* For an explanation of this project click here.
‘Huh, I feel like I’m being interviewed on television,’ he said, sinking back in the chair. He allowed his shoulders to kneed around the back of the chair for a comfortable space. ‘So what exactly are you going to ask me Julie?’
I smiled at him. He glanced at the notebook in my hands, and then shuffled his shoulders around again against the back of the chair. He crossed his legs, and then uncrossed them again. I glanced at the question written at the top of the otherwise blank page. I dragged a finger down the page, over the lines. I watched his fingers drumming nervously on the padded arms of the chair.
I leant over to the tape deck beside the fireplace and pressed the red record button. I relaxed back in my chair.
‘This is Julie Roth, interviewing Douglas….’
‘O’Hara’ said Doug.
‘Douglas O’Hara. Okay Doug, we’ll start with your earliest childhood memory. Can you tell me about that?’ I said.
Doug looked up to the light and narrowed his eyes to slits. I’d started to notice that people looked to light bulbs for answers deep in their past. Perhaps there was something about the bright light that could expose these dormant memories from the dark corners in which they sat. Doug seemed to squish his face up, even clasp his jaw little, and I could tell that the exertion the recollection of this memory was taking was pushing Doug somewhere he hadn’t been for a while.
‘I was about three, or four maybe-‘
‘Which was it Doug? Three or four?’
‘You’re sure?’ I said.
‘Okay, so what happened Doug? Don’t worry, you’re doing great.’
I gave him a quick smile to reassure him. He was still rolling his shoulders around, doing things with his legs, desperate to find the seated equivalent of crossing his arms.
‘I remember being outside, sitting the empty driveway, in fall.’
‘How did you know it was fall?’
‘There were leaves everywhere. Brown, orange, fall leaves.’
He leant forward and took a drink of water. I could see him shaking a little. He sat back in his chair and looked again to the light.
‘And who was there with you Doug?’
Doug kept looking to the light. He squinted at it again before pinching his nose and ruffling his brow.
‘I don’t recall.’
‘Doug, who was there with you?’
‘I don’t recall.’
‘I, I…don’t….I can’t remember who was there, I can’t. But, but there was, someone.’
I looked down to my notebook and quickly scribbled my thoughts. I kept my exterior completely stoic, but inside I beamed.