What Happens In Group (Fiction)

I thought I would share a short story I'm writing. Definitely deals with adult subject matter. Constructive criticism/comments would be helpful.

What Happens In Group (Fiction)

The short version of my life is that I was a happily married man. Wife. One kid. Kid got depressed. Killed himself. Wife got depressed. Left me or we left each other; not sure. And that brings us to the present where I'm sitting in a circle of metal chairs in a group called, Grieving Together. I hate the long version. It's filled with the usual Lifetime movie dramatics. I'm sure you can figure it out. I'd rather not keep bringing it up and re-hashing every painful memory. I have to do enough of that in this group, so I'll spare you.

It's Wednesday night, and I'd like to say I'm exhausted from work, but that sort of feeling is one that has been a part of my daily routine since Robbie died two years ago. I wake up and look over to the empty bed, and then his empty bedroom, and the empty house, and I feel that exhaustion right down to the marrow in my bones. My sister thought this group would help me. God knows she tried to be supportive and loving, but understandably she had her limits. She's never lost a child. Her twins are just fine, first years in college, both of them. I tell her I'm so proud of them, but I say that out of sheer obligation; it's something you're supposed to say to someone who manages to get their kids into college, but really I can only wish Robbie could have gotten that far. I correct my thoughts. I just wish Robbie was alive.

"Melanie, would you like to share today?"

Melanie, looked up from behind her thick curls, as if surprised to hear her name. She looked around the room, her eyes catching mine briefly, before she nodded her head. Melanie had been coming to group for just under three weeks now. Ten years ago, she'd gotten a call from her mom that her younger brother had been killed in Iraq. He was shot while riding in an open unarmored truck during an ambush. Like most of us in group, she'd just shut down completely, and had never really ever been the same. She told us on the first day we met her that she could manage to block out her feelings and stay busy most of the time, but around the same time every year, near the date of her brother's death, she knew she needed to be in group, to be around people whom she could cry in front of and not have them look at her like some type of alien or someone who needed committing. So Melanie recounted the details, breaking into a hiccuping sob, before finally settling back down in her seat where she was met with a chorus of support and a re-assuring pat on the arm from some new guy I'd never seen before.

New guy next to Melanie, who's real name was Henry Mastings, raised his hand to speak. He told us his name and then opted to stand up for some reason. Perhaps he'd been in previous groups were standing was par for the course, but it just seemed odd here in the tight circle our chairs formed. His standing, however, definitely now commanded the full attention of the room.

"Do you mind if I read a note I've written," Henry said, clearly nervous, one hand in his pocket.

Jennifer, our group liaison, said it was perfectly fine, encouraged in fact, and told him, he didn't have to stand, but he said he needed to because it was going to be easier for him to do so. Jennifer nodded at him reassuringly, and upon acknowledging that nod, he surfed a folded sheet of white notebook paper out of his pocket with his free hand, whipping it about in in the air a bit, before beginning to read.

"Hello, everyone. As I said, my name is Henry. Mastings. Six months ago..." Henry's voice trailed off. He cleared his throat, and I expected him, as we all tended to do our first times, to begin to well up with tears, but Henry inhaled sharply, and then kept going.

"...my wife drunk off her own ass, got in our car with our six year old. She drank because that was the most important thing to her. It meant more than us, more than our child, more then their lives. She was going so fast that when she managed to slam head first into another car, they..." Henry's voice caught in his throat, but again, he kept going.

"...were...practically unrecognizable. She not only took her own life, but the life of my daughter, and two other people, an elderly couple. Everyone is there for you, to comfort you in the first couple of days when someone in your life dies. They bring food, they offer to help you sort out your daily errands, but then they leave. They assume you can handle it all after about a month or they just can't change their schedules anymore so they stop coming."

The group all nodded in agreement with a chorus of 'yups,' and 'tell me about its'.

"Every day has been hard. The very thing that killed my wife is now killing me. I drink to try and ease my pain, to try and forget. I'm a walking cliche, and I know it, and what's worse, is I know how this ends."

A few people shook their heads again in agreement as Henry shuffled from one foot to the other. Jennifer stood and started to walk over to the center of the group, but Henry motioned for her to stop, and she did.

"I haven't been able to share any of this with anyone. I couldn't bring myself to even talk about it until today. I loved Julia, my baby girl, Jules. She was the light of my life. I hope someday, somewhere, she can forgive me for ever marrying her mother."

Henry took an audible deep breath. If ever you could see such a thing, it looked like the weight of the world lifted right up off his shoulders at the very second the paper went back into his pocket. Everyone seemed to sense the same thing that I saw and had begun to clap in support. Seeing that Henry was finished, Jennifer started to approach him again with outstretched hands and words of encouragement, but I'm pretty sure Henry Mastings never heard them over the loud boom that echoed off the walls in the room seconds later.


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What Guys Said 2

  • 1mo

    I really enjoyed that story - Made me think a lot

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  • 1mo

    I don't write very well so I cannot critique this.

    Keep going!

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