My Worry is a pixie, but not the kind you’re thinking, all pretty and feminine and gossamer-winged. My Worry is a “he,” a Cornish pixie, the kind from Harry Potter. Think less glitter-toting fairy, more flying blue gremlin. My Worry has bug-eyes and disproportionately large ears, and he sits on the edge of the cupboard above my desk, swinging his legs back and forth while I work. He makes a slow smacking sound with his tongue against the roof of his mouth, exactly like my brother did when we were kids, which drove our mother crazy. It drives me crazy now.

I can’t remember when my Worry first came into being, though I also can’t remember a point when he wasn’t around. I suspect he was born about the same time as my brother, when (I’ve been told) I asked my grandmother if I could come live with her, unable to cope with the new chaos of my three-year-old life. My Worry is, incidentally, genetic, passed down through the females on my mother’s side. The good news is the Worries seem to get smaller with each generation. The bad news is, the smaller they get, the trickier they become.

I’ve been given the advice to try, for a week, to not engage with my Worry, to acknowledge his presence but just let him be. This pisses my Worry off to no end. He dumps my oatmeal on the floor and sucks the caffeine out of my coffee with his long frog-like tongue. He flies around the room, then sits on my head, grabs fistfuls of hair in his tiny blue hands, and pulls. He pulls me to the door, but two seconds later, tugs me back to the desk, under the chair, to my Spanish lessons and piles of books to be read and written about. He can’t speak, but he doesn’t need to. The hair-pulling and high-pitched squeals more than get his point across.

I try to outrun my Worry, but he has two sets of wings. So who are we kidding? He follows me all the way to Eastmoreland and back, shutting off the drinking fountains and chucking puddles and rain-soaked chestnuts in my path. In yoga, he does laps around my mat through every warrior, half-moon, and downward dog. Tree and triangle and pigeon. During savasana, when I’m supposed to be in a state of utter relaxation, he stands on my face and peels back my eyelids, his wide white grin gleaming in the dark.

These days, I’ve started sleeping on my other side, to squash the left half of my brain (where my Worry lives), which is the only way I can knock us both unconscious. I know I should try to pray him away, but my Worry seems an ugly thing to give to God. Then again, nearly everything I hand over to God is ugly, so I suppose my Worry is no different. I turn onto my back and flip on the light, my Worry straddling the alarm clock like a bull rider.

I say, “Look, I know you’re probably not going away anytime soon, but it would really help me out if you’d chill just a tad. I’m tired. Aren’t you tired?” And to my surprise, my Worry’s enormous ears lower. His wings fold down to his sides. He nods. I say, “Okay, then let’s get some rest.” I pull my pillow out of its case and offer it to him as a sleeping bag. He takes it and flies to the top corner of my bed. Burrowing beneath the covers, he drifts off in no time flat, as though he’s never had a decent night’s sleep in his life.