In addition to the various committee posts she has held, Joy is also a founding committee member of The Lit Young Writer’s Festival Waterford from 2016-2018. Joy co-wrote the comedic promenade play “How Not to Get Away with Murder” performed by WYA Drama and in 2016, her fiction piece; “Eyes are the Doors to the Soul” was adapted into a short film by the film department of WYA. Joy has also been published in the Waterford Youth Arts Writer’s anthology “Magic is Everywhere” with poem “Time- Twiddler”.
Rays of Sunshine
Calloused thumbs laced with the edge of the white netting and a shard of sun pierced into the browning, tea-stained sitting room. Dust bunnies cascaded down like sand in an hourglass and time was frozen into a moment of waiting; listening at the open window for the yapping of the dirty cream Shih Tzu.
It began with the gate's creaky hinge. Untrimmed nails scratched against the concrete path then dug like football boot cleats into the soft, damp grass. A rude, yellow, streamed sprinkler landed into the patch of lavender tulips that lined the perimeter of the hedged garden. It sounded like rain rushing down a pipe at the side of your house or when your tap pours into overflowing basins. Yet, I was ready, grabbing two burnt-bottom pans and swinging the front door wide open. I let out a roar; banging and clattering the souls of the blackened pots, trying to sheep herd the shaggy pest from my flowers. They had only just bloomed.
Out of breath, I sat down on the bench just under the front window, satisfied my enemy had been defeated. I closed my eyelids and allowed them to enjoy the midday rays of sunlight they deserved. I flinched at the break of silence. The hearing aid in my can-crushed ear detected another intruder’s song. A light and delicate robin’s melody landed on top of the towering hedge. I let it sit awhile with me, my pans far away by the open front door. This openness welcomed a breeze into the house and all the birthday cards rattled on the mantelpiece. One card was pushed from its treasured perch as a baby bird is from a nest. The pages spread like wings trying to fly but sank to the floor, waiting for the recipient to later pick it up and place back. The sender’s signature stung my eyes every time, thinking of him writing and pre-posting this:
Happy 75th Birthday, my love.
I’m sorry I missed it; I know it’s a big one.
Millions of hugs and kisses forever,
Love Ray, your ray of sunshine.’
Ray had always loved the magnificence of birds. He always left food out for them in a little dish in the bird bath. Now it was full of stale green rainfall. I hadn’t touched it in over a year I looked at the robin now. He was very round, a little too well-fed. Still, he was probably hungry.
Attempting to persuade the robin to keep me company in the garden I clasped the rusting lock on the shed and wriggled it free. Musk flooded into the garden and empty soil bags crinkled on the floorboards when I stepped into my garden’s Natural History Museum. The bird feed hid on the back of the highest wooden shelf on the right. My fingerprints clung onto accumulated dust and, grasping around the width of the container, I pulled it towards me. In doing so, an old mirror crashed onto the floor. The pieces cut my reflection into slices of myself. I sighed, wishing for no more bad luck to pile upon me. It didn’t bother me much anymore, as seven years of misfortune couldn’t hurt any more than this year already had. Ray never believed in bad luck. He proclaimed that it did not exist and was imagined out of clumsiness. But that good luck, follows us everywhere, greets us with unbolted doors. Our issue is that we simply forget to thank it for constantly keeping our lives open.
Chuckling, a memory of wings soaring through a freshly painted door climbed back into my peripheral vision.
‘Andy!’ Ray had called down the stairs with a terrifying shriek.
‘What is it, Sunshine?’
Ray increased the volume of his fear.’ Andyyyyyyyyy!’
‘Quick, there’s a huge crow up here, get the brush or something.’
I got out of my coal-stained chair and called up ‘Okay I’m coming, give me a sec.’
He replied ‘Jesus, Andy, it’s shit on the sheets.’
‘Hahaha, it’s good luck’ I laughed from downstairs. ‘Did you open the window, even?’
‘Okay wait...C’mon. Get OUT. GET out. GET OUT.’ I heard screams mixed with flapping wings. ‘It’s gone. Thank God! Wait, no, I only just changed the sheets.’
I can picture him laughing, his eyes wrinkling like crepe paper at the corners of his green eyes. He’s laughing at me now, moving from the shed transfixed to the cheap black bird bath with a plastic hummingbird perched on the side. Watching me scoop water from the dish and draw patterns in the settled green algae. I wish I could hear Ray’s beautiful voice that always echoed absentmindedly around our home. He sang when he washed drip stained wine glasses or matched up the bucket of never-ending odd socks. The chirping of Ray’s Robin filled the silence of the garden now. I appreciate that he flies in to check on me, to make sure I don’t become absorbed by ivy tendrils or leave my gate to rust in relic. It soothes me because my Sunshine sent him. I would love to know if he became a bird. A sparrow, a bluebird or a crow, he wouldn’t care as long as he flew above my heart instead of sleeping under my toes.
Maybe it would have been easier if he wasn’t gone at all. Would it hurt less if he cheated and ran away. At least then there could be a chance he’d pick up the phone. Would it have been less painful if I had run away and left him, weaned away from him like a wailing baby ignored in a crib. As adults we’re never reminded that we all learned the skill of crying ourselves to sleep before we could talk. It’s those midnight secrets we reveal right before we sleep that hurt the most. Mine are always about him. I cover up my loss with stories that help me lift my chest up and down. Sprouting ideas of Ray getting entangled with mobsters and having to fake his death to save me or being cursed into a monstrous form; forbidden to see his true love again. These thoughts are all that consume me, not that dog, not our garden, not even our home. They fill the space in my mind that’s sectioned off for him.
I throw the whole feast of stale bird pellets into the moulded dish. It overflows down onto the ground and I scoop a strong and nutritious portion in my palm. I settle my stiff bones back onto our rotting bench and dream of his spirit landing on my fingertips. I want him to eat from my hands again. Peck me away until I am nothing but a part of him. I rest my eyes, remembering hugs of sunshine and embracing the feeling of his wings carrying my soul towards light.