This week’s writephoto is
‘And today we welcome a new member to our group. Would you like to introduce yourself?’
‘Hi. My name is Sullivan. Thanks for having me.’ Sullivan Notadrop scanned the other attendees. There were about ten, ranging from the scowling girl goth in the over sized cable knit who couldn’t be twenty to the thin moustachioed white guy with the scruffy grey pigtail, gold tooth and nervous tick who had to be pushing eighty.
A woman who seemed to be holding her chest in a tight grip in case it might make a bid for freedom leant forward and peered across at him. ‘How long?‘
Sullivan looked from her – he guessed single and forty – to the facilitator, Jeremy Runcible, and raised one eyebrow. ‘How long… what?’
The woman began a staccato tutting which Jeremy stopped by raising his hand. ‘Agnes, let’s let him settle.’ He looked apologetically at Sullivan. ‘We usually confess to the last occurrence, when we speak. It, um, keeps us honest.’
‘Right. That’s fine.’ It wasn’t, but what was he meant to say. ‘It’s a day since I last saw him.’
Agnes snorted. ‘How’d you know it was a him?’
Sullivan wondered if he’d trodden on some feminist toes. ‘The antlers gave it away.’
To Sullivan’s surprise, there was a collective mumbling, of the sort that connoted concern, disbelief and a degree of perturbation. He turned to Jeremy for help and was surprised to see him looking rather distressed. ‘Sorry, what did I say? I mean, you’d expect a stag to…’
Sullivan felt his jaw go slack. The scrawny teenager with startling pale skin looked liked she gone a shade whiter while the elderly hippy gripped his chest as if by so doing he slowed an imminent coronary. There was a collective intake of breath such that Sullivan briefly considered if the oxygen levels might drop.
It was Agnes who responded first. ‘You saw a…. Deer?’
She swallowed and gripped the sides of her seat. ‘A pink deer? With antlers?’
Sullivan nodded harder. ‘Yes, exactly. And behind him…’
The ‘nooooooo!’ that goth girl emitted was so high and loud that several participants covered their ears while a city type in pinstriped suit and a rather retro yellow knitted waistcoat dropped to the floor, rolled into a foetal hug and began ‘omming’ like a distressed yogi.
Jeremy seemed to have regained a semblance of self control. He stood quickly and thrust a handful of ketchup sachets at the girl, who ripped into them greedily. In seconds her face looked like a recently satiated vampire who’d just ended her fast. He met Sullivan’s gaze, not attempting to hide his upset. In a whisper that spoke of unarticulated fears and an inclination to chew gravel, he said, ‘we’ve never had anything so… big.’
Sullivan was bemused. He blinked and dug in his pocket for the flyer he’d picked up at the station and which he proceeded to unfold. Confused he jabbed at the opening paragraph
Pink Elephants Anonymous. Are you seeing oddly coloured mammals? Could it be you need to cut down on box set bingeing or excessive time on solitaire? Meet like minded sufferers with modern addictions who like you are overwhelmed by primary coloured fauna in a welcoming non judgemental setting. Tea/coffee included but bring your own hobnobs.
‘That’s me. I saw an oddly coloured deer…’ The demented squealing was too much and he covered his ears as he ploughed on, ‘why is everyone so upset?’
Jeremy hugged two women in matching white dungarees. ‘No one sees anything that large. Jocelyn there,’ he indicated the foetal banker, ‘once saw a vermillion gerbil but he’d been miming bitcoin for sixty days straight. The rest of us make do with blue shrews or the occasional natty bat.’
‘But it says Pink Elephants…’
‘That’s just the name of the group. The brand. We’ve all heard about pink elephants, everyone knows that’s what addicts see, only they don’t, do they? If someone,’ he swallowed, ‘someone actually saw an elephant that was… was unnaturally tinted, you’d have to wonder what it was that they were addicted to.’
The look Jeremy gave Sullivan spoke volumes. What exactly, his silent admonishment cried, can you be addicted to that would lead to you seeing a pink deer? Sullivan knew he couldn’t say. He stood and picked up his coat. These people wouldn’t be able to cope with knowing his obsession.
Outside he sucked in a breath, pulled out his phone and began tweeting madly. He’d have to avoid TikTok if he wanted to be free of that stag. Head down he set off for the station, hoping against hope nothing larger than the lavender rat who he associated with Twitter would cross his path…