Writing last night, writing this morning. Here it is, almost nine AM, and I’ve been at work on the story for nearly and hour and a half. I know that because I’m playing the recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway concert recording from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and they’re playing Riding the Scree now–and the time mark is 1:36:00. Gotta have my music when I write.
Since It’s going to be a busy afternoon I needed to get this out now, least I miss it later tonight. And I didn’t want to do that because this is an important point in the story–and one I’ve been dodging because of the feelings it brings out in me. That’s one of the nice things about writing in public: you can’t stop and begin sobbing openly in a cafe unless you want people to come over and ask what’s wrong. do you say, “I’m upset because I’m pouring my emotions into my fictional character?” Yeah, that works. But only if people already think you’re a little off.
We left Annie in the bay with Kerry, and she was watching him sleep. Yeah, we got Team Annie hard at work. But let her explain–
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
She finally looked over to Kerry’s bed. The whole med bay was silent—all the equipment was set up not to make sounds at night—and there were only a few things glowing softly in the dark, which made it difficult to see him, but not impossible. He was out, sleeping peacefully, not making a sound save for his slow steady breathing.
Annie wanted to lay back on her pillow and drift off to sleep while watching him sleep. She remembered what Nurse Gretchen told her that first night, that she was doing something seriously strange. She didn’t care: there was something comforting about watching her soul mate sleep. In their sleep were their dreams, and that was where she found him, learned about him, and grew to love him.
In a way sleep was their bond. She missed what they once had; now, she could only watch him and hope that they somehow reconnected—
Kerry’s right arm was outside the blanket: his fingers began twitching.
That makes some sense: Annie is suppose to have met Kerry in their dreams, so why wouldn’t she feel connected to him when he sleeps? But now he’s waking up, and that’s going to bring out another connection . . .
Kerry’s head turned lightly to the right. He moaned softly.
But it wasn’t a moan: it was a sob. She’d caught the intake of breath just before it returned as a low, long cry. He turned his head further to the right and this time there was no mistaking the sorrowful whimpering. Kerry’s head jerked to the left then back to the right before he took a deep breath and the tears came streaming down his cheeks.
Annie was frozen on her bed. Kerry wasn’t awake, but he was under some kind of distress. She believed he was having a bad dream, one that likely had something to do with the experiences of the day. She questioned the wisdom of waking him: on one hand she didn’t want him to suffer, on the other he’d be through the the dream shortly, and there was always some danger involved when waking someone from a nightmare . . .
Kerry clenched his hand into a fist and moaned louder than the first time. As his hand unclenched he twisted his head around as if he were trying to avoid a blow. With tears streaming down his face he quietly cried out one word:
That was all she needed to hear. Annie was out of her bed and standing next to Kerry’s, leaning over so she could see his face. She didn’t worry about the consequences of waking him: she laid he hand lightly against his chest and began shaking him gently while calling his name in as soothing a tone as possible. “Kerry. Kerry. Please, wake up.”
Nurse Annie to the rescue! She doesn’t want him to suffer, so she brings him out of whatever nightmare is troubling the boy.
She shook him for another few seconds, careful not to press too hard against his chest least she hurt him. Finally his eyes opened normally and started up at the ceiling. She wasn’t shaking or convulsing as people did in movies when they came out of a bad dream: he lay there fighting against the hacking sobs that didn’t want to stop.
Annie took his hand before leaning towards his face. “Kerry, it’s okay—” She gave his hand a squeeze. “It’s okay. You’re safe now. There’s nothing to worry about.” She hesitated for a few heartbeats, then slid up onto the bed next to him, his hand still locked in hers. “Shush, shush . . . It’s okay. I’m here.”
Kerry brought his breathing under control as the tears tapered away. He blinked three times before he could focus on the person sitting next to him. “Annie . . .” The name emerged as a whisper before a faint smile began to play over his face. “You’re alive.”
She chuckled. “And so are you.” Annie tucked her bare right foot under her left leg, letting her blue flannel pajamas keep it warm. She watched Kerry’s eyes move about, taking in his surroundings. “You’re in the hospital. Don’t try to move; the left side of your body is immobilized. You broke your left arm and left, and damaged your knee again.” She saw the awareness of his situation register, but Annie saw how his eyes seemed to say something else. He’s disoriented, just as Coraline said he would. He knows where he is, but at the same time he’s not completely sure . . .
Kerry is out of it: he’s hurt and it doesn’t take long for him to figure out he has a bad concussion. Annie talks him down out of his confusion and pain, but there are things on his mind. Things that have been there a while, and that he wants to get out . . .
He didn’t appear sleepy, not yet. Kerry continued staring up into Annie’s eyes. “I didn’t know if I’d see you again.” A film of tears appeared over his eyes. “I didn’t know—”
Annie wanted him to relax, not work himself into a crying jag every few minutes. She hushed him. “It’s okay, my dear.”
He sniffed back his tears. “I didn’t know if I’d see you again, Annie. I didn’t know if I’d tell you what . . .” He trailed off and started to look away, but didn’t. “I didn’t know—”
“Shush, shush.” She lightly patted his cheek. “You’re safe. You’re protected. Nothing is going to happen to you.” Annie slid closer to Kerry so it was easier to press his hand against her torso. “We have plenty of time to talk. No need to do it now.”
“I know.” He smiled through the remnant of his tears. “I just—” He began to whimper again. “I don’t wanna forget.”
He’s not a forgetful sort of kid, but of late his mind has played a few tricks on him–like not being able to remember dreams. What he keeps wanting to discuss probably isn’t a dream, but Annie’s not ready to hear it now. After all, Kerry would probably get it all messed up anyway.
However, there’s also something else on Kerry’s mind–something troubling . . .
She started to slid off the bed. “Let me call—”
Kerry’s grip around Annie’s hand tightened. “Don’t go.”
Annie moved back to where she’d been on the bed. “I’ll stay.”
He grimaced as a light sheen of tears began to cover his cheeks once again. “Don’t leave me, Annie. Please don’t ever leave me.”
She’d never heard him say this before, and it shocked Annie just the tiniest bit. Why does he think I’d leave him? “I won’t leave you, Kerry. I promise.”
He either wasn’t listening or couldn’t understand what she was saying. “Don’t leave, please. They all leave.” The tears were fully flowing now. “Everyone leaves me.”
What is going on? Annie was growing worried: this was something she’d never heard Kerry express. “No one is leaving you Kerry. I won’t leave you.” She pushed ahead with something she’d told him once before, but felt he needed to hear again. “I’ll stay with you for the rest of your life.”
He was lost in whatever fantasy had popped up inside his mind. “They all leave me. They do.” The tears and sobbing were coming on now. “My parents don’t want me—”
Annie held his hand tightly. “That’s not true.”
“My grandparents don’t talk to me—”
“Kerry, you love your grandparent.”
“They hardly ever talk to me. I never hear from them.”
She shook her head. “That’s because of distance and the time difference—”
“She left me.”
Uh, oh. She left you? If you’re wondering who “She” is, you’re not alone, because there’s a certain Bulgarian girl wondering the same thing–
She left you? Annie was confused, because there had never been a mention of another girl—nor did she ever remember talking about one during their dream time together. Is he talking about Emma? She had to know. “Who left you, Kerry? Who did?”
Kerry’s voice rose as he cried out his response. “My Chestnut Girl—she left me.”
Annie release Kerry’s hand as she sat up straighter. There was little that shocked her so much that she allowed her emotions to show, and she was grateful that they were alone, for now was one of those moment when her unfiltered emotions appeared etched across her face. “No.” She shook her head slowly. “No, Kerry.” She slowly learned towards her sobbing love. “She didn’t, my love—she never left you. I never left you, Kerry. Don’t you see? I’m your Chestnut Girl.”
“I’m your Chestnut Girl.” Any time you can shock Annie you’ve done something extraordinarily frightening. And Kerry just brought up something that has shaken Annie right to her core–something that made her respond with the four words at the start of this sentence.
What does it mean?
You know the answer.