A young woman, perhaps in her mid twenties, nervously approaches the podium.
The room before her is filled to well beyond its capacity. Due to a shortage of chairs, many people, mostly women, are forced to stand, some alone and some in small groups, at the back of the room.
The young woman recognizes all the names of those present, but this is the first opportunity she has had to attach a face to most of those names.
As she settles herself behind the microphone, she takes a moment to visually scan the crowd. There is a wide variety of emotions on display. Some faces offer silent support. They were in her position at one time. Other faces are filled with anxiety. They will be in her position soon. Still others reflect anger and resentment. They don't see the need to be here at all. To them, there is no problem, but friends or family members have forced this on them.
She opens her mouth to speak but no sound comes forth. The soft murmuring of the crowd suddenly roars in her ears and she can feel the acid trying to burn its way through her stomach.
She knows that she must try again before she loses the small amount of courage she had gathered in order to be here tonight. She takes a deep breath...and immediately begins to choke. With a trembling hand, she picks up the small glass of water that had been left for her at the podium and steps back. As soon as her coughing subsides, she swallows some of the water to sooth her scratchy throat.
Reclaiming her position at the podium, she, once again, scans the crowd. People are still speaking softly amongst themselves, apparently unaffected by the spectacle she feels she has made of herself.
The woman replaces her glass on the wooden surface and runs her hands down the front of her blouse, flattening invisible wrinkles in the fabric. Using every ounce of willpower she possesses, she forces the butterflies from her stomach, clears her throat, and begins again. "H-hello..."
A high-pitched screech engulfs the room as the sound system protests for some unknown reason. Everyone in the crowd gasps and covers their ears. All conversation is instantly ended.
Perhaps it was the pitch of her voice that offended the sound system, perhaps it was her proximity to the microphone, or perhaps it was the metal in her jewelry. Regardless of the reason, it's more than the young woman can take.
Tears began to blur her vision. She quickly steps away from the podium and prepares to flee. She knew she would be unable to do this. It was simply too hard. As she attempts to escape to the nearest exit, she realizes that once she leaves, she will never be able to come back. That's fine with her.
Before she is able to make her dramatic exit, a hand clamps onto her arm. She whirls around to confront the one who would dare to stand between her and freedom and comes face to face with a familiar soul.
Tonight is the first time the two women had met in person, but they know each other well through e-mails.
After receiving a few encouraging words from her friend, the young woman is ready to return to the podium.
The room is completely silent and all eyes are on her. She takes a deep, calming breath, tucks a stray lock of her shoulder length brown hair behind her ear, and, after receiving an encouraging smile from her friend, begins to speak.
"Hello, my name is Aimless and I'm a Danny-Whumper."
So began Aimless' association with 'Danny Whumpers Anonymous'.