Dear readers, tonight with us is a deaf art student, who was dragged into a trail of murder, revenge and vengeance spanning centuries and countries.

What was it like living in London, then moving to Spain with your Aunt and Uncle?

For some reason, I don’t remember much about living in London. Snippets of events pop up here and there, they just don’t seem real. I remember our house in London. It always felt so cold, impersonal. I felt I had to tip toe around everywhere.

My father had inherited the house from some long lost relative. I think a part of me blocks out a lot of my earlier childhood.

It felt so different when I moved to Spain when I was 10. My aunt had made sure to make her house a home. Everything in their house felt like it had meaning. My bedroom actually felt like a sanctuary, instead of some place just to sleep in.

I missed my mother; however, for the first time, I felt safe, I felt part of a family.

What is your most cherished memory, and how does the bad memory of your father haunt the good ones?

Going to the Art museum with my mum is one of my most cherished moments, I guess one of the only times I can clearly remember from back then.

My nightmares always involve that museum, and would rapidly take me to the night the car crashed. In my nightmare, I clearly remember hearing my mum call for me, and then I see my body falling down the stairs, my father watching from above…

I don’t know if my nightmares cloud my actual memories, I struggle to picture what happened.

Yelling, threats, my fear of my father all felt so real at the time. When I wake, I just don’t know what is real, and what is imagined… Except that Art Museum.

This is a pretty personal question, how does being deaf affect what you are doing now?

Being deaf has both advantages and disadvantages. I don’t hear if someone is behind me, I sense it, I guess. When I was younger, I was terrified something bad would happen, I couldn’t ‘hear’ it coming.

So, I guess I fine-tuned my other senses. Trained myself to sense a change in the way the air flowed around me when someone was close.

The way nature and objects moved, birds suddenly scattering when something or someone disturbs it.

The smell of cologne or perfume, a hint of curry, tobacco or coffee.

Smelling, tasting, seeing small disruptions to create a more detailed picture around me. Learning to understand how to interpret those small changes.

Now, I use that to watch people. Watch how their lips move when they talk, how their feet are positioned, the way they hold their hands, small ticks that indicate to me they are holding back.

I can’t hear the tone of voice, I can’t hear if they’re angry or sad. Instead, I watch their face, learn the intricacies of their expressions.

That gives me the confidence. I don’t have to rely on others, that’s important to me.

Which is why, I guess, I love Art. I was studying Art History at Seville University, taking after my mum, in some ways. The picture holds so much depth; we only need to understand what we are seeing. Like body language, art has many interpretations to one single image; you just need to understand the workings behind it.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

I’m not sure if I can describe it as an adventure. I’m not even sure if I should talk about it…

I guess, what I can say, being close to people tends to get you hurt. It seemed I was the only one that cared when Celestina went missing.

The police didn’t seem to care. Until, well, Andres came along, Andres Valero. When he questioned me, told me what the police had received at the station, I knew I couldn’t step back and let the police just handle it.

After all, that police station had their own share of bad rumors, police corruption and abuse of prisoners. There are some good cops, some bad ones, and then there are ones that only became cops to manipulate everything in their favor.

The things that happened to the people involved, even at the university I went to, some people were just immune to justice – or so it appeared. Then there was Demetrio… well; it appeared for a time there, he was well protected.

There wasn’t just one, there were many. It sounds like some kind of outlandish conspiracy theory. But I was there, I know who really was involved.

A part of me wished I didn’t get involved; perhaps I wouldn’t have a daily reminder of what happened to me, and others.

What’s the best thing about living with your Uncle and Aunt?

My aunt’s cooking, there’s nothing quite like her Spanish cuisine. My uncle passed on his love of wine to me. Perhaps one of my favorites is a Tempranillo red from Valdepeñas.

Coupled with starters of pan con tomate and bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese. Followed with Tortilla Española, mushroom croquettes and chicken empanadas, finished with baked churro chips and mocha fudge sauce.

Is there a downside of moving to live with your Aunt and Uncle?

I feel that there is a part of me that is missing, a part of my identity I will never know about. My uncle and aunt have been great; however, I see it in their eyes, they see my mother in me, and I can see that hurts them, especially my aunt. They were really close, and she still doesn’t know everything that happened.

Tell us a little about your friends.

Friends? I guess I struggle with that concept. Someone I can truly trust, that I can confide in, rely on.

The closest I came to a friend was Celestina. She and I were so different. I’m shy, struggle to socialize, struggle with getting close to anyone, especially men.

Celestina was popular, confident, pushed the boundaries – perhaps a bit too much. I guess, that was what led to her… to her not being around anymore. I still don’t know exactly what happened.

And then there was Valero… Something about him, broken, scarred… like me. Yet, something there, something about him I wanted to get to know better. Now, I don’t know if there will be another chance.

Did you get pretty close to Valero?

Maybe too close. He saw me at my most vulnerable. We shared something; know things that we can’t tell anyone. That will always bond us.

Seville University was in the press a lot after everything that happened. How do you feel about that place now, and the professors there?

I know I could never return. There was too much hidden, too much covered up. A student needs to be able to trust the professors, and yet, it appeared that everyone that worked there had something to hide.

It wasn’t just some personal secret; ones that worked there could have prevented all this from happening. They might have been able to stop what happened to those girls.

What’s your favorite drink and relaxing pastime?

Sipping a glass of Spanish red, while studying one of the many paintings in the art museum. It’s easy to get lost there for a while. It also helps me to focus on other possibilities – what else could be possible?

What does the future hold for you?

I need to remember, everything. I need to understand what really happened when I was younger.

So, I am going to find my father. My aunt and uncle can’t or won’t tell me much, so I need to find someone that will.

I don’t know what I will do if I find him, I just know he needs to answer for what he did to my mother, and to me…

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

I worry that I can’t feel anymore. That I don’t care anymore. I feel an overwhelming want to hurt people. Not just anyone, those that hurt others. I need to get control of my fear; I feel I need to use my anger, my personal demons to get justice on those that hurt others, especially the most vulnerable.

Sharlene Almond lives in Auckland, New Zealand. She has a diploma in Body Language and Criminology, enabling her to understand and portray her main character – Annabella. She also has diplomas in Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Freelance Journalism, Editing and Proofreading and Naturopathic Nutrition. Currently, she is studying to specialize in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Dialectal Behavioral Therapy, and Medicinal Cannabis.

You can find Annabella on the pages of Initiated to Kill.

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