I know you asked me not to write to you again. But you need to know the truth, even if, after all this time, your hands are still clamped over your ears. What did you do that day, after I was taken down? After the knock of the hammer, the soft swish of silk and cotton, as everyone else stood up? I looked for you, wanting to find your face. But when my eyes caught on the blue check of your coat, and I saw that you were staring at the ground, I knew then, as sure as the sound of a door slamming shut. There was no way back.
Do you remember, when they took me away, how just for a moment everything was quiet, and my footsteps were the only sound? I have often wondered what you did after that, while I was jolted against the side of that windowless van. Where you went, what you ate. Who you spoke to. How your life carried on after I was taken out of it.
When I think of you, as I often do, I always picture you in your kitchen, holding a mug with both hands, staring out of the window into your garden. I close my eyes sometimes, so I can conjure it exactly. I dress you in your green jumper, your hair twisted up on top of your head. Your parents’ paintings on the walls, the crack over the French doors, little pools of light on the worktop where your oil and vinegar bottles sit. I make everything the same, just as I remember. Are there birds in your magnolia tree? Are the roses in bloom? In my dream, they are. I hope so.
I think you would find the food here the hardest thing. The forks are plastic. They snap off in the grey lumps of meat, the piles of powder-made potato. Some days the warders will give you another if you ask. Other days they won’t, and we have to eat with our hands. I know it is a small thing, but when your life has shrunk as much as mine has, small things take up more space than they should.
I find it difficult, sometimes, to believe I am really here. A danger, someone who is not to be trusted. But then, no one really thinks they are bad, do they? Whoever we are, whatever we’ve done. We all have our reasons if anyone can be bothered to listen…