The Wrong Kind of Joy by Dan Brotzel

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‘Now think of a time when you felt really good,’ breathed Sol, returning the group to the moment at last. ‘A time you felt as if you were really thrumming with wellbeing.’ He sighed again, and it was as if sighing had been invented for him. ‘A time when you were really… pregnant with joy.’

Hums and sighs around the circle. Eyes closed, Jayne could just see a hot black-red trembling curtain.

Then she found himself smirking uncontrollably.

More sighs from the group.

The smirking now was turning into deep, irrepressible giggling. But that was OK. It was good to laugh, wasn’t it? This laugh came from joy

‘Jayne…’ said Sol teasingly. ‘Are you having fun?’ There was a slight edge in his voice, as if she was experiencing too much joy, or perhaps the wrong sort. The sort that Sol might not be able to take credit for.

Jayne began snorting and weeping. She didn’t want to steal the show – and she was starting to feel like the naughty schoolgirl at the back – but really, she was just… too joyful.

Afterwards, as Sol went round the group, there were tears and confessions and resolutions, tales of heartbreak and healing sealed with hand-clasps and hugs. Jayne sat smirking through it all.

‘So: Jayne!’ asked Sol at last. ‘What were you seeing that made you so happy?’

‘It was last Wednesday,’ said Jayne. ‘I was in a rush to get in. We had this workshop on helping brands to uncover their mythic archetype that I was supposed to be leading.’

‘Right,’ said Sol.

‘Anyway, I was stuck for something to wear. I was casting around, getting desperate, when all of a sudden, I came across this pair of trousers I’d forgotten all about. Tucked right down the back of the wardrobe.’

‘Wow,’ said Sol quietly.

‘I know!’ said Jayne. ‘They were really comfy, and they went perfectly with the top I had on. The whole thing sort of gave me a lift for the day.’

Silence from the group.

‘Wow!’ said Sol again. ‘I did not expect that.’

I know!’ said Jayne. ‘Cords they were too, of all things.’

****

Dan Brotzel

Dan’s debut collection of short stories, Hotel du Jack, is published by Sandstone. He is also co-author of a comic novel with Unbound, Kitten on a Fatberg. Two of his stories have recently received Pushcart nominations.

Twitter: @brotzel_fiction

Cover Image by Nika_Aikin

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