(Int. Church Basement- Night)
A group of strangers, most of whom appear to be around middle age form a semi-circle of folding chairs. No one makes eye contact. A tall red haired man stands.
Man: Hello, my name is Jeremy.
Group (in unison): Hello, Jeremy.
Jeremy: My name is Jeremy (pause) and I have a problem.
The group nods with approval and acceptance.
Jeremy: It all started when I was in junior high- I guess. I started in order to fit in, or because I didn’t have anything else better to do. Maybe there was this pressure to succeed, and this is how I handled it? Maybe. (He lifts up a single sheet of yellowed paper) But this is what my life became.
A young man in a checkered purple shirt with a ribbon pinned to his lapel and whose chair sits just inside the circle to the left of Jeremy brings his fingers to his lips, nods, and without standing addresses the rest of the circle.
Young Man: I think a lot of us have the same story. We all started out like Jeremy. Had the same ups and downs and fought our way to where we are today. (Addressing Jeremy) Tell us more about your journey.
Jeremy: Well, I guess- you know- I was a regular teen. And I thought about experimenting. Like everyone does. Then, overtime, I was introduced to different substances, and different ways to use them and I just got completely hooked. I was blowing off what friends I had; I was skipping out on my homework. I don’t think I have ever seen my parents so worried. Sometimes I was indulging myself forty to fifty times a day. It was sick.
The group nods and murmurs. No one is shocked by the revelations. Darkened fingers drum on kneecaps as bodies recognize the language. Jeremy appears to break down. The young man with the ribbon on his lapel stands and comforts Jeremy. Urging him to go on.
Jeremy: As my worst I was doing it as soon as I got home from school until I had to go to bed. It became an obsession. Going into the bathroom, lighting the candle, heating everything up. It became a ritual. I was a slave to the practice. (He brings his hands to his eyes, fighting back tears) At my worst I was tea-staining forty to fifty sheets of paper a day.
Audible gasp is heard from the circle.
Jeremy: What they don’t tell you when you start is how expensive it is going to get. Using different tea leaves, buying expensive bonded paper, candles! Then the real experimenting started! Different blends and bonds! When I got into it I thought-Okay, cool-Finally, an easy way to make computer paper look old. Like for reports and shit. I thought-Hey- It’ll be good for my history class. Then it just took over. Singing the edges, crumpling the paper, it was my life! Don’t get me started on my amateur calligraphy! Those were dark days. But now, I haven’t touched a tea bag in over a month. And it’s all thanks to you guys.
The group claps. The young man with a ribbon on his lapel shakes Jeremy’s hand. In gold embroidery on the red fabric one can just make out the words “Tea Stainers Anonymous: 10 Years”
Young Man: Alright, who’s next?
(Fade to Black)