There wasn’t any intention on my part to write over a thousand words last night, but when it comes to writing I usually find myself just going where I need to go with a story. Instead I wrote just over one thousand, one hundred, and fifty words to knock off the penultimate scene of Chapter Twenty-eight.
And since this is the penultimate scene of Chapter Twenty-eight, that means some sort of conclusion is about to get reached while ending the scene on a bit of a cliffhanger that seems to drive a few people a little nuts. And this one is no different. But before we get to the edge of the cliff, we gotta deal with the other business–
Like, who’s this person about to answer some mysterious, all-important question?
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
Annie and Kerry both looked to their left as a tall woman with an athletic build, dressed in a jeans, a simple blue pullover, and sneakers, stepped around from behind the sofa and took up a position midway between the headmistress and sofa, standing back just enough to the left that she didn’t block anyone’s line of sight. She smiled as she regarded the children. “Well, now, it seems like just the other day I was hanging with you two.”
Annie’s eyes widened as she inhaled sharply through her nose. “You.”
“In the flesh, so to speak.”
Kerry chuckled once as he looked up smiling, instantly recognizing the woman through her flaming red hair. “Doctor Gray—”
“Oh, Kerry.” Her laugh was short but full of charm. “You and I both know I’m not a superhero, I only play them when I’m doing an E and A with the right kid.” She crossed her arms and set her right hand against her chin. “I’d ask how you’re doing, but I already have a good idea—”
He barely nodded. “You would know.”
The woman smirked. “You’d be surprised.”
Both kids turned back to their right the moment they heard Coraline clear her throat. “With whom are you speaking?”
Annie pointed at their new guest. “The Phoenix.”
And here it is, the cameo I said months ago was coming. Ladies and gentlemen, the Protector and Benefactor of the School at Salem:
And the above picture is pretty much how she appears to the kids now, and as she did when Kerry did his E and A. The Phoenix, or Phee as I get to call her, ’cause she never gives me any lip, always tailors the E and A of each student to something that will initially relax them, because by that point in the evening’s activities they’re probably a little freaked out over everything. There are only a few readers of this blog who’ve actually read Annie’s and Kerry’s E and As–or Evaluation and Assessment, as they’re actually known–so most people don’t get what’s going on.
Annie’s E and A was held inside her lake house, and the Phoenix appeared as just another person who spoke perfect Bulgarian, which Annie noticed right away; that scene, by the way, was the first time anyone saw the interior of her home away from home away from home. Kerry thought, being the geek he his, started out in a bare room being interviewed by Doctor Jean Gray, better known as one of the X-Men, who eventually became the possessor of the Phoenix who later became the Dark Phoenix who liked to go around eating a bunch of planets and kill-joy stuff like that, though this Phoenix was calling herself by that name for a long time before she ever showed up in a comic.
Either way, at the moment she’s in da house. However . . .
The reaction from all the women was one of shock and disbelief. Deanna turned in her chair and stared at the area where Annie was pointing. “The Phoenix, here?” For a moment she seemed to be staring off into space. “Are you certain?”
The Phoenix’s smirk slowly morphed into a grin. “I’m afraid this is a private party: just the three of us.” She nodded her head in seer’s direction. “And tell Deanna she’s wasting her time using Astral Sight to try and see me: I’m far too good to allow that to happen.”
Deanna appeared crestfallen once Annie relayed the news that Kerry and she were the only ones who could see and her the school’s protector. Erywin rolled her eyes. “Adric’s going to have a fit when he finds out who showed up.”
Jessica leaned closer to Erywin and spoke in a loud whisper. “More than likely he’ll head down to The Cauldron and camp out hoping for an audience.”
We already know from the first novel that Adric–the school’s expert on spirits–has spoken with The Phoenix before–so he’d probably like to chat with her again. And The Cauldron? You’ll learn about that in the . . . um, D Level novel. Sorry. I always get ahead of myself.
Since this is a private party, just Annie and Kerry and Phee, it must be important. And it is . . .
The Phoenix ignored the instructor’s jabs and spoke to the young couple. “People have this image of me as an omnipotent creature who sees and knows all, but the truth is—” She held up her hands and shrugged. “I make mistakes. I’m not perfect.”
She squatted down alongside the end table next to Annie: even like this she seemed to be almost at eye level with them. “The reason you’re going through this crap with being unable to remember, Kerry, is because of my actions. When we had our E and A I had no idea that I’d lock up something that, months later, was going to put you through so much pain. I thought it might break through what I put in place, but—” She rolled her eyes. “Phiff. I don’t know my own strength at times.”
“Wait a moment—” Annie held up her hand as she spoke. “You knew something was happening to Kerry?”
The ginger spirit nodded. “Yeeeeep.”
“And you decided not to do anything about it until now?”
Annie’s tone turned dangerous. “Why?”
“Because I don’t work that way; just ask Deanna.” The Phoenix stood and stared down upon the seated girl. “I allow in the best and brightest, and once they are here they must walk a path they alone discover. And just as I’ve known you to say from time to time, Annie—” She turned to Kerry. “He has to go through these things and learn from the experience.
“Only this time you got a freakin’ road block holding up that forward progress, and no matter how many roads you head down in search of a bypass, you’ll keep coming back to the same spot eventually.” She playfully tossed her head from side-to-side. “Ergo—” She pointed at herself. “I’m here to help.”
Kerry sat quietly thought the whole monologue. It wasn’t that he was afraid of speaking, it was more that he didn’t know what questions to ask. Now, though, there was only one question that mattered. “What are you going to do?”
“Something really simple.” She leaned over Kerry. “Don’t move—” She lightly touched his forehead. “You, too, kiddo.” The Phoenix did the same to Annie.
Until this moment the other five women in the room watched in silence as the children had a one-sided conversation with a being they couldn’t see. After Kerry’s last question they watched somewhat fearfully as both kids’ eyes rolled back and their bodies trembled for a few seconds. When they finally seemed to returned to normal Coraline was the one who was the first to their side. “Are you all right?”
Leave it to Annie to get pissed at some powerful spirit because she did something to screw up her boyfriend. Though the complete answer to just what ol’ Phee did doesn’t really get answered until the next scene, so this is just a bit of a setup for that moment. Phee is a bit of a strange girl, however: it does seem like a lot of her “protecting” involves letting kids go through hell to learn something, and if they go crazy and/or die in the process, that’s just the breaks.
This time, however, she’s being about a proactive as she gets, and once the kids come out of their eye-rolling stupor they’re able to tell the others just what happened.
Kerry seemed to not hear the question. He grunted out a quick breath before saying anything. “Wow.”
Annie came out of her stupor and turned to Kerry. “How do you feel?”
“I’m fine.” She shook her head. “But—”
He nodded once. “Yeah, me too.”
Deanna slipped past Coraline and Erywin so she could see them up close. “What happened?”
Kerry turned to the seer as a look of wonderment came over his face. “I can remember all of my E and A.”
“So can I.” Annie shot a look at the Phoenix. “I yelled at you.”
The spirit acted nonchalant while twirling a few strands of hair around a finger. “Quite a lot, as I remember.”
Erywin stepped around to the right side of the sofa. “You both can remember your E and As?”
“Apparently—” Kerry turned a questioning gaze upon the spirit.
“Well, why not?” The Phoenix shrugged. “If I’m going to let you remember, I might as well do the same for your partner in crime. It’s only fair.”
“Um, thanks.” He brought his right hand close to his face resting his nose against his fingers. “Yeah.”
This is probably the most important thing right here, ’cause this is really the secret to Kerry’s temporary insanity. And it gets laid out in the next scene why it was driving him crazy, because I’m like The Phoenix, I don’t answer all your questions right away. You gotta work for them.
And as far as questions go, there is one in particular for which the people in the room want an answer . . .
Everyone in the room gave Kerry a few moments to gather his thoughts, watching a dark pallor creep over his features. The women in the room all wanted to ask the one thing that mattered, but they also knew there was one person present who should ask that particular question—
Annie took his left hand. “You remember everything now?”
He sighed. “I do.”
She turned towards his, folding her right leg under her left. “Do you know this girl?”
His eyes turned downward. “I do.”
“You know her name?”
Annie pressed her hand tightly into his. “My love, please tell me. Please: say her name.”
Kerry closed his eyes for a second as if it were going to stop the inevitable. After one last, sharp sight, he raised his head and locked eyes with his soul mate. “She’s me, Annie. The girl is me.”
And there you have it. The answer to the question, “Who Is Carrot Girl?” Not quite as big as “Who Is the Chestnut Girl?” but for now it’ll do.
At least until I start wrapping up this sucker tonight.