15 Minute Write
“Ironically, the last thing sad people want to encounter is any form of happiness.“
If everything was straightforward and obvious we would never be open to looking deeper at anything and this lack of interest would lead us to miss what might be the spectacular hidden in plain sight.
Joe worked for the council as a waste recycling operative. However you dressed it up, in fancy titles and words, everyone knew he was a dustman. He had worked in this role for more than twenty years, and during this period he had seen people’s attitudes towards him and his profession change. Not necessarily for the better. Whereas once he was looked down upon and treated as a second-class citizen, nowadays, he found that people were perceptibly embarrassed by him, unable to look him in the eye or summon a cheery ‘morning’. He wasn’t sure which he preferred, but none of this mattered. You see, Joe had a gift. Apart from being diligent in his work (never making too much noise, making sure the bin was properly empty and returned to the spot he got it from, cleaning up any spills, overflows, or the cheeky extra bags left out when there was no space left in the bin) it wasn’t only inanimate rubbish and detritus that he cleared. Joe had the ability to take away misery.
There had always been something different about him. He’d known this from a young age. He had felt emotions so intensely, particularly the negative ones: pain, suffering, depression, anxiety, misery. But not his own, always someone else’s. He would just need to be in the same room as them and he would sense their suffering. These emotions would not have a direct effect on his own - he merely sensed them, even when they were not obvious. Couples were the worst, there always seemed to be one miserable whilst the other emanating no emotion at all.
But the detection was not his gift, and it was only by chance that he had come to understand his ability. He was just ten when his parents had asked friends over and the couple who arrived were brimming with fun and happiness on the outside, but Joe could tell that the husband was hurting inside. Something was deeply wrong. The man was a smoker, and he had brought his pipe along and was chuffing on the thing like a steam train for most of the time he was in their house. As they were about to leave, he had asked to use the bathroom and had left his pipe on the side of the sofa along with the remnants of the cheese and biscuits. Joe had gone to steal the last digestive and knocked the pipe off, accidentally. He quickly picked it up to replace it and hide his bad behaviour, but as he did, he felt a jolting shock from the pipe. Not electric, not even physical, more as a wave of fluid flashing through him, it was unmissable. When the man came back into the room, he was visibly different. Quiet, not over the top any more, and the most amazing thing was that Joe no longer sensed his pain. It had gone. It was as if by touching an object that belonged to this man, he had been able to extract these negative emotions.
Years of investigating and honing his skill brought him to where he was now. Able to tell by just standing outside of someone's house whether there was any misery within and by popping the lid of the bin up and finding something that was connected to the person who was suffering (he could now even tell which these objects were by just looking) he could remove not only their rubbish, but their misery too.
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