The Interview

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“Quiet on set,” the director announced.

Cameramen readied their equipment while audience members fidgeted and squirmed in their seats. Some exhibited nervous expressions, and others seemed downright mortified. Only a few seemed at peace with the situation. The director counted down before he queued the cameras to begin rolling.

“Welcome to the Rudolpho Rumeras show. As you can see, today we have a guest who needs no introduction. Every person in this room has encountered her work. Heck, for that matter, every person on earth knows her. Please give a warm welcome to the most famous guest we have ever had on this show.” The talk show host gestured to a lady sitting on the cushion to his left.

Some members of the audience cheered, while others booed, and the rest remained silent.

Rudolpho eyed the audience disapprovingly. “That’s no way to welcome our guest. Let’s try again. Please give up a warm welcome!”

The audience begrudgingly obliged as Rudolpho nodded.

“That’s better.” He turned toward his guest. “So let’s get started.”

Lights reflected in the lady’s eyes, making her dark irises appear star filled and mesmerizing. Her lips curled upward in a warm, genuine smile, which aroused an audible sigh from the crowd.

Rudolpho shifted in his seat and cleared his throat. His voice cracked when he said, “I’d like to begin with a few simple questions. Is this agreeable?”

The lady nodded, her graceful neckline forming an exquisite contour of majesty.

“Great!” Rudolpho said overenthusiastically and then smiled without it reaching his eyes. Small beads of sweat glistened on his upper lip and forehead. “The first thing I’d like to know is . . .” He paused. His voice gave out and reminded him of the first time he spoke with his grade-school crush on the playground. He pulled his collar away from his neck before he continued. “What is your favorite flower?”

The lady’s eyes widened momentarily, but not long enough for anyone to notice. She replied, “You promised to begin with simple questions.”

Rudolpho fidgeted, rubbing his palms together as his smile purposefully broadened.

Before he had a chance to remark, the lady placed her hand on his bouncing knee and said, “I am only teasing. I will answer your question to the best of my ability. The fact is I do not have a favorite flower, tree, or preferred animal for that matter. I love all beings on earth in equal measure.”

Rudolpho let the breath he had been holding escape his lips in a long sigh. His shoulders slumped, and he directed his attention to the floor as he pondered his next question. Suddenly, he tilted his head up at an angle and looked at her with one squinted eye, “Does that include people?” He flinched away from the lady immediately after asking and held his hands in front of him. He waved them as if clearing the air and explained, “I . . . I mean . . . It’s been my impression that you don’t interact much with people outside your small group of friends.”

The lady allowed her breath to fill her chest, bringing attention to her ample bosom. All the while, she maintained her sense of peace and dignity. Her voice contained conviction when she answered, “I have direct contact with people every moment of every day. I am anything but a recluse. I speak with individuals as often as the wind blows. Why am I ignored and shunned? How can I build relationships if no one acknowledges me?”

Rudolpho shook his head. “Are you saying that you want to have relationships with people? That you do not despise us as so many would believe?”

A single tear formed and then slowly caressed the lady’s cheek. Stars glistened in her eyes as she reached for Rudolpho’s hands. He shrank away from her for the briefest of moments, and then he allowed her to hold his hands between hers. When their flesh met, an underlying rigidity left Rudolpho’s carriage, and softness filled his expression.

“Of course, I would like close relationships with people. I desire and thrive on love as much as anyone. Love brings balance, understanding, and eliminates fear.”

A member of the audience shouted, “Yeah right! You are lying!”

Rudolpho’s stiffness swiftly returned as he scanned the crowd for the offender. Resolve formed on his face as he turned his attention back to the lady. He withdrew his hands from between her palms and announced, “You heard him. There is an audience member who believes you to be a liar, and let’s face it, he probably has good cause to be upset with you.”

The lady regarded the man who yelled, “I do not lie. It is not of my doing if you or your loved ones suffer at my hand. I have an office to perform, and there are laws that govern my actions. Even I cannot escape these laws.” She looked at the floor and said in a low, regretful voice, “No one can escape these laws.”

Rudolpho observed her with more compassion than he had originally thought possible and asked, “Are . . . Are you sad?”

The lady continued to look at the floor, “These laws I speak of are not necessarily cruel. They are simply misunderstood. I’ve been trying for years to teach people how these laws impact their lives, but very few listen, . . . and those that do, still do not understand.” She beseeched the audience to comprehend. “All of nature; the trees, the flowers, the animals . . . all beings, live harmoniously according to law. Only people believe they are above the law.” Her eyes scanned the crowd before she continued, “At one time, people respected me. There was a time we lived in harmony. Then greed ravaged the world and severed our connections. For this, I am saddened . . . sad for our lost friendships . . . sad for what once was and what could be.”

A hush fell over the audience. It was so quiet that a single breath could be heard.

“And now you sit here and scowl at me accusingly?” She directed her gaze at the people radiating hatred from their eyes. “You, who accuse me of forsaking you with your glares, deceive yourselves. It is you who have forsaken me.” By the time the last words exited her mouth, her famous and elusive temper became apparent. Her voice rumbled throughout the studio.

The audience and Rudolpho sat frozen in place, afraid even to breathe. The lady sat in justified dignity as she allowed time for her statements to sink in. Then her expression softened and she sounded motherly when she explained, “I give you sustenance. . . . I give you shelter. I give you all that you need to survive and even thrive; yet, you blame me for the storms and chaos that come by your own creations. How can I perform my job any way other than what you dictate? Your life and my well-being are in your hands, not the other way around as you would conveniently believe. Wake up, look around, go outside and see that I try to have relationships with you every moment of every day. Pay attention to the small breeze that cools your hot skin. Pay attention to the birdsongs that lift your moods. Pay attention to how I alkalize your bodies when you place your bare feet upon my surface. Realize that I am with you every moment. I support your every breath. I am your mother. I am your earth. I am Nature incarnate, and I long to reestablish the love and friendship that once existed between us. Will you please listen?”