Monday Stories: Joy

Joy was an llama that was always sleepy. Sleepy in the rain, sleepy in the sun, sleepy in the morning and sleepy at night. Joy lived among 27 other llamas, all nestled in a rolling hills behind a dilapidated barn with peeling yellow paint. She knew that other llamas were known for their feisty nature, or their carefree frolicking, or their pushy playfulness. But Joy was just sleepy. It wasn’t a lethargic or sad sleepiness, but just a consistent coziness that she carried with her constantly. It made her quite popular among the 27 other llamas that shared grass and grain and shelter with Joy. They knew that she was always good for a snuggle or a cuddle or a patient ear. 

All the llamas went to Joy with their needs. They nestled up close to her, lifted their heads, and whispered, “Joy? Joy? Joy!?” If she was sleeping and not just sleepy, it might take an extra nudge to get her attention, but if she was just wandering around in her typical state of dazed comfort, she would nudge back, wedge her head on her companions neck and say, “Yes? Yes, yes, yes!?” 

Joy listened to everything on the farm. She listened to stories of happiness and she listened to arguments of love and food and space. She listened to the tales of the young llamas, and their constant questions about life on the farm and outside the farm, the answers to which Joy knew mostly, but also sometimes just made up. She listened to complaints, and she counted tears, and she shared inlaughs, and jokes and rants and raves and elation and frustration and disappointment. Sleepy Joy, cozy and cuddly and slow moving, was always called upon. “Joy? Joy, joy, joy?!” the others would say. “Yes?,” replied Joy, “yes, yes!?” All the llamas thought Joy was a wonderful friend and a beautiful llama. Being around her brought calm and peace and reassurance into their lives, while Joy only felt continued sleepiness. She spent little time contemplating if her sleepiness made her an attractive target for all the attention, or if all the attention made her sleepy. It wasn’t something she thought of often, maybe because the cozy sleepiness crowded her mind.

When Joy was younger there weren’t 27 other llamas on the farm. There were eight, including her mom and dad. Her dad was also dad to many of the other little llamas growing up at her time. Joy was quite a playful little llama, full of llama-like questions and energy. She wasn’t always so sleepy, but always had a certain affinity for coziness and cuddling. She used to approach her dad with question after question. “Dad? Da, da, da!?” she’d say. But instead of “Yes? Yes, yes, yes?!” all she heard from her Dad was “No, Joy. No, no, no. Go ask someone else.” She got so used to her father’s no’s that she decided to make her own yes’s. She hated the rejection and the refusal as much as she hated not knowing the answers to her questions. And that’s why Joy always said, “Yes, yes yes!” to the llamas on the farm, old and young, and made sure to answer their questions with all her heart, regardless of whether they were true or not. 

There was a morning when sleepy Joy woke up to frost on the ground and a grey grey sky. She was surrounded by small llama friends who snored sleepily. No one else stirred. She felt cozy and cuddled, and wasn’t ready to move from in the pack but she saw something bright and small and furry moving along the side of the fence by the barn. Joy felt a stirring of curiosity that almost outweighed her desire to stay nestled in the tangle of llamas. Joy thought about walking the 100 meters over to the fence to see what was rustling along the way. But she thought to herself, “No, no no no. I better stay. Cozy and warm and sleepy.” Joy started thinking about the times she said Yes. She said Yes to the little llamas, Yes to the old llamas. She said Yes to the farmer who fed them and sheared them and sometimes saved them carrots. She said Yes when the old llamas asked her to settle their disputes and she said Yes to the young llamas who asked her to dry their tears. She said Yes for all the other llamas, but here she was, saying No to herself. No when she wanted to move from the pack and eat grass by herself. No when there were extra lumps of sugar to go around. No when she thought about trying to frolic and run and jump like the rest. No, she thought. I’m sleepy and cozy and need to save my Yes’s for everyone else. 

Joy watched as the blob of bright fur bumped up and down and up and down along the line of the fence. It paused and peered and moved and flowed. Joy looked around. The whole pack slept and snored. The figure approached and she could see the bright blob wasn’t a blob but a pom pom on the hat of a small head. It was pink and round, just like the rosy cheeks underneath the hat. Matching mittens covered tiny hands that waved in Joy’s direction. “Me?” she thought. She looked left and right, and yet the rest of the llamas snored and slept and cuddled. “No,” she thought. The little figure continued to wave from the fence. The day was gray and the bright pink mittens were like fireworks dancing in a night sky. They motioned back and forth, beckoning Joy from the pack. “No. No no no, not me,” thought Joy, “Surely they aren’t looking for me.” But the pink mittens and pink pom pom continued to bounce and wave and beckon, until Joy shook the sleepiness from her fur and the No from her head and thought, “Yes, yes, yes, yes. Here I go.” 

Joy snuck away from the little llamas nestled by her feet, and wandered over to the bright pink spot in the grey grey day. She found a little person with a big smile, pink chapped lips and a head not much larger than the pom pom on the hat. The pink mittens stretched out over the fence, and little lumps of white sugar lay in their palms. “For me?” thought Joy. She reached out her neck and stuck out her tongue and licked up the sugar cubes in one big bite. The chapped lips let out a giggle. “For you,” they said, “yes, yes, yes for you little llama!”