Chapter 47 - Back to the Welfare Office

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∞ 47 ∞

BACK TO THE WELFARE OFFICE


A week later, out of absolute desperation, Valentina went to the offices of the local Assistante Sociale to see if she could get help with the forms from the welfare office. She had read about the service at the doctor's office and apparently that was where she should have gone in the first place.

As it turned out, they are very nice to her. Super nice in fact. She was surprised to hear that she would get quite a lot of financial support...

Until...

«[I am sorry but this isn't the usual form of identity we accept... Do you not have the standard carte d'identité Française? Something newer?]»

«[No... I... no I don't have this. I have a passport but--]» (She couldn't find her passport.)

«[But you don't have a carte d'identité and you have been living here in France since you were 10 years old?]» the woman said suddenly looking as though she mistrusted Valentina. She looked down at the guardianship papers Valentina had presented (the only official document she had been able to find apart from her driver's licence.) «[And it says here your childhood guardian was: Miranda Parchment, her permanent address is an address in the United States and... your birth place is...]» The case worker squinted at the old, creased and smudged photocopy uncertain of what it said. «[You told me you were raised in Carcassonne. You said your parents were European.]»

«[My parents? Yes they-they are European. They were.]»

«[And you, you were born where? You say you are French.]»

«[No, I have said I LIVE in France since I was a little girl, but I am Spanish. My parents they are Spanish... Well... MY MOTHER is Spanish.]»

«[Are you American Mademoiselle Colina?]» asked the case worker looking very dubious.

«[NO, not at all. Well... I am born only in America... but by an accident. My mother was with illness. But I am Spanish... Ehmmm... and.... I suppose in a certain fashion... I am French – a little bit.]»

The case worker picked up Valentina's driver's licence, quietly noting the line that gave the date and place of birth said: PROVIDENCE (USA)

«[Mademoiselle Colina, the Caisse d'Allocations Familiales will not offer you assistance. We can try and find you help with your home country. But the French state is not responsible for American citizens. Perhaps there is some other type of assistance from another bureau you would be entitled to, but it will have to be investigated,]» the case worker said frostily.

«[But I am not American. I am born there only.]»

«[Were you naturalised?]» she asked, not seeming as though she held much hope in the answer.

«[Pardon?? I am... WHAT? I do not understand the meaning of this word.]»

«[NATURALISED. Were you declared to the Spanish, or French state in infancy? Did you ever become a European citizen?]»

«[YES... I-I think I am... I must be,]» said Valentina looking uncertain and frustratedly kneading the little metal piece around her neck for comfort. «[I AM EUROPEAN. My parents... I--all my life, I am here in France. In Spain. I am from here. I live here. Well, I am both. By the law I am both.]»

The case worker looked very sceptical. It was clear that she thought Valentina was lying. Valentina had a sinking feeling and wondered if she should just leave. The only other identification she had was her passport (an AMERICAN PASSPORT). It was just as well it was missing, because it didn't say anything about 'both' and showing it would have probably made things worse.

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