Interview of Ryan Perry from Birth Offering by Anthony Hains
This was quite a coup.
Kristin looked at Ryan Perry sitting across the table from her. She couldn’t believe her luck. The kid had been well protected since the incidents, and no reporters had been able to interview him. The family refused all requests.
Until her request, that is.
She was not sure why she got the nod, maybe being only twenty-one years old and a journalism major played a role. Who knows? But she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
“Ryan, thanks for agreeing to talk to me.”
“No problem.” The boy smiled weakly. The remnants of sutures on his face were barely visible.
“Let’s start out with some easy questions. Tell me about your family.”
The boy pursed his lips, and looked down at his lap. “We’re a small one, really. Just my mom and grandmother.”
“You just moved here, right?”
“Yeah,” he nodded. “Me and my mom moved from Wisconsin about six months ago. We came to live here in South Carolina with my grandma.” He paused briefly. “After my dad died.”
Kristin blushed. She didn’t mean to delve into tough stuff right off the bat. “I heard. I’m so sorry. It must have been tough.”
The boy barely nodded.
No use beating around the bush any longer. “This whole thing must have been terrifying.”
Ryan looked at her, nonplussed.
Kristin tried to recover. “What was the scariest part for you?” She silently cursed herself.
Ryan smirked ever so slightly. “Where do I start? Seeing the ghost of something that is supposed to be your dead twin – but isn’t? That was pretty freaky. Then seeing you mom and grandmother…” his voice cracked. “I mean, realizing they could’ve been killed and you couldn’t do anything?”
The boy sighed and looked tired. He was still haunted. “I was supposed to die. I can’t get that out of my mind. All of these things that people said weren’t real. Ghosts. And demons. But they’re real. People have no idea…” He paused. “That’s the scary part.”
Kristin decided to change the subject.
“Since school has started, things have gotten better though, right? Or maybe easier?”
Ryan nodded affirmatively.
“You’re in the ninth grade”
“Yep. I’m fourteen.”
“You play sports?”
“Yeah. Baseball is my favorite. I play first base and the outfield. I also joined the swim team. That has been helping me get better.”
“That’s been kind of a physical therapy for you, hasn’t it?”
Ryan suffered some major injuries in the incident. Recovery had been difficult.
“Yeah. It’s been cool. I met some new kids. And, it has helped. My body I mean. Everything hurt so much when I was healing. This loosened me up. My muscles and stuff.”
“Let me ask you something different. You’ve become somewhat famous as a result of all this. People think they know everything there is about you. What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?”
Ryan looked surprised by the question. He remained quiet for a long time. “People have no idea what it’s like to be scared. I mean really scared. Like you’re gonna-die-scared. I’m not sure how I survived. But I did. If I ever faced something like this again, I’m confident I can do it. Survive, I mean.” He looked at Kristin. “Yeah, I think that’s it. I’m confident.”
A genuine smile. “Well, maybe not about, you know, girls.”
Kristin laughed. “Oh come on. You’re very handsome. I think you’d have all the girls hanging on you.”
Ryan blushed and tilted his head bashfully. A clump of blond hair fell over his forehead. He pushed it back casually. A scar at his hairline became visible.
“Any girl in particular?”
“Sort of. She’s, I dunno…special to me.” He shrugged. He blushed even further. “She’s really awesome.”
She smiled at him and let the moment linger a little longer.
“Ryan, has anything changed. Do you do anything different now? To help you cope or get through the day?”
“No. I mean, I really don’t. I remember thinking when all the crap was going on how much I wanted to be a regular kid. So that’s what I do. I do regular kid things. I eat, go to school, go to practice, do homework. I hang out with my new friends…” he trailed off.
“I wish I had more time with my dad. Me and my mom fought a lot over the summer, even when I got out of the hospital. Then I remember one day thinking how much it would suck to lose her too. You know what I mean? I made up my mind then and there not to be a jerk anymore, or to cause her, like, more frustration. So, I’ve been trying – not to be a jerk, I mean. So, yeah, that has changed. Maybe I matured or something. I don’t know.”
Birth Offering is a horror novel about a boy thrust into a living nightmare, and the cumulative psychological impact of evil actions by multiple past generations.
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Anthony Hains is a university professor in counseling psychology, with a specialization in pediatric psychology – his research involves working with youth who have a chronic illness. He is married with a daughter in college. Birth Offering his is first novel.
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