The Coming of the Chestnut Girl

First off, I am coming to you from the Real Home, the ancestral estate in Northwest Indiana.  I made it in one piece and actually pulled into the garage exactly twelve hours after pulling out of the garage in The Burg to start my trip home.  And I only nearly fell asleep at the wheel once, about ninety minutes out from my destination.  That woke me up enough that I was able to get home in one piece.

And here I am this morning, no makeup, my library behind me featuring to the right of my head my three Pat Cadigan novel.

And here I am this morning, no makeup, part of my library behind me featuring to the right of my head my three Pat Cadigan novels.

The other news concerns the current scene.  The last time I made the six hundred and thirty-five mile journey between where I work and where I live, I was so tired that I couldn’t write a word.  Yesterday, however . . . I started out the scene during my second rest stop and managed three hundred and twenty-two words.  Last night, though it took me about three hours, I managed just over twenty-four hundred words, finished off the scene, and brought this part of the story to a conclusion.  Then I headed off to bed and slept straight through for close to eight hours of sleep.

What happened?  What did Annie and Kerry talk about?  I did considering posting recipes  for wild duck, but I know I’d get killed if I did that.  That said, let’s get into the scene.

 

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

As he spoke the last word of his tale Kerry winced and touched the side of his forehead. Both actions bothered Annie, for she assumed the worse: his déjà vu was back, and would likely affect him more than it had ever before. His description of his dream showed that some part of him remembered her and the first time he read to her under his tree in their shared dream—but there was something else mentioned, something that almost made Annie gasp.

She was worried that if Kerry was that close to the memories of his dreams, the déjà vu would not only try and prevent him from speaking, but could cause him actual harm. She eyed his broom; she thought it might be necessary to fly it to the hospital so she could summon a nurse—

Kerry shook his head and mumbled just under his breath. “Moyata polovinka.”

Annie had kept her distance while Kerry related his story, but the moment he spoke she was alongside him. “Are you all right?” She touched his head. “What’s wrong?”

“Just my head—” He shook it slowly. “I don’t know; must be the weather playing with my sinuses.”

Annie saw his eyes, saw they weren’t glazed, saw he was in control of himself. This hadn’t happened before, and when she considered what he’d said—he’d literally summoned his mate as a form of willpower—she believed Kerry was doing something he’d never tried before:

He’s fighting the déjà vu. The rune dream triggered something and he’s fighting . . . She almost gasped again. Is he trying to remember?

She ran her fingers through his hair. “With the weather changing so fast, it’s possible.” She ran her fingers down his cheek and then to his arm. Given all that he’d said, given what was happening at the moment—and given what may lay ahead, Annie knew there was only one question she could ask:

“Kerry, who’s the Chestnut Girl?”

 

Yeah, Kerry:  enough of the teasing.  Who’s this Chestnut Girl?  We want to know before a John Gault-style campaign starts at the school.

 

“When I was younger—I mean like three or four—I used to have these dreams of a girl who’d come and visit.” Kerry remained conversational and didn’t appear to suffer any sudden twitches or pains. “I don’t mean like she’d visit me at home: she’d show up in stuff that I was dreaming about and we’d do stuff—play mostly, but I can remember talking as well.

“We never went by names, though there was something she used to call me—” Annie whispered under her breath as Kerry spoke the words aloud. “The Ginger Hair Boy. Since I didn’t know her name, after a while I started calling her The Chestnut Girl, because that’s how her hair looked to me.”

“A chestnut color?” Annie brushed her hazel hair back off her shoulders, wondering if Kerry would notice.

“Yes. I mean, I was probably five when I started calling her that, what did I know?” He shrugged, then turned his head as if something had poked him.

 

Now we know:  she was a girl in his dreams.  Not only there, but Annie wants to know about something else:

 

“What was this tree of yours?” Annie found it a little difficult not to ask these questions before being led.

“There was this tree—couple of trees, really, but this one in particular—where I used to go and sit and read, because I was tired of sitting in the house alone.” A puzzled look appeared on his face as he explained. “My parents used to leave me alone the summer after I turned six so they could both work. My grandparents didn’t live that far away, so if I needed something I’d called them and they’d show up.”

“Why didn’t they just watch you?”

“Don’t know; never figured that one out. Anyway, after a while I got tired of being in the house by myself, so since I knew the code to open the garage door I’d walk to this tree with a book and sit there and read.

“There was one time when I feel asleep—at least I think I was asleep, though it didn’t feel that way—”

Annie felt him rambling, trying to move into this memory. “I know exactly what you mean; the dream is so lucid it feels real.”

“Yeah. That’s how this was. I was sitting there and she shows up and wants me to read to her. I mean, it was kind of weird, but at the same time—”

Something in his tone caught Annie’s attention. “Yes? What was it?”

He looked at the ground for a second. “It was kinda romantic. I was sitting there, she was cuddled against my left shoulder, and she held the book and turned the pages while I read. It was . . .” A bright blush spread across his face. “Sweet.”

Annie nodded in agreement, but inside she was barely containing her excitement. In the hospital I was on his right shoulder—but he remember how it happened in the dream. He’s remembering. “I does sound sweet.” She stepped up and took his hand. “And romantic.”

“It was.”

 

And, yes:  if you’re wondering, I deliberately busted up Kerry’s left side so when that same scene played out in the aftermath of the Day of the Dead, things would set up differently.  That way, when Kerry began to talk about this moment in his life, he’d get the scene right as he remembered, and this is the clue to Annie that he is remembering.  Plotting:  strange things happen.  And you’ve seen nothing yet, really, because there are more questions, and Kerry has more answers . . .

 

“It’s okay, love. There’s still plenty of time . . .” She lightly rubbed his right arm. “Did you ever see her after those readings?”

“That’s funny; she started showing up again after I moved to Cardiff.” He kept from looking at Annie, and it wasn’t long before she caught the telltale sniff of his tears. “I hated moving; I hated Cardiff. Mostly I hated leaving things behind, things that meant a lot to me. I was a mess that first week in Wales; I didn’t want to do anything. I stayed in my room all the time and didn’t care if I got over jet lag—not that my parents cared. All they’d say is I’d ‘get over it’.

“The first time I got used to sleeping on the normal time she showed up—my Chestnut Girl—”

“Yours?”

“I know.” He finally raised his head, showing Annie his tear-stained cheeks. “I got to where I thought of her as, you know . . .” He looked away for a second. “Being with me.”

Annie chuckled, knowing how close to the truth he was. “The girl of your dreams.”

“I know, it’s silly.” His face began drawing long. “You probably think I’m horrible, going on about this dream girl.”

“No, I’m not.” She held Kerry’s hand. “What happened that time in Cardiff with her?”

He perked up a little as he told the story. “She shows up, and it’s pretty obvious I’m upset—even in a dream she knows this. She asked what was bothering me, and I told her about the move and having to leave things behind, especially my bike, and how I’m hatting being in Cardiff. And she looks at me and says—”

Still holding his hand, Annie gazed into the tree line as she spoke the words that Kerry was going to say. “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me?”

Kerry smile and broke into a slight laugh. “Yeah, that’s what she said.” He squeezed Annie’s hand. “I remember you said something like that in London.”

 

And that last line of Annie’s brings me to this–

Note to self:  make sure you use this quote a year from now.

Note to self: make sure you use this quote six months from now.

The bottom part was first drafted during last year’s NaNoWriMo, and then edited in April of 2014, and during the edit I made sure I left a note reminding me to use that quote again.  That’s how I roll, people:  keep thinking ahead, ’cause you know the scene you’re on now will get written, and this is a good connection.  Also, I did my edit based around what I would write, so wibbly wobbly timey whimmy for real.

And what happened after he met up with her feeling all sad and depressed?

 

Rather than correct him Annie urged him on. “What happened after she asked you?”

“I said yes, and like—” He chuckled again. “Magic, there were a couple of mountain bikes next to use, and the landscape around us was—it reminded me of the Napa area in California, all hills and long stretches of fields. She asked me if I wanted to go bike riding, and we went off and road for what seemed like days.”

Annie held her breathing in check as she remembered the moment, remembered the things that happened, the words that were spoken—and what was said at the end before the dream ended. A moment that changed my life . . . “Now I know what that girl said at the end when she mentioned a bike ride.”

The smile on Kerry’s face was by far one of the brightest he’d ever sported. “It was perfect. Never got tired, never got sweaty, never too hot—just riding and talking and enjoying each other’s company. My mother told me in the morning I looked the happiest I’d been in almost a year.”

 

It made Kerry happy, and it did something to Annie as well.  (And you can ask what, but la la la, I have my fingers in my ears, I can’t hear your pleas . . .)

There is a question that goes back to the very end of Kerry’s dream, and Annie isn’t about to let it go.

 

Annie decided the moment was now: she had to follow up the rune girl’s statement and see if he remembered everything. “What did the girl in your rune dream mean when she said, ‘Look how that turned out’.”

For the first time in a stretch Kerry closed his eyes and winced, and as he did his hand clamped around Annie’s. She didn’t yelp from the quick pain: instead she sought to pull him back to his recollections. “It’s okay if you tell me, Kerry. I don’t mind, really. I mean . . .” She swallowed and hoped Kerry didn’t see the lie appear upon her face. “You’re talking about a dream girl, right?”

He kept his eyes closed as he spoke through clenched teeth. “Right—” He placed the back of his left hand upon his forehead and grunted as he did before—

Annie thought he was going to lose his connection to the memories, to his dreams—to their dreams. She pulled him close so she could whisper. “Please tell me, Kerry. I know it hurts, but you were told it would hurt. You were told it would—” Then she remembered what Deanna told her on the sofa during the Samhain dance: If you try to force these issues, they’ll never turn out satisfactorily, and you don’t want that. And she couldn’t have that . . .

“Kerry.” She continued whispering, but changed her tone from one of desperation to compassion. “Tell the story if you can. If not I’ll understand. I’ll always understand—” She kissed his tortured forehead. “I’ll always love you no matter what.”

 

For the first time there’s something Annie wants, and . . . she lets it go.  She decides if it’s gonna hurt Kerry to the point where something extremely bad could happen, she doesn’t want it.  She decides that not knowing is better than harming her soul mate.

And for that, something wonderful happens . . .

 

The pain continued for several more seconds before Kerry slowly dropped to his knees, then sat back—but he didn’t appear to be in pain any longer. “My ninth birthday—” He turned himself so he was facing Lake Lovecraft in the slowly vanishing light. “It was almost a full year that I’d been in Cardiff—and it seemed like once a week, sometimes twice a week, she’d be there in my dreams.”

Annie sat down on his left. “Your Chestnut Girl.”

“Yep. And that night I knew she’d show up. I just knew it.” Kerry stared off into the distance as he spoke. “She did. As soon as I fell into my dream, she was there, looking . . .” He slowly shook his head. “Beautiful as always.”

“What happened?” Annie slid closer, but resisted taking his hand.

“She asked me what I wanted to do—I’d told her some times before when my birthday was—and I told her I wanted to go bike riding. And we did, just like that first time I was able to sleep in Cardiff. And when we were ready to take a break—” Kerry motioned to the area around them. “We went up on this small hill, maybe like twelve or fifteen meters above one road, and sat there about two-thirds of the way up.”

He drew up his knees and hugged them as if he needed something to comfort. “We’d been talking through most of the dream, and it wasn’t like some of the things we’d talked about before: we’d started getting more personal as time went on—”

Annie hugged her knees, too. “Almost like a real person.”

“She—” He didn’t look anywhere but straight ahead. “Was. She was real. A real person with real emotions. I felt them, ‘cause she was always nice to me.” He buried his chin into his knees. “I wasn’t to her.”

 

Leave it to Kerry to beat himself up over what he thought was a dream–and then finally admit, he may have know that his Chestnut Girl was real.  And Annie helps him remember the one thing he’s kept hidden for so long . . .

 

It was in that moment Annie knew what to do, because she remembered this moment, and remembered where it led. She lay her hand lightly upon his left arm. “What’s on your mind, Kerry? You’ve been quiet since we climbed up here.”

“Just—things.” He looked down over his knees at his feet.

In that second Annie felt the way she had that night of the Day of the Dead, when she and Kerry were reliving their first dream at his tree. They were still on the north shore of Lake Lovecraft, but at the same time she could see the hillside around them, the countryside around them, the road below, their bikes propped against a low tree . . . We’re here. He’s remembering. He knows this.

She rubbed his arm. “What sort of things?” She pulled away at that moment as she didn’t want to scare him by being too personal.

“Just, you know—” He turned his head and smiled at her.

Annie smiled back as coyly as she could. “No, I don’t know. Tell me.”

“Well . . .”

“It’s okay if you tell me.” She slapped at him playfully. “Please tell me.”

“Okay.” He half-turned his head away so he wouldn’t have to look at him. “I’ve been thinking about the time we spend together, and . . .” He rested his head against his arm.

She chuckled. “Come on; it’s not fair you having secrets.”

He went back to not looking in her direction. “I think you’re a nice person.”

“Oh?” She slide perhaps two centimeters closer. “I’m really that nice?”

“Well, you’re better than that.” He sighed. “I like you.”

Annie raised her right eyebrow. “You do?”

“Yeah.”

“You like me a little?”

“Not really; I mean—” Kerry stumbled over his words. “I like you more than a little.”

“How much?” Annie didn’t bother hiding her smile. “What’s more than a little?”

Kerry raised his head off his arm and returned to looking straight ahead. “What I mean—” His voice was ragged with emotion. “I like you a lot more than I probably should.”

As she did that night, Annie reached across his body and touched Kerry’s left hand. “What do you mean?”

A pause, two seconds, five passed—then Kerry turn his body so he was able to look at Annie without turning just his head. His face was the most expressive she’d ever seen. “Annie, I love you. I’ve loved you for a long time—”

In that moment the dream spell dropped, and both were back on the shore, both sitting in the growing twilight, but Kerry was still turned towards the smiling Annie, finishing his statement. “—and I don’t know that I could ever be without you.”

A dawning awareness overtook him concerning what had just happened, but Annie wasn’t about to let the moment end that way—for she had her own part to play. “That’s okay, Kerry—” Her smile was as warm as it had been when she finally admitted her love to Kerry in the same dream. “I’ve loved you for a long time now, too.”

 

What has Annie wanted from Kerry all this time?  She wanted him to remember that, for almost three years now, that Kerry knew she was real, that they’d known each other most of their lives, and that he’d loved her for a couple of years before they met up at school.  It may not seem like much to you, but to Annie–oh, it meant the world.

And even brought this moment of comfort:

 

He reached out and grabbed her hand. “Annie?”

“Kerry?”

He tried to speak, but gasped once, twice, then almost fell into her. “It’s you.”

“Yes, it is.”

“It’s really you.” Tears began streaming down his face.

Annie pulled him closer to him. “Kerry, what’s wrong?”

“How could I not know?” He wrapped his arms around her. “How? Why didn’t I know it was you?” He hugged her, sobbing. “Why didn’t I know you were my Chestnut Girl?”

She held him in her arms, patted his back, rubbed his head, anything she could think of to console him. “It doesn’t matter, Kerry.” Annie buried her face into the shoulder of her sobbing soul mate. “It doesn’t matter, because you know. You know now.” She hugged him tight and never wanted to let go. “You know now.”

Seventy-six hundred words just to get through a bunch of dreams and hear, "You know now."

Seventy-six hundred words just to get through a bunch of dreams and hear, “You know now.”

There you are:  all the dreams told and the secrets more or less exposed.  Yes, there is something else following, and it should wrap this up nicely.  In fact, I may be able to write the next scene and the last one today.  I might actually finish them tonight.

Which is good, because the sooner I do, the quicker I can go back to torturing my kids some more.

 

 

NaNo Word Count, 11/22:  2,741

NaNo Total Word Count:  42,360