re still lonely, aren’t you?”

“…I’m sorry,”

“It’s ok. We’re the same.”


“I wonder where Cloud is.”

Tifa hung her head, unable to answer. Cloud was somewhere in Midgar. At first, she imagined how the worst could have happened.

“Maybe he had an accident while out on one of his jobs, or he was ambushed by monsters.”

Soon, though, she realised he was still out there on jobs. There were people who had seen him out and about. He just went out, that’s all. Tifa was trying to convince the children that everything was ok, but she lost her composure. Before long, the children realized something was wrong.

“Why did he leave?”

I didn’t know. Maybe he had some problems to work through.

But Tifa remembered Cloud’s last smile. It had the kindness that made her think everything was fine.

I wonder if I was mistaken.

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