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Image courtesy of www.stokpic.com/about/ "Girl-looking-at-the-sun" by Ed Gregory

Taken from 'The Wash'

Anthony and I sit in the middle of a large room with cream walls, grey carpet, and plastic chairs arranged in a circle around us. I glance at the walls adorned with posters about drug and alcohol abuse and tacky motivational quotes like, ‘It may seem like a mountain, but we’ll help you climb it.’

   I balance a notepad on my lap and clasp my pen like it’s a lifeline. Anthony tucks in his shirt and pulls a whiteboard marker from his pocket. ‘Ready?’

   ‘Uh-huh,’ I reply, twisting my fingers, almost dropping the pen.

   ‘Most of them do this to score brownie points to get a shorter sentence,’ Anthony whispers, leaning towards me, ‘although a few genuinely want to sort themselves out.’

   A lasting memory of Jake’s face flashes in my mind—pasty and covered in spots and sores. It reminds me of why I’m here—my dream of becoming a novelist swept away when he overdosed on heroin a week before my sixteenth birthday. Discovered by a morning surfer face-down in the wash on Scarborough beach. I couldn’t—no—wouldn’t write after that, instead, I made it my mission to figure out why my only brother had taken his life. But six years of studying psychology at Uni have barely scratched the surface.

   I hate the fucking sea.