First off, let me preface this by saying everything was written after getting back from a three-and-a-half hour manicure and pedicure touch-up, and after eating. It was a great time writing, probably because I’ve had this particular scene in my head for about, oh, three years. Yeah, these things happen, and they’re strange, I’ll tell you.
Also, last night’s scene ended up being longer than all of Chapter Thirty-One. Ah, but there was so much more to cover, and a lot more interesting things happened. The same can be said for nearly every scene in this chapter, but this is the set up for something important–
And lastly, if you don’t want to read something that will, frankly, come across as somewhat adult, then you might wanna go read something else. If you are interested in what’s going on, read on–but I warn you, there is the possibility you could be shocked.
That said, onward.
It’s a few days after Ostara, and Coraline is summon to the hospital close to midnight. Why? Well, I think this might offer a clue . . .
All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Coraline stepped into the doorway of her office just as Nurse Gretchen looked up, as she always did whenever Coraline was called out in the middle of the night and checked in with her staff first. The chief medical officer of the School at Salem always wondered if her night nurse picked here up on their magical sensors, or if she used her enhanced sense to determine the exact moment someone was going to darken this doorway.
In this case Coraline already knew why she was called out, so it was a simple matter to skip the preliminaries and go right to business. “Where is he?”
“Where else?” Gretchen got up and came around the desk. “Bay One, Bed Two.”
Coraline looked over her shoulder and chuckled. “The good ‘ol One-Two.” She lowered her voice in case their visitor was listening. “You pick up anything out of the ordinary on the prelim scan?”
“Only one thing—” Gretchen filled in a specific piece of missing information. “Other than that, everything seems fine.”
“Yeah.” Coraline nodded as she turned. “I kinda figured it might be that. Back in a bit.” She headed straight for Bay #1 and knocked on the curtain frame. “Kerry?” She slowly opened the curtain and peeked inside.
Gee, who spends all their time at this hospital in Bay #1, Bed #2? He’s a little out of it, and he’s feeling down in the dumps, it seems . . .
“Hey, Red.” Coraline stepped in and locked the curtain behind her, activating the enchantment that would keep their conversation unheard outside the bay. “How you doin’?”
“I’m okay.” Kerry slowly sat up and dangled his legs over the side of the bed.
He’s not looking at me—so unlike him. “Nurse Gretchen said you came in all upset. You wanna talk about it?”
He glanced up for just a second. “Yeah.”
“You sure?” She positioned herself so she was right in front of the boy. “If you want you can just rest here for a while—”
“Naw.” He finally looked up with tired eyes. “We can talk.”
“Okay.” She pointed at Bed #1 behind her. “You want me to sit over here?” She motioned towards Kerry. “Or would you rather have some company?”
Kerry scooted a little to his left and patted the bed with his right. “You can sit here.”
Coraline remained silent for a few seconds before chuckling. “You’re gonna treat me like all the other girls . . .”
“What do you mean?”
She turned and gently set herself next to him. “You always have the girls sit or stand on your right if possible. The only one who’s ever on your left is Annie.”
This is really a habit of his: Kerry always on the right, Annie on the left, and all the other girls get to sit or stand at his right. It wasn’t spoken of in yesterday’s excerpt, but Natalie’s equipment was set up on Kerry’s right side . . .
So what’s going on here? Let’s let him speak:
“Probably.” Coraline decided she needed to give the doctor-patent confidentiality speech: she was certain Kerry knew it, but she wanted to set his mind at easy. “You’re aware that as the chief medical officer here—as well as being a counselor—that anything you say to me stays with me. I’ll only speak to another doctor or counselor if you give me permission to do so—otherwise whatever we talk about stay with us.” She leaned forward so she could see his face. “Okay?”
He raised his head so he wasn’t looking at the floor, but he looked straight ahead; he avoided looking at Coraline. “Sure.”
She started using her “I’m Here For You” tone, the one that she knew worked well at getting troubled kids to open up. “So what brings you to us tonight? It’s not like you to come here in the middle of the night.” Coraline wanted to add Unlike your girlfriend but knew he wouldn’t find the comment at all funny, not in his present state.
Kerry continued starting at Bed #1 for about ten seconds before he allowed his head to drop slightly. “I had a dream.”
Yeah, a dream. And he remembers. That’s the scary part, that he’s admitting to Coraline that he remembers a dream–something he’s probably never mentioned to her, but that Annie knows. So what happened in the dream. Well, um . . .
Kerry cleared his throat. “It was about Annie.”
“Okay. Well, then: did something bad happened to her?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Was it—” Coraline shrugged: even though she knew Kerry wouldn’t see it, she knew he’d feel the bed shake. “You know, was she in trouble? Was she having a problem and you couldn’t help her?”
This time there was no hesitation. “She was . . . sitting on a bed.”
“I see.” Coraline began picking her words carefully. “What was she doing?”
“Just sitting.” He shook his head. “Knelling, really. Sitting back on her heels.”
“Okay, I can imagine that. Was she, um—how was she dressed?” She leaned forward a little more, trying to get Kerry to look at her. “Was she in her uniform? Or like jeans and a pull over? Maybe her nightclothes?”
He shook his head. “She, um . . .” He coughed once. “She wasn’t wearing anything.”
Okay, then, as my daughter would say. So where is this leading? Well, some of your are like Kerry, and have figured it out–
Coraline saw no need to stretch things out any longer: it was time to help him understand. She softened her voice more, taking on the role not of the professional, but of the confidant. “Kerry, did something happen that brought you out of the dream rather quickly? Something unexpected?” She leaned far enough forward so she could see his face in three-quarter profile. “Something you couldn’t control?”
Finally Kerry turned his head and looked into Coraline’s face. “Yeah.” He shook his head twice, then turned back to his stare point.
She sat up and let a few seconds to pass so the moment and emotions could settle. Then she reached out towards the boy. “Hey, Kerry—” She wrapped her arm around him and pulled him into a side hug. “Come here. Come here.” She offered her comfort for about fifteen seconds before she released him. She continued speaking in her soft, relaxing tone. “You had what we in the medical business call a ‘nocturnal emission’.” She smiled softly. “You’re pretty smart, so it’s a pretty good bet you know it by another name.”
For the first time since Coralie came to speak with him Kerry chuckled. “Yeah, I’ve heard it called that.”
Of course he has. “Well, just to let you know, there’s nothing unusual about this: it’s all part of growing up and going through puberty.” She gave his right arm a gentle squeeze. “And you are definitely going through both right now. Just so you know, you’re not the first boy to show up here in the middle of the night that’s had this happened—” She tilted her head towards him. “Or the first girl, either.”
Kerry turned to her, his tone indicating he’d learn something new. “Really?”
“Yep. They may not talk about it much, but it happens.” Coraline leaned towards Kerry until their heads were nearly touching. “I can speak from experience on this one.” She winked before sitting up straight again.
His face lit up as a huge grin cracked across his face. “You?”
“Yeah. I wasn’t much older than Annie is now the first time it happened to me.” She tapped her fingers on her thigh. “That’s my point, Kerry: this can happen to anyone, and usually does at least one.” Her voice returned to a more professional tone. “Have your parents ever talked with you about this? Or, for that matter, any other stuff that has to do with this part of growing up?”
Kerry scoffed. “Are you kidding?”
Yeah, are you kidding? Kerry’s parents have done the greatest job of not doing anything right in raising their near-genius witch son, so who really believes they’re gonna spend some time discussing puberty with him? Coraline offered to speak with him, as a doctor, about these “issues”, and this exchange occurs:
His brow furrowed slightly. “I don’t need permission from my parents?”
“Kerry . . .” Coraline chuckle was almost a laugh. “You’re a witch and a sorceress; you flew a patrol that helped defend the school; you almost died a couple of times, broke a half-dozen bones, was unconscious for almost eight hours . . . and you saved someone’s life by fighting a monster.” She turned her head slightly to the side as she grinned. “Other than the first time you asked to come here, when have you needed to asked them to do anything else?
“You now know how The Foundation works: you control your destiny, and you are the one who says whether you want to have this talk—” She shrugged. “Or not. It’s up to you, Kerry, and you alone.”
No, Kerry: any kid who fights a monster when they’re eleven doesn’t need permission from their parents for a sex talk. Besides, it’s not like his parents are aware of anything else that’s happening to him at school–or appear to care.
But wait! It’s not just this right of growing up that’s got Kerry bothered. See, in the dream there was stuff going on–you know, things? And that’s what actually has him in a bit of a lather . . .
Coraline considered telling Kerry that Gretchen and she figured out what happened because he hadn’t done as good a job cleaning up himself, but figured she’d leave that for their talk. “You know, given the relationship Annie and you have, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened earlier.”
Kerry turned away from Coraline and stared at Bed #1 for about fifteen seconds. She wondered if he was thinking about the times she’s lay there while he slept on this bed, but that changed when he spoke. “She was different.”
“Annie. In the dream.” He turned back to Coraline. “She was different.”
Coraline was curious about his statement. “How so?”
“She was . . .” While he normally didn’t have issues stating what was on his mind, Kerry struggled to explain himself. He turned to Coraline. “She was like you—” He placed his hands in front of his chest as if he were holding something. “Curvy.”
Oh, yeah: curvy. Coraline fought to keep from chuckling, but she couldn’t hide her grin. “You mean she had developed.”
“So she was—older?”
“I think so.” He looked across to Bed #1 again. “It wasn’t hard to miss: everything in the dream was so vivid.”
Coraline wanted to know more. “Can you tell me?”
“Well . . . We were in a bedroom—”
“We? You were there?”
“I think so; it felt like I was seeing things from my point of view.”
And establishing that, he continues:
“The bedroom we were in didn’t have a wall on one side—on my right: just a railing. And it was all dark except for a glow I saw out of the corner of my eye. It was . . . I think it was a fireplace, ‘cause I could hear crackling.” Kerry sniffed the air as if he’d detected an oder. “Cherry wood. I could smell it. That’s what was burning.
“I was walking on a hardwood floor—I could feel it. And when I sat next to Annie I felt how soft and cool the comforter was . . .” He seemed embarrassed. “I don’t think I was dressed, either.”
“That’s okay. Can you tell me more?”
“There was Annie.” Kerry continued staring straight ahead while his voice took on a dreamy quality. “I could smell her hair. It was nice, like it always is ‘cause she uses this special shampoo from home . . . And she was wearing perfume; I could smell it on her neck and . . .” He touched himself over his heart. “There. It was . . .” He slowly closed his eyes and sighed. “Lovely. And her skin was so soft. I know what that sort of feels like, ‘cause I’ve feel her arms when we’re in the Midnight Madness, and her cheeks are soft, really soft, and her—”
Astute readers are gonna notice a clue right away, but for the rest of you–naw, not saying a word. Needless to say, after a bit of back and forth, Coraline lays things out for him to see:
Coraline didn’t need to consider what she was going to say next, because she’d already made up her mind. “Kerry, you know how I said that I won’t talk about this conversation to anyone—unless there’s something I think needs to be discussed with another person?”
“I think . . .” Tell him, he’ll understand. “I’m not completely certain you had a dream, and I’d like to get a second opinion—if you’ll let me.”
A slow awareness began to dawn in Kerry’s eyes. “You think—?”
“This can be a strange place, Red, and not everything we think is normal is what is seems.” She looked to him and smiled. “Can I have your permission to speak with another counselor?”
Though the dream, and the aftermath, had disturbed him greatly, Kerry agreed with Coraline that not everything here was what it seemed. “Sure. Go ahead.”
Kerry ends up spending the night, and Coraline ends the scene by telling Gretchen she needs “to see a woman about a dream,” and that is that.
Or . . . is it?
It’s a strange world these kids are living in, and nothing–not even strange “My body is doing weird things!” events that happen while growing up are, um, normal. And dreams aren’t always dreams. Sometimes they’re more–
And when they’re being had by a kid who can’t remember his dreams, well, it’s time to sit up and notice.
There’s the opening salvo–
This is where I start to lay out most everything, and really show their relationship. Where it may be going–
And where it’s been.
NaNo Word Count, 11/16: 2,513
NaNo Total Word Count: 31,103