I’m always nervous before interviews like this one. It’s not the usual ‘talk to a popular cook’ or ‘grab lunch with a playwright or musician’ or even ‘hang out with an author for an hour.’ Even the ‘sit awkwardly in a greenroom for an hour’ aren’t this bad.
This was different.
This was for an artist and activist. Not unusual. Every artist was an activist in some way. Artists had to tune themselves to their own thoughts and feelings as well as the world around them. They can say stupid shit like anyone else, but plenty have more interesting thoughts and opinions than the average reader. That wasn’t elitist, it was a fact.
I waited in my chair. My jacket and tie itched. I could feel my deodorant evaporate and the sweat crawl down my back. I felt like I was wearing sandpaper in a sauna.
The secretary, a nice black woman with ivory white tattoos across her face, sat me in an office and promptly forgot about me.
The office was simple. Boring grey walls, boring black chairs and a boring grey table. The only dash of colour was a generic flower painting on the wall. Surprising given the Artist’s body of work.
I poured myself my third glass of water.
Oh god, what if I need to pee?
I drank the water, more afraid of my voice cracking than the need to run for the restroom.
The thing about Artist-Activists were that they were common. When that person is a mega-star-sensation with a P.H.D. and a body of work longer than all my articles put together? When that someone is a true auteur? When that person has the ear of District Kings and the vocal critic of the Goblin King.
Someone who had survived threats to her life. A mover and a shaker. A goddam hero with a following with the numbers of a small country.
Always nervous talking to people like this.
The door swung open.
A titanic figure stepped in, filling the doorway. An immense green Orc squeezed his shoulders through the doorframe. Its huge piggish face looked me up and down. I felt naked and hoped my face didn’t hint at my absolute terror.
He grunted into the collar of his jacket. “We’re clear.”
The orc vanished and in his place stepped in a woman in a long formless dress and niqab.
She wore sunglasses and had earbuds on. Her dress and veil were black and flowed like shimmering silk. The fabric was lined with two layers of gold. One, a poem embroidered with Persian-style script. The poem was bordered with Celtic-Knotwork.
The face of the veil was emblazoned with more Celtic-Knot but spiraled into a Farsi letter.
From between the folds of her niqab sprouted her long pointed ears. They climbed and curled along the side of her head.
She sat down, not looking up from her phone. Her fingers typed in a blur of motion.
I realized I was standing and awkwardly sat back down. I waited for her to acknowledge me, or even meet my eye.
I watched as her fingers typed away for what felt like an eternity. With her veil, sunglasses and earbuds, I felt completely alone.
This is going to be a bad one. I opened my mouth to say something.
“Hold on…” squeaked her voice. She had a deep welsh accent. “And… Just…. About… Okay!”
She cast aside the glasses, phone and earbuds.
The strip of copper-coloured flesh was visible and her deep, inhumanly beautiful, violet eyes seemed to smile at me. Hybrids, I found, always had the most spectacular eyes.
She grabbed my hands from my lap. I realized she was wearing white Victorian-style gloves.
“Thank you for meeting with me!” she giggled. “Thank you so much! It means so much that your paper wanted to do a piece on me. How are you?!”
I was disarmed and managed to smile back. “No! Thank you for taking time out of your day. The privilege is ours.”