Find a place to call home
The happiness didn’t last long, as soon as her mother woke her hours later, she was back to being scared, nervous, depressed. Did anyone see her last night? Was she going to be reported? How was she going to carry on living like she had been when she knew there was another way? A better way, or at least there was, a long time ago. A time, when everyone’s feelings and emotions were valid and could be expressed, without fear. Could Sky and herself make that happen again?
On the other side, she wondered, was that really better? To have sadness, depression, fear and loneliness spread through the population. The thoughts dragged her mood down further and she began to doubt the decision she had made last night. The decision to leave all of this behind and start a new life with Sky. Could a group of depressed people find happiness together?
More than that. What would happen to the people she left behind? Surely she wouldn’t be able to just leave without consequences. Joy realised that leaving everything for a new life meant a death sentence for her family, they would try to get information out of them any way they could. Was the potential of a happy life worth her loved ones destruction?
No, it wasn’t. She had to talk to them, convince them to come with her.
The talk with her mother did not go well. She was completely clueless to anything around her, couldn’t even comprehend the idea of being unhappy and Joy felt frustration begin to overtake her.
“Mum, we’ve been over this a hundred times! Why can’t you understand? I’m leaving and you have to come with me!”
“Leaving? You don’t start at the higher calling centre until next year dear, you aren’t leaving yet”
“No, I mean, I’m not going there, I’m leaving the country! If you don’t come you’re going to get hurt”
“Hurt? What do you mean? No one ever gets hurt, you know that”
Angrily, Joy tried one more time. “If you do not pack a bag and come with me right now, the quality of life enforcers are going to come tonight and take you away forever, you won’t come back this time. Do you understand? We need to leave!”
“What would the officers every want with me? I’m perfectly happy with life, I do think they do a marvellous job though, how wonderful it must be to be able to help people in such a way”
No matter what she said, she couldn’t get through to her, Joy feared if she said anymore the neighbours may hear and report her before she could leave. She had to face the fact- there was no saving her mother.
At least she could try again on Merry, maybe together they could persuade their mother? Joy wasn’t at all hopeful for this. On one hand, Merry had never been through the happiness making process so may be more understanding… On the other side, there had never been any need for her to go through the happiness making process so she may be less understanding. Joy was lost and confused and time was running out.
Joy pinged Merry a message and asked her to come over when she could, and quickly packed a few things to leave with. Sky pinged her halfway through her frenzied packing, telling her to come over when night falls and they can work out where to go from there.
It seemed to take hours but in reality was only 45 minutes, Joy had her packed bag shoved under her bed and Merry was knocking at the door.
“Good morning! What marvellous thing are we doing today?” Merry called, letting herself in the house.
“Good morning love, I didn’t know you were coming” Their mother called back from the kitchen.
“Umm, I asked you, Merry, here so I could ask her some advice on my higher calling.” Both relations stared at her blankly for a few moments. “Can I talk to you for a minute, in my bedroom?” Joy asked nervously. Merry’s face had fallen, seeing the expression on her sisters face, scared her more than she’d ever been at any other point in her life. More scared than when they had come for her parents, Merry was a child then, she didn’t know any better. She knew now exactly what was happening.
“Of course!” She said brightly, injecting all of her energy into a passable happy mask.
“I’ll get some tea” their mother mumbled behind their backs.
Joy took a deep breath in preparation and turned to her sister with her arguments on the tip of her tongue.
“Don’t do it”
“What?” Joy asked in confusion, Merry’s unexpected outburst blew away everything she was about to say.
“You need to stop acting like this” Merry’s expression was hard and stern, nothing like Joy had ever seen on anyone before.
Joy turned her back on the closed bedroom door and went to Merry sitting on her bed, her senses having somewhat returned to her, realising Merry knew more of Joy’s struggles than she had imagined and saw more of Joy’s moods than she had meant anyone to see and this angered her. Merry knew, she could have helped, spoken to her sooner, helped her before she got this desperate. “I can’t not be like this Merry, it’s who I am.” She snapped. “I’ve found someone else, someone who understands, we’re tired of living this way, we’re leaving and I want you and mum to come to”.
“You don’t have to be this way though, look at mum, look at me, you can be happy here with us, you just have to want it” Merry grabbed her sisters hand and held it a little too tight.
“I’ve tried, I really have, so I’m leaving, I just need you and mum to come with us, it’ll break my heart to leave you two behind” tears started leaking from her eyes as she made this confession, her feelings had been bottled up so tight for so long, all of the fear and pain finally finding a way out.
“Then don’t! Just don’t go! Mum can’t leave, look at her, she’ll never be able to survive anywhere else!” Merry became passionate and pulled even harder at her sister’s wrists. “Go talk to the quality of life officers, I’ve seen people hand themselves in before, people who weren’t happy with life, the difference in them is amazing, you’ll see”
Joy wrenched out of her sister’s grip, “you know better than anyone, if I go in there, I’m not coming back out, after everything that’s happened, how could you even suggest that?” Joy spat through clenched teeth, disgusted how Merry seemed to be brushing the loss of their father at the enforcers hands, under the carpet.
Merry realised her mistake and forced herself to calm down. “I’m sorry Joy, you’re right, but you still don’t have to go forever, you can talk to me, I’ll help you, just please don’t leave, not yet, give it a little more time” She pleaded.
Joy’s head was spinning, her thoughts jumbled, she felt like she was going to be sick. Merry had been lying to her the entire time, Merry had known how she had been feeling, knew how she had been struggling and said nothing, did nothing to help. It made her sick. “You’re right, I’m sorry sister, of course, I just had a bad day, let’s meet up later and talk about it?” Joy said woodenly, mustering up as much as a smile as she could.
“I’m so glad to hear you say that, you’ll see, staying here with us will be the best decision you ever made” Merry said brightly.
The second Merry left, Joy pinged Sky. She couldn’t stay a moment longer. Couldn’t sit in the house she was raised in, knowing her sisters betrayal. Joy couldn’t hold herself together anymore, it felt like her heart was tearing itself out of her chest and that look, the disappointment on Merry’s face as she broke Joy’s heart was burned into her mind, she saw it everywhere she looked.
Grabbing the bag from under her bed, she pulled a hood over her head and climbed out of the window, whispering a loving goodbye to her mother, knowing she would never see her again.
The streets were bustling, everyone busily marching off to fulfill their callings and achieve all learnings, Joy found it easy blending in, letting the current of people take her where she needed to go, she drifted along, not paying attention to her surroundings, barely noting where she was going. She wanted to be alone for a while, process everything that had happened.
In the space of two days, she had found her place in the world, found the person she wanted to spend forever with but at the cost of her home, her mother, her sister. She had found everything and lost everything in the same day.
Realising that, Joy decided to make the most of what she could. Carefully picking her way back towards Sky’s house, she mentally prepared to leave everything she had ever known behind. Wistfully making sure she got one last look at her old neighbourhoods, the houses of her friends, the learning centres she had attended. She wanted to see as much as she could while there was still time. Eventually though, she knew time had run out, the streets were emptying, most people arriving at their destinations for the day and she knew she had to get out of the public eye before anyone noticed her inner turmoil.
Arriving at Sky’s house, she tentatively knocked on his door. Breathing in deeply, she focused on her life beginning, not the one she was leaving behind.
She was ready.
She wanted this.
The door slowly swung open and in the doorway, stood Merry.
Life is much better now, easier, kinder. Joy never knew she could feel so at peace. She could barely remember her life before the intervention, a fuzzy half forgotten nightmare.
Life now was crystal clear clarity, love, joy, everything had fallen into place, all she had to do, was not think and smile.