One night, Love hosted a banquet, and all the emotions were invited to attend. Love greeted them with warmth, and the evening progressed smoothly. 

When it came time to sit down to eat, Curiosity asked, “Who should sit at the head of the table with Love?” Immediately, an argument erupted among the emotions as to who should have the privilege of sitting next to Love.

“I could sit next to Love,” offered Ambivalence. “Or not.”

“This can be settled easily,” said Confidence. “The emotion that gets to sit by Love’s side should be the emotion closest to love.”

The discussion continued anew, each emotion arguing that they were closest to love.

“It is I,” bubbled Joy with a bright smile. “Joy is the emotion birthed from love. When you see a mother clutching her child, or two lovers embracing, or family coming together, what emotions mingle in the air? Love and joy. I am closest to love.” 

“But only for so long,” Hate cut in, hands curling into fists. “Joy is fleeting and does not last. But hate? Hate can last as long as love, maybe longer. Hate makes your heart beat faster, makes your blood burn in your veins. It clouds your thoughts and alters your judgment. Love does the same. I am closest to love.”

That prompted an eyeroll from Disgust and a yawn from Boredom.

From the back, there was a whispering, and it grew such that even Hate turned around with a glare. Cautiously, Fear shuffled to the head of the table. A hush fell over the gathering. 

“I think,” said Fear, voice wavering a bit, “maybe I am closest to love.”

“You?” scoffed Skepticism. “You know nothing of love.”

“Everyone should get a chance to speak,” chided Interest. “Fear, please—tell us what you have to say.”

Fear swallowed and began. “Fear, however you try to bury it, is everywhere, especially in love.” Fear’s voice steadied a bit, echoing around the dinner table. “When you open yourself to love, you also open yourself to loss—to feeling your heart break as you kneel before a grave, or to watch as they walk by with someone else. Love is blindly leaping into the sky, when you don’t know if you’ll fall or fly. But that fear of falling, of heartbreak … that fear is essential to the leap.” Fear met each emotion’s eyes, drawing in a shaky breath. “Joy may be infectious, and hate may be powerful, but fear is the bridge to love.”

Joy’s smile faltered. Hate’s fists loosened. Skepticism even nodded slightly. But Fear still stood trembling.

“Fear is right,” Love said, extending a hand. “Come, old friend, and join me for supper.”