By Madeleine Black
Quarter to six. Here they are. Three of them. A triumvirate of professionals wearing badges. Sweaty Steve, Probation Officer. Svelte Yulia, Case Manager for The Charity. Last but not least – The Psychologist. (I won’t name her; she has a stunningly perfect name; I won’t falsify that even for the sake of a story.) They are here to introduce me to My Two Volunteers. These, I gather are on their way.
They’ve been hand-picked for me, my two do-gooders by Svelte Yulia and The Charity. I’m where I was told to be. I’m at a corner table in Jack’s Place, twenty yards from the tube and Big Issue Seller. I asked for a glass of water. It has a smear on its surface which looks like an oil-slick, except it can’t be.
I’m not relaxed. Would anyone expect me to be, less than a month after my release? I’m thirsty but whatever is floating on the water bothers me. Inside, I wouldn’t have noticed. I’d have drunk it. Life now is magnified. If I lean to the left the slick disappears. Lean to the right it comes back. Weird.
I’m careful about what things mean. When I was inside, when life had picked me up, swallowed me, spat me out existentially devastated, I kept asking myself ‘Why?’ So, what did I do? I began to study Philosophy. I got one quarter of what could have become a degree. The reason it won’t now is because of capitalism and what that does to the chances of people like me. (I read about capitalism ...
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