Kerry’s Birthday Adventure is nearly over, and that’s because I managed my way through another night of nearly eight hundred word writing to bring this second scene to an end. I didn’t think that was going to happen, but it did.
Now, there isn’t much to say at this point about the writing: it was just writing, you know? You wanna know the payoff, which is something I’ve promised for a while. Well, here it comes, just like the blog title says.
All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
They entered Salem Green, one of the numerous walkways found around downtown Salem, and they quickly found themselves in a small lot behind the restaurant where they would dine this evening. The moment she was certain they were alone Annie pulled Kerry to a stop before drawing him off to the side next to some trees. After a short kiss she reached inside her purse and pulled out a small, gift wrapped box. “Happy birthday, my love.”
“I wondered when you were going to spring this on me.” After removing his backpack and setting it down he turned the box over slowly in his hands. “Quite a difference from last year.”
“Yes, but just as important.” Annie leaned against Kerry resting her chin on the hand she’s clamped over his left shoulder. “Last year when I gave you the Espinoza, it was to allow you to become a better flier and, in time, an excellent racer. I wanted you to feel the sky and become comfortable being there. This, however—” She nodded towards the box. “It’s going to help you next year.”
“Really? Well—” He began to carefully unwrap the package. “Let’s see then.” In about thirty seconds he had the paper off and handed it to Annie to fold and place in his backpack. The uncovered box was slightly smaller than his mobile and completely unadorned. Upon sliding off the top he discovered a small silver clam shell case inside. He popped it open—
Inside was a compass.
Kerry lifted the small device from the case, snapped the case closed, and began examining his present closely. The compass itself sat at one end of a Plexiglas baseplate that curved around half the ring dial, and extended a few centimeters to where he noticed the rulers, an orienting arrow, and a small magnifying lens. He moved it about, watching the arrow slowly align on magnetic north no matter which way he turned.
“I’ve spoken with Penny and Alex about what they did on The Polar Express.” Annie moved around so she was facing Kerry. “I know how you navigate: maps and a compass and visual flight rules, nothing more. And as the navigator of your team you need know that the course you’re setting is correct.” She nodded towards his hands. “I was told by Alex that’s one of the best you can get: it’s what she used during their flight. It will adjust for magnetic variances, it glows in the dark so you can navigate at night, and best of all, that one is global: you can use it in both the northern and southern hemispheres.” She chuckled. “I don’t know if we’ll ever need that function, but I figured it was good to have because you never know where we might travel.”
I’m certain there are a few people reading this going, “Are you kidding? That’s Kerry’s present?” No, really: that’s what she bought him. I’ll even show it too you, because I do know what it looks like.
While that is the current 2016 version, the 2013 version is nearly identical–I know, I’ve looked. But there’s a little more that goes with this gift . . .
“That’s really nice.” He was rather impressed with his new toy, and he not only flashed upon an image of him using it to plot a course on a map, but he also considered the notion that one day in the future he may be somewhere in the southern hemisphere using this navigation aid. “Thank you.” He pulled Annie close and kissed her with great tenderness. “This is a beautiful present, Darling. I’m going to start working with this over the summer.”
“I as much figured.” She tapped the hand that held the case. “There’s more.”
He pushed away slightly in surprise. “There is?”
“Yes.” Annie chuckled slightly upon the utterance of his question. “Open the case and look inside the lid.”
Kerry did as instructed and saw what he missed when he opened the case the first time: the inscription inside the lid—
Tova shte vi otvede obratno kŭm men. Lyubovta, Annie.
He read it three times, hoping his nascent Bulgarian would be sufficient, but the only words he recognized were the last two. “I know the last part says ‘Love, Annie’, but I don’t recognize the rest.”
She moved next to her soul mate and pointed at the inscription. “It says, ‘This will bring you back to me’.” Annie turned and kissed Kerry with as much tenderness as he’d done with her moments before. “And it will. No matter where you are, when you want to reach me, you will.”
Kerry closed his eyes and heard her words in his mind once more, then a second and third time. Only then did he slowly open his eyes, though he couldn’t see for they were filled with tears. “Oh, Darling—”
Annie touched his cheek. “What is it, my love?”
“The gift.” He sniffed back the tears. “It’s just a compass, but the feeling you placed within—” He hugged the love of his life tightly. “What did I ever do to deserve you?”
She placed his face between her hands and, while gazing into his eyes, spoke to him in tones of hushed reverence. “You were born.”
I ran that last line of the except–“You were born”–over and over for the last week, and most of the time when I played out the last part of this scene I’d begin crying. It’s touching because Kerry understands what Annie’s saying to him with such a simply gift: no matter where you are, you’ll always find your way to me. And since the inscription’s in Bulgarian, no one else–save someone who speaks Bulgarian–will know what Annie had inscribed.
It’s for them and them alone.
Now, something I want to touch upon, so bear with me . . .
The idea of a compass really came to me about a year and a half ago, though I have to admit I didn’t start doing my research on this until about a week back. It seems like a cheap-ass gift–what did Annie spend? About €50? Yeah, about that. Considerably less than what she spent on Kerry’s broom.
I’ve said several times in the past that they give gifts based upon feeling, not cost. The most Kerry’s spent on Annie so far was a few hundred Pounds on the earrings, and mention will be made in the next scene about them.
As for this gift . . . I have a little something to show.
A few nights back–Monday the 25th around 10:30 to be accurate–I was chatting with my friend Tanya, who is the person who created the original Annie upon whom my Annie is closely modeled. We were chatting about the story–which we tend to do–and I brought up the matter of Kerry’s gift. And here’s what was said:
That will get mentioned, but he’s getting his present from Annie.
Does she end up giving him the same thing or is it something else?
She gave him his broom for his twelfth birthday. This year, because he’s doing the Polar Express the next school year, she’s giving him an engraved compass.
They give gifts that mean something. 🙂
Not just because??
Maybe Kerry could use some chap stick
all that wind can’t be good on the lips
She’ll have written on the back, “This will bring you back to me. Love, Annie.”
It’s what Annie would do.
Of course I hadn’t decided on the exact type of compass the other night, and once I picked the Plexiglas one engraving something on the back would have been out of the question, which is why it’s now inside the case lid. But that’s beside the point: what’s important is Tanya’s last statement: “Awe. That’s adorable.” Only the Real Annie(tm) would understand the meaning behind the gift, and get that it’s not a matter of being cheap, it’s a matter of being on point. This will allow him to navigate across hundreds of kilometers of wilderness in the middle of winter with the intention of returning to the school. Which they consider home, because we know, home is where the love lay.
Home is where Annie waits.
So, the gift is Real Annie(tm) approved, and that’s all I need to hear.
And you can bet a certain kid is gonna spend a lot of time zipping around England and Wales over the summer making sure he can find his way home when it matters the most.