"Okay guys," I say finally, "Now we need to move on. It won't help any of you if you sit and stew here, and that's not the point of this exercise. Sharing your stories was the first step, now we need to move on and help you get around to it."
"Dare I ask how you plan to do that?" Rachael remarks sardonically.
Her author shoots her a sharp look from across the room, but the woman continues to look at me, half challenging, half expectant.
"Reconciliation." I say shortly.
"What?" Several characters and authors look at me in surprise.
"Reconciliation," I say again. This is usually the part that throws them. "You're all hurt in some way or another, aren't you. Well, what do you do when you're hurt? You bandage it, don't you? If it's infected and causing you pain, you put ointment on it."
"Doesn't work for everything." says Shard darkly. "Unless you can find some way to untangle my innards without killing me."
"She doesn't mean it literally!" Spook rolls her eyes at her character. "You're just being difficult aren't you?"
"What I mean," I step in before the two start snapping at one another, "is that we're going to do the same, but with words. We know where we stand with everyone know, and I'm pretty sure almost all of you can relate to one another in some way." I look at Sarah and Mel in particular as I say that. "Perhaps you have some advice you'd like to give each other? I won't ask you to stand up and say it now, but feel free to talk to each other. After all, a pain shared is a pain halved."
I get some sardonic looks, and nobody seems too keen to share at first. But, slowly, the characters look at one another. Alex looks startled as Shard gets up and nudges his shoulder.
"Nice to know I'm not the only one who has family issues," he says, "relatives, eh?"