Claire Character Interview
What’s your full name?
Claire Elizabeth Maus. German family.
How would you describe your personal style?
I dunno. (looks down at her clothes). Somewhere between cutsie punk and classy lady. Those aren’t contradictions are they? I think it works. The striped socks are really what pull it together I think. Every once in a while I wear something really weird, like my hoodie with cat ears. Mostly because I’ve had it since I was like 15 though.
Where did you grow up?
A lot of places. I was born here, in Vermilion. After my parents died, I floated around different foster places away from the city. I spent the most time with a family named the Johnsons, on a farm. But they were old. A year ago, they realized they couldn’t take care of me anymore. I was aging out of the foster care system anyway: I’m 19. They were good people though. None of my foster parents were especially bad people, but they just didn’t really get me. I couldn’t expect them to, I guess.
What didn’t they get?
(Looks around) I don’t know. Like the Johnsons, they were farmers, right? Literally spent the day worrying about cows and stuff. It wasn’t just that they were old. They didn’t seem to care about anything that was going on in the world, like with the robots, and stuff like that.
And those were things you were concerned about, I take it?
Well, yeah! I mean, it’s probably because of what happened to my parents, and that’s where I was born, you know? I mean the whole world is changing, who cares about cows?
What exactly happened to your parents?
(Looks down thoughtfully, a little sad, but the sadness was no longer raw and unprocessed). I don’t exactly know. I mean, they were killed by robots, when all those people were killed in the factory incident. But I wasn’t there. I was at my aunt’s house in a neighboring suburb. We got the news that there was some kind of accident at the THESIS factory, and that a bunch of people in town were killed by the robots. And I didn’t even know what was happening, like really what they were talking about, and I didn’t really get it until my aunt took me to the funeral. It sounds stupid I know but, that’s when I really got it that they weren’t coming back.
Why couldn’t you stay with your aunt?
I don’t know. We weren’t that close, really. I thought we were at the time but, you know, I was like 6. She said she loved me but she thought I was just visiting, and she wasn’t ready to have kids. I remember after she’d said that, I saw her crying alone. I was mad at her and felt bad for her at the same time. I still feel that way, I think.
Do you still talk to any of those people? Your aunt, the Johnsons?
The Johnsons, yes. But it’s depressing. They’re sick. Mr. Johnson talks for a while and then says he has to attend to his wife. It’s depressing to talk to old people sometimes, I know that sounds awful. But it’s the truth.
My Aunt, not really. I think she still feels bad. I do forgive her, but some part of me wants her to feel bad. No, I don’t mean that. But I don’t imagine we’ll ever be close. We just don’t have that kind of relationship. I don’t know what I we would say anymore.
What brought you back to Vermilion?
(She was quiet for a while before answering) It’s hard to explain, I’m not sure I fully understand it myself. It’s just something I had to do. My foster parents were nice and all, but I wanted to feel some connection to my real parents. See where they lived, better understand how they died - well, not just that. To understand how they lived, to see how they lived.
But I guess I didn’t fully realize how destroyed this place was now. Not even destroyed, it’s more like a ghost town. But after seeing how it was, you might think I would want to leave. But it became all the more compelling to me. I wanted to hear peoples’ stories.
That’s how it was at the beginning anyway. I’m not so sure anymore.
I heard you were thinking of leaving?
It’s an interesting place, but it gets depressing after a while. I’ve barely met anyone in the year I’ve been here. It seems like everyone here is…
Yeah. I don’t know. It’s like nobody here thinks they have a future. They just talk about what they’re going to do the next day. They just exist. I don’t think there’s a future for me here.
So I’ve decided (she sounded suddenly defiant here) I decided I’m going. I’m going to move to Haut. That’s where everything is happening these days. When I go there everyone looks like they’re actually going someplace, you know? I want to go someplace to.
What kind of plotline do you want?
That’s a tough one. I know you’re supposed to torture your characters. Obviously I don’t want to be tortured. But at the same time, I get it. I can’t just sit around serving sandwiches to carefree diners the entire time.
Why not? Would that really be so bad a story?
I think that it would. After a while anyway. There needs to be internal conflict. Which means, unfortunately for me, I need to really want something that’s not easy to get.
Not only that, you need to want something you’re keeping yourself from getting.
Well, that’s sort of true for me already. I want two things which are mutually exclusive, I’m afraid. I want to live in Haut, that bustling place full of young people like me. But the more I think about the idea of just handing over my baby to this random rich couple, the more perverse it seems. I never thought I wanted kids. This is an awful time to change my mind, I know.
Don’t you think it’s immoral to keep someone else’s baby?
I’d be going back on my word. Part of me knows that part of it is wrong, you should do what you promise people you’re going to do, that’s for sure. I can’t argue. But at the same time, I don’t know if calling it their child is really accurate. It’s not even their genetic material. They pretty much ordered the baby from a catalogue.
So, because it’s not their sperm and egg, they don’t have any right to it?
I don’t know. I don’t know if what I’m saying is justified. But sort of, yeah, that’s how I feel. I mean, what makes a child yours? You could say it’s genetics, or you could say it’s actually carrying the child, going through that process. In that case, it’s not theirs.
What about adoption? Aren’t adoptive parents real parents?
Yeah, I guess so. Maybe I’m the wrong person to ask because I was never actually adopted, and I never quite thought of my foster parents as my parents. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them. But they weren’t “mom” and “dad”, they were just people who took care of me.
But adoptive parents are different. They come along to be the parents to a child who lost their parents for whatever reason. It’s a humanitarian thing. It’s love. At least, that’s what I hear, that’s what it’s supposed to be. But deciding you want a baby designed a certain way, just because it’s something you want, and you don’t even want to carry it? Like what kind of mom says I want a baby but I’m not willing to get pregnant, so make someone else do it?
So what are you going to do?
That’s the question, isn’t it? I could give them the child like I said, go to Haut, have some money to work with to figure out what I actually want out of life. The problem is, though I keep trying to deny it, I think I’ve already decided what I want out of life and it’s to keep this baby. But how am I supposed to do that? I’ve heard I’m not the first person to try it. They can track me. Even if they couldn’t, Vermilion is no place to raise a kid. It’s not really a place for humans period, but where else could I afford to live if I don’t take the money? I don’t want to live on charity either. Not like there is any in a place like this. Constructs don’t even want me here.
Couldn’t you go somewhere else?
Too expensive. But there’s another part to it. Though this place is depressing, I still feel a weird connection to it, since it’s where my parents died. I don’t know, is that morbid?
Is it just that you want to understand how and why they died?
Yes, but I think it’s more than that. It’s more that, I want to have some idea of what their life was like, and maybe participate in that. I want to feel like their daughter, if that makes sense.
How would you go about accomplishing something like that?
I don’t know, that’s the problem. But right now I’m at least trying to understand what led up to the event, and how this place got like it is. It’s a start. That’s why I’m reading Vanishing Point. Strangely enough I’ve actually started to sympathize with Crane, even though in a way he’s responsible for what happened to my parents.