The Giving of the Gifts

It’s a good day, more or less, though cold as hell outside.  That’s to be expected ’cause, you know, it’s the middle of January, and most of the northern part of the country it’s winter.  It’s one of the reasons when, around this time, people start posting pictures of snow and exclaim, “Why is it so cold?” I usually want to tell them something that I know will get me in trouble, so I keep my keys to myself.

"My face is growing numb and there are white things falling from the sky.  What is this phonomina that I've lived through every year since I was born?"

“My face is growing numb and there are white things falling from the sky. What is this phenomena that I’ve lived through every year since I was born?”

Let’s not go there.

At my school it’s cloudy and cool, and there’s gonna be a bit of rain, but nothing major.  And my kids are on the way to breakfast on Kerry’s birthday–maybe he should get steak and eggs . . .

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

A few weeks before she was worrier that they might die. Now she felt more loved than at any time since Kerry had recovered the memories of their dreams.

Upon reaching the Great Hall Annie flung open the doors of the West Entrance for Kerry, who laughed as he walked inside. Annie was loving this: she wasn’t prone to showing off, but today she felt as if there wasn’t much she couldn’t do, and what she could do she’d do for Kerry. She knew if their birth dates were reversed he’d do the same for her—after all, his crafting was as good as her when it came to spells, and while she held an advantage over him in sorcery, he showed far more skill with transformation spells. We each have our advantages and disadvantages—though I need to speak with him later about our talk in Kansas City

Kerry. Annie.”

Both looked up and found Coraline leaning over the first floor railing. “Hey, come on up to the hospital.” She straightened. “I’ve got something I need to tell you.”

 

And that is probably the only time you’ll ever hear anyone put Kerry’s name first when mentioning both in the same name.  ‘Cause birthdays, right?  So you can forgive Coraline for putting him first at least one day out of the year.

They make their way to the hospital and . . .

 

Upon entering the waiting room they found Nurse Coraline waiting for them with her hands in the pockets of her hospital smock. “Enter, young children.”

“Hello, Nurse Coraline.” Annie kept one hand wrapped around the strap of her messenger bag, and the other wrapped around Kerry’s.

Kerry waved with his right hand. “Hey, Nurse Coraline.”

“Hey, yourself.” She rocked back and forth on the heels of her black flats. “I understand someone around here has a birthday today.”

“Um, yeah.” Kerry blushed a bright red. “I do.”

“Really? What a surprise—” Coraline lightly touched her the area over her heart. “So do I.”

Both children glanced at each other before they turned back. Kerry blurted out a quick laugh. “Really?”

 

Really, she does, and there’s a story behind that . . .

Because I’m a bit lazy, and because Kerry started out as a role playing character, when I created him I thought, “I’ll just give him my birthday.”  So his birthday, 3 May, is almost mine–something I’ve never hidden on this blog.  I’m slightly older, because I was born forty-three years earlier, and at the time of his twelfth birthday, I was turning fifty-five and having a semi-miserable time coming down with a cold.

Now, for Nurse Coraline Gallagher . . . she was modeled physically after actress Christina Hendricks, which is why Coraline has mentioned from time to time that she was rather . . . developed as a young girl.  But my Coraline is a great doctor, and she also possesses the real Christina’s birth date, which is . . . 3 May.  The only differences are that I’m eighteen years older than Ms. Hendricks, and Coraline is twenty-two years older than Kerry.  And Coraline is a witch and Ms. Hendricks isn’t–at least that we know.

And this is something that Coraline brings up . . .

 

“Really. Though I’m a bit older, naturally.” Coraline chuckled. “The moment you were born it was already the Fourth of May here, and I was still up hoping that two students I’d spent most of the afternoon working on would make it through the night.” She shrugged. “I’d celebrated my twenty-second birthday about twenty-two hours sitting alone in my office with a piece of chocolate cake for company, not knowing that someone I was going to come to know well in eleven years was coming into the world in a few hours.” She raised her left hand slowly, and a package floated down from its hiding place just over the hospital entrance and behind Annie and Kerry. She handed it to the smiling boy. “Happy Birthday, Kerry.”

He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to hold back his emotions. “Thank you, Nurse Coraline.”

“Oh, just Coraline for now.” She nodded at the package. “I’d like for you to open it here, if you would.”

 

What she’s alluding to is bring brought in late at night on 30 April to administer to the wounded and dying in the aftermath of The Scouring.  Since Coraline lives in Salem the city, she was contacted and asked to fill in due to the actual school doctor being slightly dead.  It wasn’t going to be a full-time gig, but twelve years later, she’s still here.  And hiding presents in plain sight–okay, floating them over the doorway–nice touch.

So what did she get Kerry?  Money?  A tome on death spells?  A real Pokemon, which Isis could totally do?

 

Kerry set the package down on a chair and carefully opened the wrapping paper without tearing it to shreds. One it was off he popped the tape with a simple levitation spell and opened the package. He removed the gift inside. “This . . .” He held the hospital gown for Annie and Coraline to see. “It’s a gown.”

“Yes, it is.” Coraline stepped closer and touched the garment. “This is what you wore the night you were admitted after your accident during the Day of the Dead attacks.” She pointed towards the open package. “There’s something in there for you, too, Annie.”

She reach in and pulled out a white hospital smock similar to Coraline’s but shorter. “Let me guess: I wore this the same day.”

 

That Coraline, she’s a wild woman, right?  Why would she hand these over?

 

“That’s what you wore when you were working on him.” She turned to Kerry and her tone turned serious. “When you came in here eight months ago, I called you clueless—and you were. You were into something you had no idea existed—” She looked at Annie and winked. “Well, two things you didn’t know existed, and when you guys walked out of here I really wondered how you were going to do the next day during Orientation.

“I watch you come in for various reasons; you had to spend the night the first week, and you ended up a guest again a month later. I was seeing changes in you, though, and in Annie, too—changes that were significant enough that when the Day of the Dead arrived, you both knew what you wanted to do to help.”

She pointed at the garment in Kerry’s hands. “I want you to have that as a reminder of how much you’ve matured—not only before that attack, but since. Both of you, it’s been marvelous experience to see you grow up through this school year, and who the hell knows what you’re going to be like when you return for your B Levels.

“I will say this, though . . .” Coraline stepped forward and held Kerry’s hands in hers. “You sure ain’t clueless anymore, Red.” She leaned over and kissed him on the right cheek. “You’re gonna have a great day, Kerry.”

 

There you have it:  he gets a reminder of how much he’s changed since arriving at the school, and a kiss from probably the one woman that a lot of the boys at school wish they’d get a kiss from.  Losers.  Get a life.  And a significant other.

Oh, and tonight when I finish this scene, that kiss?

Yeah, just wait on that . . .