I’ve done something that’s pretty much a first for me: I’ve written the shortest chapter of the current novel. Really? How short? Two thousand, one hundred and seventeen words. Or 2,117 if you prefer. Yeah, that’s short. Not the shortest I’ve ever written–in one story I have a chapter that’s just over seven hundred and fifty words–but for this monster, it’s short.
In this chapter and then next, I’ve eliminated three scenes, because on reflection they weren’t needed. That doesn’t mean I won’t come back to Chapter Thirty-One and perhaps do a last scene, but for now, on the First Draft, I’m done, I’m through, I’m finished.
It’s really a little slice of what happens to Annie and Kerry, and while we’re known for some time that Kerry was going to perform, way way way back in the Keyboard Room–about two hundred thousand words back, I think–Annie mentioned something about drawing and artwork. They’re walking around during this Saturday because Kerry is suffering a bout of nerves, and they head to the Atrium of the Auditorium and, well . . .
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
The atrium of the Auditorium was filled with artwork and sculptures, which were produced by students in art classes, and by those who had taken the time to create work on their own. They walked through the gallery area; Kerry found the work incredible. I was actually a bit jealous of those who could draw, because he had so many ideas that he wanted to see as something real, and being able to draw would allow that to happen . . .
He stopped before a large ink drawing of a scene in the mountains. Annie stood to one side and examined the drawing. “What do you think?”
“I love it.” He absorbed the stark lines and shadows. “I love the mountains, and this makes me want to be there.”
“I know how that feels . . .” She stepped to the side an Kerry saw a card with her name on it. “It’s the view from the back porch of my parent’s house.”
“Really?” Kerry took a closer look. “Can you see this from your bedroom?”
“No, but I can from my sitting room.”
Kerry slowly turned his head to the left. “You have a sitting room?”
Annie tossed her head to one side and smiled coyly. “A girl needs a place to entertain visitors.” She tugged on his sleeve. “Look here—”
Yes, Kerry, your soul mate has a sitting room–what girl doesn’t? And one doesn’t need to go way out on a limb and say it was Annie’s idea to have a sitting room, because she wasn’t going to let just anyone into her bedroom, and she let her parents know this fact when, I’m guessing, she was pretty young. It says a lot of that even her mother waited in Annie’s sitting room waiting for her daughter to get up, and didn’t burst into the bedroom with a smiling face and a “Good morning, Annie!” on her lips. She’s have probably gotten hit with Cold Fire if she had.
Annie’s dragging Kerry around to the other side of the art wall, because . . .
Kerry was dragged to the other side of the partition upon which her inking hung. There, opposite the drawing, hung a large large painting done in oils. He didn’t need to ask who the subjects were. “That’s . . . us.”
The painting was of Annie and Kerry, both dressed in their flying leathers. Their helmets and gloves were off, but their jackets were zipped up with the collars down. Both were leaning into each other an arm around the other’s shoulders: Kerry’s right are was around Annie waste, holding her close, while her left hand rested against his chest. The background showed the Pentagram and the Great Hall in the background; Kerry recognized the point of view as being at the Observatory and facing south.
He wanted to reach out and touch the painting, but knew better. “How long did it take to make this?”
“I’ve been working on that since the middle of November.” Annie stepped up next to the name card. “I finished it about the time you were wrecked.” She pointed at the artist’s card. “Look here—”
Kerry leaned in and read the title: Baby Snakes at Laputa by Annie Kirilova.
He felt his breath catch in his throat. “This is lovely.” He saw something about his character. “My head is lowered and my eyes are closed.”
“I wanted you to be relaxed—peaceful.” Annie came around to his left and took his hand. “You know what this is, don’t you?”
He nodded. “It would have been us that day on patrol.” He glanced down for a moment. “During the Day of the Dead.”
“Sometimes I think I should have flown with you.” She clung to his arm. “I’d like to see where you hid one day.”
“I want to show it to you.” He kissed her on the forehead. “I wish you had flown with me; we’d have stated there.”
You wish Annie had been your wingmate that day, Kerry? Feeling a little remorse, are we, and your other wingmate damn near got you killed? And we know that Kerry talked about his stops at the observatory with Emma, therefore Annie had a good idea how the view would appear. Also being immortalized in paint for everyone at the school to see is another of those cool things that they’ve done for each other.
Before Kerry heads backstage there is another exchange about Annie’s art:
Both turned and found Nadine standing behind them. Her eyes were locked upon the portrait. “Annie, did you paint this?”
“Yes, I did.” She and Kerry faced his musical partner.
“You did a great job. Where will you kept this?”
“I’m going to leave it in my room.” She glanced at Kerry. “I’ll leave it at the school and ask them to move it when I go to the next level.”
Kerry knew they were allowed to do that with certain personal items, but after seeing the painting he thought she would want to do something else with the painting. “You’re not taking it home?”
“I didn’t paint it so I’d only see it a few weeks out of each year.” Annie shook her head. “I want it where I’ll see it the most.”
“Makes sense.” Nadine turned to Kerry. “We’re gonna need to get set up.”
“Yeah, I know.” He nodded towards Annie. “Give me a second?”
“Sure.” Nadine headed off the backstage area.
Kerry faced Annie and took hold of her hands. “What are you going to do with the inking?”
“I was thinking about sending it home—” Her eyes twinkled. “Or giving it to you.”
His eyes lit up as well. “Really?”
“You want it?”
“Yes, please.” He closed and opened his eyes slowly. “I want to see what you see out the window of your sitting room.”
“Then it’s yours.”
“Thank you.” He pulled her close and kissed her on the lips. “I’ll keep it in my room—every year.”
And now Kerry’s getting an Annie original, while she’s keeping the painting. Both will stay at the school–and what Annie isn’t saying is that leaving it in her dorm room is easier than perhaps having to explain who those Baby Snakes are, and why they look so cuddly.
Then we move out to the audience, during the performance, and there’s Annie, sitting alone, seeing the instructors, some with their significant others and even kids, and some of the parents of the students–yes, after a while you can invite them, and Annie could have asked hers because Legacies, but she wanted to avoid having to explain things . . . but that’s besides the point. It’s time to find out what Kerry was working on for month with his tutor.
Professor Ellison walked off stage right as Kerry and Nadine entered from stage left. They headed straight for the equipment at the near center of the stage. As they powered up their instruments, Kerry looked out over the audience and attempted to smile. “Hi, everyone.” Annie caught the slight tremor in his voice, which carried perfectly using the same magic that the headmistress and Isis used to make school-wide announcements. “Nadine and I are gonna play Lovers in Japan by Coldplay.” He looked to his right as Nadine made her final adjustments and gave him a nod.
Before they could begin, a voice—Annie identified it as Lisa’s—rang out from somewhere from the back. “You’re gonna suck, Malibey.”
There was a slight mummer that passed through the crowd, and several of the instructors turned around with murder in their eyes. Annie worried this could rattle Kerry and ruin his performance—
He looked up from his keyboards and wrinkled his brow. “Yeah, I might. But at least we’re up here taking our shot.” He chuckled as Nadine and he slapped hand before he turned his attention back to the audience. He picked Annie out of the crowd and pointed in her direction. “This is for you, Sweetie. I hope you like it.”
As had happened at the Samhain dance, Annie felt light headed, and she gripped the armrests of her seat for support. He’d not only dedicated a song to her in front of the student body the last time, but here he was doing the same thing in front of students, staff, significant others, and parents. I can’t believe he did this again . . .
Nadine and Kerry played the first slow bars, setting the mood with their crescendoing electronic sounds, then launched into the up-tempo piano intro which Kerry played with vigor as Nadine activated the drum machines and began playing her part of the melody. He began singing, and while his voice wasn’t strong, he didn’t appear phased or embarrassed that his vocals weren’t close to perfect; if anything, he seemed to gain strength from the fact he wasn’t perfect.
Not that it mattered to Annie. It was her belief that he could spend the whole song singing off-key and playing out of tune—
It wouldn’t have mattered at all.
Annie’s gonna get spoiled with these song dedications: pretty soon she’ll begin demanding one a month, and not just during special events.
So there you are: Chapter Thirty-One Done–
–Which means today I get into Chapter Thirty-Two, and I answer the question someone asked, “Has Kerry ever really dreamed of Annie like she says he has?”
Yeah, you’re gonna find out. Really.
NaNo Word Count, 11/15: 1,796
NaNo Total Word Count: 28,590