Miss Joy

September 2022

A group of 13-17 year olds came together to write this story at Westside Library Story Seeds Project. The workshop was delivered in partnership with GRETB, Galway City Council, Local Creative Youth Partnerships and Galway Arts Centre.                                   

Miss Joy walks through the dark, gloomy, damp hall making her way to the principal’s office. As she walks, she comes eye to eye with the principal’s wooden door. Her heart is racing as she feels her blood pumping through her veins. She lightly taps on the door before hearing a low rough voice beckoning her in. She could feel her heart sink as she took the first step opening the intimidating creaking door.

He took his nose out of the newspaper, raising his head, his dark eyes meeting hers. She shivers slightly as the room grows darker around her. 

“What is it now?”, he says in an annoyed tone, putting down his newspaper. He reaches over, grasping his coffee, taking a slow sip.

The chair creaks as he leans back.

Miss Joy takes a shaky breath and quietly says “Hello again, Mr Reihill.”

“Have a seat.” he says, staring at her intimidatingly.

As she looks around the room she sees organised files, plaques and diplomas hung up on the wall, as if to assert his intelligence.  

“Miss Joy, get to the point, I don't have all day.”

“Apologies”, she says with a nervous chuckle straightening her posture in her seat.

God, this brings me back to the first time we met in my interview.

God, could she take any longer?

It’s a long Summer’s day and the fresh breeze hits my face on the way to the entrance of the school. As I take my first few steps of my possible new life, I am welcomed by freshly-painted glistening hallways. I walk through the door of the Reception with butterflies in my stomach. I am warmly greeted by a friendly lady in pink.

“Hello, welcome to Bridgerton College. How may I help you?” she says in a bubbly tone.

“I’m here to see Mr Reihill regarding the job application for the new art teacher.’

As she gives me directions to the office I think of what he might be like. The next thing I know I’m face to face with the door that holds my future. Before I can even knock on the door, it swings open revealing a large sturdy man with silver receding hair. As I take a step back, I acknowledge his perfectly polished shoes and freshly rolled grey suit. He points his hand in the direction of an open chair and I scurry past him taking my seat. My mind turns negative as he slouches into his seat. Silence fills the room. He opens his mouth to speak.

“Let’s begin…”

Miss Joy snaps back to reality as he clicks his fingers in front of her face. “Miss Joy, I told you I don’t have all day!” His tone becomes even more agitated than before.

“Pardon me”, she says in a small voice, shaking her head slightly. “I’m here to ask permission to hold an evening event in the hall for the students.”

“What kind of event?”

Miss Joy can feel her hands quiver and shake as she processes her next words. She nervously pulls out notes from her pocket. He lets out an impatient sigh. She clears her throat “I’m here today to show you how we can improve our students in thinking and learning”

“Improve?” he says in an almost amused tone

“Yes!” Miss Joy says excitedly

“Miss Joy, please keep it professional”

“Oh of course, sorry. Like I was saying, if I could have the hall and be able to gather all the children to have a moment to relax and calm down, I feel they will be able to concentrate more without the pressure and stress.”

They share an awkward silence. He straightens in his chair, shuffling papers on his desk “I don’t see any potential in this. I need you to give me more of an insight instead of the sentence you’ve just given me”

As he speaks she wildly flicks through her notes. Taking a deep breath she blurts “Will you please just listen. The students are stressed and unhappy, and you’re not helping by loading so much pressure on them!”

“Watch your tone Miss Joy”

She turns pale, getting up off her chair at a lightning pace, dropping her notes as she skurries through the open door without looking back, slamming the door behind her.

Miss Joy walks down the quiet hallway, as she hears the rain hitting the velux above her.

“Are you alright dear?” a familiar voice says “You seem a little pale”

“I’m fine, just feeling a little faint”

Mr Reihill is slightly taken aback after seeing one of the formerly politest people he knows try to stand up to him. He stares at his now untidy floor covered in colourful pieces of paper. He presses a buzzer and waits impatiently.

The door creaks open and a head pops in. “What is it now Dick?”

“I told you not to call me that you hag, it’s Richard”

The receptionist makes a playful gasp as if to be offended. Mr Reihill rolls his eyes unamused.

She cackles “What did you buzz me for this time?”

He points to the maroon carpet. Agnus angrily mumbles as she crouches down “Here I am, poor old Agnus having to clean up, having to do the simplest of things because this fat old man can’t get up off his bottom…”

In the meantime Mr Reihill stares blankly into space, possessed by his own mind.

“...and he’s too stubborn and stupid to — ”

“So what is your opinion on this buffoonery?”

She freezes for a moment. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, you silly old man”

“Agnus I’m not stupid, I know you were eavesdropping”

She scowls in annoyance, “You always catch me. I had thought I’d gotten away this time”

“Seriously Agnus, I really need your opinion”

“Oh, the great Mr Reihill needs my help now does he?” Agnus says as she hobbles over to the leather seat.

He puts his hands to his temples, clearly showing his frustration. She puts her hand on his shoulder.

“Take all the time you need, I’m enjoying the break” she smiles slightly, as she sees his lip curl up.

“I still got it, no-one else can make you smile like me”

“Oh shut up Agnus”

Agnus retrieves her hand in surrender.

“Time is changing, and I’m not able to follow it. I fear I will be left behind…”

As he turns his chair to face her, he’s met with a hug “It’s ok, silly man”

“You never change Agnus”

The unnecessarily loud bell rings. As the students swarm out of the classroom Miss Joy grabs her bag and scarf battling against the stampeding children.

Time to visit an old friend

She jumps into her car quickly starting the engine, driving off in a temper.

“This is what they’re using my taxes for? Didn’t they fix this road last week?!” She drops her head in defeat on the steering wheel “Oh, for the love of God, I’m losing my marbles!” As the slow traffic moves, Miss Joy parks at the side of the road grabbing her bag and taking off in a fit of running.

She takes a relieved breath as she arrives at her destination, catching herself as she almost falls against the glass door. The automatic door slides open and she falls, landing on the floor. She sits rubbing her head as an unknown figure rushes towards her

“Oh fiddlesticks, are you okay?!”

“Clearly not” she snaps

“Sorry” Mr Thompson says


“Meet me in my office, if you can even call it that. Oh! 5th floor, room 12” Mr Thompson says as he turns and runs off

“Looks like I’m not the only one having a bad day” Miss Joy quietly mutters to herself, as she picks herself off the floor making her way towards the elevator. “I sure look gorgeous today” she says sarcastically, as she sees herself in the reflection of the elevator mirror. The elevator pings as she reaches the 5th floor.

She’s met with flickering lights and unflattering hallways as the elevator door slides open. She notices a door with trashy LED lights with a plate on the door that’s covered with a single paper sheet reading ‘Mr Thompson’s Office’. She lifts the paper revealing the words ‘Storage Room’ on a copper plate.

A shadow appears behind her. She jumps, swinging her arm backwards towards the intruder. Mr Thompson squeals in self defence “Wait, wait, it’s me”


Miss Joy puts her fist down as he scurries past her. Mr Thompson gives a single kick and shove to the door, as if he knows how to do this all too well.

Shuffling around boxes Mr Thompson turns one over and offers it to Miss Joy. “It’s sturdy I promise”

As she goes to sit she crumples down into it. “I’ll just stand, thank you”

He scratches the back of his head laughing nervously “Um, so why did you come all this way?”

“I need you to do something for me. Remember, you owe me…”