Character Interview with Gil From The Memory of Water by Karen White
Karen: Hello, Gil. I know that you’re not speaking to anybody because you’re hiding a secret. But for the sake of this interview, I’d like you to answer a few questions. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Gil: I’m nine years old. I live with my mother, the famous artist Diana Maitland and her grandfather by the ocean in McClellanville, South Carolina. Like me, Grandpa can’t speak but it’s because he’s had a stroke. He used to be a preacher and highlights his Bible a lot to communicate with us. He’s an awesome chess player. My dad lives nearby and my Aunt Marnie—who I never met until recently—has come all the way from Arizona to help me speak again. She used to be a great sailor—she’s got all of these cool trophies that my Mama has hidden in a closet. But Aunt Marnie’s been living in the desert so long that I think she’s forgotten what the ocean’s like. And I think she did that on purpose.
Karen: What happened to you that made you stop speaking?
Gil: My Mama took me out on a sailboat during a storm and we had an accident. I love my Mama and I don’t want to get anybody in trouble so I figure it’s just better if I don’t speak. My preacher Grandpa told me that liars go to hell and if they force me to talk, I’d have to lie to protect my Mama. And I don’t want to go to hell.
Karen: Are you a sailor like your Aunt Marnie?
Gil: Yep. And like my Daddy, too. I don’t like going out on a boat so much since my accident, and neither does Aunt Marnie. But I think that it’s always the one thing we don’t want to do that’s the right thing to do in the end. Daddy asked me and Aunt Marnie to help repair his sailboat, the Hifalutin’. He says when she’s seaworthy again, he’s going to take us sailing. I’m scared and excited at the same time, and I think Aunt Marnie feels the same way.
Karen: What else do you like to do?
Gil: I like to paint, just like my Mama. My teachers tell me that I’m really good, but Mama doesn’t like me being a painter at all. She has a sickness and so did her mama—they call it Bipolar Disorder. She thinks that being an artist is related to her sickness, but I know that’s not true. Because I can paint and draw and sketch better than most, but the doctors say I’m just fine. And I’d never do what my Mama tried to do that night she took me out on the sailboat.
Karen: Thank you, Gil, for speaking with me today.
Gil: You’re welcome. I guess I’ll go take my dog, U-dog, for a walk right now.
Karen: Where did you come up with such an unusual name for your dog?
Gil: I guess you’re going to have to read the book to find out!