Yesterday I was in a great deal of pain. Right about seven-thirty in the morning I pulled a muscle in my left calf–the one that gives me a lot of trouble every so often–and spent the day hobbling around in pain. Believe me when I say it made the mile walk from work really interesting and slow.
So went I finally made it home I spent most of the time with an ice pack wrapped around my leg, or with one of those portable head packs stuck on my calf. I have the ice pack on now, and I’ll take it and a heat pack with me to work because baby gotta make that money.
But that gave me a lot of time to write, and I cranked out nearly twelve hundred words to put the penultimate chapter to bed.
There it is, snoozing away peacefully.
As you can see there is one more scene, and the binder on the left tells the tale of the tape: there aren’t any other acts or parts or scenes to follow. The end really is here, and it’s likely coming this weekend.
Right now it’s time to get off the plane, ’cause there are people awaiting–
The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
They proceeded slowly down the walkway, keeping in step and looking straight ahead the all the way to the terminal. Just as they’d done in Vienna they didn’t release their grips on each other’s hand, not even when they spotted Pavlina Kirilova chatting with Ms. Rutherford, both whom turned toward them as they approached.
They stopped when they were about four meters from the two women. Annie turned to Kerry. “Watch my luggage?”
“I got it.” He nodded towards her mother. “Go on.”
“Thank you.” Annie quickly covered the rest of the distance and threw her arms around her mother. “Mama—”
“Dobre doshŭl u doma, Anelie.” Pavlina hugged her daughter tight. “Mnogo mi lipsvashe.”
Annie looked up, smiling. “Az propusnakh Papa i ti sŭshto—”
While the Kirilovas were reuniting, Ms. Rutherford strolled over to her charge. “Welcome back, Kerry.”
“Thank you, Ms. Rutherford.” He spent a few seconds appearing sheepish. “I guess I’m glad to be back.”
“Hum.” She patted his cheek. “There are more than a few of us happy to see you home. And I’m certain your parents want to see you as well.”
“Yeah—at least for a few minutes.”
She leaned closer and allowed her voice to drop to a whisper. “Let’s try to keep a positive attitude. Now isn’t the time to sink into despair.” She lay a hand upon a shoulder. “Yes?”
Erywin appeared at his side with Helena behind her. “Listen to her, Kerry. She’s looking looking out for you.”
Ms. Rutherford smile. “I am.”
“I know this as well.” Pavlina and Annie joined the three women gathered around the young boy. “How are you, Kerry?”
The Kirilovas have a nice little reunion while Ms. Rutherford comes over and welcomes him home and gives him a little encouragement not to get down on himself without reason. He’s worried about what’s coming next, and who can blame him?
Now even Annie’s mom is getting in on the act–
“I’m fine, Mrs. Kirilovi.” He smile, happy that Annie’s mother was actually concerned about his well being.
She seemed pleased with the answer. “Did you enjoy the rest of the school year?”
“Oh . . .” He glance over to Helena and Erywin before looking at Annie. “It was certainly a lot different from last year.”
“Just wait until next year: the C Levels tend to be even more difficult than the B Levels.” She wrapped an arm around Annie’s shoulders. “I’m quite certain you’ll both do better than expected.”
Annie looked over and up. “I certainly hope so, Mama.”
Kerry had to work at not laughing at Annie’s comment. “Where’s Mr. Kirilov? I thought he might be here.”
“He’s in Canada, believe it or not; Canadian Grand Prix is this next weekend, and his team is doing some testing in Montreal.” She looked at Annie. “He should be arriving home in about thirty minutes.”
“I understand, Mama.” A moment of sadness passed between Kerry and her. “We must be going—”
“But not just yet.” She released Annie and motioned towards the other three women. “I need to confirm a few things with your instructors about your ‘lunch dates’ this summer, and I think Ms. Rutherford should be a part of this as well. It shouldn’t take long.” Pavlina stepped away from the group. “Ladies, I think it’s quieter over this way . . .”
The date on the Canadian Grand Prix is correct: it happened 9 June, 2013, the second Sunday after Annie came home from her B Levels. And this is the first hint that things are going to be harder in the following school year, though at this point there’s no reason to believe it’s going to be that way.
Now, what is Mama Kirilova discussing? Probably not much, but the kids pick up on this right away–
While all four women huddled together about five meters away, Annie slipped up next to Kerry. “That was nice of Mama.”
The smile on Kerry’s face found its way to his eyes. “She’s giving us a change to really say goodbye.”
“Yes.” A crestfallen look came over her face for a moment. “I know we’ll see each other in a few weeks, but—”
“I know.” He slightly lowered her head. “I don’t want to leave you.”
“I don’t, either.” She looked down for a moment. “I will miss you ever second you’re away, my mlechna banitsa.”
“And I will miss you, my malko sarmi.” He glanced over Annie shoulder to see if they we being watched, then looked upon Annie’s eyes and smiling face. “What?”
“If you’re going to kiss me, my love—” She grabbed the folds of his tee shirt. “Then kiss me.” She leaned in and kissed him slow and tenderly upon the lips. “After all, I am your wife.”
He chuckled after kissing her back. “About that—”
“I’m not ready to tell that to Mama. I’m certain she’d understand, but—” Annie shook her head. “Maybe in another year. Besides, it’s something I’d like you present for when that happens.”
Kerry instantly imagined him sitting with Annie and her parents, probably at a dinner, perhaps at her house. “I agree. And I’d like you present when we tell my folks as well.”
“Something else to plan for next year.” She pulled Kerry close once more. “I love you, Kerry.”
“I love you, Annie.” He held her by the shoulders as he leaned in and kissed her lovingly once more—
Yeah, Kerry: you’re supposed to kiss your wife goodbye! What’s wrong with you? Also, you should get reminded probably, oh, once every day that Annie considers you guys married. Then again, Kerry accepts that, so no big deal there, right?
But who caught these two in a kiss? Only one person–or four:
They both broke their embrace and found Pavlina, Ms. Rutherford, and Helena and Erywin standing a few meters away. Annie acted as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. “Yes, Mama?”
“We must go.” She held out her right arm. “Dinner awaits.”
“Yes, Mama.” Annie gathered up her luggage and took a moment to touch Kerry’s face. “I’ll see you in three weeks—” She turned to the instructors. “Is that right?”
Helena shrugged. “About that long, yes.”
Annie let her fingers glide down Kerry’s cheek. “I will see you then.”
“I’ll see you then—my love.” He took her head. “And in my dreams.”
“Mine, too.” She moved next to Pavlina and gave Kerry a small wave before they walked off and vanished into the terminal crowd.
Helena and Erywin waved to Kerry as Ms. Rutherford took up position on his right. “Take care, Kerry.” Erywin gave him a warm smile. “See you in a few weeks.”
“Take care Kerry—” Helena offered a smile and a nod as she took Erywin’s hand. “Have a good summer.”
“I will. Thank you both.” He waited until they both vanished among the Berlin crowd before turning to Ms. Rutherford. “At last: just you and I.”
“Yes, it is.” She motioned them forward with a nod. “Shall we?”
He gave a nonchalant shrug. “Why not?”
They were about twenty seconds into their stroll when Ms. Rutherford offered an observation. “You’re better than last year.”
“You mean I’m not an emotional wreck.” He glanced over with a smile. “It’s okay. I was a blubbering mess last year.”
“And you’re not sad now?”
“I’m sad, it’s just—” He touched his heart. “That part of Annie you told me about is right here, and I know a piece of me is with her. There’s a hurt, but—” He remembered Eyrwin’s words from a year and a half ago. “It’s a good hurt.”
“I can hear it a little in your voice.” Ms. Rutherford slowed her pace. “Do you want a minute before we go on?”
He closed his eyes for a second as the emotions he tried admitting weren’t there began to welling upwards. “It might not be a bad idea.” He stared off into the distance. “Given what’s going to happen in the next thirty minutes, it’s better to have a good cry now than later . . .”
Annie gets busted and just blows it off like it’s no big deal. Everyone says their goodbyes and leaves Kerry with Ms. Rutherford. And Annie vanishing into the crowd of Terminal A is the last we see of her this novel: she won’t show again until she opens the first scene of the next novel. Kerry’s not a “blubbering mess” as he was last year, though he’s letting Ms. Rutherford know he’s probably going to need a moment to have a cry. For he’s only a quick jaunt away from Cardiff–
Yes, the end is just about here.
Now to get Kerry home for that most important meeting . . .