Chapter 3

Written by: Donna McTavish

By the time I returned to work the day after the infamous New Year party, Feroz had already booked me into an anger management course. I didn’t want to go but I had no choice. His exact words were “Go or find another job,” so I went.

The first evening, eight of us sat in plastic chairs arranged in a semi-circle. We played with our phones as we waited, studiously pretending that we had much more important places to be. The facilitator sat at one end of the half circle nodding his head and smiling benignly. A single chair in the centre facing the rest remained empty. This, the facilitator said, was the talking chair. I almost walked out right then.

And so my worst nightmare began. “Be honest,” said the facilitator. “The first step to managing your anger is to acknowledge it, so take your time and tell the group why you are here.” During the next excruciating hour, each of the men in the circle shuffled to the talking chair and told their stories. They were awkward and fidgety but in soft halting voices they shared their secrets. When they returned to their seats the rest of the group applauded and the men smiled and sat taller. I even saw one or two shed a tear. Honestly.

When it was my turn, I didn’t mention what had happened at the party with Sheila. I talked about my job and how great I was at it in a loud voice.  As I spoke, I stroked my chin remembering the pain from the punch that Sheila’s husband had surprised me with. He had knocked me out and I’d felt grateful because I’d been the one everyone felt sorry for and I enjoyed their sympathy. I told the group all of this and there was no applause when I finished; even the facilitator had stopped smiling and was furiously scribbling in his notepad. It took many weeks before I realised what an ass I had been that first evening.

 At the end, a woman moved around the group carrying a tray of tea and sweet cakes. She spoke to each of the men and murmured words of encouragement and praise for their courage. She had few words for me and when she came close, my bravado instantly evaporated and I felt naked under her gaze. Her hair rippled like black silk when she turned and as she moved towards me I held my breath. Two tiny diamonds sparkled in her ear lobes. How I wished I could be as close to her as those diamonds!

Before I was able to speak, she lifted her eyes from my face and looked across the room. I turned and followed her eyes towards the man who had punched me in the jaw all those months ago. It was Sheila’s husband. My black-haired angel was beaming at him and I hated him for it.

 

Comments

Gosh I loved this chapter. The irony threading though it and although I've never attended a class like this I can imagine all the false bravado a newcomer would put up. Great chapter and excellent characterization. It flowed and had a lovely twist at the end.