When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t find my joy anywhere. There was an indent where I’d set it down, but its plump body was missing. Last night it had swelled up so large that it hardly fit in the car when it was time to leave. How could it already be gone? We have been going out a lot, my joy and I, yet every morning I find it shrunken down to the size of a pea, or, as with this morning, not there at all. On these days, I am forced to wander out into the world to look for it all over again. I didn’t have the energy for real clothes this morning so I threw my coat over my sweatpants and shuffled my feet into slippers before trudging out into the sunlight. It was freezing. Sometimes my joy likes to roll back to the places where it had grown the day before, but after making the rounds from one friend to another I had found nothing. I walked into a coffee shop and ordered something with too much sugar. If I couldn’t find the joy, I could at least try to sip it back to me. The coffee was sickening. I moved on. At this point, the thought that my joy had been stolen had not crossed my mind, but the clues were abundant. For one, my bedside table was turned on its side, the window was cracked, and there was a tiny handprint on the wall above where my joy had been sleeping. In retrospect these should have been warning signs, but when I wake up without joy I don’t notice things like that. These clues became clearer when I got home and I started to wonder if someone else had been in my apartment last night. I make a point of locking the doors when I’m inside, even though I never lock them when I’m out, and would have heard if a person came in through the window. I examined the screen and found a slight tear, about the length of a pinky, as if something very small had come through it in the night. A mouse, perhaps, or a very persistent bird. I wanted to investigate further, but was feeling my loss rather hard and decided to sink back into bed. I kept the window open in case my joy wanted to come back and shivered my way through four days before I realized I wasn’t feeling any better and six days before I got up again. By then my friends had heard the news and sent me their theories as to what might have happened to my joy. My friend, the optimist, thought that perhaps my joy had grown so large that I couldn’t see it, that I was inside it. My friend, the optometrist, agreed and offered me a pair of joy-tinted lenses. No theory captured my attention, however, except for my friend, the pagan, whose answer came in one-word: “Faerie.” “Like the Tooth Fairy?” I asked “No,” they responded, “Faerie.”
That night I resolved to stay awake and keep an eye out for any fae intruders. By this point the excitement of a stake-out had grown a new, small joy and I set it on the pillow beside me as bait. It was around midnight when The Joy Faerie crept through the window-screen. It used its thin limbs to crawl down to my bed and across the comforter towards the joy-bait. I felt the pitter-patter of its feet as it drew nearer and almost heard a small squeal of delight. Summoning whatever spirit was left within me, I shouted the spell that my friend, the pagan, had taught me years ago: “Hey!” With fae magic, it is not the words that you speak that give the spell its meaning, frankly they could be almost any combination of sounds, it is the intention behind them that holds power. You could shriek incantations until fire comes from your throat, but if your mind drifts and you begin to wonder if you started the dishwasher or if you ate a vegetable today or if you think it's finally time to get a new haircut the spell will have no power. I was resolved, however, to make this spell work and I focused all my intention into this one word and thought of only one thing: the faerie freezing in place. It lay there on the comforter, one arm stretched toward the joy-bait and the other pinned beneath its body. Pulling a jar from the bedside table, I lunged at the faerie and caught it just as my focus slipped and it regained the power to move. Sometimes I feel sorry for The Joy Faerie in the jar. When it isn’t baring its fangs at me or carving threats on the inside of the glass it looks just as I did when I would wake to joyless mornings. As it sits there, drooling venom and staring into space, I am often tempted to form a little ball of joy and drop it through the air holes. But The Joy Faerie is too pathetic a sight and often no joy comes from looking at it. Soon enough I fear that I’ll have to let it go, but have hesitated these last months. I have been waking to a plump joy every morning and that is not an easy thing to give up. My pagan friend has offered to take the Faerie to a place where joy is abundant, where he will forget me, but I’m not sure I want him to forget me. So here we sit, night after night, staring at each other through the glass until I pinch off a bit of my leftover joy and drop it through the air holes.