VOICES: The Interviews
Allow me tell you about the little project AJ Brown and I are working on. In the coming months, one character from each story in AJ Brown’s collection VOICES will be interviewed by me! Hmm… Actually, let me tell you what AJ says about our project:
“No, this is not your typical interview session. What I want to do is make each interview like a story, one that continues until we reach the end. Some of these are going to be short. Some of them might be long. I don’t know. Like you, I will find out just how long each interview is based on the questions Lisa provides me. I don’t know the questions ahead of time and neither do the characters.
Since this is an interview, I will go ahead and say up front there are spoilers in each session. If you have not read Voices, I urge you to do so before continuing. If you haven’t read the collection, you have been made aware of possible spoilers.”
So, as the man says, Spoiler Alert!
* Spoiler Alert * Spoiler Alert * Spoiler Alert *
While this project was originally intended to be a promotional piece, it has taken on a life of its own… or maybe the characters have taken over. It’s hard to say. Read Voices, follow the interviews here and at Type AJ Negative… let me know what you think.
Voices: The Interviews
Session 6: B
Lisa takes a deep breath. She has taken quite a few of them through these interviews. She glances down at her notepad and realizes she is only a third of the way through them. She flips the page. The heading at the top simply says “B” in her looping script. The questions are straight forward, but when she turns to her right she sees the young blonde with the wavy hair and blue eyes. She doesn’t appear nervous or even sad like everyone else in the room. She is not angry and Lisa believes if this young lady smiles it will light the room up.
“Hello, B,” she says.
She is right. The young blonde smiles. It’s not much, but it is radiant. “Hi.”
“Is it just B or would you care to share your name?”
“I go by B only with my boyfriend. It’s kind of our thing. My real name is Becka, as in Rebecca. I really don’t like Rebecca, so Becka to my friends and B to my love.”
“Can I call you Becka?”
She’s confident, Lisa thinks. More than I thought she would be. This relaxes Lisa a little. After the previous discussion with Jeddy and Mr. Worrywort’s appearance she is still a little shaken.
“Should we get into this?”
“You lost a friend.”
“A couple, actually. Dorian and Robert.”
Becka tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. Though she still seems confident and at ease, Lisa sees the slight change in how she sits. Her shoulders slump and she rubs her hands on her jeans.
“It’s okay,” Becka says. “It’s not your fault.”
“I’ve lost friends myself, so I won’t presume upon your grief. But … I would like it if you told me about the guilt.”
Now Becka’s demeanor changes a little more. She leans forward in her seat, puts her feet on the bar beneath it as if she is a bird perched on a limb. She rubs her hands together and then looks at the palm of her left hand.
“Dorian was my best friend.” She smiles. Her eyes hold the distant stare of remembrance. “I met her when I was knee high to a grasshopper, as my grandfather would put it.” She holds her hand down around her ankles as a visual. “We did everything together. You know, thick as thieves. That’s another thing my grandfather said about us. ‘Y’all are thick as thieves.’”
A tear trickles from one eye. She wipes it away, sniffles and continues.
“I guess I thought we would grow old together. Not just me and H, but Dorian and Robert. We were going to get houses in the same town and we were going to hang out on the weekends and we would be parents together, them watching our little ones and us watching theirs.”
The breath she releases holds all the sadness her demeanor didn’t show minutes before.
“We would have been the little old ladies in the knee high socks sitting around playing bingo on Friday nights in one of those parlors where old fogies mingle and compete for a handful of dollars.”
She laughs, wipes away more tears.
“I guess … I guess being there when Dorian died …” her breath hitches and she swallows it down. “And then, you know, Robert … Robert … doing what he did. I guess the guilt was worse for him. He loved her so much. I can’t imagine losing H and trying to carry on with life. I guess that’s why he did what he did.”
She’s nodding as if she is finished with the answer. Lisa waits a couple of seconds. Becka wipes a few more tears from her face.
“You aren’t responsible for what happened.” Lisa hears the words come from her lips and almost shakes her head. She knows how Becka feels—at least she has a very good idea. Experience gives you a clue on the grief life throws at others. She pushes the thought aside. then realizes she knows the answer to the next question. She asks it anyway. “What makes you feel guilt over something you didn’t do?”
She shrugs. Her hands are now between her knees, clasped together like a little girl who has lost her favorite doll. “I was there. We had been drinking. We were all underage. If we weren’t drinking, Dorian doesn’t die and Robert doesn’t kill himself. I participated in my best friend’s death. I might not have held her head under the water, but I didn’t say no to drinking at the river and I didn’t stop her when I saw she was drinking way too much. H tried to intervene, but Robert got mad. I keep thinking if I would have just taken Dorian’s hand and said ‘no more alcohol for you, young lady,’ then she would still be alive and Robert would be too and life would have been hunky dory.”
Lisa looks down at the yellow notepad in her lap. The next question holds her attention. She goes to ask it, then stops. Her heart sinks into her stomach. Hazy memories of friends who have passed on, either by natural causes, accident or their own hands, surface. She can still see their faces, still hear their voices, still see things they did. She feels the tears form in her eyes.
You don’t want to ask that question, Lisa.
I have to.
Oh come on. You know you don’t have to do anything.
I have to.
No one is holding a gun to your head … or holding your head under the water.
There is something in the voice that makes her sit up. She looks directly at Becka and she knows immediately Mr. Worrywort is there again. This time she feels the anger rise up faster than before. Or holding your head under the water… It’s a dig he couldn’t resist. The devil on her shoulder smirks. She wants to smirk back, but isn’t sure she can. The sadness tugs harder on her heart and she wants to cry, not for herself, but for her lost friends. She believes that is probably how Becka felt—feels—about her lost friends.
She hears a soft laugh. Mr. Worrywort is enjoying himself. She thinks her heart will explode if she holds this next question in.
It’s best to talk, she thinks. One of the reasons so many people don’t come out of depression is they don’t think they can talk about things.
She looks at Becka and feels the need to ask the question grow stronger, even as Mr. Worrywort laughs at her, believing she can’t, or won’t, ask it.
“Becka, did you ever think about suicide? Like Robert?”
She looks up from her hands and shakes her head from side to side. “No. Never.”
“Never. I’ve seen what it does to the people left behind. I can’t speak for other people, but for me, that’s not the solution to the problem. I’m not even sure the problem would be how I feel about what happened with Dorian and Robert. I think my sadness was a symptom of the problem. If you only treat the symptom without trying to pull the root from the ground, then it just keeps rolling. It’s a cycle. Dorian died. Robert killed himself because he never allowed himself to truly grieve. He blamed himself for her death just like I did and and just like H did when Robert died. If I would have committed suicide when Dorian died, what would that have done to H? Would that have sent him into a worse depression than he experienced, especially after Robert did that very thing? What about my parents or my baby sister? What would me doing that do to them? I’d much rather not think about those possibilities.”
Lisa tilts her head. Mr. Worryrwort’s laughter ceases. She can feel him sulking. She knows now that he is there, in her, just as Jeddy said earlier. But for now, Becka has quieted him. She looks down at the last question on the notepad and smiles.
“Your remembrance ceremony for Dorian and Robert was beautiful. Your idea?”
“Oh no. That was all H’s. He is a viking at heart and thought a funeral pyre would be a fitting tribute to his best friend. You know, send him out in a blaze of glory.”
Lisa nods. There is a smile on her face. She likes Becka and she can see why H would as well. She says, “I’m very sorry for your loss,” and moves on to the next page in her notepad.
To be continued …
If you missed it, read
Voices: The Interviews Session 1, here
Voices: The Interviews Session 2, here
Voices: The Interviews Session 3, here
Voices, The Interviews 4 here
Voices: The Interviews 5 here