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I ,  C a r o l i n e

b y   N u a l a   N í   C h o n c h i r


My name is Caroline Crachami. That is a lie. My name is really Caroline Fogle. I measure one foot ten and a half inches from the top of my skull to the tips of my tippy-toes. One foot. Ten and a half inches. Some people call me The Sicilian Fairy, but I’m not from Italy; I’m from Mallow, which is in County Cork, which is right down the bottom of Ireland. And I’m not a fairy either.

My skeleton stands in a glass box in a museum in London; just the frame of pale bones that used to hold up my skin – that’s all that’s left of me now. On the floor below my skeleton is another box with a glass lid. This box holds my ruby ring, the grey shoes with black bows, my death-mask, a pair of socks, and wax casts of my foot and arm. They are there to prove I was alive once.

The Giant Byrne lives in the glass cabinet beside mine; I don’t know what size he is but he is very, very tall. We’re a right pair – Ireland’s biggest and smallest – one huge brown skeleton beside a tiny white one; two natural freaks. Some people say I’m the teeniest person that ever was; a lot of them used to like to pay two and six to come and look at me at twenty-two New Bond Street. It cost an extra shilling to pick me up and handle me.

My Mama and Dada sold me to Dr Gilligan; I cost twenty pounds. Dada handed me to Dr Gilligan on Patrick Street, outside a baker’s shop that smelt lovely. We were on a day out in Cork city. That’s what Dada said, we were having a day out. Dr Gilligan met us in the street; he had been to our house to see me but I was asleep that time, tired out from coughing again. Outside the bakery, with cake smells clouding over us, Mama stared at Dr Gilligan and she wiped away snot and tears from her face with her sleeve, but she never looked at me. I looked at her.




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