Welcome to the Support Group!
I couldn’t help but cringe when I noticed the sign and the cheesy comic sans font. The sign itself made me nauseous and just laying my eyes on the door next to the sign caused my heart to pound furiously in my chest. I sighed, gathering all of my willpower, I forced my outstretched hand towards the curved door handle. Once or twice my hand flinched away causing snickers and giggles to sound next to my right ear. Finally I had a firm grip on the handle. Taking a deep breath I pushed the handle down. ‘So far so good’. But when the door was about halfway opened, a loud screech echoed through the still air. Horror wrote itself across my paling face.
“Now look at what you did!”
A mocking voice tickled my ear. The tight hold around my neck tightened. ‘Oh god’. I prayed and pleaded to any being for the promise of my hidden presence but when I peeked around the chilled door only to see multiple sets of eyes staring in my direction, I couldn’t help but curse. I quickly slipped into the frigid room and closed the door behind me but not without first glaring at it for its betrayal
“Oh good you came! Rose can you please take a seat, we are about to begin!” A rehearsed, overly cheery voice called from behind. Turning around I spotted Miss– hmmm . . . – actually I can’t remember her name. Not like I care anyways. She’s just another fake person with a fake drawn on smile and fake understandings.
“Why doesn’t she drop the act already? No matter what you do or say, she’ll still think you’re a freak.”
I quietly hummed my agreement as I started for a lone empty seat. My skin crawling as I tried to ignore the stares that burned into my backside. Once I sat down, Miss. Fake threw a wide cartoon smile my direction before turning to address the group.
“Now I know all of you are wondering, why am I here? Well the answer is pretty simple. Improvement! We are here so we can learn from each other experiences and improve our own situations. But since today is our very first session, we are going to spend it getting to know each other!” She sing songed. A chorus of groans and vocal noises of displeasure rang around the room.
“Now, Now, don’t be like that! This will be uplifting! Fun even!-
“HA FUN!! As much fun as a funeral maybe!”
“There is no need for this behavior! Now if you are done, we should begin. When you introduce yourself please state your name and your situation-”
“You mean why we are in this freak show in the first place?”
“-This way we can see if anyone in the group shares a similar situation with you. Hmmm. . . why don’t we begin with . . . Mikey!” Just like that everyone turned in sync to look at the unlucky victim. ‘Thank god it’s not me’. Mikey to my surprise was a pale thin small girl with long light blonde hair that was iron board straight. She looked ill but it could have just been the horrid lighting that somehow turned the pale yellow walls into a puke like yellow. But it wasn’t her looks that shocked me the most, it was the company she kept. Looming over her was a grotesque blubber like monster. Its beady eyes were popping out of the mass of tall flesh. A wide smile filled with sharp teeth and broken glass stretched underneath the bits of coal that were its eye.
“An ugly one, isn’t he?”
I hated how it looked at her as if she was something to eat. As if she was a five star dinner.
“M. . .my. . name is Mikey and I have an eating disorder.” She spoke with a mouse like voice and I almost didn’t catch what she said. For a while we all stared at her while her demon chuckled and spat. Disgusting.
“Great Job Mikey! Whoever is on her right will you please introduce yourself to the group now!” After her a boy named Andrew with a chain like demon introduced himself and how he had depression. Next a man with post-traumatic stress disorder and a viscous blood thirsty wolf. Then a mom with paranoia and a twitchy shadow that wore a mask with a painted blue face. And so on and so forth. As each person took their turn my heart steadily beat faster and my palms ,which were up until recently dry, were sweaty and clammy.
“Get Ready! It our turn next!! Let’s hope you don’t stutter this time!!”
Heat flooded my face as my heart raced. I almost walked out but quickly decided that would just bring more attention to myself. ‘Stay calm, stay calm. Don’t panic, stay calm.’ I was so focused on my frantic breathing and thoughts I didn’t even noticed it was my turn until someone cleared their throat. Whipping my head up, realization struck me and left me mortified.
“Umm . . . I’m . . .” I couldn’t get the words out no matter what I tired. The grip around my throat preventing any words from escaping. My hand flew to my throat and felt the rat-like tail that was coiled there.
“Oh what a shame. . . .Cat got your tongue?”
“Rose will you please introduce yourself?” Again I opened my mouth hoping for words to come tumbling out but to no avail.
“Tick Tock, Rose. Tick Tock”
I tried to grab the tail wrapped around my throat but like any other time I tried my fingers found nothing but air. Snickers rang from my shoulder. Tears threaten to fall down my face as I struggled to fight against my demon. ‘Please, oh god please’. My breaths started to come out a faster and more strangled. It was as if I couldn’t breathe fast enough or there wasn’t enough air. My visions was also failing. Black dots danced across my sight as the edges were eaten away. Passing out at this point was inevitable.
“Giving up so soon? But they’re just now understanding what a mess you are.”
Passing out would be a blessing and curse. A blessing because I wouldn’t have to deal with their burning stares anymore but a curse because when I woke up it would be twice as worse. People surrounding me, questioning me, whispering to each other . . .
A hand gently touched my shoulder.
“It’s Ok, just breathe.” A gentle voice, soft as silk, pulled me from my dark abyss. Turning slowly I faced the comforting stranger as furious hisses rang in my ear. She had an understanding expression in her eyes. Her lips pulled up in a small soft smile. My eyes flickered to the top of her head and back as she continued to look at me.
“It’s ok, we won’t judge. There’s nothing to be afraid of. We all know how you feel.” Gently she took my quaking hands into her own.
“We all have our demons.” As if on que the thing on top of her head flew down in front of my face. It was about the size of a baseball with wide glassy eyes. It wore a long red night cap and upon closer inspection was carrying a small gray blanket in its tiny hands. I looked back at the woman and suddenly noticed dark blue shadows under her eyes. Insomnia. She nodded and squeezed my hands in encouragement. I nodded slowly and let my hands fall from hers. Turning back to the group, I noticed everyone now was gently smiling at me while their demons all settled closely by their sides. A warm feeling blossomed in my chest. A quite sign softly brushed my cheek.
“Looks like the game’s over.”
I could feel everyone’s encouragement and support. And suddenly I no longer felt judged and isolated. I felt welcomed. This feeling alone was enough for the tail around my throat to loosen and eventually fall until it rested against my back.
“Well? Are you just going to sit there?! Speak idiot!”
I laughed quietly and brought my hand to my right shoulder to gently pat my demon company, causing an angry hiss to erupt in my ear. ‘Hush now” I rolled my eyes and smiled. Slowly I turned back to the group and softly cleared my throat.
“My name is Rose Evers and you’ve already meet my demon. But let me formally introduce you to Anxiety.”