This scene in the novel . . . this is one I’ve had in my mind for a long time. Though, originally, it appeared way differently: locations, reasons, appearances, things said–they’ve all be altered, because that’s what you do with a story as you go along. Particularly if you’re had months to think about a scene before you get around to writing said part.
I also approached this scene with a little trepidation because–you’ll see. You’ll see in a bit.
Annie and Kerry are outside now; Annie for the first time in over twenty-four hours, as she tells Kerry. It’s a cool and crisp morning–
Because I always check my historical weather data. I’m funny that way.
With this in mind, with Kerry in his hoodie and Annie in her thick sweater from home, designed for that mountain climate she lives in, they decide to stay outside . . .
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
“No. I want to enjoy being outside.” She pointed down the path they were walking. “We could sit and get out of the wind.”
“Sit at our bench?”
Now it was Annie’s turn to chuckle. “You think of it as our bench, too?”
“Why not?” Kerry picked up the pace just a little, but not so much that Annie would think he was over-exerting himself. “It is sort of out bench now.”
“Not sort of—” Annie pulled Kerry along. “It is.”
Kerry nodded. It was sort of funny to think of it that way, but when he gave the matter any consideration, he couldn’t remember anyone else ever sitting there. It’s just like our sofa in the Midnight Madness; no one else ever seems to sit there . . .
Of course, Kerry sits there in silence, because a lot of times when they’ve come to this particular bench he’s thinking about something. When Annie asks him, he remembers something she told him last night about Protectors being on the grounds. He takes in the info and then goes back to being quiet, because it’s Kerry: he’s like that. We know how Annie is, however–
“Um, hum.” He stared straight ahead while keeping a firm grip on Annie’s hand.
“Kerry . . .” Annie wanted to move forward carefully, least she say something that might being on déjà vu. “You seemed surprised to see me this morning.”
He nodded. “I was a little.” He half turned his head in her direction. “I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating.”
Does he remember our dream? “What do you remember?”
“I remember waking up and I was crying.” Kerry closed his eyes for a few seconds; Annie though he might start crying again, but he didn’t. “I remember talking to you, and then . . .” He screwed up his face as if he was remembering something unpleasant. “Then drifting off to sleep.” He squeezed Annie’s hand. “With you next to me.”
“What about the things in . . . the middle?” Please let him remember. Please.
Kerry shook his head. “I don’t remember anything. It’s all so fuzzy, just flashes I can’t . . .” He shrugged. “It’s all disjointed; I can’t remember it clearly.”
Annie and her, “If I could only get him to remember our dreams,” thoughts and wishes. There’s more on her mind, however, because she remembers a number of things that were said the night before.
Annie was a little crestfallen that Kerry couldn’t now remember the events of their shared dream. It wasn’t everything, however. “Do you remember what you wanted to talk about?”
Kerry returned to looking straight ahead and away from Annie. “Yeah.”
She didn’t like the quiet, down tone he was using. “Kerry—”
He slowly turned back around to face her. “You deserve better.”
Annie almost felt her heart skip a beat. “What are you saying?”
He cleared his throat. “You’re a kind, loving girl, and I’m not like that.”
“Yes, you are.” She moved slightly closer, holding his hand tight, the same as she’d done last night. “You heard what Coraline said about the little things we do—”
“I know; I do those.” He shrugged again as if it didn’t matter. “But you’re always telling me you love me, and I just . . .” He lowered his head and started at his feet. “I never say anything.”
What is he trying to say? “Kerry, that’s not—”
“It is true, Annie.” He pulled his hand out of hers and laid it in his lap alongside his right. “You’ve expressed yourself perfectly—and I act like like I’m still trying to figure this out.”
Don’t say this—don’t. Annie felt as if the bottom was dropping out of her world. Only last night Kerry whispered he loved her before falling off to sleep, and now it seemed like he was berating himself up for not being affectionate and telling her she deserved better. “Everything takes time, my love.” She could almost see Professor Arrakis saying the same thing. “You shouldn’t—”
“No.” Kerry slowly rose to his feet. “You need more than just me taking my time to get to where you are.” He took three slow, measured steps towards the other side of the covered walkway leading to their tower. He didn’t see Annie’s face, now a mask of confusion and fear that Kerry was going to tell her something upsetting—
There’s that saying about, “If you don’t like the answers, maybe you shouldn’t have asked the questions,” and right now Annie is wishing she hadn’t asked that question. And that seems to be the road Kerry is headed down–and it’s making Annie worried.
He turned towards her. His face radiated fear, which was doing little to put Annie’s emotions at ease. He took a step towards her. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say.” He closed the distance between them and stood silently, looking down at her. He took his time reaching down so he could take her hands in his—
Annie was shivering, but not from the cold, not this time. Her heart and mind were racing, one hoping against the worst, the other expecting the worst. He’s going to tell me he doesn’t want me. She looked up into his eyes, fighting to keep her face impassive. He’s going to say he hasn’t any real feelings for me, that he doesn’t know why we are together—
Well, you did ask for it, Annie. You may as well hear what he has to say. Which is . . .
“Anelie Victoreva Kirilova, I love you.”
She blinked three time fast. Her face unfroze, and for the second time in less than twelve hours she expressed shock over something Kerry said. Only this time it wasn’t the shock that came with him saying something that she knew was untrue: it was the shock that came from hearing something completely unexpected. “Kerry—”
“You’re the most important thing in my life, Annie. I don’t want you there: I need you there. I need you to be with me.” A tear slipped from his left eye. “I want to feel you with me. I want to—” He choked up for a few seconds. “I want to feel your love.”
And there it is: he finally expressed the words she’s wanted to hear for a couple of month now.
Annie wanted to stand up and throw her arms around her Ginger Hair Boy, but she knew if she did she might pass out before she could raise her arms. “When did you realize?”
“The night I was in the hospital after my accident. I knew you were mad at me, but then you came back and told me about your family, and you said—” A few more tears escaped. “When you told me that I needed someone to tell me that every day, that you’d tell me that every day of my life—but most of all, that I was worthy of love . . .” He sniffed back her onrushing emotions. “After you left I knew I hadn’t shown you the same thing, and I knew I was wrong to not show you my affections. I woke up in the middle of the night, and after about five minutes of thinking about it, I knew I was in love.” He squeezed her hands. “With you.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” Annie shook her head slowly, trying to erase the disbelief from her face. “Why?”
“Because I was scared.” Kerry looked down and a way for a moment, trying to keep from crying while gathering his thoughts. “I used to tell my parents I loved them all the time—until I was like six or so. They almost never responded; they never showed any open affection. After a few years of that I just gave up: I didn’t say or do anything.
“And my grandparents . . . As much as I love them, as soon as we moved to Cardiff, they stopped writing to me. I didn’t hear from them at all. Not even email.” He closed his eyes but never let Annie’s hands go.
“I was going to tell you at the dance. That’s why I did the song dedication. I was going to dance, and then we were going to go somewhere—”
“Our bench?” Annie finally found the strength to chuckle.
Kerry joined her. “Yeah, something like that . . . And I was going to get you here and tell you.”
“Oh, Kerry . . .” Annie felt a little of what she was feeling just a few night ago course through her. “I would have melted. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because . . .” This time he did look away as the tears began to flow.
Annie slowly made her way to her feet. She stood face-to-face with Kerry, her hands still within his. “Because you were frightened. Because you were afraid.”
He nodded. “I started over-analyzing everything. I started wondering if it was just the event that would have made you happy, or if I wanted to say I loved you because of how the dance made me feel. And then I got scared, and starting thinking—”
“You thought once you gave your love to me I would abandon you.” She pulled her right hand from his and brought it to his cheek. “Like your parents did. Like your grandparents did. Like . . .” She stopped, because she couldn’t repeat what she’d heard last night, least she ruin the moment. “Like you thought I might.”
He wiped his face on his newly freed sleeve. “Yeah.”
Fear is a powerful motivator. I know, because I was there all the time as a child. My life seemed driven by fear, so it’s not unusual that Kerry has fallen into that same trap, becoming an alienated young lad who just wants affection. And what is more scary than a first love? And wondering if she’ll remain with you after you express your love to her? It’s different when you’re an adult, because you come to accept that not all relationship last. But when it’s your first time, and you experience that breakup–it’s a killer.
And Kerry would rather hide the rest of his life than feel that pain of abandonment.
Fortunately, he has Annie . . .
Annie re-took Kerry’s free hand and held them both close to her. “Kerrigan Rodney Malibey, I love you. You are the most important thing in my life. I don’t want you in my life: I need you in my life.” She pulled herself up against his torso. “I want to feel you with me, and I want to feel your love.” She glided her lips across his right cheek. “And I want to hear you tell me, every day of my life, that you love me.”
Kerry half-closed his eyes and relaxed his breathing. “I will.”
“Then—” Annie kissed him lightly on the lips. “You’ll never be afraid again. I will always be here. I will never abandon you.”
Kerry goes through four difficult night, and the night after the attack, the one where he shared a dream he can’t remember with Annie, was his third. And the aftermath of that night led to him opening himself up to Annie in a way that was absolutely necessary.
It only took about 275,000 words, but Kerry finally spoke the Big Three Words. Congratulations, kid.
Now maybe I can stop torturing these kids for a while–