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[Fiction] Love Anonymous

z-The Morrigan

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"Hi, my name is Ford, and I am in love."

"Hi, Ford," a chorus of voices sang back at him, a few nodding, all smiling with the gentle calm of the spiritually sound. The vast majority of the voices were female.

"Welcome to our circle, Ford," said the group leader, who had the highly improbable name of 'Deegan.' He also looked like a reject from Teen Hippy. No real hippy had ever looked that clean, or smelled quite so nice. "We're here to share our stories, and find the strength to fall out of love."

"Sounds good to me," Ford said with a nod and a tense smile. It was a rank lie. He wasn't here to fall out of love. He was here to be a little less lonely.

"So, Amanda, you are the longest member here; do you think you can share your story again for Ford?" Deegan asked.

"Sure!" Amanda said cheerfully, clasping her hands over her crossed legs before launching into a horrifying story about her trials in an abusive relationship. It involved physical and mental brutality, and Ford struggled to keep his face from showing all of his shock at her tale.

"So, Ford, did you want to say anything about Amanda's story?" Deegan probbed. "Any thoughts or feelings?"

"Umm, well... maybe I don't belong here," Ford said.

"Really," Deegan said, nodding his head with far too much agreement for Ford's taste. "Well, care to tell us why that is?"

"She's not abusive," Ford said, fighting the sudden urge to talk with his hands. "I mean, yeah, she did put me in the hospital once, but I asked for it."

"You asked to be put in the hospital?" a woman with many blonde curls and many extra pounds queried. "What did you do?"

"Remember, Ford, you don't have to answer any question," Deegan interjected. "Denise is just being friendly, but you only answer those questions your comfortable with it."

"Well, I kissed her," Ford said, then chuckled awkwardly. "No, wait... this is coming out wrong. I didn't ask her permission, and I knew she didn't want it."

"So she hit you for showing affection that she didn't want?" Deegan said. "I'm just clarifying, not judging."

"Yes, you are," Ford said, hearing the anger seeping into his voice. "You've made her the bad guy. I don't - I won't! I won't sit here and listen to this-"

"Ford, no, it's ok," Deegan said softly, waving his hands in a calming gesture. "If we don't understand, then explain, please."

Ford looked around the room, at the quiet, accepting eyes ringing him. "Look, she doesn't understand," he said, the words leaving him almost without his consent. "She's had some pretty bad tramua, and it's my fault that it happened to her. So I have to say with her. I have to help her out. She needs someone to help her now. I have to do it, because she wouldn't be like this if I'd been braver."

"Lots of relationships are built on guilt," Deegan said gently. He seemed to sense that Ford was done, and he turned to everyone. Ford's protest against the guilt remark died on his lips as Deegan said, "Ok, tonight, our exercise is a 'Self-Truth Exercise.' We're each going to break into two-person groups - Ford, how about you team up with Fred tonight - and we're going to run through the Self-Truths on this paper." Ford took the handout automatically, frowning as he glanced at the hippy self-help crap on the page. What am I doing here again?

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