The Slumbering Afterglow

Though I didn’t write in quick bursts yesterday, I wrote a lot.  Well, maybe not a lot:  after all, there were a lot of things going on, one of which was getting an infection in my left thumb cleared up.  Do you know what it’s like to take the part of your thumb that’s sort of swollen with an infection and bang it again the space bar every time you need a space between words?  It hurts–a lot.  But all better now, so I can continue my insanity.

(I know you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you just stop writing, Cassie?”  Don’t bother:  you already know the answer.)

I didn’t think I’d written much, since I seemed to peck along due to a number of things.  One was the thumb, the other was thinking over a couple of others scenes that I want to do, and another was . . . well, lets call it feelings, cause they were there when I was writing this part.

And since I’m in a good mood this morning, you get to see all of it–just about nine hundred and fifty words.  It starts up right when the excerpt I published yesterday ended.  And if you didn’t read that–for shame, for shame.

 

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

Annie brushed a few strands of hair from her face. “I’m glad I asked you out.”

Kerry blushed once again. “Um . . .”

“Yes?”

“I’ve never had a girl tell me they, um—” He tried not to look at Annie. “That they asked me out.”

“Really.” She took a long sip of her Lemon Aid. “Does it feel as if I’ve asked you out on a date?”

“I guess.” Kerry seemed ready to sink into this tee shirt, and appeared to want to do a dozen other things besides answer these questions. “I’ve never been asked out on a date, so I wouldn’t know.”

“You mean asked out by a girl?”

“Well, yeah: that, too.” He finally managed to get his fidgeting under control. “I’m just happy you asked me along. You’ve been—” The deep blush grew bright. “You’ve been really nice to me.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” It was easy for Annie to be nice to Kerry, though he didn’t know this, or why. “You don’t complain, which is one good thing about you. And you can hold a conversation, which is another.”

He nodded, as a slight grin began to form. “Thanks.”

She rested her cheek against her hands as she leaned towards him. “I’ll bet all your friends say the same about you.”

The blush and the semi-grin vanished as Kerry’s face went slack. He was facing Annie, but he wasn’t looking at her. “I . . .” His lips tightened as his gaze began darting from place to place.

“Kerry?” Annie knew something was wrong, but she wasn’t sure what had just happened. “What is it?”

His voice sounded very small. “I don’t have any friends.”

Uh, oh. She was aware that Kerry was a solitary person, but she didn’t realize he was friendless. I never asked . . . “I’m sure that’s not true—”

“It is true.” He bit his lower lip to prevent it from quivering. “Never had any in California, and for sure don’t have any in Cardiff. That’s why no one ever asks me to do anything, or if I want to do something.” He took a deep breath as the fight to keep his lip from quivering was lost. “Not even my parents; they never ask me if I want to do anything.” He looked out the window as a tear trickled down his cheek. “No one cares about me.”

Her expression never changed as Annie’s heart shattered. She’d heard sadness before, but never anything like the despair she’d just felt emanating from Kerry. “That isn’t true—”

It is.” The trickle had become a stream, and his words barely escaped his tightening throat. “I don’t have any friends at school. My parents think I’m some weird kid who sits in his room and reads and does stuff on his computer and listens to music, and that’s it. If it wasn’t for The Foundation paying for me to go to school, they wouldn’t have cared if I wanted to go or not. No one cares about me; no one loves me.” He set his glasses aside and covered his eyes. “No one at all.”

Annie felt her own growing sadness as Kerry broke down. She wasn’t sadden by his actions: she was saddened by his statement, “No one loves me”. She wanted to leap across the table and hold and tell him the truth, tell him what she knew, what she felt—

And if you do, then what? Will he believe you? He doesn’t know you. He’ll think you’re crazy, that you’re playing with him, and that will only make him more upset—and it will be your fault.

“Don’t say that, Kerry.” Annie keep her voice low and her tone full of caring. “I know there is someone out there who cares for you, who loves you: I know it. And if you think hard . . .” The corners of her mouth turned upward slightly. “I know you’ll see them. I know you know them.”

The tears stopped; Kerry sniffed several times, trying to clear his nose. He never once looked at him, instead keeping his face in profile. “My grandparents.” He raised his voice a little as he finally turned towards Annie. “They do; they love me. I know it.”

She nodded slowly. “See? I knew you’d find someone.” She maintained the slight grin so Kerry wouldn’t see what she was feeling—

“Yeah.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his arm. “You’re right.” He picked up a napkin and dabbed at his face. “I didn’t mean to do that, it’s just . . .”

“You get emotional at times?”

“Yeah. Can’t help it when that happens.” He laid the napkin next to his plate and put on his glasses. “My parents hate it. My dad says it’s because I’m ‘not strong’, whatever that’s suppose to mean. My mom . . . she just says, ‘You cry like a girl’.”

“That’s not a very nice thing to say.” She sat up, her eyes clear and sharp. “And it’s also not true. I don’t cry, and I’m a girl. So there.”

Kerry chuckled. “You don’t cry?”

She shook her head, her eyes half closed. “No. Not at all. My mother once told me it wasn’t natural.”

“Ah.” He waved his hand as if not concerned. “What do our parents know, huh?”

Annie watched him turn away from the window and refocus upon her. “Are you okay now?”

He took a deep breath. “Yeah.” His head slowly tilted to one side. “Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to go and spoil the day.”

“You didn’t.” The smile that formed was meant to be warm and comforting. “And there’s still a lot left.”

Kerry looked like he was going to pick up his phone and check something. “There is?”

“Yes. We don’t have to be back to the hotel for another four hours.” She leaned her chin upon her joined fists. “There are still things to see.”

 

There are always things to see, Young Annie.  And you will, trust me.  You will.

This was a difficult part for me to write, at least from an emotional standpoint.  I’ve said a lot of the things that Kerry said at one time of another, many of them when I was his age.  And the things his parents said to him–yeah, I’ve heard them as well.  And he had better grandparents than mine, who were a bunch of racist assholes and drunks.  At least he has something better than me.

And then–then–when I get to the “No one loves me part” and Annie’s feeling her heart break (for reasons I know, but you don’t) . . . well, I’m listening to music, and it’s a live version of the final two compositions off Wind and Wuthering, … In That Quite Earth and Afterglow, the final stanza of Afterglow comes up:

 

And I would search everywhere
Just to hear your call,
And walk upon stranger roads than this one
In a world I used to know before.
For now I’ve lost everything,
I give to you my soul.
The meaning of all that I believed before
Escapes me in this world of none,
I miss you more.

(Music and Lyrics by Anthony Banks)

 

And that was about the time I needed to sit out on the balcony and get over a good cry of my own.

Really, though:  was I thinking it was Annie trying to pull Kerry back into something that she knows but he doesn’t?  Or was Kerry feeling something that he knew once but has now forgotten.  Or was I pining away for something I dearly want, but can likely never have?

Yes.

What this means is this long stretch of writing, this scene now over five thousand words, is just about finished.  Just add a few things tonight, hack and slash it into place, and I can call it revised.

No, really, it's really near the end.  Really!

No, really, it’s really near the end. Really!

And when this is finished–

I can move on to other scene and drive myself crazy.You