V: An Inch
Published on May 14, 2017 by Paul Ciano
I know there’s no way I can convince you this is not one of their tricks, but I don’t care. I am me.
My name is Valerie. I don’t think I’ll live much longer and I wanted to tell someone about my life. This is the only autobiography that I’ll ever write, and God, I’m writing it on toilet paper.
I was born in Nottingham in 1985. I don’t remember much of those early years, but I do remember the rain. My grandmother owned a farm in Tottle Brook, and she used to tell me that God was in the rain.
I passed my 11 Plus and went to girls’ grammar. It was at school that I met my first girlfriend. Her name was Sarah. It was her wrists. They were beautiful.
I thought we would love each other forever. I remember our teacher telling us that it was an adolescent phase that people outgrew. Sarah did. I didn’t.
In 2002, I fell in love with a girl named Christina. That year I came out to my parents. I couldn’t have done it without Chris holding my hand.
My father wouldn’t look at me. He told me to go and never come back. My mother said nothing. But I’d only told them the truth. Was that so selfish?
Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us. But within that inch, we are free.
I’d always known what I wanted to do with my life, and in 2015 I starred in my first film, The Salt Flats. It was the most important role of my life. Not because of my career, but because that was how I met Ruth. The first time we kissed, I knew I never wanted to kiss any other lips but hers again.
We moved to a small flat in London together. She grew Scarlet Carsons for me in our window box and our place always smelt of roses. Those were the best years of my life.
But America’s war grew worse, and worse. And eventually came to London. After that, there were no roses anymore. Not for anyone.
I remember how the meaning of words began to change. How unfamiliar words like “collateral” and “rendition” became frightening. While things like Norse Fire and The Articles of Allegiance became powerful. I remember how different became dangerous. I still don’t understand it, why they hate us so much.
They took Ruth while she was out buying food. I’ve never cried so hard in my life. It wasn’t long till they came for me.
It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years, I had roses, and apologized to no one. I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch, but one.
An inch. It is small and it is fragile, and it is the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.
I hope that whoever you are, you escape this place. I hope that the world turns and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you. I love you.
With all my heart, I love you.