Twilight in the Night Ward

It is done:  Chapter Seventeen is done, finished, first drafted.

See all those "First Draft" labels?  I don't lie.  Much.

See all those “First Draft” labels? I don’t lie. Much.

In the last scene written Annie got caught, but the punishment . . . well, it’s not all that hard.  Really.  Nurse Coraline is a big softy.  Not only that, but Annie admitted something that she wouldn’t tell Kerry–probably not ever–but she would admit to another woman.

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“It’s not just that, Nurse Coraline—” Annie hated to admit to anything bothering her; it wasn’t her nature. And it wasn’t like what she was about to admit to bothered her a lot, but given her current situation, she knew what she was about to say wouldn’t go beyond the person listening. “Kerry always sees me to my room. He’s the last person I see before getting ready for bed. And . . . we’re the only ones on the floor. Even though he’s on the other side of the tower, it’s comforting to know if I needed him, I only have to knock on his door.”

 

Now we know that there’s always a “Good Night” given somewhere on the First Floor of Cernunnos Tower, and that Annie had to go to the hospital to get hers that night–but that’s not the same, is it?  Doesn’t really have the same, loving impact that holding hands and giving someone a kiss and telling them “good night” before heading into your room to fall asleep has. Which is probably why Annie is back on the ward because . . . well, she has her reasons.

And Coraline has to lay down the law.

 

“Okay, Annie.” Coraline patted the girl’s shoulder. “Here’s what’s going to happen: first, consider this a warning. The rules I have about sneaking into my hospital are there for a reason, and I don’t like seeing anyone break them—even people I like. Should this happen again, there’s gonna be detention.”

Annie glanced down and nodded once. “It won’t happen again.”

“That’s good, because you don’t want detention from me.” She didn’t bother waiting for the question from Annie. “It’s always the same: you’re sent to clean up the morgue. In the lower levels. At night.” She slowly raised her eyebrows as she smirked. “No one ever wants a second detention from me.”

Annie met Coraline’s stare. “I don’t want a first.”

“Then don’t sneak onto my ward again.”

“I won’t.”

 

Yeah, girl, this is crazy, but you just snuck onto my ward floor, so how about heading down to the morgue at eight-thirty PM and doing a little dusting maybe.  No bodies lying about, but that doesn’t mean the place hasn’t been used.

But the Head Doctor/Nurse isn’t a total meanie:

 

“I believe you.” She slid her hand behind Annie’s shoulders and directed her back down the ward corridor. “Now, second: I’m gong to to walk you back to your tower—” She felt the girl stiffen under her fingertips. “I’ll see you into your commons, and I’ll give you something that will help you sleep. And I’ll watch you take it, just to make certain you have—”

Annie hung her head. “Yes, Nurse Coraline.”

“—after you spend some time with Kerry.”

Annie looked up, absorbing what she’d just been told. “Really?”

“Did you think I wasn’t going to give you at least a little time with him?” Coraline stopped in front of Kerry’s curtained-off bay. “Like I said, Annie, I’m a romantic, too. If I’d had a boyfriend in the hospital when I was an A Level, and I felt about him the way you feel for Kerry, I’d have probably risked detention to see him.”

“Thank you, Nurse Coraline.” Annie was genuinely touched. She knew Coraline was upset with her rule breaking, but she also sensed the honesty behind her actions. “How much time do I get?”

“I’ll give you thirty minutes.” She half way slid back the bay curtain and spoke softly. “I’ll come and get you when time’s up. No one will bother you, so Team Annie—” Coraline grinned broadly. “—can have enough time to comfort her sleeping boy.”

 

Team Annie.  Because only pervo vampires sneak into someone’s place of rest and sit their watching them while they sleep.  Nurse Gretchen already called Annie out on this, saying she was getting into some “strange Twilight stuff” with that, but that’s okay with Annie, because . . .

 

Annie sat and moved the chair as close to the bed as possible without scrunching her legs against the frame. She knew it likely seemed strange to both Gretchen and Coraline that she wanted to sit and watch Kerry sleep, but she felt that since she couldn’t share their dreams together—for whatever reason—this was the next best thing.

 

If I can’t see you in my dreams, I’ll do the next best thing.  Which means it much torture her to sleep across the tower from Kerry and not be able to do the same.  You can draw any conclusions you like . . .

But do it fast, because Samhain is up next, and believe me:  Halloween dances at a school full of witches and gifted kids might just be a lot of fun.

The Birthday Girl

I didn’t think it was going to happen, because yesterday was such a lazy day and nothing seemed to wanna move.  But at some point–probably after The Longest Day finished and my mini-tacos were consumed, but before I got into a long conversation with another woman over guys that have been hitting on me on Facebook of late.  But I got my writing done–a lot of writing done.  Like two thousand words on the nose writing done.

Right there:  2000 words.  And a First Draft label all over the place as well.

Right there: 2000 words. And a First Draft label all over the place as well.

As you may have guessed from the post title, the scene concerned one of the kid’s birthday.  Since Professor Semplen gave his birthday greeting as “Chestit rozhden den”, it’s probably a safe bet that it wasn’t Kerry’s birthday.  Not to mention the title of this post has “girl” in it, so that pretty much narrows down the character in question.

Yes, Annie turned twelve, and it was an important moment.  Her last year as a tweener, sure, but this occasion involved something she didn’t expect:  a present from the last person she expected to see one from.  Kerry tried not to act like a goof, and since they had a lot of time before Astronomy class, he walked her up to the north shore of Lake Lovecraft, the place where they’d rested after flying around the school grounds the second Saturday they were there.

And what gift did he give her?

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

There wasn’t a need to feign surprise: the last thing Annie expected was a present from Kerry. “How did—?” She took the package from his hands and held it close to her body. “When did you find time to buy this?”

“I had help.” Kerry had gone from looking at the ground to looking at Annie when he spoke. “I asked Professor Sladen and Nurse Coraline for advice, and then if they could pick it up for me.”

“That was nice of them.” She examined the package, which was slightly larger than a paperback book. “This is unexpected.”

“I felt it was needed.” He nodded in her direction. “Go ahead: open it.”

“I will.” She unwrapped the gift it slowly, careful not to tear the paper, which she then handed to Kerry and asked him to fold it into a small square. The package was a brown, unmarked box that felt far too light resting in her hand. She popped open one end, found brown packing paper, and pulled it out. There was something smaller inside: Annie tipped the box to one side—

A red jewelry box slid into her hand.

“Kerry . . .” There weren’t a lot of moment where Annie found she couldn’t express her feelings, but now was one of those moments. “It’s—”

Kerry cleared his throat. “I hope you like—”

Shush, you.” She locked eyes and Kerry instantly grew quiet. Annie stared at the red box in here hand for maybe five seconds, then opened it slowly.

A silver heart-shape locket lay in the middle of a red velvet pillow.

 

Awwww.  In some countries giving a gift like that is pretty much the same as getting married, dude.  Particularly after you had Sladen and Nurse Coraline engrave something on the back.  Something that Annie saw.  Something that touched her deeply:

 

“You—” Annie’s gaze met Kerry’s. “Do you mean this?”

A red haze returned to Kerry’s cheeks. “You mean about the love part?”

“Yes, silly.”

“Well, I mean . . .” He place the wrapping paper and brown box back in his backpack before answering. “As much as I’ve learned about loving you this last month . . .” He rolled his shoulders as he looked at scenery around the lake shore. “Yeah, I mean it. I mean—” He sighed slowly, the red in his cheeks growing brighter. “You needed to see that and keep it close to you all the time.”

Annie clutched the locket in here right hand, then opened the clasp before turning her back to Kerry while holding the ends of the chain above her shoulders. “Would you fasten this, please?”

Kerry fastened the clasp while Annie held her hair up. Once in place she smoothed her hair, then faced Kerry. She pressed the locket to her chest. “I love this. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He managed a slight smile, though his cheeks remained bright red. “I know it’s not a lot—”

Shush, you.” Her right index finger shot up like she was going to press it against Kerry’s lips. “Don’t ruin the moment, my love.” Once again Kerry grew silent, saying nothing more least he raise Annie’s ire.

 

Yeah, be quiet, Kerry.  You’re gonna get the evil eye if you keep that up–and given that Annie is your Dark Witch, she probably can do something evil if  she puts her mind to it.  Not that she’d do it to you.  Ever.  You’re lucky there.

Because Annie is so happy–after all, this is the first time she’s gotten a present from someone other than a close family member–things . . . develop.  Tender things.  Kissing things.  And just like in The Princess Bride, they must be read:

 

Annie felt the difference in their embrace. Since the first Midnight Madness and the kiss under the comforter, there had been pecks and brushes, tiny kissing on the cheek, but nothing like the first night when she admitted her love. She allowed Kerry to feel his affection for her, to grow used to her presence—perhaps to remember something they’d shared in a dream. Kerry had not taken an initiative to advance their romance beyond the hand holding and cuddling—

This wasn’t the same. Her soul mate’s kiss came back to her with the same passion she gave him. Her right hand moved from his chest to his shoulder, slid over it, held him from behind. Annie pressed her lips against his, their kiss fueled by the emotions flowing between them. Their lips parted, then kissed, parted once more, kissed, parted . . .

Annie noticed the light pressure along her waist, then around her lower back, then sliding up to the middle. She was relaxed in Kerry’s embrace, leaning back into his arm. He’s holding me; he’s pulling me closer. She tightened her hand against his shoulder, drawing him into her. He’s not pulling away; he’s not hesitating. He’s not afraid to kiss me like this . . .

She finally stopped the kiss but didn’t pull break the embrace. She met his gaze nose-to-nose. “You didn’t run.”

Kerry’s eyes were having difficulty focusing. “I what?”

“You didn’t run. You didn’t stop. You didn’t tell me you didn’t know how to react.” She cocked her head left to right, examining him in the gathering gloom. “You weren’t the way you were—”

He placed a finger upon her lips. “Shush you.” He kissed her on the nose. “Don’t ruin the moment, Sweetie.”

Annie hugged him tight. “You’re right. I don’t want to spoil this moment.” She twisted them them from side-to-side. “I’m only taking this off when I sleep and shower. The rest of the time I’ll wear it for everyone to see.”

 

Whole lotta shushing going on, you know?

This was an important scene for me, because things are happening here, stuff is opening up, and changing are occurring.  Chapter Fourteen starts out disgustingly fun–you’ll see–and then moves into something that’s going to change things for the kids in ways they didn’t expect.  That starts today, getting into the first scene which I do hope is not only geeky, but disgusting as well.  Because sometimes you gotta roll that way, and my Self Defense and Weapons Instructor doesn’t keep boggarts in her wardrobes . . .

Lots of "To Dos" on my To Do List.

Lots of “To Dos” on my To Do List.

Inside the Blue Event Horizon

Today I make the Walk of Shame back to work, past the point where I crashed and burned on Friday afternoon.  The arms are better, but the right side still hurts, and the head is a bit woozy from the sleep medication I took last night.  I’ll make it through the day, however, ’cause that’s what I’m suppose to do, right?

So many things to do today:  work, maybe having someone come into my apartment to look at my A/C, which shut off about 5:30 PM (or 17:30 as the people at my Salem school would say), and then decided to come back on about four hours later, return some glasses frames I was trying on over the weekend . . . oh, that was fun.  The one frame I like, I was told I look a little like a soccer mom when I wear them with my hair pinned back.  And here I thought I was going to be sexy.

I spent the afternoon rewriting, however.  I found what I was looking for in the scene I described yesterday, and this happened:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

She stood frozen as Kerry almost kissed her on the cheek, then pulled away at the last moment. Annie said nothing, was unable to say anything, for her mind remained enchanted by the three words he’d spoken moments before. She didn’t know why he hesitated, why he pulled back with his face etched in confusion, why he touched her face once more and then said something before turning and heading for the stairs.

The shadowy tower turned darker as Annie’s mind began spinning. She couldn’t move and she her chest constricted as the air grew thick and oppressive. She drew in a small breath and forced herself to mutter the one word that filled her thoughts—

“Kerry.”

She pitched over backwards into dust of a hundred years.

Kerry had only reached the stairs when he heard Annie call his name weakly, and turned just in time to see her go over backwards onto the ground, her feet bouncing up in the air as she landed hard on her back. “Oh, holy geez.” He ran over and knelt beside her.

Annie was awake, but dazed.  “Kerry?”

“Yeah, I’m here.  What happened?”

Things were slowly coming back into focus: she sensed Kerry kneeling next to her, though he seemed little more than another shadow in the darkness. “I’m . . .” She blinked twice. “I just fainted.”

“You fainted? Are you okay?”

How could she explain that question? I am okay, and I’m not. I wanted something from you, and I received more. I wanted to feel loved: what I felt went beyond that. The only thing she could tell Kerry was a truth that he’d understand. “I’m okay.” She offered her hand. “Help me up?”

He helped Annie to her feet and brushed at her clothing. “You really scared me.”

 

Poor Annie:  she gets so excited.  And all for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek.  Maybe they’ll come dancing . . .

And then it was on to other scenes in other chapters, and I fixed up Annie and Kerry pretty much to where they should be.  I also removed a few things that weren’t needed, or were redundant, and things were added:  mostly in the Astria Portal scene, but in other places as well.  And my notes are in place.

The No Crying Zone is only found on Foundation property and planes.  They'd make a fortune flying people around.

The No Crying Zone is only found on Foundation property and planes. They’d make a fortune if they ever went commercial.

I’m in the event horizon of creativity, and these rewrites are nearly over.  Maybe by the end of the week I can start getting my kids into some new mischief.

It’s not like I haven’t been waiting to do so.

The Grand Exchange of Magic

I did a lot last night.  Or at least it seemed like a lot.  But, yes:  there was a lot that passed out of my imagination and on to more than one various page.

Things were finished up in the garden:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry finally broke the moment. He slowly pulled away, but when Annie looked upon his face, she no longer saw a boy lost in thought: she now saw a slowly growing smile. He found his voice, uttering the only word that made sense given the situation. “Wow.”

“Yes; wow.” She chuckled as she hugged him. “I didn’t expect that.”

“I, uh . . . I didn’t either.”

“Then . . .” She ran her right index finger along his smile line. “Why?”

“Why, what?”

“Why did you kiss me?”

Kerry twisted his smile while he thought. “It seemed like something I was suppose to do.”

Annie watched his eyes closely, wondering if he had drawn upon some forgotten memory. Could it be that he remembers another time when kissing me was that difficult? Did he remember a time when

At that moment a woman’s voice seemed to come from everywhere around them. “Attention, all newly arriving students. Please report to The Rotunda immediately.”

 

Yeah, that was probably the Headmistress, being a killjoy.  Thank, Heady!

There were things changed in Memory’s End; there were things changed in The Witch House–

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

The light in the room was good so it was easy for Annie to instantly recognize the woman. “You were on the flight with us, in the rear cabin.” She didn’t add that she knew her as the other woman who’d stared at her.

The woman brushed her hair back behind her ears, showing off a pair of gold studs that blended nicely with her light caramel complexion. “On the contrary: you were on the flight with me.” Her dark eyes twinkled as they darted from child to child. “Let me see . . .” After a few seconds she snapped her fingers before pointing in Annie’s direction. “You’re Anelie Kirilova.”

Annie hated it when someone used her actual given name without permission. “Yes, I am.”

“I thought I’d heard I was getting a Legacy.” The woman’s eyes narrowed slightly. “I just missed having your parents in my class; they were F Levels when I taught my first year, and neither were asked into sorcery for their CEPs, which I found a bit surprising.” She slowly widened her stance before crossing her arms. “I see your father did well this last weekend.”

“I wouldn’t know—” Annie didn’t like that this woman not only knew so much about her, but had revealed so much in front of Kerry. “I don’t follow my father’s work.”

“Hum.” The woman turned her attention to her other visitor. “I remember you from the flight as well.” This time she held out her hand. “You have a name, Friend of Anelie Victoreva?”

“Kerry Malibey.” He shook her hand, doing his best to make eye contact, which wasn’t something he felt comfortable doing with this woman.

“Helena Lovecraft.” She turned on a little smile as she ended the shake. “Dark Mistress of All.” As she let go of his hand Helena saw a question in Kerry’s eye she hadn’t seen in a while. “I’m not.”

“What?” Kerry turned guarded, as if he’d shared a secret without saying anything.

“I’m not related. Lovecraft.” She set her hands on her hips, but came off far more relaxed than when she’d spoke with Annie. “As far as I’m aware we’re no relation, but who knows? Maybe there’s something my father hasn’t told me.”

 

That Dark Mistress of All:  a real butt buster.

There were changes in the meadow, where all things were laid out, but not in the way one would have expected:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Just a lot . . .” His sigh was long and sounded full of exhaustion. “I don’t walk like this back home. I don’t go out that much at all. And if I do go out, I take a bus.” He leaned into Annie, but this time his sigh was full of contentment. “I just need to get my energy back.” He looked across the open area before them. “What is this place?”

“It’s called Selena’s Meadow. One of the largest open spaces here—or so I read.” With Kerry leaning against her shoulder and arm Annie couldn’t say she found herself in an undesirable position. But her thoughts continued to drift back to this morning’s meeting, and their meetings with the instructors. Professor Semplen’s was by far the most normal, discussing plans for growing and testing, but even without Professor Arrakis drawing a vision from from Kerry and her, there was Professor Douglass talking about cantrips and foci and how they’d bring about spell effects—and the less said about Professor Lovecraft and her passive-aggressive needling designed to point out things about Annie without actually saying them, the better.

And the location they were now headed towards—Annie felt a knot form in the pit of her stomach the moment Kerry said he wanted to check out the Flight School. If there was one thing she was extremely familiar with it was flight, and she was fearful of how he was going to react when he saw what transpired there . . .

At that moment two people flew by on long, slender, mechanical devices, close enough to the ground that one could see the processor in the back, the seat in the middle, and the heads-up HUD in front. But for someone not versed in the history of these machines, they bore a striking resemblance to something far more familiar . . .

Kerry stirred immediately, much to Annie’s chagrin. “Those guys are flying. Are those—”

Annie saw no point in hiding the truth. “Those are PAVs.”

He turned towards Annie. “What’s that?”

Even though she’d started the conversation, Annie was afraid to continue. To admit what she knew was to admit she’d hidden things from Kerry all week—but after her admissions last night, she found it impossible to pretend any longer—

Kerry took Annie’s hand and held it between his. “It’s okay.”

“What is?”

“I know.”

What makes you so certain you know anything? She almost asked that question, but decided on something less glib. “You know what?”

“That you’re like the instructors.” He leaned in close and lowered his voice to a near-whisper. “Special.” He squeezed her hand. “Not that you aren’t already.”

She wanted to dote on Kerry’s last comment, but she decided to leave that for later. “How did you know?” Annie turned her hand over and pressed her palm into his. “When did you know?”

“I suspected something last night, but today I knew for sure.”

Annie tilted her head to one side. “How did you know last night? The E and A?”

“That was a big part, but then at the hospital . . .” He closed his eyes for a second. “Nurse Coraline came out after being with you and did her glowing hand thing on me with that scanner. I figured that she probably wouldn’t have done that unless someone . . .” He gazed into Annie’s eyes. “ . . . told her I wouldn’t get all weirded out when she started, you know—doing that.”

He positioned himself the same as last night: one leg under the other, his body turned on the bench so he was facing her. “When the headmistress spoke this morning, I was watching you—your body language. You came off more worried than surprised. Particularly when you looked to see how I was reacting.”

Annie hadn’t suspected that she’d appeared that worried. “I only looked at you the one time—”

“Three.”

“No.”

“Yes. Three.” His grin was bright and wide. “I said I was watching you—not the headmistress. I only needed to hear her.”

That was all Annie needed to hear to start blushing. “Kerry—”

“And there was everything else today. You taking me to see the divination instructor and not getting freaked out over the stuff that happened while we were there. Telling Professor Semplen about the herbs your mother grows for her ‘mixtures’. Not blinking an eye at any of the stuff Professor Douglas said. And then Professor Lovecraft . . .”

His green eyes twinkled as he recounted the memory. “You weren’t confused by a thing she said, but you were getting upset because she was saying things you didn’t want her to say—about your family being at school, your father, and how she’d heard of you. You also cringed a bit when she said ‘Legacy’. I figured that was because I was in the room and you didn’t want me to know.” He turned his eyes upward as he shook his head slowly from side to side a couple of times. “That sort of nailed it since I know what that word means.”

 

Cleaver gi–I mean, boy.

I changed up a scene in the hospital, where “some Twilight strangeness” was happening:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Gretchen tugged lightly on her right earring, something she did when she was unsure of her next action. “Okay, listen: you can have fifteen minutes, but no more. Since there’s no one else here, I’ll set the ward lights to blink when your time’s up.” She’d almost slipped past the curtain when gave Annie a reminder. “Stop by the office on the way out: I need to give you something to help you sleep.”

“But . . .” Annie slowly settled into the chair between Beds One and Two. “I won’t need anything.”

“Yes, you will. I have to write up your visit, and what I did to help.” She winked again. “Rules.” She stepped out and slipped the curtain closed.

Annie watched Kerry sleep. She noticed the slow movement of his chest and stomach. She saw the thin line of saliva hanging from the corner of his mouth. She jumped and clutched her chest when his left leg jerked under the covers.

She reached over and laid her hand against his before giving it a light squeeze. She didn’t release it: she didn’t want to, ever. She could sit next to his bed all night and hold him, keep him company—

His eyelids twitched a few times, and Annie felt his fingers flex and relax. He made an untellable sound, then spoke softly in his sleep. “It’s only rain, no need to . . .” Then his breathing returned to normal as he sunk deeper into sleep.

Never releasing his hand, Annie slipped closer and spoke to him in whispered hushes. “What are you seeing? What is it?” She leaned in a few centimeters more. “Why don’t you remember me? When will you know what I am to you?”

She lay her head on the bed, against the hand she held in hers, and closed her eyes. “Why can’t I see you in my dreams any more? We’re so close now; why doesn’t it happen? Why aren’t we there together?

Why?”

And now that I look at this scene as is sits, I like it much better than a sobbing Annie whimpering in the darkness.  Nope, nope, nope.  Let Kerry do all the crying, he’s good at it.  And the “It’s only rain–” line?  Watch for that much later.

There remains a few more things to rewrite–three really major scenes, in fact.  You can tell by my notes:

Here I will work on really important stuff--you know, things.

Here I will work on really important stuff–you know, things.

Once they are out of the way and I feel confident I’ve got characterization locked down, I can get back to new words and new things–new tortures. I worked out one scene last night where one sees how to take a witch’s magic away–it’s not hard, but the end result isn’t always pretty.  See, I don’t just throw bogarts at my kids–

Oh, no.  I like to crank that horror up to eleven and see what shakes out.

Returning to the Scene of the Kiss

Out of the hospital, and into The Pentagram Gardens.  That would make a good title for a television show, you know?  Though I’m certain there are more than a few fools out there who are gonna believe there are satanic forces at work, more than likely found right next to the hydrangea.

But I love my gardens, all protected by the fifteen meter high walls and the towers at the five points.  Lotta space in there to walk around and do things and hide out if one were of a mind.  And there are places to sit and relax, breath the scented air and wonder how the staff keeps everything so nice.

With magic, right?  But you knew that.

So, back there last night with my editing, and my kids are out of the hospital, full of happy-juice, and things have been said between the Head Nurse and Kerry, so naturally Mr. Clueless is running about a thousand different things around in his head, wondering what the hell is going on.  With that going on he invites Annie out to the garden, which is all misty and drizzly and dark, and it’s there that this goes down:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Feeling chilly as she cooled down from her run, Annie wrapped her arms around her body. She was looking over the opposite wall—the walk way wasn’t completely enclosed and the walls were less than a meter high—when Kerry wrapped his arm over her shoulders and pulled her into his hoodie-clad torso. “Here, this should help.”

She pushed herself into the warmth of his body. The medication Coraline gave her was designed to make her feel better, but the sense of serene contentment taking hold or Annie in that moment had little to do with the medication. “Thank you, Kerry. This feels so nice.”

“I’m glad.” He breathed in the cool, fresh air, of the nearby Atlantic. “I like this, the chill and the mist.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. It’s a bit like how I remember mornings in California.”

“It’s like this in the mountains, too.” She took a deep breath and let the cool, damp air calm her further. “May I ask something?”

“Sure.”

“You’ve been quiet since we left the hospital.” Annie didn’t sit up or pull away as she spoke. “Is something bothering you?”

Kerry didn’t answer right away, and Annie wondered if he was having trouble finding the right answer. When he finally spoke, his words seemed like they were coming from far away. “Coraline came back and checked me out to make sure I was okay. After that we talked, and . . .” He drew a sharp breath through his nose, which he sighed out slowly. “She told me something.”

What? What did she say? Annie felt a touch of panic rising, for there were so many things that Nurse Coraline could have told him. She could have talked about the school, or The Foundation . . . She put those thoughts aside immediately. No, she wouldn’t have mentioned those things, because she can’t, not yet. This was something else. “What did she say?”

“She said . . .” He turned his head so that his face was brushing up against Annie’s hair and he was sort of looking at her. “She said you were in love with me.”

Oh . . .” She pulled back a bit so she could see Kerry’s face. “She said that?”

He nodded slowly, his face blank. “Yeah.”

Annie’s eyes locked with Kerry’s and held his gaze. “Yes, I am.” She slid back under his arm and returned to where she was safe and warm.

There was complete silence for what seemed like a long time, but Annie knew couldn’t be more than a minute or two. She felt little tremors forming within Kerry’s body each time he shifted position, felt his breathing speed up and slow. She sensed the trepidation building within him due to what she’d just said, and she was struck by the notion that what she’d said rendered him mute with fear.

Kerry shifted slightly while doing his best not to move Annie from her warm cocoon. “Do you mean that?”

She nearly chuckled, because after the sincerity of her words, how could he not now know her true intentions? “Yes, I mean it.” Once more she tilted her head so she could see his face. “I wouldn’t have said that if I wasn’t serious. You should know that about me by now, Kerry.” She settled back in and waited for his response—likely proceeded by another protracted silence. Annie hadn’t given her statement any thought, and she felt her own rising agitation as she pushed away her fear. She closed her eyes and drove all negative thoughts from her mind. It’s going to be okay. It will. It

“How long?” Kerry’s voice was clear and there was nary a tremor or waver as he spoke.

Annie extracted herself from Kerry’s arm again, then slid a little to her left so she could shift her whole body. She needed to face him, to let him see her. “For a long time, Kerry. From . . .” No, she couldn’t tell him the whole truth yet since he still didn’t seem to know who she was. Being too honest and forthright might, could, possibly, devastate him. “I know this is hard for you to believe, and it probably won’t make any sense, but I’ve loved you from before we met in London. From long before that.” She softened her gaze and slowly rolled her shoulders. “It’s true, though: I love you.” She leaned her head against her right shoulder. “I should have said something sooner—”

“I’m glad you didn’t.” Kerry chuckled at his own lame attempt at humor. “I, um . . . probably would have freaked.”

“I didn’t know Coraline would say something—” Annie wondered if the medicine she was given was preventing her from being upset with the school doctor, then pushed the though aside and set it in the bin with the other collected horrid thoughts. I was going to tell him this weekend, but it’s better this is out now. “I didn’t know she knew.”

Kerry shrugged. “Yeah, well, I guess as I was telling her about our last week together, and our dinner and walk last night, she managed to put everything together.” He shrugged. “More than I could do.” He shifted his body and slid his left leg under his right so he could face Annie. “That’s why you looked at her so strangely when you came into the waiting room.”

She needed a few seconds to remember what happened. Annie saw the scene, with her walking into the waiting room, asking if Kerry was okay, and then Nurse Coraline . . . “Oh, I see what you mean. When she hugged you.” Her lips tightened while her eyes grew dark. “Now I understand.”

“Understand what?””

“She wanted to see . . .” She didn’t want to explain that since Coraline knew Annie was in love with Kerry, she was provoking a response. “It’s not important. Just know that I know what she did.”

Annie watched Kerry’s eyes, and even in the dim light she saw something happening behind them. She’d seen him do this as well: he was thinking, processing, going over things in him mind. He was weighting to pros and cons of their last few minutes of conversation.

But she was also watching his body language, and that said far more than his eyes. “You’re not running.”

“What?” He snapped away from his thoughts and turned his attention back to Annie.

“You’re not running. You’re not fidgeting.” She took a chance with her next statement. “You’re not frightened of me, of what I’ve told you.”

Kerry’s calm gaze never wavered. “No, I’m not.”

Annie slid a few centimeters closer, testing his personal space. “Why?”

“I’ve just . . . I’ve never had anyone tell me they liked me before.”

“I didn’t say I liked you—”

“I know . . .” He nodded, his eyes slightly closed. “I never had anyone tell me that, either.”

“Anyone?”

He slowly drew in a breath and spoke in a low voice. “I’ve never had a girl say that to me.” He turned away from Annie and returned to a normal sitting position, his hands folded in his lap, his eyes fixed straight ahead.

For the first time Annie felt something like panic, though if she was right about the medication given to her, she could cut off a finger and not get too worked up, so it wasn’t physical fear she felt, it was all in her mind. Did I scare him this time? Or drive him away?

That was when she heard his sniffle and saw him reach up and wipe at his eyes. The psychosomatic fear was instantly replaced with real concern. “Kerry?”

His voice broke between sobs. “Yeah?”

“Are you all right?” No longer concerned if she was invading his private space she slid close and leaned against him. She laid her hand upon his. “What’s wrong?”

He slowly turned towards her, his tear-streaked face clearly visible in the misting dark. “This is a new chapter for me.”

“What?”

“Something I can still remember from my evaluation.” He sniffed hard and wiped his face with his right sleeve. “I was told that when I walked through the gate coming in here I’d finished a chapter, and the second I walked out the door I’d start another, and that . . .” He sniffed again as he regained control. “Once back in the hall, things were going to happen that I couldn’t imagined in a thousand year.” Kerry laughed through a hacking cough. “No kidding.  I never expected this.”

Annie slid her hand off and slowly slipped it under his left hand. She pressed their palms together before curling her fingers into his. “You’re fine, then?”

His nods were quick and exaggerated. He closed his fingers over hers and gave them a squeeze. “I’m okay now. It’s just . . .” He glanced down as their fingers locked around their hands. “Does this mean you’re like my girlfriend?”

She resisted laughing. Kerry was so—unsure of himself. She was unsure as well, because he didn’t seem to have the same connection to her that she remembered with him, and that complicated things . . .

Stop worrying about that now; it will change. “Oh, Kerry—” She closed her eyes and laid her head against his shoulder. “I’m more than your girlfriend.” Tell him the truth, don’t be afraid. “I’m your soul mate.” She rested, now as content as she had when they’d left the hospital. Even with the misty chill around them, she felt warm and secure. “I’ll always be with you.”

 

Welcome to your new school, kid.  You’ll learn history, English, math, science, a little–well a lot–of magic, get instruction in how to fly and defend yourself . . . oh, and it comes with a girlfriend for life!  Enjoy your stay!

There’s a little more to add to the scene after the, well, you know, the kissing part comes, and then this is done, rewritten, moved up to a second polished draft–

It's pretty and shinny and it's ready to move on to new terrors!

It’s pretty and shinny and it’s ready to move on to fresh new hells!

Then I can dive further on into Chapter Three, rewrite what needs it there, and then–

Hey, I have these scene rolling about in my head, and it just doesn’t want to go away . . .

The Recreation of the Clueless

Before getting into Fargo–which I am loving, by the way, and just waiting for the insanity to crank all the way up in the next couple of episodes–I headed back into a couple of scenes, one short and one almost thirty-five hundred worlds long.  The first scene ended up losing a couple of paragraphs along the way, while the second–

Well, that’s another story.

The hospital scene is one of my favorites, because it takes everything that’s happened up to this point and turns it around.  Though with how the novel has restructured itself, it’s a little more obvious about what’s going on with Annie’s efforts to do something, and Kerry is more this sad, little mope who doesn’t get out much.

And clueless as all hell.  As you can see in his retelling of the day before in Amsterdam:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“You go with the other kids?” She knew the answer already, but Coraline wanted to hear if from him.

Kerry shook his head. “No. It was just Annie and me—” He giggled. “The Great Explorers, out on their own.”

“I see.” She didn’t allow her face to show what she was thinking. “What museums did you visit?”

“The Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums. I really loved the Rembrandt museum: The Night Watch was my favorite painting.” Kerry’s face brightened. “It was so big.”

“Oh, I know.” Coraline slowly rubbed the palms of her hands together. “I’ve been there, too, and that’s one of my favorite paintings as well.” Now to ask the real question— “Was that your idea, going there?”

He cast his gaze away from Coraline for a second. “Nah.” Kerry looked up, but didn’t look directly at Coraline; he appeared to focus on something across the waiting room, something she knew was out of sight on a bed behind a curtain in a darkened ward. “Annie knew about all these places, and since I’d never seen them, I went with.”

Coraline watched Kerry closely. He didn’t seem the least embarrassed by his revelations, and she understood why he looked across the room to Annie: he was remembering those events and was using her as a focus. “That was nice of her, Kerry. And it was nice of you to agree to go with her.”

“Well, you know . . .” He looked away once more, this time with a sheepish grin upon his face. “She’s a friend, and she really wanted me to see things with her in London, so when she asked if I wanted to go with her in Amsterdam—sure, I wanted to go.” Again the far off stare remembering events of the last few days. “I mean, it was great, just the two of us out there—”

“I’m sure it was wonderful.”

”Yeah.” Kerry’s face relaxed, his eyes turned once more towards the ward. “Oh, yeah, and we went walking along a couple of canals last night.”

Coraline leaned a little to her right as her voice fell into a soft, pleasant tone. “Was they her idea, too?”

“Walking by the canal?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, sure. We didn’t eat in the hotel last night—Annie and I went to a cafe a few block away so we didn’t have to deal with everyone at dinner—”

“That was her idea, too, I bet.”

“Yeah. When we were done with dinner, Annie asked if I wanted to go and walk along the canals instead of going right back to the hotel, and I was like, sure.”

Whoa; getting asked to dinner and a walk along the canals. “How long were you out?”

“Um . . . maybe couple of hours.”

Oh, hell: there’s no doubt now. “Annie asked you to dinner, and when it was over invited you on a walk along the canals for a couple of hours.”

“Sure.” He didn’t get why Nurse Coraline was getting all excited; he didn’t think what they did last night was all that strange. “It was something she wanted to do, so I went with to, you know, talk, keep her company—that sort of thing.”

“Keep her company—” By now Coraline found it difficult to keep the smile she’d felt coming on a few seconds early from bursting out. “And you did this because you’re her friend.”

“Yeah, I mean . . .” Kerry found it impossible to ignore Coraline’s imperious grin. “What?”

She couldn’t keep her silence, keep what she believed the truth from this boy any longer. “Kerry, when you are first asked to dinner, followed by getting asked if you’d like to go for an early-evening stroll along the Amsterdam canals, and the person doing all this asking is a girl . . .” She shook her head. “She’s wasn’t asking you out as a friend.”

Kerry was utterly confused by Coraline’s last comment. “I don’t get it; what do you mean?”

 

What she means is you’re clueless, dude.

Is there an answer in here?  She keeps asking me out--is this a date?  Again?

Is there an answer in here? Annie keeps asking me out–are those dates? Again?

It all has a different vibe to it now, and it makes me very happy.  I’ve a half-dozen scenes to rewrite, one of the a pretty major one–actually two of them–but once they are out of the way I can say I’ve changed my characterization of my two kids, got them where I think they really should be, and then move on to something else.

Like writing the novel.

‘Cause, you know, the torture has even begun yet.

Begging the Differences

A quite night led to some interesting editing, which is often a lot better than the uninteresting stuff I normally write.  (I’m only quoting some people I know; the rest will tell you . . . hum, I wonder about that.  Never mind.)

I rocketed through the flight and got the kids at the school, inside the Great Hall, and back into their Evaluations and Assessments–or as some people at Salem might call them, screwing with kids to see if you can break them.  It’s a bit of the ‘ol psychological torture, yeah, and depending on the mood of the Great Benefactor and Protector of the Institution–you gotta worry about any spirit that lives in an underground chamber called The Cauldron–she might just flip you off and send you packing, or . . . she might just drive you a little crazy before kicking your ass back into the hallway.

Now comes up one of my favorite scenes in the story, and last night while putting about to get ready for bed, I realized how something important changes in the story based upon how the characters have been altered.  That’s because in the first draft Kerry was sort of the “I wanna explore” sort of person, and it was he who dragged Annie all over London, taking her places he wanted to see.  She never said anything because she was hiding what she really was, and was happy to go along for the ride.  It was only once they arrived in Amsterdam that Annie was like, “Hey, let check this out.”

As I was reminded, however, Annie is really something of a world traveler, and there’s even a scene in the book where she talks about walking around Hong Kong with her mother.  She’s been everywhere, while Kerry has pretty much visit Jack Shite, UK, and little else.  Also, from the first chapter you know Annie is hangin’ with the Normal kids–that’s what The Foundation calls them–so she’s sort of a Changeling pretending to be like them.  Since that was the case, there was no point in hiding her true nature, and since there is a reason for her wanting to spend time with Kerry–reasons that came out in her E&A–it makes sense that she’s the one dragging ‘Ol Ginger Hair Boy around London and Amsterdam.

Therefore, I was thinking, when I get to the upcoming scene, it not only makes Annie’s reasoning for what she was doing far more clear, but it makes Kerry look all the more clueless about his friend’s motives.  He really, totally, completely, ends up looking like he’s been walking about with eyes wide shut and wholly oblivious to what was happening between his new found friend and him.

Which means it should hit him like a much bigger hammer when Nurse Coraline delivers the good news.

It’s really fun to watch the dynamic change between my characters after just a few little personality tweaks.  Some moments will remain where they’re pretty much on even ground–usually about the time magic starts happening–but the way I’m viewing things now, Kerry is back to where he should be:  always pondering just how great his little Dark Witch is, and how he feels she’s so much better than him.

"Kerry, remember when people thought I was only here for you to tell me what to do?"  "That's because the person writing us lost her mind."  "What do you mean 'the person writing us'?  Are you saying we don't do these things on our own?"  "Umm . . ."

“Kerry, remember when people thought I was only here for you to tell me what to do?” “That’s because the person writing us lost her mind.” “What do you mean ‘the person writing us’? Are you saying we don’t do these things on our own?” “Um . . .”

Yeah, kids, if you were telling me to what do, why didn’t you tell me months ago?  I swear–lazy characters . . .

The Long Adventure

This thing I said I was going to–you know, finish up these rewrites on Chapter One?  Yeah, I finished those.  No, they are in the can for real.  I’m just as surprised as you.

I worked over the last part of the scene in some good detail.  It was a lot of Kerry wondering why Annie liked to stand close to him, or sit even closer, or, when they were taking a picture here and there, she’d slip her hand into his.  The kid’s only a few months past eleven and not the sharpest spear in the social activities group.  So, yeah:  he’s a bit confused.

Actually, he’s a lot confused.  Because . . .

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

There was another thing as well . . .

While walking through St. James Park, as Annie was telling him about Buckingham Palace, there were a few moments when Annie tentatively reached over and—well, first she touched his arm, then after a minute or so she sort of leaned on him for a few seconds, and then, maybe a couple of minutes after that, while she was pointing out something, she took his left hand, gave it a small squeeze, then walked with his towards the palace. It took him nearly a minute, but he finally found the nerve to wrap his fingers around her hand and continued walking like nothing important was happening.

But he wasn’t like that on the inside. He was worried he was going to get too excited and crush Annie’s hand, because Kerry had felt his heart race and sweat break out on his forehead, and there were a few moments when it imagined he might lose it all, snatch his hand away, and run off. But he maintained his cool—all through the park, and later when she did the same thing on the Tower Bridge, and then again while walking through Queen Mary’s Park after they returned to the Baker Street Station.

Annie did that, but I have no idea why. He shifted his gaze away from his hands; as he didn’t want to look at Annie just yet, he looked down the aisle towards Ms. Rutherford. Maybe it was her first time being out with a boy, and she—I don’t know—she wanted to feel like she was out on a date and she didn’t think I’d mind . . .

Ms. Rutherford turned and gave Kerry a little smile before going back to whatever it was she was reading. He stared at the back of her head for a few seconds before flashing back on last night—

Kerry took his seat and watched, out of the corner of his eye, as Annie sat to his left, just as she always seemed to do. Collin was to his right, and Alica and Ms. Rutherford were almost directly across from him at the circular table.

Ms. Rutherford first spoke to Alica and Collin, who both grumbled about having nothing to do. She then looked at Kerry, gave him a cheerful smile, saying he certainly looked happy, then turned to Annie before addressing them both. “So, you two: how was your date?”

Annie gave Kerry a quick side glance before answering. “Oh, it was incredible, Ms. Rutherford.” Then she turned to Kerry, her eyes bright and her face aglow. “Wasn’t it perfect, Kerry?”

Just like that moment in the restaurant, Annie filled Kerry’s vision, and just like last night her hazel eyes were bright and locked upon him—

Ms. Rutherford asked about our date.

He shook from side to side. “Oh, oh.”

“Oh what, Welsh boy?” Alica chuckled again. “You know, you’re cute when you’re actin’ simple.”

 

I love torturing my kids.  Who needs whips when you have Annie?

Later today I’m going to compile off the parts I’ve rewritten and mail them off to someone and see if they’ll look them over, then I’ll start rewriting a few other scenes that require an intervention.  Not a lot, but they are there–including one that demands a full rebuild.

But I’ve finally struggled through Chapter One.  Onward, right?

See?  Second passes all around!  It must be true.

See? Second passes all around! It must be true.

Now that the writing stuff is updated, it’s time for a little personal interjection.  What?  You thought I only spoke about writing?  Foolish people!

A couple of weeks back Aussa Lorens, who is found over at the blog Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy., wrote about her birthday, and mentioned that her birthdays were often filled with adventure.  Some people are lucky that way:  their birthdays are moments to remember, exciting days that stay with them for most of their lives.

And then there’s me.

I commented that I’d never had an adventure on my birthday, that most of them were pretty much, “Eh, it’s Friday” sort of deals.  This didn’t sit well with Aussa, and she tasked me with going on an adventure for my birthday.

So the mental clockwork that is my brain went to work, trying to find an adventure that would put Flynn and Jake to shame.  And . . . I got a whole lotta nuttin’.  I mean, I write for something that I hope will one day be a living, and coming up with interesting things for my characters to do is the order of the day.  Unfortunately, I think my chances are pretty slim to none that I’m going to save an entire civilization, or save a friend from a Lovecraftian horror, or communicate with a ghost that it looking for justice.  Nah, that isn’t happening.

What does that leave?  I could head back up to Centralia and dance naked on the abandoned portion of PA Route 61 until I come down with a touch of carbon monoxide poisoning like I did during my first trip there.  Or I could head back out to The Abandoned Turnpike and walk the entire length, going through both tunnels, maybe scaring the hell out of myself as I spend more than a mile in the complete darkness of Sideling Tunnel . . . nope, I’ll do that some time later in the summer.  There’s still the trip I want to take out to where the Hindenburg crashed and burned, but I have scheduled a visit.

No, we’re talking an adventure.  Something that I’m going to remember.

Then it hit me:  I knew what I’d do.

Thursday I spoke with my therapist–yes, I have one of those, and she did ask if I’d speak with her more than a couple of times a year.  A certain subject came up, and her comment was, “Cassie, you’ve been ready for a year.”  Which is true:  were it not for having to change jobs a couple of times since the end of 2012, the thing we were discussion probably would have happened last year.  I agreed with her, and then did my little thinking thing–

The conclusion I reached was, yeah, bitch, it’s time to pull the trigger and start moving forward.  In the story I’m writing there is a thing that Kerry Malibey does:  when faced with a bit of a challenge, he’ll look straight ahead, sigh, and say, “Okay, let’s do this.”  That was pretty much me Thursday night:  this needs to be done, so you best get to work.

Yesterday afternoon, after returning from work and enjoying my dinner, I filled out and submitted a patient intake form, making an official request to begin my hormone replacement therapy.  And that’s it:  the trigger’s pulled, the gears are grinding, everything is being put into motion.  This is the point in the program where, if you’re transgender like me, you’re saying, “It’s time to rid myself of all those nasty hormones that have been driving me crazy for decades, and get on the hormones that are going to change me physically, mentally, and emotionally.”  It means you’re starting off on a path that you’re probably never going to turn away from, because in a few months you’re going to develop breasts, you’re going to see fat moving to your hips and butt, you’re going to start having emotional swings that are going to having you laughing and enjoying the light of day one minute, and leave you crying in the darkness damning your existence the next.

This all culminates with going out all the time as the person you have always wanted to be.  Not just out for breakfast and shopping like I do now, but everywhere–even at work.  Yes, I have my plan laid out for that, and it’s a scary thing, because if everything goes as plans, I’ll come out to them about the time 2015 is rolling into town, and they’ll start seeing a new me walking around the office.  I’ll change my name legally, I’ll have new identification, just about everything that was the old me will exist in a few photos and little else.

That’s the thing of this:  I’m finally saying goodbye to one person while saying hello to another.  I’ve been out since 2012, but it’s only in the last few months that I’ve started presenting in public.  I am, just like my current story, a work in progress, and things will continue to change–particularly once I start hormone therapy and begin going through puberty again.  Yes, ladies:  what you did as late tweeners and early teeners, I get to do now.

This has even more importance now, because yesterday was the last day of me me being fifty-six years old, and today is, as they say over at The Oatmeal, “Pop Out of a Vagina Day,” aka I turn fifty-seven.  And not comes the scary part–

I’m gonna post a picture.  Hang on, ’cause this is gonna be right up there with Cthulhu waking up.

Okay . . .

.

.

.

Here I am:

"Konichiwa!"

“Konichiwa!”

And this is the last birthday I’ll have as that person in that picture, because a year from now who I am at this moment will really, truly, be a memory, and there will be a completely different person in that picture next birthday.  My face will change some, I’ll have new glasses, I’ll finally get my brows worked on–in short, I’ll be a completely different person.

A lot of people set off on adventures that change their lives:  in my case, I’m changing my life completely, and if that isn’t an adventure–

Then I guess I gotta throw myself in a volcano.  That’s exciting for a bit, but it’s a bit difficult to write about later . . .

In the Chunnel of Love

After what seemed like a very long day–finally I managed to get down to writing.  There wasn’t a great deal going on, mostly because part of my “at home” time was taken up speaking with my therapist, and then digesting what was said afterwards.

In time, however, I managed to get into writing.  By the time the writing came around my energy levels were low, but I felt pretty good about what I was doing.  As long as I’m not crashing at the keyboard, it’s a good writing night.

One of the reasons I’ve been going slow through this scene–the trip through Chunnel on the way to Amsterdam–is that the mood of the piece has changed.  In the snapshot version Kerry was far more aware of what was happening in the train–which was really a holdover from his trip around London.  He isn’t like that, though.  Somewhere my characterization of him got away, and he became more of a leader than quite follower.  So on the train he’s a little more confused about things; he’s not sure what’s all happening with Annie, and the few times Alica speaks to him just sorta goes over his head.

Like this:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry sat in the aisle seat with Collin to his left. Annie sat across from Kerry, and Alica was to her right. Collin didn’t care about anything outside the window; he was lost in the football magazine he’d picked up at the station before they boarded. Alica watched the scenery flash by, alternating between being bored and looking half-angry.

Then there was Annie—

Yesterday’s tour of London had been fantastic. During last night’s dinner it was all he could do to keep from going on about it; he only spoke about the day trip after Ms. Rutherford asked Annie and him about their day. He tried not to gush, but it was difficult not to mention all the places Annie had taken him, and the things they’d done. It annoyed Collin and Alica to no end, but Kerry couldn’t help how happy he’d felt—

Though he didn’t say it at the table, it had been was one of the best days of his life.

What had made everything so fantastic was Annie just being there—like she was now.

Sitting there looking at him . . .

She was quite, almost never speaking. She sat with hands folded in her lap and ankles crossed. Every so often she’d glance out the window or down the aisle, but for almost the entire time since leaving St. Pancras she’d sat looking straight ahead.

He didn’t have proof, but he knew she was looking right at him.

It didn’t make him nervous, but it did make him wonder why. She was friendly, that much was true: since meeting her in the book store she’d been extremely nice to him, and always sat next to him, on his left, when they were eating. The fact she’s asked him to join here on her walked tour proved she trusted him, and thought of him as a friend.

Still, though—what was she doing? Why was she staring at him? Was there something she wanted to talk about, but didn’t know how to ask?

He finally turned away from the window. “Annie?”

Her expression didn’t change. “Yes?”

“Is there something you wanna talk about?”

The right side of her mouth twisted up for a moment. “No.”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Okay.” He returned to looking out the window. He casts a couple of quick glances out of the corner of his eye and . . .

He quickly turned his head, catching her as she shifted her gaze towards her hands. “What?”

“What?”

“What are you doing?”

Annie tilted her head to one side. “Nothing.” The word came out as a soft coo encased in her accent. “Is something wrong?”

“I don’t know . . . you’re looking at me.”

“Am I?”

What is going on? Now Kerry was majorly confused. Why is she acting so strange? He shook his head. “You use a lot of questions to answer questions.”

“Do I?” Annie chuckled while here face remained as impassive as ever. The only thing that seemed to change was the glint in her eye—

Alica turned away from the window rolling her eyes. “Oi, you two.”

Kerry snorted. “Oi, yourself.”

“She’s playing with you, Malibey.”

He considered her words for a moment. “You know this how?”

She drew one leg up and pulled her foot up onto the chair. “You’re a bit of a thick git, aren’t you?”

Annie only half-looked in Alica’s direction. “That’s not a nice thing to say.”

Alica giggled dryly. “Don’t worry; I ain’t trying to hurt the poor lad.” She wiggled her eyebrows as she shot a smile Kerry’s way.

 

Girls:  one day they’re showing you around London, the next they just stare at you without saying anything.  Who knows what’s going on inside their heads?

Certainly not Kerry.

The most interesting note I left in the story should be reached tonight.  Kerry’s hearing isn’t too great, and he starts to wonder about something Ms. Rutherford said–

Of course both words start with "D", so it's easy to misunderstand . . .

Of course both words start with “D”, so it’s easy to misunderstand . . .

Yeah, I’ll get to that tonight.  It’s about time to get this train into the station so I can rewrite something else.

Let Us Relive Our Lives in What We Tell You

Breakfast is out of the way, more or less; all that remains is the coffee, and I’m about to refill that as soon as the song I have on finishes.  Yes, it’s six fifty-five AM and the morning has already been an hour in the making.  That means it’s time for a post.  That means it’s time to start writing.

It’s a strange live I’ve chosen for myself.  Write a blog post at six-thirty in the morning, then write code all day, then come home and edit twenty pages for a while, then time line out something because I need to know when an event could take place because of something happening to one of the characters–yeah, Research Bitches!  Finally, about eight forty I was able to relax and watch How to Train Your Dragon, which is one of my favorite movies, and far superior, in my opinion, to Toy Story 3.  Because Viking kid with a dragon.

You love them, you protect them, you take your girlfriend flying on them--Kerry needs one of these.  Oh, and lets not forget the blowing up of your enemies . . .

You love them, you protect them, you take your girlfriend flying on them–Kerry needs one of these. Oh, and lets not forget when you use them to blow up your enemies . . .

And then I’m back at it today.  Same as it ever was.

Last night, while I was plotting out my time lies and thinking about some of the crap my kids will get into once the future rolls around, I wondered about some of the things that have drawn me to writing, as well as some of the things I’ve written.  Like it or not, there’s always a little bit of me in my stories.  Maybe it’s just a personal feeling, or perhaps it’s an idea I want to espouse.  There is at least one story I’ve written that deals with feelings I have towards other person, and another where I’m more or less returning to some emotions I hadn’t felt in a long time–which is probably one of the reasons why I find myself getting into crying jags now and then.

A lot of writers get caught up in their characters, and I find myself doing the same once in a while.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ll often start crying at the end of one of my stories not only because I’ve reached the end and there’s a huge emotional release upon typing out, “The End”, but in a few of my stories something extremely emotional has occurred between my characters, and it’s hard to hold back the feelings.  You’re digging deep into something within your own essence to throw into your characters, and when that moment happens, it’s like it happened to you.

I thought out a scene for my kids last night that hit me in ways that make a lot of sense, and at the same time left me feeling like my heart was going to wither.  It was a cold scene, but as I thought it out logically, it was the only thing possible for the plot as thought out.  It even involved making one of the hardest characters I’ve ever made reach a point where she starts crying–that’s some hard cord sad right there.

I talk about these characters as if they are real people sometimes, and while I know they aren’t, they are, in a way, an extension of my own ideas and feelings, so when you give them happy times, you feel the happy times, and when you crap all over their lives and throw them into the Pit of Emotional Hell, then you’re going to experience the fall.  And trust me:  I will crap all over their lives, because life is hard for Normal people, so just imagine the sort of shit that gets thrown at you when you’re a witch.

What doesn’t kill them makes your characters stronger–but what does it do to me?  It lets me tell the tales of their lives–

And by doing so, I bring a little of my life out for all to see.

Hangin’ With the G Friend

Yesterday it was talking about bad teachers in dreams and all the crap I went through it fourth grade–not a pleasant recollection.  The thing is, that recollection didn’t stay long, because by mid-day yesterday my mind was on something else, and it was a far better time than I had in that lousy dream.

What I’m talking about is the next year, and fifth grade.

Fifth grade was completely different from the year before, because my teacher then was a great guy whose name is, unfortunately, lost to me.  I want to say “Mr. Haney,” but I don’t think that’s right, though his name started with an H, so I’ll just call him Mr. H.

Mr. H was one of those teachers who didn’t dumb things down.  He knew which kids were good and wanted to learn, and which didn’t give a single shit if they made it through the year.  He loved reading and he loved science, and that was good with me.  He’d lived in Japan for a while, and while he was there he’d recorded an interview with someone who’d been a school boy in Hiroshima, and who survived the atom bombing by hiding in a cave being used as a bomb shelter.  Though he spoke English well, when he tried describing how the mouth of the cave lit up from the blast he completely lost it and started crying and mumbling in Japanese.  It was a pretty powerful moment for me, considering I’d already done my own reading on what happened then.  (And believe it or not I eventually dated a Japanese woman whose mother also survived the Hiroshima bombing.)

Mr. H pushed me in history and geography, because he knew I loved the subjects, and that I wasn’t content to stop at a certain point and look no further.  One class assignment we had was to do a report on a country, and the country I chose was Macau.  This was 1967 to 1968, and when you said “Macau” the majority of adults went, “Whu?”  No one in the class knew where my country was, nor if it was even real, but I was given extra points because just about everyone else went with stuff in Europe, or if they did Asia it was Japan and China.

The best thing Mr. H ever did was tell the Daughters of the American Revolution about my grades, and they came into class and gave me an award for “Excellence in American History”.  I was given a book, which for me, at the time, was better than money.

But I’m not here to rap on about Mr. H.  No, I’m here to talk about someone else.

I’m here to talk about Kim.

Kim was in my class.  She was about my height, she had long dark blond hair, and she wore glasses.  I also wore glasses, so it was always a bit comforting to be around someone who also had crappy eyesight.  Kim introduced herself to me in a rather unique way:  she walked up to me on the playground during recess and said, “Hey:  you’re the kid who knows all about flying saucers, right?”  Indeed I did, because since I was reading a lot of science fiction then, I was also reading everything I could get my hands on about flying saucers and the paranormal and what we know call cyptozoology.  If there was strange crap out there, I knew about it.  Kim was asking me about a story she’d heard where a horse had its head burned off, and I instantly told her about Skippy, the horse that had all the flesh on it’s head burn away–some say by a portable vat of acid, some say by aliens with a death laser!

Whatever.  That’s how Kim and I met, and we were good after that.

I don’t remember Kim hanging out with girls a lot.  Back then we called her a “tomboy” because she liked wearing jeans and button-down shirts and tennis shoes.  But she never came across like that to me.  She wasn’t rough and tumble; she always wanted to talk.  She liked horses and the mountains, and she liked math and history, too, so we had stuff in common there.  She also liked reading, but she found the stuff I was reading then to be amazing.  She was a smart girl, which back then meant she was different.

Then again, so was I.

It wasn’t just headless horses and flying saucers over which we bonded.  There was something else, and for that I have to go tap-dancing back into all those little corners of my past that I’d rather not exist, but are just waiting to jump me the first chance I get.  So here we go:

Every summer, right after school was out, my father would take me down to the barber shop and basically have all my hair cut off, so that when it was over, I looked like Ellen Ripley from Alien 3.  I hated this, because as a young child suffering with Gender Identity Disorder, I wanted my hair to grow out, and it was that summer between fourth and fifth grade when I started having arguments with my parents about getting my hair cut.  Maybe that was one of the reasons I never left my room those summers and just stayed in and read, but I do remember it was the last time I let my parent do that to me.

My hair grew fast, so usually by Halloween it was longer than most of the boy’s hair in the class, which again made me stand out a little.  This led to “getting picked on,” which led to getting bullied and called a freak and crazy and a lot of other shit, but I spent that school year avoiding a lot of those idiots and staying to myself.

Kim, however . . . I do remember one point in the fall when we were walking and talking on the playground, and she turned to me and said, “You’re hair is so . . . pretty!  It’s so curly!  I wish mine was like that.”  Which was true:  I had curly brown hair and long eyelashes, something my mother was always going on about . . .

I told Kim that I wished my hair was nice and straight–leaving off that, “and long like yours” because you just couldn’t talk that shit then–and bam!  I bonded with her over hair, because we weren’t like all the other people on the playground.  At that moment I felt there was something special between us, because not only did we talk, but we didn’t seem to care about what others thought of us when we were together.

"Seriously, you have lovely hair, and if I can use an expression that won't become popular for another twenty years, your parents are dicks."

“Seriously, you have lovely hair–and if I can use an expression that won’t become popular for another twenty years, your parents are being total dicks.  But you know about time travel, so there.”

The moment I remember the most, because it was just so damn strange, was of Kim and I on the swing sets all alone, with there appearing to be no one else on the playground–or if there were, they were sticking close to the building because the sky that afternoon was a rather strange gray and blackish color that appeared as if it was about to unleash Hell at any moment, but if you live in the Midwest and you’re afraid of a stormy-looking sky, you best move the hell out ’cause that’s pretty normal.

We were alone, and swinging like mad, talking, laughing, going higher and higher all the time . . . it was one of those magical moments that you don’t ever forget, and there was a timeless quality to what we were doing, because it did seem to go on for a long time, though we were probably only on the swings twenty to thirty minutes.  But it has become a fixed point in time, one that I flash back on now and then, and though I can’t remember everything that was said in those minutes together, it doesn’t matter:  we were together, and it was fun.  That’s what’s important.

Kim moved away after the school year was finished.  I knew this was coming, as she’d told me months before.  The last day of school we found a spot out by some of the trees at the edge of the playground and talked for a few minutes.  I told her I’d miss her, and she told me she’d miss me back.  We didn’t exchange addressed and say we’d write, probably because deep down we knew we’d never do that–though I wish I had, because I would have totally done so.  Before we parted, she leaned in and kissed me on the cheek:  that was the first time anyone outside of my family had ever done something like that, and it made my eyes mist up.  Then she was off, back to class, and so was I a moment later.  She left class as soon as the bell rang, headed for her bus, and was gone–off to Colorado, if I remember correctly.

I, too, was off to my bus and back home.  The summer sucked, I stayed inside a lot, and sixth grade blew chunks.  I wouldn’t talk to another girl until I was a senior in high school–I literally mean this, because people avoided me, or I avoided them, not really sure on this point.  I had a few friends, but for the most part I was always that weird kid who read a lot and didn’t want to do any sports.

I also missed my friend, but I didn’t talk about that much.

These days I kind of realize that Kim was probably my first girlfriend, but not the “I’m dating her” kind of girlfriend, but rather “My BFF besty” kind of girlfriend.  She didn’t think it strange to talk about the thing we talked about, and neither did I.  She saw nothing wrong with complementing my hair, and didn’t consider it strange that I did the same for her.  If she’d hung around I wonder what would have happened; would we have spent sixth grade continuing to talk about the things we did, and would we have expanded the conversation to include us?

I can’t say:  that’s all speculation.  I leave that for my writing.

I have no idea where she is now, or if she’s even alive, but if she is I’ve been sending her positive thoughts for years, and I hope they’ve helped.  I don’t dwell on her, or those moments together, because they are far off in the past, and as my Phoenix spirit told Kerry in The Foundation Chronicles, “That chapter’s over; it’s time to write some new ones, kid.”

You were one of the few good chapters in the story of my life then, Kim.

I wish you well in yours.

Stepping Into the Old

Today is the day that a lot of people have feared.  Oh, you don’t realize it yet, but it is.  It’s a day that I’ve known about for a while, and it’s had me on edge a bit the last few days.

It’s the first day of the first full week of the year.

For the last three, four weeks, some of us have been dancing around with not so full work weeks, finding a half-day off here, or a full day off there.  Some people have taken most of a week off, or even opted out for the whole damn thing.

And now it’s time to get back into the grind.  Today we go back to thirty-five or forty hour work weeks–and I know some of you work a lot more than that, I’m not discounting it–and the boredom that comes with this grind.  It’s time to squeeze everything back into the full-week sake and see what happens.

I don’t expect much of a change on this end.  I’ve been writing every day, even on the holidays.  I’ve been spending a little more time online chatting with people, and it’s eating into my time to write.  Last night was one of those nights were I didn’t really feel like writing anything:  I wasn’t feeling well, and nothing was coming out well.

Still, I started a new scene with two of my favorite people:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

This close to dinner it was unusual for Erywin to remain in her office. Most times when sixteen came around she was out of the Chemistry Building and off to either the Dining Hall or the Instructor’s Residence for eat. While most of the instructors ate at the Residence, a fair number joined the students in the Hall.

Erywin often wondered if the instructors who went to the Dining Hall ate there because they remembered their time there as students, or because they liked the buffet and felt it was better than the Instructor’s menu—or if it was because the Headmistress ate they and they wanted to join her. Not that Erywin hadn’t ever joined the Headmistress for dinner, but it wasn’t something she wanted to do more than once a month.

Besides, today she was waiting for someone. Today she had a before-dinner visitor—

She was about to get up from her desk and see if there was anyone in the hall: when Erywin looked up, her visitor was standing there, a sly grin upon her face. “Did you miss me?”

“Ah, there she is: my own little Queen of Darkness.” Erywin leaned back in her chair. “Busy day in class, love?”

Helena Lovecraft entered the room and closed the door behind her. “There are times when I think cursing the whole damn class for the entire year would be the best solution for everyone involved.” She leaned against the wall. “Particularly for me. But I haven’t reached that point—yet. Give me until the end of the month.”

Erywin stood and went to Helena. She slipped her arms about Helena’s waist and gave her a light, long kiss. There were never enough times for her to show her love and affection to the woman who’d been by her side, off and on, since they’d meet when Erywin was a B Level, and Helena a brand-new A Level, in 1979. Though the students knew they been partners for twenty-five years, and that they lived together on and off campus, they kept the shows of affection out of the public eye—not because they were afraid of anyone seeing them kissing or touching, but because they weren’t the sort of couple who enjoyed that sort of thing in public.

Which meant they needed to make the most of their time in private.

Erywin broke the kiss and patted Helena on the chest. “Oh, your hell-shawl is in the corner, back in the bag.” She sat against the edge of her desk.

Helena gave her partner one of her well-known lop-sided grins. “Hell-shawl, you say?” She slowly strolled over and looked down into the bag. “Did it come in handy today?”

“Oh, most certainly.” Erywin flipped hair from her face. “The students were very excited to find themselves working with a cursed item of petrification.”

 

I wonder what I could get for a Hell-shawl on eBay?

Almost nine hundred words last night, and I’ve a full week ahead of me.

Yeah, time to get back to serious hours.