• Josh Leach

An Experimental Support Group on Sundays

Updated: Mar 9

"When I was a kid I used to love watching medical documentaries. My Mom used to turn them off and say that's not appropriate for a little girl. So I used to have to turn the TV down and watch them with subtitles so she wouldn't catch me.


There was this one episode... conjoined twins, two girls joined at the head. And their mom was giving an assembly talk. Answering questions to the other kids so as they wouldn't get bullied. One boy asks how will they get married? and she said well.. when they're older they will have different boyfriends and marry them.


Another kid asked can they hear each others thoughts?


And the Mom said Yes.


I think so.


Sometimes at night they will be lying in bed and it will be completely silent and one of them will say 'Oh shut up' to the other one.


And that got me thinking. If you could both hear a thought -how would you know who thought it?"


...


"Anyway, my name is Lizzie" She said waving unnecessarily. Spilling coffee down her jeans.


I didn't know what to say to her. I never know what to say when people try to talk to me.


But I know I'm the only one thinking these thoughts... Everyone else is normal. I nodded and looked down. I didn't know what to say. You always do that now. I waited until she understood I'm not worth talking to and she walked away. The same thing would've happened anyway if I'd said anything.


Harry finally looked up from his feet and around the room. There were about 15 people chatting to each other. Lizzie had her back turned and was sort of hunched. She was left visibly awkward from being blanked.


There were trees painted on the 4 walls each one a different season, Summer, Winter, Autumn... Spring.


It was... a kid's playroom. Or as I had been told... an experimental support group.


I'm only here for 2 reasons.


One: because I refuse to take drugs or be medicated. And two: because it's on Sundays and it means my mum will stop making me go to church.


Everyone seems to know each other though. It feels like another church.


I'm not quite the youngest here, there are a guy and a girl who might be a couple, or gay friends -from their mannerisms.


Most are older but there's a range. An old lady in a wheelchair, a biker dude with a handlebar moustache, 3 black women talking about their teenagers, a tall man with a purple turban and a mixture of people in hoodies and tracksuits, jumpers and jeans.


We ended up sitting in a circle. Everyone says their names. The group leader is a bald man named Andy.


"If everyone would like to join me in closing their eyes" he eventually says.


I feel stupid. So I keep one eye open to make sure no one is watching me.


The man is telling everyone to breathe in... and out.


But I'm distracted because I can't stop looking at the old lady across from me.



A vein was quivering on her temple. It was moving underneath her skin. But she had her eyes closed totally relaxed.


When suddenly it un-plucked itself from her head and floated in the air like a string of cobweb. It began to unravel and half her face became this floating piece of untangled flesh and hair. You could see little heartbeats travelling along the lines.


I looked around but everyone was gone. Or unravelled... the room was full of a glimmering string of flesh and hair interconnecting. I didn't want it to touch me. but it was floating nearer and nearer. I smacked away a piece from my face.


It was hot and sent electrical shocks through my arm. I looked at my hand.


It was gone!


Floating webs. arms gone. legs gone. Then... I was gone!


But still..... here!


And I was elsewhere too. Listening to myself talking.


If you can hear right now or you can see or feel a body around you. This is what it feels like to be another person than you were before.


It's like thinking you're a finger and then noticing you're on a hand.


It was serene. I knew Harry would forget feeling like this. But that was okay.


All that mattered was... we could feel it now.


We would again.


--


A version of this piece was written and performed as a final outcome of a 10-week creative writing course: City Voices supported in part by Coventry City Of Culture 2021.




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