|Posted by Christie V Powell on November 17, 2015 at 3:10 PM|
I’ve invited Keita to my living room for a character interview. I wait for her to sit down so I can start asking questions, but she’s walking around the room and I’m not sure I should interrupt. At last she stops, to examine the leopard geckos in their tanks, and I look up from my desk and grab my list of questions.
“So,” I begin, “What do you consider your greatest achievement?”
She looks at me blankly for a moment. Then her face lights up, and she says, “Beating my brother in a tree-climbing contest!”
“Really? After everything you did to help…”
“Yes.” Her tone makes it clear she’s not going to answer any further.
“Okay, great. Um… What is your idea of perfect happiness?”
She doesn’t answer. At first I think she’s pondering the question. Then I see that my three-year-old has entered the room. “This is my alligator toy,” he says.
“I like it,” Keita says.
“Don’t encourage him,” I say, but it’s too late. Soon both boys are running back and forth, bringing whatever they can grab and presenting it like it’s their most precious possession. Ah, that reminds me…
“What is your most treasured possession?”
She looks up from the dishrag the boys are holding up. “You’re asking me?”
Yes, I know perfectly well she’s not very materialistic. I drop the list of questions, but the boys have given me an idea. “What was your favorite toy as a kid?”
Now we’re getting somewhere. “I had a few I really loved. My dad gave me this shirt once—just an ordinary shirt, but made out of cotton. I can manipulate plants, you know. I had so much fun shaping that thing! Every time my sister wanted me to play dolls, or whatever, I could get it out, change its shape, and I could join in her game.”
“So what was your favorite shape to keep it in? When you weren’t with Avie, I mean, so you could pick whatever you wanted?”
Keita shrugs. “Some sort of animal. I changed my mind every few weeks.”
“All right, thanks. What other toy did you really love?”
“My other favorite was a stone duck carving my mom gave me,” Keita answers. “It’s kind of the opposite of the cotton fibers. It’s one thing I couldn’t change. I loved the detail of it, how you could see the individual feathers. A stone carver made it in Lectranis, and she bought it there.” She thinks a minute, and adds quickly, “It was a carving. It wasn’t a real duck that a Nome petrified.” The thought makes her look physically sick.
“Yeah, that would be awkward. So, if you got to choose your occupation… or your niche, I guess you Sprites call it… what would it be?”
“I have a Quiet Book. Look! I see a horsie!” My two-year-old yells.
“Hey, that’s pretty neat.”
Keita crosses the room to look over my son’s shoulder. He’s naming shapes. “That one’s a rectangle. A oval. A triangle!”
“We’re supposed to be learning about you, not the kids,” I remind her, as my older son pops out of a cupboard, trying to surprise us.
“Oh, right. You were asking about my niche?” She thinks a moment. “I guess it would depend on my abilities. I always thought it would be something with trees… my uncle Corbin does that. He takes his family and travels all over the Sprite kingdom, helping sprout seedlings, making sure there’s a good balance of species…”
“You like travel?”
“Yeah, I like seeing new things. Why is that surprising?”
“Because we’re a lot alike, and I don’t—or at least, I like staying home better.”
“Staying home,” she says, with a note of real longing in her voice. “I do wish I could… I mean, home’s not home anymore…” She stops to frown at me. “So, yes, I like staying home, and someday I’ll have a really nice one I won’t want to leave, but I’ll still want to go see other things, sometimes.” A thought strikes her, and she leans over my shoulder to look at the computer. “Can you see my future on that thing?”
I slam the lid down on my laptop. “What makes you say that?”
“You do then. Can I see? Even a little?”
“Oh, look at the boys. They’re pretending to call a dragon on the phone…”
“That won’t work. I want to see what’s on your computer.”
I sigh. “Sorry. It’s against the rules. Anyway I might change it. You wouldn’t want to think you know what’s coming, only to have me change it, would you?”
She nods, but I can tell she’s hurt. I figure I’d better wrap up before she convinces me and I get in trouble. “So,” I say, “how do you feel about Brian?”
For a moment she just looks at me. Then she scowls, whirls around, and charges through my front door.
Drat. I hope my husband can help me put the hinge back together.