This is an extension of an earlier piece. It was requested by the person who originally sent me the title.
I arrive at the old building a little too soon. My eagerness to see Susan again obviously crept into my subconsciousness enough to rush my schedule. Very inconvenient. But in arriving early, I am able to clear the social anxiety from my mind and decide that it is about time I told my story to the group.
People shuffle into the room and linger around the coffee table. I find Bobby, our group leader.
‘Bobby, I would like to state my intention to speak at the meeting.’
‘That’s great. I’m happy you’re ready to speak up. You don’t have to book a time to speak, I’ll just ask for volunteers,’ Bobby explains.
‘But I have decided to speak and would like to go first.’
‘OK. You’ll go first, then I’ll ask for volunteers,’ Bobby walks away quickly, giving me the familiar sense that I may not have succeed in navigating the social difficulties of life.
I try not to look anyone in the eye as they file into the room. I want to speak up and seeing too many people will put me off.
I sit in a chair at the end of the first row. This is not typical for me and while I know it will make things convenient when getting to and from the stage, I am uncomfortable with the new placement.
Bobby asks for everyone to take their seats and to quiet down before signalling me to walk up onto the stage.
I purposefully walk to the lectern and stand in front of the crowd. Susan is sitting next to a man who, judging by his laid back posture, is much more confident than me in every aspect. Perhaps this was a bad idea. But the fact remains that I am on stage and now need to speak. I clear my throat.
‘Hello everyone, my name is Peter.’
‘Hi Peter,’ they reply.
‘I am here because I grew up with a maniac for a father. He delights in terrifying children. He makes deals with overbearing parents who let him into their houses on specific nights to scare their children when the child has apparently done something wrong. He is a,’
Bobby interrupts, ‘why don’t you tell the group how this affected you?’
‘He scares children when they have apparently done something wrong,’ I repeat, ‘and he is my father. As I am sure you can imagine, I was scared much of the time. This has led me to live a life of pure control and order, and I like it that way.’
I was about to walk off stage when Bobby piped up again.
‘Are you sure?’
I look at him, but continue to walk back to my seat so the group members clap. I am particularly pleased to see Susan sitting up straight and clapping quite enthusiastically.
‘Ok. Thanks Peter. Who else would like to speak today?’ Bobby gets the meeting back onto its usual path but I do not listen; it takes the rest of the meeting to calm my nerves after that bout of rare courage.
After the official meeting, Gus walks up to me. I am pleased to state that he does this from where I can see him rather than sneaking up to me from behind.
‘I was scared as a kid. I think my parents made a deal with your Dad. He pulled the head of my teddy one night. I cried but Mum never fixed it. I still have the parts,’ his eyes are down and his mumbled voice is barely audible.
‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ I reply, before moving onto the coffee machine.
Susan has moved away from the confident man and is standing alone by the empty cups.
‘Thanks for sharing today. It’s not easy. I thought my Dad ignoring me was bad, but scaring you, that’s just something else,’ she shakes her head as she contemplates my words. Her ice blue eyes are caught in distant thoughts.
‘Would you like to go with me to find some better coffee?’ I ask, aware the confident man is walking towards us.
Susan smiles and nods. I put down the cup and we walk towards the door. The confident man is left gawking after her.
If you would like me to write a story for you, send me a title; one word, a random pair, or a descriptive one like this. Anything that sparks a little imagination!