Skiffy and Fanty came from stage right, banging drums and spangling spangles. “Help us celebrate our Month of Joy! Tell us what makes your heart sing!”
I glared at them from the cold prison of the center spotlight. “Go away. Life is 2017, and darkness, and despair, and a sucking miasma of hate and lousy chocolate.”
“Are you so sure about that?” said a voice just off-stage.
I squinted into the shadows. “Who said that?”
Happiness entered stage left; a quiet, joyful presence come from the wings. “Hello, old friend.”
My eyes welled with tears.
Happiness smiled, and my lonely spotlight dimmed, softened. “It’s been too long.”
Skiffy and Fanty ran to Happiness with glitter and bangles and not a few smiles. “Welcome to the party! Tell us something good.”
And Happiness said, “Sure.”
“There is my best friend and partner of 22 years. They are loving, kind, and my biggest fan.”
“They own Dragon’s Hoard Games, a friendly local game store in Silverdale, Washington, and I am so proud of their hard work.”
“My oldest son has grown from my solstice baby into an intelligent, capable young man who graduated high school and currently works two jobs. He adores Legos and video games and is a geek in good standing.”
“My youngest son has come farther than we ever expected. He continues to amaze us with his ability to learn and his infectious smile. The young woman is his caregiver, a valuable member of his care team, and as close to a niece or daughter as I could ever hope.”
“This is our Albanian miniature moose disguised as a 2 year old pitbull. We adopted him in 2016, and he has since become part of the family and laid claim to the most comfortable chair in the house. He is a ferocious cuddler. Much snuggle. So fierce. Slorp.”
“I continue to take joy in my tattoos, including the two most recent from Drew at Thor’s Hammer and Needle.”
“The first is of Boot, a character from Liz Argall’s splendiferous Things Without Arms & Without Legs – A Comic About Creatures Who Are Kind.”
“The other is my largest tattoo so far and a work in progress. A tree of things that have inspired me as a writer. Song lyrics, stories, quotes, compliments. It will continue onto my back and chest.”
“What about writing? I started a new novel, tried to keep up with my website, and even had two stories in the ARTEMIS RISING 3 event for the Escape Artists, Inc. podcasts: “Meat” and “The Absolute Temperature of Outer Space.”
“Not to mention my new short story collection coming out in 2018 from Hydra House Books!”
“I swam with sharks and learned how to use the Audacity audio program. I have good friends, watch interesting documentaries, and see the occasional movie. I have the ocean and the sound of rain on the car roof. Oh, and fine chocolates. Let’s not forget those.”
Skiffy and Fanty cheered and confetti-ly threw confetti. “Those are all wonderful things!”
Happiness’s gaze drifted away, leaving me once more in my too bright prison.
“Then there are the times that are not so joyful or bright,” Happiness said in the barest whisper. “The times when the darkness is too strong and I go away to keep myself safe from…things. Bad things.”
I opened my mouth to speak, and my words turned to sand.
Skiffy and Fanty unrang their bells. “That doesn’t sound very happy.”
Happiness looked at me again and held out a hand. I took it, and Happiness pulled me out of the spotlight and into a warm embrace. I found my words in the dunes of my lips. “It’s not, so I hold on to happiness for as long as I can.”
Skiffy and Fanty glanced at one another, then back at me. “Is that enough?”
I leaned into Happiness and breathed. In, out. In. Out. “It is for now.”
Bells rang in the distance, and spangles spangled. I breathed in warm sugar cookies, the ocean at sunset, the smoke from a just extinguished wood match.
Skiffy and Fanty rested hands on my shoulders. “That makes our hearts sing.”
Sandra lives in Washington state with her partner, two sons, and an Albanian miniature moose disguised as a dog. Her work has appeared in such venues as Jim Baen’s UNIVERSE, Daily Science Fiction, Crossed Genres, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders. She is a Clarion West 2010 graduate, and an active member of the SFWA.