Copyright © Emmi Lawrence
He had a curious, but careful, gaze as he sat on the bench I indicated. His hair, brown with just a hint of a reddish tinge, flowed almost to his shoulders and his eyes were the color of charcoal in the shadows cast by my single lamp. He had a easy smile, but a slight one, that came fast and disappeared just as quickly.
“Thank you for stopping by,” I said. “I only have a couple of questions if you don’t mind sparing a few moments for our readers.”
“Not at all.” That smile again, a flash of light before it faded once more. “It’s my pleasure.”
“Just for the record, your name?”
“Can you tell me a little about yourself?” I leaned against my desk trying not to focus on the questions written on the pages of my notebook.
He shifted, lifted one foot to his opposing knee and cocked his head. “I’m…” His voice simmered away, his gaze turning introspective. “I don’t think anyone would consider me a people-person. I don’t bear ill will towards others, generally speaking. I’ve been called quiet and self-contained, and though a coworker of mine once used the word recluse, I don’t think that defines me accurately. It’s simply…” He took a breath and let it out slowly. “I’m simply not enthused by most people.”
“You say most people. That means not everyone puts you off.”
“That’s correct. I don’t seem to have any problems interacting with children.” That fleeting smile once again, gone in a moment. “But they are less likely to mistreat you, and even then they can be just dreadful as their parents in certain cases.”
“This seems to be a serious topic for you.”
“It is,” he said, sounding almost surprised. “Because, as I’ve said, I’m not a recluse. I crave human contact in much the same way many people do. However, since I have little skill in putting myself out there and even littler desire to practice said skill, I’m afraid I might never find a man to love.”
“I hazard that would make relationships difficult,” I observed.
With a slight dismissive lift of one hand, Roan said, “Feels more like impossible. I’ve come to acknowledge that any kind of permanent relationship might not be in my future. I haven’t accepted that outcome yet, but perhaps one day I’ll find a way to.”
“What if you didn’t have to accept a life alone forever? What if I told you there was someone, someone nearby, who might be able to assuage whatever anxieties you have.”
“I don’t need someone to soothe anxieties,” he said. “I have a handle on myself and anxiety isn’t something I suffer from unduly. No, it’s… The desire is to have a man who… I’m not even sure what I want, so I guess that’s another reason it feels impossible.”
He seemed to wish the topic changed, so I decided to give him an out. “Anything else you want to add before we move on?”
“I live in 3A.” He chuckled, though his eyes didn’t dance or twinkle, his gaze a thousand miles away. “But you already knew that. In fact, you know the answers to all the questions on that page.”
Roan’s expression blanked and his eyes flicked to the side, toward the door.
“Yes,” I corrected myself. “I know all the answers already, but others might not.” He didn’t instantly relax, but nor he get up to leave either, so I went on. “You brought up that you live in 3A of your apartment building. How do you enjoy living there?”
“It’s fine,” he said with no inflection.
“What about your neighbors?”
“I don’t really have a comment on most of them.”
“Do you even know your neighbors?”
Here he hesitated. “Not…really. And in actuality, I don’t mind it that way.”
“So you don’t speak with your neighbors, haven’t mentioned any friends or family and claim you prefer the lack of social interaction, and yet, just before this, you spoke about not wanting to be alone. You can’t have it both ways, you know.”
A saddened expression lowered across Roan’s face. “I know. But people… It’s not that I dislike people, I just want that to be clear. But the constant lies make me uncomfortable.”
I pushed away my notebook with its pointless questions. I thought perhaps I’d save them for my next interviewee. “Not everyone lies.”
“Not every lie is spoken.”
I thought he’d go on, give further explanation. But he didn’t. He sat there, completely at ease, his eyes seeming to see more than I’d said, his thoughts a mystery I was sure to never solve. Possibly because even he, himself, could not solve them.
“Perhaps,” I said softly, “the little lies are the price you have to pay if you want to truly get to know someone.”
“If that’s the case, then it might be too high a price for me.”
I nodded. “Then I wish you good luck in finding someone who doesn’t feel the need to hide even the strangest parts of who he is, even at your first meeting.”
A last wistful smile flashed across his face as he stood to leave. I could read a longing in his gaze, but that longing was heavily tempered with doubt and reluctance. As he left, he thanked me.
“For what?” I asked.
Roan held the door open as he answered. “For not ending my story at its very beginning.”
~ ~ ~
Random side note—I hate the word recluse. Reminds me of something I’d rather not think about. Wasn’t until I was writing this that I realized why I didn’t use that particular word very often. Why do people name disgusting things perfectly fine words and thereby ruin those words forever? We should give gross names to awful things.
Also, I love Roan. He’s the first character to thank me in my interview of him. For a man who doesn’t know what the hell is going on for half his story, he’s probably the most self-aware of any character I’ve written.
*This is a teaser for my novel Bridle the Unicorn*