The ring of people seated in folding chairs is a familiar enough scene, evoking not collaboration and group comfort but instead a sense of both persecution and loathing.
Lindsey hates Group.
The dull-eyed men and women sitting in the chairs around him pick at their skin and twist their hair, obsessed in tiny details to keep from focusing on a bigger picture. They talk about their petty problems, about their moronic concerns, and it makes him feel like his time is being wasted, and he’ll grow old and die in this place before they ever fix him and he’s allowed to go home and have his life back.
He slumps in his chair, trying not to just fall asleep while other people talk, when suddenly he realizes everything and everyone’s gotten silent.
He looks around, greengold eyes focusing on the here and now, to find everyone staring at him, and the group leader looking expectant.
“What?” he wonders, drawing himself in, trying to make himself smaller. It doesn’t work — there’s no way to make himself small enough that he won’t be noticeable.
“You’ve been silent for two weeks now, in group. You were making excellent progress, Lindsey. I was just wondering what’s changed,” the counselor says, his expression both mild and curious.
“I’ve passed my idealization phase,” Lindsey says dryly. “I’m on to the devaluation phase: I think this is a waste of my time.”
“Excellent,” the counselor says, smiling warmly, his eyes lighting up. “It’s good to be honest about these things, Lindsey.”
“Since we’re being honest, Carl,” Lindsey says, a look of barely restrained disgust touching his lips, “you remind me of a man who lived down the street from where my best friend grew up.”
“Oh?” Carl answers, ever so slightly hesitant, but still smiling. Trusting.
It makes Lindsey’s stomach turn. “Turns out he was a transvestite with a bad coke habit,” Lindsey murmurs. “Do you like to wear frilly pink panties while you get high, Carl?”
Flushing red, Carl says, “I’m afraid you’ve taken your honesty and are using it to hurt the people around you because you’re uncomfortable. You can’t progress without group, and you can’t stay in group if you’re going to be hostile.”
“Guess I’m not making progress today,” Lindsey says, and gets up out of his chair. “Lemme know if you miss it, Carl. I know a guy.”