The Self Help Institution


I live in a boy’s home. All the guys from work are there, in their uniforms. Jack has a gold Big Issue watch. We sleep and live in bunkbeds that tower up to a high gothic ceiling.

There’s huge meeting, with all the boys and staff. The staff are sending us away, and I predict many will end up in the nuthouse. Outside the meeting, I hear a boy complaining to a member of staff about a lack of support for his complaints of sexual harrassment. He’s been told to sort it out himself. I make a nervous joke that confuses Pele with pâté, and something about him taking a corner.

There’s a fundraising event for the home, and we are put on a coach to get to it. Obama will be there, and some of us will get the chance to ride in his car. We pass through Bristol, different from the one I remember, and I see a drunk man crash a back-end-half car into a shop window. 

I’m older, and in some sort of care home. I sit outside, and watch TV screens that I can’t control, and other residents playing basketball or dancing around a private jet. I never join in. I just sit, and think about the toilets on nearby waste ground, where I could go to safely self harm. They are equipped with sensors, that measure your height, weight, and time how long you have been in the cubicle. If you are in there too long, it calls an ambulance, unlocks the door, and sends you an automated fine.

One day, a young woman passes, laughing and full of life. She reminds me of an old girlfriend. I suddenly feel very sad and alone. A man is cleaning the yard, I say to him,

“Can you help me? I feel very scared and alone.”

He asks if I want to go back onto the zombifying medication. I say no. I just need someone to listen to me. He says its part of his job to listen. He takes me inside,

He does not listen, just shows me self-help videos, on screens that I cannot control.

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