“Surprised into a Joy” from “The Hanging Gardens” a collection of short stories by Patrick Burke

Sometimes he would be surprised into a joy for which he was quite unprepared. He would feel giddied by the sudden vault of happiness inside him as, perhaps, from behind the blued window of his room the yellowing move of violet in an evening sky found, inside him, a matching glow. A cadence, casually heard but still impinging in a background wash of music might pluck in his mind a major chord that set his body singing.

The shout of children in a playground, hopping, and a kindness in a supermarket, had equally undone him. The lacing branches of a stand of trees readying for the rain, and the light thrown ahead of the car on a road in the night, these too had startled him into gladness with their sudden winging from under his feet as he trod the grey sodden moors of his mind.

Quickly he would reassure himself. Like a man with a diamond stowed away he would check his mental pockets, alarmed and fearful of loss until finally he would find it where, all along, he had really known it safe.

He would take it out and look at it again, refamiliarising. And again he would find the known safe lovely glow, would move to meet his misery which, so perilously close to waning was now rekindled, burning out hope and the idea of possibility, the impedimenta of his life.