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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)

TITLE: Joy Killer
By Catherine Pollock


Have you ever just sat down on a ledge and watched people as they walk by? Do you ever notice how miserable they are? I do, and I love it – don’t you? How can I love it? Simple. I’m a joy killer.

My, that sounds so awful, doesn’t it? But really, it’s not that bad. A thorn here, a rock there, then watch them stumble and listen to them whine – the sweetest music I ever heard. No one needs joy. No one needs to be happy. This world is so much more fun when no one’s looking on the bright side of things.

I have to admit the job isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes the assignment’s a tough case. You can’t crack every nut, but you gotta try.

Take yesterday, for example. Simple assignment – kill the joy in Julie’s life. Only problem is that she’s a Christian. Not your garden variety one who only claims it Sunday mornings. Those are a dime a dozen and easy to deal with. No – Julie is known as one of those ‘hardcore’ Christians. She is always praying, always reading, and always doing. About as picture perfect of a Christian as you can get. She finds joy in EVERYTHING. Even the thorns and the rocks.

It took me all night to figure out what could kill Julie’s joy, but I did. Watching her step onto her bathroom scale this morning, I realized her weakness. The flashing neon sign above her head said it for me. Weight. Weight, weight, weight. Now I have a plan in place. Perfect place.

See that young man getting out of the car right next to Julie’s? The tall one, with brown hair and pale, pale skin? That’s Jim. He’s been a case of mine for years, a special case He really could be happy with just about any woman, but he’s been miserable for years. I’ve convinced him the only woman he should want has to look like a supermodel, and because of me, he refuses to settle for less. Maybe he’s worth it, and maybe not. I don’t know. I just do what the boss says, and see as I go along just how right he is.

And there’s Julie, getting out of her car. She dressed so carefully today – face made up to look like she didn’t do anything to it, hair a delightfully wavy mess on top of her head, and an outfit meant to flatter her figure. She looks lively, but she just can’t hide the fact that she’s not what he thinks he wants.

“You look nice today,” Jim says, low enough that I have to lean closer to hear him. I give him a thumbs up. He’s ready to go in for the kill. I know it. I’ve heard him do this enough times.

“Thanks.” Julie smiles, closing her car door. She smoothes her skirt and looks up at Jim expectantly. She looks beautiful and she knows it, but she still needs to hear it. Too bad he’s not going to tell her.

“Going out after work?” He asks, leaning back against the front bumper of his car.

“No.” Julie shakes her head.

Amazingly, his head is hanging low, his eyes not meeting hers. “Then how about a movie tonight?”

I can’t believe this. This is not happening. My plan’s unraveling. I have to stop this. I have to get to Julie, convince her that he’s joking. Otherwise I’ll fail.

But there’s what even I would call a brutal grip on my shoulder. I turn my head, and have to close my eyes at the brightness they meet. It’s too late. This assignment is a scrub. I’ve been outgunned by the Joy Giver.

I have to sit and watch as Julie smiles at Jim. “I’d like that. How about dinner before then?”

“Of course.” Jim agrees. “Pick you up at seven?”

Julie nods. “Seven it is.”

And then… then there’s a loud rumbling in my ears. I turn my face again, closing my eyes to the light. I hear the sound of someone speaking, like they’ve taken a bullhorn and are yelling into right beside my ear.

“Leave them alone, Joy Killer. Go away.”

Then the rush of the wind over me as I fly away – flung to the side by the Joy Giver. There is nothing else to say, nothing else to do. I have to go, give way to joy – even if I hate it.

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This article has been read 710 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter05/27/06
Great! Really creatively done. I enjoyed it a lot.
Edy T Johnson 05/29/06
Creative, fresh writing. You hooked me and drew me into your upside down look at "joy." Technically excellent as well. Thank you for an enjoyable reading!
Jan Ackerson 05/30/06
This is super!!! I wish I'd found it earlier--you've done a wonderful job here, and I really enjoyed your writer's voice.
Virginia Gorg05/30/06
Nicely written, but it seems as if "vanity" was a problem of hers ("She looks beautiful and she knows it, but she still needs to hear it.") I think I would have said something about "she is satisfied with her appearance," so as not to seem vain. Overall, I like this - it's the inner beauty that is important.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/31/06
This is a really creative twist on the subject. Well written. Good job.
Ruth Neilson06/01/06
Hey Cat! Congrates on your peice. It is really amazing. I told you that you were improving! Keep up the good work. One more of these and you'll be up in the advanced level!
Ruth Neilson06/01/06
Hey Cat! Congrates on your peice. It is really amazing. I told you that you were improving! Keep up the good work. One more of these and you'll be up in the advanced level!
Edy T Johnson 06/01/06
Congratulations! I'm glad to see your creativity recognized. God bless.