Nobody Said It Was Easy – A Q&A with Theodore Mullens

This weeks featured art is by photographer Leon Beu. It’s one of his personal favourites and it’s one of mine too. Click on the image to see more of his amazing work.

Developing a well-rounded character has been much harder than I had expected. The main character for A Gift from Aurth, Theodore Mullens, has been a bit of a tricky guy for me to figure out. I’ve done some posts with a general idea of who he is and a bit about what gives him drive but there is still so much more to learn about him.

Last week I sat down with Theodore and a coffee to do a Q&A exercise I found through Google. It was really beneficial because it gave me a better idea of who Theodore was, who he currently is and who he might become. Some of the questions got better answers then others. One question was, “Are you left handed or right handed?”. My answer for Theodore was just “Right,” which does not give me much to work with! I did, however, notice a theme starting to come up in some of the answers. When I put them all together it resulted in an revealing look into Theodore’s past. I’d like to share it with you.

TODD: Describe your earliest memory.

THEODORE: I remember the evening of a particularly hot summer day. Mom had kept the windows closed and blinds drawn to lock out the intensity of the sun’s heat. When it started to cool down outside, she opened the back and front doors to let the evening breeze blow through the house. I was lying in the hallway, cooling off in the crosswind she had made. She had settled down in her music room to play on her piano. Mom always spent her free time at her piano. I do not know what song she was playing, but it was as gentle as the air gliding across my face. At some point the smell of the breeze became sweeter, like someone had poured a cup of sugar into it. “Smells like a storm is coming,” she called to me. Rumbling in the distance confirmed it. The tempo of her song changed. It became the dark rolling clouds beginning to dominate the sky around us. Raindrops began to pour their rhythmic beat against the shingles of our house. I laid there all night, listening to my mom and the storm play out their songs.

TODD: When was the time you were most frightened?

THEODORE: One day when I was thirteen, I came home to an empty house after school. The moment I walked up to the door and did not hear any noise from inside, I knew something was wrong. It was a Tuesday and Mom taught piano lessons on Tuesdays. The house should have been alive with music. But instead, it was silent. Why wasn’t she home? My mom also had a part-time job at the grocery store in town. She sometimes switched shifts with her friend Donna as a favour, so I told myself that was what she was doing. It didn’t seem right, but it was the only explanation I could think of. I went into the music room and started to practice the song I was going to play at the recital she was organizing at the end of the month. I played for about an hour, thinking she would come through the back door at some point and tell me how proud she was of me for practicing, but she didn’t. I decided to try calling the store. She had told me not to call her there unless it was an emergency. Something about this felt like an emergency. When I called, Donna picked up. She had not heard from my mom all day, but told me she was sure Mom would be home any second. She wasn’t. At about seven I went over to our neighbours’ house to see if they had seen her. Mrs. Donaldson answered the door. I told her my mom was missing. She laughed at me and said she had seen my mom earlier in the day. She was sure Mom was just being held up somewhere in town. So Mrs. Donaldson invited me in and made me a sandwich while we waited. Sometime around nine, Mrs. Donaldson started to call people around town to see if anyone had seen her. At eleven she called the police. A day later, a farmer from out of town found my mom’s car and her body in his field. She had overdosed on a mixture of her medications.

TODD: What was your early relationship with your father like?

THEODORE: My father was not really my father until after my mom died and I was forced to go live with him. I’d barely had any contact with him before that. He had left my mom and I when I was a baby and he never really looked back. I think he had ideas of fixing our relationship when I moved in with him, but I was not ready. I had just lost the most important person in my life and now I was living with someone who had shown she was the least important person in his. Maybe it would have been different if he had acknowledged her or asked why I refused to keep playing the piano, but he didn’t. Instead, he took me to hockey games and on camping trips. Living with him was so different from living with my mom. He had so many rules and expectations. All he seemed to care about were my grades in school and whether or not my room was clean, but neither seemed to ever be good enough.

TODD: What is your most treasured possession?

THEODORE: I still own my mom’s piano. It sits in my living room as an untouched monument to a life no longer lived. I don’t play it. It’s been so long since I even sat at it, I’m not sure I even remember how to press a key.

TODD: What’s your favourite song?

THEODORE: When I was in high school my favourite band was Coldplay. They had a song come out called “The Scientist.” When I first heard it I immediately liked it because it features piano in the melody; that, of course, reminded me of Mom. Listening to the song made me feel sad but there was a sort of comfort in the sadness. It made me feel like she was there and we were still together at our old house. The sadness has not gone away. I still feel it just as I did then. I am okay with feeling it though. It’s all I have left of my relationship with her. If it goes away then she will go away too.