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A jolt of happiness pierced me, filled me with an ever-present longing that lodged like porridge in my throat, like a burst balloon as it careened into the sky; never to be seen again. The lavender shades drifting in the sky mixed with angelic blue, and the cloud formed a ruffled crown around the visage of sun, as it beamed and sprinkled the earth with stardust.
This is how it is to be happy, I thought in my delicate naivety, eyeing the black-and-white restaurant tucked into a comfortable corner, isolated from the centre of town, yet still occupying a space in the corner of my eye.
I looked up, startled, to see a tall, thirty-something man with grey flicks in his dark beard bear down on me, a shadow eclipsing the sun. Imposing, built like a well-oiled, medium-size truck, he bared his wolfish teeth, and they shone white as they caught the silver light.
“Y-yes?” I said, inwardly cursing at my inability to prevent the nervous tremble of my tone. Pathetic, weak; happy people do not behave in this way, I scolded myself.
He chewed on a ripe, juicy cherry, its crimson film fixing my brown eyes in place. “You’re standing in my place,” he said finally.
Before I could stop myself, my eyebrows shot upwards in a triangular shape of protest. He waited, grizzled belly jutting outwards as cutlery from a cabinet drawer, lips twisted in an expression of unhappiness. A sinking feeling descended like stairs in my own stomach, and it tied uncomfortably in knots.
Happy, be happy, I reminded myself.
“It’s a public space,” I said snappily, with more fire than I had intended creeping into my voice. “So why don’t you get out of my way?”
It is was his turn to act surprised. It was almost comical the way his heavy features drooped downwards in astonishment, mouth slack and hard, eyes prominent as stones, cheeks stern as a filing drawer. The parody of his face sparked a shock giggle out of me, and I wasn’t sure if he was playing with me, or not.
Eventually, he rolled his head back and barked a laugh. “You – a little girl – think you stand a chance against me?”
“Yes,” I said coolly. “I was the fastest in my class to achieve the Black Belt.” I allowed a pause so my next sentence would sink in like the mattress on a waterbed. “I was thirteen.”
The man took a step backwards, tipped his straw hat. “I’m going to go along my way, now,” he said hesitantly, and with a wicked thrill, I realised; he is scared of me!
I could have leaped for joy!
Happiness is victory, triumph, a crown of dignity resting on lacklustre, seaweed tendrils of hair. Happiness is power, and power…corrupts, I mused as the man crossed the road with a dark look. And – not a backwards glance.
Gazing at my reflection in a car mirror, I did not see a frightened little girl. I saw a powerful, skilled persuader, who could churn words into weapons and petrify scary men who entrenched upon her safety.
I realised, as the gleam of blue sky flashed across the rear view window, why power was irresistible as sugared strawberries, the force field of the weak, of the unhappy, of the cowardly.
I desired power, and I would go to any lengths to reach it; and from it, I would pluck, not a rabbit from a magician’s hat, but the tips of happiness, and it would ooze on my tongue like honey, and transfer through my body like medicine.