Vanessa Sadri was born on 16 November 1993 in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and is half-Sudanese. ‘The Portsmouth Bridge’ previously appeared in The Brown Envelope Book–Poetry and prose on experiences of unemployment, the benefits system, disability and work capability assessments (Caparison, 2021).
The Portsmouth Bridge
‘Physiotherapist’ the blue sign reads as a mentally fragile young girl walks up the narrow stairs of the private clinic.
As she enters the upscale waiting room a sense of misplacement comes over her...
You are nothing... Look at those chairs, you’re so fat you won’t fit...
“Can I help?” A rough voice shakes her awake from the auditory torture that she is so used to.
“ATOS health assessment” she replies quietly.
The mumpish woman that has her future independence in her hands walks her into a cold, dark and uninviting room.
As the young girl answers unreasonable tick box questions she looks around the room while her voices bombard her...
Do you REALLY think you’re worth of any support? You are a vile person... Look at yourself... Dirty and repulsive!
“Could you answer the question please?”
She is once again being snapped out of her auditory torture.
“You said on your form you self harm?!”
“Yes” she replies ashamed and defeated.
“Roll up your sleeves” the hardened and detached assessor says.
The young woman looks up in disbelief while shaking her head. “Refused to answer question” the callous assessor types on her keyboard. “Thank You. You will hear from the DWP in 6-8 weeks.”
She is being led out back to the narrow stairs.
In her head fear and desperation mixes with self-hatred and anger towards the system.
The system that had betrayed her time and time again.
As she dissociatively walks towards the bus stop past the river and the parks, past the carefree children playing, she looks up.
Up at her only option. The only thing that would give her freedom. The only choice the demons in her mind would approve.
The Portsmouth Bridge.
(Author received a brown envelope 6 weeks later. 0 points)