The Feelings In the Valley of Ashes

This morning I said I was going to finish the scene I’d started a few days ago, and when I posted what I’d written in the morning, I said I’d finish it before moving on.  Well, guess what?  I did.  And I said I’d post those results today.  And a lady keeps her promise, so . . .

Here you go:  what happens after Emma tells Kerry she likes him.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

She said nothing, only nodded. “I still like you.”

He nodded back. “I know.”

Emma wanted to move closer and touch him, take his hand if nothing else, but she remembered her attempt to woo him last year, and coming on to Kerry then had disastrous results, and she didn’t want a repeat of that event. “Is that all you’re gonna say? ‘I know’?”

Kerry stuffed his hands into his jacket’s pockets. “No, it’s not.”

“Then what?” She finally took a step closer to him. “I know you’re with Annie now, but—what about next year? You really think you’re going to be with her next school year?” She took a deep breath. “It’s not like you’re married to her: we could date once in a while.”

He shook his head. “I’m not going to cheat on Annie—”

“That’s not cheating. I’m just saying . . .” She took another step towards Kerry. “I just think we could go into Salem once in a while. Or even—” She looked around. “We don’t have to be back to the school until this afternoon—”

Kerry shrugged. “We’ll be back this afternoon.”

“That’s not what I mean. We could alway stop somewhere—”

“We are somewhere, Emma.”

Dammit, Kerry.” She clenched her fists as she looked skyward. “You’re so frustrating at times.”

He stood staring at her for about ten seconds, his hand remaining in his pockets and his face impassive. “Didn’t you ever wonder why I don’t say anything about—” He croaked out the words in a low, unemotional tone. “Us?”

Emma considered moving another step closer to Kerry, but the way he just spoke had her quickly reconsidering that move. “No—why?”

“Because I don’t want to hurt you.” He seemed to steel himself against what he was about to say. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”

Her breathing slow slightly as she fought to urge to tell him he was being stupid. “Kerry—”

“Annie’s my soul mate, I—”

“Yeah, you say that all the time—”

Listen To Me.”

The last time Emma heard Kerry use that command a tone was when he used the Draught of Submission on Lisa. A shiver ran through her as she swallowed hard. “Okay.”

“Annie is my soul mate: I don’t just love her, I’m committed to her. I’m bonded to her at a level you can’t ever understand.” He slowly dropped his hands to his side. “I don’t want to date anyone else. You wanna stop and get something to eat, or have a soda or something like that, fine: I’ll stop with you. But it’s not a date, Emma. It’s never gonna be a date.” He shook his head as he set his shoulders. “We’re never gonna date, okay?” He turned and began walking towards the Unisphere, his tone becoming lighter and less serious. “Come on, let’s get our pictures.”

Emma stood frozen in place for a few seconds as Kerry walked away. Her emotions were completely in flux at the moment, because she wasn’t certain how she should feel. First he’s passive, then commanding, and then . . . She clenched her jaw. He just dismissed me. “Hey.” Emma hurried after him. “Wait, Kerry.” He didn’t look around as she grew closer. “Okay, I get that you love Annie, ‘cause she’s probably the first girl you ever fell in love with. But you’re acting crazy. You don’t even want to think about dating, about other girls?” Her voice started to rise, and she didn’t care if anyone else heard her. “What is wrong with you? You’re twelve years old, and you talk like you’re married. Is that really it? Annie is the one? You talk like she’s the girl you’re gonna spend the rest of your life with—”

Kerry stopped and spun around. “Yes.”

Emma almost stumbled as she stopped. She blinked as if she didn’t understand what she’d just heard. “What?”

“I said yes.” He slowly folded his hands in front of him. “If I have my way, Annie’s the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.” He didn’t take move his gaze away from Emma, who stared back almost opened-mouthed. “I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to upset you, and I figured that since we were flying together all the time you’d sort of dropped this—” Kerry’s exhale came out like a tire slowly losing air. “I like you Emma, but I don’t love you—there’s only one person I’m going to love, and that’s Annie. So you can love me all you like, but . . .” He barely shook his head. “I’m never gonna love you.”

Emma closed her eyes and held her breath for a moment. Kerry had to make a choice at some point and that time had come. He’d decided, and there wasn’t any doubt where his heart lay. She turned her gaze down and away for a few seconds, afraid she might cry—and she didn’t want him to see that. “I . . . I get it now.”

“I’m sorry, Emma. I really didn’t want to hurt you.” He looked away for a moment as well. “If you want to fly with someone else, I’ll understand.”

She slowly turned towards him. “You told me last year, and I didn’t listen. That’s my fault.” Emma snorted. “No; I don’t want another navigator. If we’re gonna do the Polar Express next year, I want the best one in our class.”

“And I wanna be with the best pilot.” He stepped up to her and held out his hand. “Friends still?”

Emma had two choices: she could remain friends with Kerry, or she could walk away and cut him out of her life. The second choice would be the easiest and least painful; the first would be hard and perhaps even miserable. Then again, I’m going to see him in almost every class, so either way, it doesn’t matter—

She shook his hand. “Friends. Always.”

“Okay, then.” Kerry looked as if he didn’t know what he was gonna do next before giving Emma a light hug. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”

She nodded slowly and held the hug so he couldn’t see her eyes misting. “I know.” She blinked hard and sniffed when she pulled away. “Annie’s lucky.”

“She’s not the lucky one—” He smiled. “I am.” He looked over his shoulder towards the looming Unisphere. “We should get our selfies.”

She nodded. “It’ll be nice. When we’re done, can we . . ?”

“Yeah?”

“Can we fly over Manhattan?” A slight smile finally came to Emma. “I’ve never been here and I’d like to see it from the air. Maybe even land in Central Park and grab something to eat?”

Kerry had expect Emma to say something on this trip, and he wasn’t disappointed. He’d expected her to take his news the wrong way, and so far he was surprised that she hadn’t freaked out or broke down. I hope it stays this way: I hope I haven’t ruined our friendship by dashing her hopes. “Yeah . . . I could stand lunch.”

 

And there you have it:  what finally happened between Emma and Kerry.  Emma seems okay–

Seems.

Seems.

–and from here on out we’ll just have to see what happens.  Won’t we?

Yes, we will.

Beyond the Valley of Ashes

It’s late, isn’t it?  Yep, but it’s been a busy morning, really.  And yesterday was all sorts of busy.  I was out shopping:

Total clothing score!

Total clothing score!

I had a great full-vegan lunch:

Mine is on the left, and I loved the ruben rice bowl.

Mine is on the left, and I loved the reuben rice bowl.

And, oh:  I checked out a Tesla S Sedan.

I could love this dash.

I could love this dash.

And jumpseats in the back for the kids!

And jumpseats in the back for the kids!

Looks good on me, don't you think?

Looks good on me, don’t you think?

This morning it’s been writing and getting some food.  Mostly writing, because that keeps me busy.  And it keeps the story moving forward, which is important, right?  Because, strangely enough, people are interested in my kids.

And this is an important part of the story, because Kerry is off the leash, he’s in a park with Emma, and Annie is four hundred kilometers away.  The last time Kerry was alone with Emma was when school was letting out for Yule, and we know what happened then.  So . . . Wingmates On the Loose.  What could happen?

Well, a lot of talking, actually . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

It was no surprise they made it to New York City in two hours. Since Advanced Flight One began Emma and he had developed a great rapport as pilot and navigator. Kerry was great with maps and geography, so it didn’t take him very long finding their destinations and plotting a course. Emma had developed a good feel for reading weather conditions through the broom’s advanced look-ahead systems, and she could calculate times based upon time and speed in her head quickly and accurately the first time, which made filing a flight plan easy.

There was slowly strolling down Herbert Hover Promenade when it became obvious Emma was thinking about their flight. “What’s up after here? Montauk, right?”

“Yes.” For their Scavenger Flight Vicky they’d already visited five locations: the former location of the Danver Asylum; Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts; the Capitol Building for the state of Connecticut in Hartford; the port of New Haven, Connecticut; and Old Field Point on the northern short of Long Island, New York. The Unisphere was their current location, and only three more remained: Montauk Point Lighthouse on the southern tip of Long Island; Woods Hole, located on Cape Code, Massachusetts; and Plimoth Plantation, nearly fifty kilometers to the north. After the plantation, then only need to fly the eighty kilometers across Massachusetts Bay to return to the school—which if they did at three hundred and fifty kilometers an hour would put them on the ground in less than fifteen minutes later. “We just gotta fly out to the end of Long Island for that, then do another water crossing to get to Woods Hole.”

“Uh, huh.” She glanced at him out of the left corner of her eyes. “How did you know Montauk was at the end of Long Island? You said back at the school you’d tell me.”

“Right.” He stared straight down the lane, his eyes focused on their objective. “It was in a science fiction novel.”

Emma’s eyebrows climbed quickly towards her hairline. “What?”

“There was a scene in a novel where a couple of people had to go to a spaceport to get a ship, and it was stated it was out by Montauk Lighthouse. After I read the book I looked up the location to see if there really was a lighthouse there, and—” He shrugged. “That’s how I know.”

“More stuff you know because you just do.” She smirked. “You and your science fiction stories.”

“Well, that’s where juanting came from—” He cocked a strange look in her direction. “—or did jaunting come from The Foundation first, and the author put it in his story to tell people that it existed?”

 

Now you know what all those points on the one map I showed were for:  they were the points on their Scavenger Flight.  And they had a lot of them for some reason–probably because they’re so good at what they do.  Actually, that’s why, and it’ll get brought up later.

There’s Kerry talking about what seems to be his favorite novel again, The Stars My Destination–which happens to be one of my favorite novels as well.  And just so you know Kerry–and I–are telling the truth, I found a copy of the novel as it was serialized in Galaxy Magazine in 1956 and 1957, and if you look at the highlighted sections, you’ll see what Kerry was talking about.

See?  They even have jaunting.

See? They even have jaunting.

And that’s how he knew where Montauk Lighthouse was located, just like he said.

But Emma isn’t thinking about lighthouses–she’s got something else in mind.  No, not that, but someone else–

 

Emma shrugged. “I have no idea. Maybe Mattie will tell us in history one of these days.” They walked in silence for another thirty seconds before she brought up something that had been on her mind for a while. “I heard a rumor about Annie.”

Kerry was fairly certain he knew what this rumor was. “And?”

“Some of my covenmates said Annie didn’t use levitation in her Judgment Trial, but that she was actually flying—you know, like—”

“Like using a Flight Gift?” Annie had spoken with Isis the next night while Kerry was in Advanced Transformation, and she was told that while she wasn’t in trouble for using her gift to win her trial, the rumors going around the school about what she was doing with her Friday mornings at the Aerodrome were going to stop being rumors. Annie let Isis know that wouldn’t be a problem, and told Kerry that night that if anyone should ask if she could fly, he should answer truthfully. “Yeah, she did.”

“How long did you know?”

“Since the beginning.” Answer truthfully. “At the end of last school year we were told we’d be tested for gifts when we returned, and that’s what happened our first Saturday back. That’s when they told us about our gifts—”

Our gifts?” Emma looked at him strangely. “You, too?”

“Yeah, I’m a Mimic. That’s one of the reasons I’m in Advanced Transformation: Jessica’s teaching me how to better my ability to transform different parts of my body.”

“Wow.” She grinned widely. “Why didn’t you say something?”

“’Cause we were told not to talk about it to others.” He shrugged. “That’s why people didn’t know Annie could fly.”

“Hum.” Emma nodded once. “I can see that. So, what can you do with this Mimic? Just change parts of your body?”

“It’s more than that: I can change stuff so it’s just like that of other people. Here—” Kerry stopped Emma before looking around to make sure they were alone. “Watch this—” He looked at Emma for a couple of seconds before his hair grew out down to his shoulders, his now curly locks a duplicate of Emma’s. “See?”

Her eyes grew wide as she chuckled at the sight. “That’s just like mine.”

“Yeah, it should be exactly like yours—without the styling, of course.” He returned his hair to its natural state. “I could do this last year to a limited extent: just hair shade and complexion. I practiced with Erywin a few times—” He didn’t go into any detail on why he was trying to match Ewywin’s hair color. He turned and continued heading towards their objective. “Now Jessica’s got me learning how to narrow thing down so I can so different areas—”

“Like?”

“Eye color, nose and lip size—” He turned from Emma for a moment. “I’ve been doing extremities like fingers, hands, arms . . . It’s not hard with the guys, but trying to make changes with the girls isn’t easy. You guys have small hands.”

“Well, yeah.” She sighed, the smile still on her face as she examined Kerry and saw him as a completely different person. “So, how does it work? What kind of magic is it?”
Jessica had explained the way the Mimic Gift worked, but as Kerry didn’t want to spend five minutes giving that explanation to Emma, he pared it down. “It’s not really magic, it’s just something I do—that’s the way it is with Gifts. My aural aspect kinda touches yours, and since your aura is a reflection of your physical aspect, it means I can make it part of my physical aspect.” He shrugged. “It’s really a lot more complicated than that, but that’s basically what happens.”

“Okay.” Emma looked straight down the path towards the clearing ahead. “You practice with Annie? You know—” She quickly glanced in his direction. “Change things so your parts are like hers?”
He nodded. “Just my hair and complexion and stuff, though I’ve done her eyes.” He chuckled. “She gets a little weirded out by that.”

“I can imagine.” They stopped in a small half-circle where two wide, parallel paths converged so they was smaller and closer together as continued towards the Unisphere. “Do you know what this place is called?”

“I think it’s Astronaut Court.” He pointed to the statue to his left at the top of a small, terraced garden. “I know that statue is supposed to be famous, but I don’t remember what it’s called.”

She giggled. “Finally, something Kerry Malibey doesn’t know.” Emma looked towards their goal. “How’s Annie?”

 

Yeah, how is Annie?  Oh, she’s not here, is she?  Ding Ding Ding!  Let’s see where this goes . . .

 

“She’s good.” Kerry didn’t try to deflect the question: this was the first time Emma and he had been alone since they’d started flying, and he figured it was only a matter of time before she returned to a subject he knew had to be on her mind. “We’re both real busy, though, what with all the advanced classes and the Gift training.”

“Is that what she’s doing this morning?”

“Yeah. Isis and she are supposed to be flying around Cape Ann this morning, getting her more used to the colder weather.” He sighed. “She should be sitting down to lunch right about now.”

“Where as we have to settle for energy bars, jerky, and water.”

“Such is our curse.”

She laughed. “Yeah.” Emma grew silent as she seemed to grow slightly withdrawn. “Can I ask you something?”

Here it comes— “Sure.”

She slowly sighed. “Are you happy?”

“You mean with Annie?”

“Yeah?”

Just like with talking about their Gifts, Kerry didn’t want to hide anything anymore. “Yes, I am.”

She looked down at her feet. “I still like you.”

He nodded back. “I know.”

 

Eleven months after the cat was let out of the bag, it’s out again, though this time it seems as if Kerry was expecting something.  Well, let’s see where this goes–

Oh, wait:  that’s it.  That’s as far as I got before I went out shopping.  But!  I’m going to finish the scene this afternoon, and, I promise, I’ll post the remainder tonight so people don’t go to bed wondering what happen to these two.

Trust me:  you’ll see it almost as fast as I will.