Original Fiction: The Book Group

The Book Group: a very short story by Lucy Peacock

The book doesn’t matter. It could be a classic, or a thriller or a third rate memoir of self-obsession – we’ll still find the story. We’ll find the good bits and the bad bits and the bits that make us laugh or cry. And we’ll share them with each other. We’ll argue perhaps, but we’ll also laugh, and dream.

Once a month we all escape and talk about grown-up things again. Politics, literature, characters, history, sex. And the stories. It’s all about the stories after all, and I need them. They carry me inside when outside there’s nothing, and when I talk about them they carry me more.

It can be awkward at first. Did you like it? And did you? And usually we most of us do, except Lisa, who never does.

red-wine-glassThen we have a glass of wine or two, and it starts. Was it really like that? Would she really kill him? Wasn’t she cold? How could they?

It’s changed my life. It really has. For a few hours a month people listen to me. They take me seriously, if only to argue that I’m wrong. Lisa argues a lot. Sometimes she argues even more. It depends on how much wine she drinks.

I think as people talk about stories and how they feel about them, they become themselves more. They stop being the wives, the mothers, the pickers up and putters down, and they become themselves. The wine probably helps, but I’m me when I’m in the book group. At least I’m what I want to be. Someone with interesting things to say, who understands and listens, and who loves the sound of words.

And the others too: Sarah is a teacher usually, but she becomes the organiser, who also listens and argues very gently, though she has a stare for people who disagree. Kate becomes an evangelist, always loving the book and beaming as she tells us why. Julie never reads the books, but she always finds something to say about it anyway.

As for Lisa, I don’t know who she becomes. She gets louder as the night goes on, finding more and more reasons not to like the book we’ve read. A character, a turn of phrase. A dodgy plot or something wrong for the time. Always something.

She’s doing it now. Louder and louder. Sapping away the joy from the one night that’s mine. Stealing it. But soon she’ll stop. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before really. Just a few more sips and the poison in her mouth will be overpowered by the poison in her glass, and we can have our joy again.

Click here for another very short story by Lucy Peacock.

Click here for Lucy’s guide to self-publishing.