Two great things today–okay, maybe three. We’ll see.
First thing: I started the next scene and got to almost four hundred words in before calling it a night because I was tired. Writing fourteen hundred words in a day isn’t something I’ve done in a while outside of a TV recap, so maybe I can do a thousand today before stopping to get my notes together for Fear the Walking Dead, which starts up tonight and requires me to actually switch over to network TV for the first time in like two months. So it’s back into weekly recaping for the next two months, all the way to 9 October, after which I can take a break until Christmas.
There was a third thing? Hum, I must have missed it–oh, wait! It’s this post. That’s because given what’s coming in this scene I decided not to try and cut things up and threw in all of the rest of Scene One, which means the excerpt is nearly fourteen hundred words long. I mean, I could have strung this sucker along for another two days, but I figured that’s bad form. Besides, I can stay ahead of the curve. I know I can.
When we last saw Kerry he was comparing himself to The Dark Lord of a book series that also exists in his world, because his world is also a part of ours. When you get down to it, though, there’s another reason he’s freaking out as well and it’s totally legit–
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
Berniece laid a hand on his shoulder trying to calm him. “Kerry—”
He closed his eyes as he took a quick breath before slapping his right hand against his chest. “This goddamn thing is a time bomb. If I transition before we go back to school, if everyone comes to the house to get me and my parents see what happened, they’re gonna—” Once more he choked before for speaking. “—They’re gonna freakin’ flip. And I don’t—”
“Kerry.” Berniece nodded towards a nearby bench. “Let’s sit. Come on.” She gently pushed him towards the seat. He went without hesitation and she let him sit before moving next to him. “I understand: I really do. You want to be accepted; you want your parents to acknowledge that you are not only their son, but that you’re special as well. Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Kerry leaned forward, his arms resting upon his knees. “I got mommy issues, don’t I?’
Berniece wasn’t about to say yes or tell him that wanting recognition from a particular member of his family was a trait he shared with his girlfriend. “I think you just want to hear them say one time that they’re proud of you.” She wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “This is a hard time for kids from Normal families. There’s a reason we call this ‘coming out’: for us it holds as much doubt and fear for you as it might if you were telling you parents you were gay or trans or bi or anything else that would shake up their view of who they thought you were. And right now you’re going through all of that hoping they see you are nothing more than their son.”
Yes Kerry, you have Mommy Issues, just as Annie has Daddy Issues, something of which Berniece is aware. There’s a big difference between recognizing that said issues exist and doing something about it, ’cause even bright, intelligent, thoughtful kids still wanna hear the parents say, “I’m proud of you.” Instead Annie almost flies to her death trying to prove she can master an advanced broom on her own and Kerry has to hear how his mother sometimes wishes she had a daughter instead while he dies inside right now knowing that she not only does, but that she’ll probably flip right the fuck out when she sees Kerry like that.
Berniece states what I’ve been stating all along: coming out for witches can be as traumatic as Normal kids going to their parents as teens and telling them they’re gay or bi or trans or gender queer. As parents we often tend to believe that are kids are gonna grow up, find a nice boy or girl, get married, and have kids. The great lie tends to be, “Oh, I just want them to be healthy, I don’t care if they are a boy or a girl,” and then completely lose one’s shit when their kids tell them they’ve fallen in love with someone of the same gender, or that they are really the gender other than what they were assigned when they were born.
Those are all things one can’t help because they were born that way–and it’s the same with being a witch. You’re born that way and it’s only a matter of time before spell crafting becomes the norm and you start doing things that will scare the shit out of your parents. But why do some react so badly? In the Rendlesham Forest scene Penny has a few thoughts on why she thinks some parents begin wigging out when their kids lay The W Word on them, and it’s as good an explanation as any…
And that brings us to the why of this being such a long excerpt, because we’re about to hear a tale of woe that is meant to help Kerry learn something important:
She also learned forward and rested against her thighs, her torso almost level with Kerry’s. Though she hadn’t planed on speaking about herself as part of this visit, she thought it wouldn’t hurt. “When I came home from my B Levels my parents were shocked, as were my older sister and younger brother. It took everyone most of the month of June to get used to the fact that magic was real and there was a true witch in the house. Everyone, that is, except my mother.
“In my family my mother was the one who more or less kept the faith, so when I came out as a witch it hit her harder than it did my father and siblings. At first she refused to believe me, but after I crafted a few spells in front of her she couldn’t deny what I’d said was true—and that was the start of all our troubles.
“At first she told me not to do any magic—not just at home, but ever. She said that magic would destroy my soul, which I knew it wouldn’t but there was no point in arguing. She then stopped talking to me and began ignoring me as if I wasn’t even living in the house—”
Kerry nodded. “I know that feeling.”
“Yes, you do. With me, my mother would actually have conversations with my father about me while I was present and act as if I wasn’t even in the room. It was full-blown shunning and I felt every second of that.
“The last day of June my mother finally spoke to me, only to say that she was forbidding me to return to school. She was going to pack me off to a private school and that was going to be that, no more of this witch stuff. I told her no: I told her that there was no way in hell—my exact words—that I wasn’t returning to Salem and there wasn’t anything she could do to stop me. So she runs off to her pastor to tell him about me, and…”
“And she couldn’t.”
“Exactly. She returned home angry and upset and wanted to know why she couldn’t talk about me to anyone not in the family. I told her about the contract enchantment and she grew furious, demanded I remove it immediately. Again I said no and told her it was there for her protection as much as mine. She just shut up and didn’t say anything the rest of that day.
“That night she came into my room with a chopper.” Beniece’s chuckle was dry and humorless. “She’d decided to make sure I wasn’t returning to Salem.”
Kerry stared back as his case worker in amazement. “She came at you with a meat cleaver?”
Berniece nodded. “Yep.”
Of the people in positions of authority who are close to Kerry there are two who had horrible coming out experiences and while you haven’t heard the story of one of those people, you’re now hearing the story of the second person. Berniece Rutherford’s existence went against everything her religious mother believed, and when the later discovered she’d been affected by magic, she went off the deep end and decided to murder her daughter. Okay, maybe she wasn’t going to hack up her daughter: maybe there was an important cooking tip she wanted to give her and midnight in her bedroom was the best time for that.
Still, this is why a couple of kids in Annie’s and Kerry’s level weren’t even allowed to return home: there was simply too much fear that coming out as a witch to their parents would result in a violent reaction–like, you know, the parents killing said kids. Berniece told Annie in their meeting that the Malibeys weren’t regarded as violent, so this is something The Foundation gauges when determining what to do as far as the kids coming out to their folks. And in Berniece’s case The Foundation probably figured that there might be issues with the mother, but they obviously dropped the ball in thinking she wouldn’t go all Margaret White on her daughter and try to snuff her ass. (And there’s something else to point out here, but I’ll do it at the end.)
So, what was the aftermath of this situation? This:
“Were you awake when it happened?”
“No, I was asleep. But the door to my room has a sticky hinge that made a cracking sound when it was opened. That woke me up.”
He shook his head. “Jeez. What did you do?”
She shrugged. “What else could I do? I threw up a quick shield to keep her away, grabbed the panic button I kept under my pillow when I slept, and got out.” A slight smile appeared for a few moments. “By the way, the panic buttons are supposed to be used when you’re standing or sitting on the ground: they’re based around you center of gravity from whatever flat surface you’re on. If you use it while you’re in a chair or on your bed, be prepared for a short fall.”
“Good to know.” He turned back to gazing towards the river gorge. “What happened after that?”
“It went just like we advertise. I ended up in a safe house and five minutes later my case worker showed up. She took me back to her office, we spoke for about ten minutes to log what happened, and about thirty minutes after that I was placed with a family in Denmark. I didn’t return home the rest of the summer: I didn’t hear from my family until November of that year. I was told then that I could return for Yule, but I didn’t learn the truth until I arrived home: my father forced my mother to move out as he couldn’t accept her being willing to kill me because I went against her faith.”
Berniece stared at her feet as she sighed. “Both my father and mother have since remarried and my stepmother knows what I am and accepts me completely. For a while my younger brother blamed me for my parents splitting up but he doesn’t any more. My older sister is really the only one who speaks with my mother these days and she tells me my mother refuses to even speak my name. I haven’t spoken with my mother since that night and I doubt if I’ll ever see her again, much less speak to her.
“That’s one of the reasons I became a case worker: because I’ve experienced this insanity and I want to do what I can to help others who might experience the same.” Berniece patted Kerry’s hand. “I understand why you want to prove to your parents there’s nothing different about you other than you can do magic. You’re showing tenacity and if there’s one thing we loved to promote at Salem, it’s tenacity. But there’s something I need you to understand as well—look at me.”
They both turned to face each other as Bernice finished her thought. “Your parents, or at least your mother, are likely hoping this is just a ‘phase’ you’re going through. There’s probably some hope that you’ll return to being that boy I picked up late in the afternoon of 26 August, 2011, and you’ll stop with all this crazy witch shite.
“But you know that’s never going to happen and I’m certain they know it as well. And that means that things may not work out. One day issues may become completely irreconcilable and one day you may be forced to leave home.
“And should that happened, you may have to face the fact that you may never see your parents again…”
There you have it: “You may never see your parents again.” No thirteen year old kids wants to hear that, but there’s a huge amount of truth in that statement. It Ain’t Easy Being Magical and total rejection by your family is one of the things a young witch could experience. It may sound like I’m being super hard in portraying these kids as being on the outside and having to deal with shit no teenager needs, but when you see the stories of abuse heaped upon gay, lesbian, and trans teens, and how that has sometimes led to suicide, I don’t believe I’m being hard at all. The precedence is there and it is acknowledged.
I mentioned that there is something else The Foundation watches and that has to do with the student. Sure, Berniece knows Kerry’s parents aren’t violent, but do you think she’s have allowed Kerry to remain at home if she thought there was the slightest chance he might slip a sprocket and off either one of his parents should they piss him off? At last reckoning he’s one of two yellow flagged students in his level–we know who the other is as well–and given what some people at Salem know, it’s not a great stretch to imagine that Annie and Kerry are considered red flagged by Isis.
Given what is known about Kerry if The Foundation thought he might lose his shit and kill his family they wouldn’t allow him to remain at home. And what about after this confab with Berniece? She knows he’s stressed and he’s concerned that his parents will freak out even more if “That Other Girl” shows up, but since he’s trying to reach some kind of reconciliation with his folks she likely feels he probably won’t snap.