To celebrate the release of the second book in the Black Sheep series, I have been priviledged to interview one of the main characters, Anne. Anne is the big sister of Vic, the main protagonist, and head of their dysfunctional little family.
Hi Nephy, first my brother and now me? What kind of questions do you have in store for me?
1. When did you first realise Vic has serious problems
Which one of them? Okay, I kid, I kid. I think the moment I realised something was really wrong was when I found cover stick in his room. Sure, he loved his make-up, some eyeliner and nailpolish and stuff. But make-up to cover things? That set off alarms for me. I had suspected something was off but I could never guess it was as severe as Vic being abused. I think that is probably the moment I realised something more than just regular teen stuff was going on.
2. Did you find that as Vic's condition deteriorated your own life began to slide.
I don’t know what you mean with slide. I didn’t have the easiest time to begin with. Kevin was born when I was sixteen, at the same time Vic and Adam started dating. But Vic’s illness did have a profound impact on us for the past year. We all got a lot closer and I think we did pretty well. Sure, I had to take days off work to care for him a couple of times, but I knew that coming to the job, they knew it. Over all, I don’t think we’re that different from most families.
3. Did you ever resent the incredible impact Vic's decline had on you and your family?
Sure, sometimes I wish I didn’t have to always be available. But I chose this myself last year. I chose to be his main carer while our mum took care of the whole family. I think that if I really couldn’t deal with all of this I could have left and gotten my own place. But I love Vic and I want to be there for him.
4. What do you think of Jack?
He is such a cutie and Kevin loves him too. I think he’s perfect for Vic, just the right amount of strength and innocence.
5. Do you think Jack ever truly appreciated the depth of Vic's problems?
I don’t know. I think Jack might have been too innocent to really understand. On the other hand I think it’s good that he didn’t. This way at least he really is there for Vic. Someone who can love him for who he is not for who he used to be.
6. Do you think that Vic's separation from Adam and Adam's subsequent illness had an impact on Vic's mental condition? If so do you think it was so great that if they had stayed together Vic would not have become as ill as he was?
I think those are two separate questions. Sure, Vic had been unstable for a while longer, before he and Adam broke up. But that was just teen stuff. And I think that it wouldn’t have mattered much if they had stayed together or not. On the other hand, Vic’s illness was triggered by his attempted suicide a year ago. I do think the stress of Adam’s illness has something to do with how good Vic feels and thus how bad his attacks are.
If they had stayed together, Adam would still have been ill. I don’t know about Vic, he might not have tried to kill himself and gotten ill himself. But I also don’t know if he would have been able to handle the day to day things like Tom does. I don’t know if they would have broken up anyway.
7. When did you first realise you were in love with Steve?
Eep, I’m trying to keep that to myself. Okay, okay. Vic answered embarrassing questions, so will I. I think I first realised it probably around November or something. Vic used to hang quite often at their place and that is how I got to know Steve and Sarah. We all clicked so we like to do things like movie nights and stuff. Yeah, I think it was around November that I realised I was interested in him more than just a friend.
8. Looking back you were the glue that held the family together. Did you realise that at the time and do you resent the responsibility?
Resentment is such a strong word. Yeah, I do get that it was me that has been there for everybody. It just came to be that way. In the beginning I was mostly home with Kevin and after he got a bit older and I finished my school it seemed to be the most sensible thing for me to be the one to take care of a lot of the day to day things. Mum is really busy with her most of the time and I don’t work full-time anyway. So I was in the best position to look after Vic. I don’t always like it, but that is what it is. Maybe one day that will change but for now, this is how we make sure everything stays right.
9. What are your plans for the future?
A full time job, a husband, a place for myself. I don’t really want anything weird. I wish Vic and Adam get better so that they can really live their own lives and not have to be worried all the time.
I just want simple things. A home, a man and a job.
Kia Zi Shiru is a Dutch girl studying English and Creative Writing in the UK. Amongst her interests she finds writing, reading, doing research and learning different languages (including but not limited to: English, Dutch, French, German, HTML, Java, PHP and Assembly). Her writing and reading habits include books with Young Adults, gay themes, strong female or minority characters and fantasy elements (more often then not all at the same time).
Vic is lying on his bed, he seems to almost disappear into the rest of the room. He is so pale that even his stark white sheets seem to carry more colour. He keeps his eyes closed, a small wet trail going down his cheek. I clear my throat to get his attention. He doesn’t move but he stretches his arm to me and wiggles his fingers. I gladly grab his hand as I sit in the chair next to the bed. We sit in complete silence for a couple of minutes as I kiss the top of his hand.
“I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” His words surprise me and I look at his face. The tears haven’t stopped flowing and his lower lip trembles, but he has still not opened his eyes.
“No,” I answer shortly and truthfully. No need for lying right now, no use when he is like this. His eyes flutter but he keeps them closed.
He keeps hiding, he keeps thinking of ways to make us feel like he really is sorry about all this. Hiding the fact that he doesn’t think of anyone but himself. We’ve known each other for too long to play these games any longer.
“I’m so sorry.” He tightens his grip on my hand.
“You’re not. You’re sorry you didn’t succeed.” His surprise is obvious as his grip on my hand lessens and I tug my hand out of his. “You’re not sorry for trying. Otherwise you wouldn’t keep your eyes closed, hiding your real feelings. I feel sorry for Jack and the others, they don’t deserve this.” I spit out the words. I don’t know when it happened, today, yesterday, or before this, but I realise I have stopped loving Vic. He hasn’t been the guy I used to love for a long time, but it hits me, unless something changes soon I will start resenting him for hurting the people I still do love.
He keeps quiet for a while, opening his eyes but staring out the window on the other side of the room. “Has Anne signed the papers yet?”
“Yes, they will come get you as soon as they deem you able to leave.”
He tilts his head, now focussing his attention on me. “I told Jack, about Dave and stuff, like you said.” He looks down for a moment before he looks me right in the eyes, a new strength in his movements. I see a small spark of the guy I used to know in the bloodshot eyes. “But I need you to know the full truth too. I’m sorry.”
He sits up and fumbles at his back. I realize he is trying to open his hospital shirt and I close my eyes, hiding my head in my hands. I can’t see it. I know what Dave did to him but it will break me if I ever see it. I’d been able to not to have to deal with that side of it all from the start. I don’t want to have to deal with it now. What is the use? It is all in the past now.
“Don’t,” I squeak. “I don’t... I can’t... Please, don’t.”
“I need you to see. I no longer want to hide this from you. Everyone I care about knows, except for you.”