Finding Meaning Under the Covers

Well, then, my writing is finished for the day.  Three hundred and seventy last night, and just over fifteen hundred this morning, and not only is the scene finished, but Chapter Thirty-Nine is finished as well.  With that out of the way, I’m into the Forty Chapters, and there aren’t many of those–Forty through Forty-Three, for your information.  Oh, and I’m six hundred words short of ninety thousand words, and that means for sure I’ll roll over one hundred thousand words total.

Won't be long before I have to figure out how I'm going to celebrate finishing this behemoth.

Won’t be long before I have to figure out how I’m going to celebrate finishing this behemoth.

The biggest part of this scene is Annie reminiscing about flying–and she did fly as a kid, oh yes.  We have heard a little about how she tried flying on her own and crashed and burned horribly, but we’ve never gotten the details of that event.  Because of a question asked by Kerry, she opens up–while once more hanging out at the Observatory, resting under the blankets while laying on one of those big deck chairs.

What was that question, you ask?  Well, if you must know–

 

All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Without looking at Annie Kerry asked a question that had been on his mind earlier in the day, but that he’d keep filed throughout the day. “Why did you tell me to go on no matter what?”

“Because I didn’t know if I was going to finish the flight.” She raised her head to look at him for just a second, then lay back against his chest.

“But you flew as well as everyone in the flight.”

“That doesn’t mean I didn’t know if I’d finish.” She adjusted her position. “I knew we’d hit turbulence; it was a given. I also figured it might be severe turbulence.”

“You still made it.”

“Barely.” Annie shook her head a little against his chest. “I wasn’t the only one who was shook up by those last few microbursts. Besides Daudi, Kalindi and Loorea were iffy, too.” Her chuckle was muffled against his . “You were the only one I wasn’t worried about. That’s why I told you to keep going no matter what.”

He figured it out. “Because you were afraid if you hit your panic button, I’d come after you.”

“Exactly.” Annie lightly ran her fingers over his neck. “I’m not a flier like you—I didn’t want you to fail because you thought you had to stay with me.”

 

When it comes right to it, Annie knows Kerry will follow her anywhere, even if that means failing his mission.  He said yes to going on the Guardian mission, and while it turned out well with them returning home in pretty much one piece, it could be argued that he followed her lead.  And for something as important to him as the Mile High Flight–and it was important to Kerry–she didn’t want him tossing it into the gutter just because she felt the need to bail.  He might have felt that it was necessary at the time, but she knows that given time, he’d have hated that it happened.

And Annie has already said she doesn’t want to be the girl who is hated because of something that happens to Kerry.

You discover something else in the process:

 

“I’m glad you made it.” He gently rubbed Annie’s back. “I’m glad we both made it to the top.”

“I am too. It might sound strange, but I wanted to make it.”

Annie never spoke about flying, or what she did before coming to the school. “Can I ask—?”

“Yes?”

“Why?”

“Because I wanted to make it.” She sighed softly. “I wanted to prove I could do it.” She raised her eyes towards his face. “I did it for myself—just as you should do everything for yourself. Not for anyone else: just you.”

 

Annie keeps saying she’s not a flier, that she’s not all that interested in flying, and yet . . . it seems as if she’s just as eager to fly a mile into the sky as her boyfriend.  And this is where she start talking about growing up at the House of Kirilovi, and Annie’s Adventures In Flying–

 

Kerry debated asking her about the flight when she continued speaking in a low, soothing tone. “I can remember when I was about three or four seeing my father fly on his broom for the first time. I thought it was incredible: I mean, I’d seen magic around the house before that, but I’d never seen anyone flying before that moment. It wasn’t long after that my mother told me about how they were witches, and that I was a witch as well.

“The summer before my sixth birthday I went flying for the first time. My father flew his broom, and I rode behind my mother on hers—she used an enchantment to keep me from falling off. We never flew higher than a couple of hundred meters, but we flew off into the mountains, had a picnic, and then spent a few more hours flying around before returning home. Remember how you said the Samhain dance felt magical? That’s how I felt flying with my parents: it was an experience I couldn’t forget.”

“My mother bought me a flight trainer for my seventh birthday. It’s a little broom that never flies more than a couple of meters above the ground, and almost never goes faster than fifteen or twenty kilometers an hour; it’s design to teach you how to fly. And I was always flying: if Mama and I were home I’d have breakfast, get my trainer, and fly around the back field for most of the day. Sometimes Mama would get on her broom and fly alongside me.

“I thought I’d get a broom for my eight birthday, but that didn’t happen. Mama was letting me fly her broom now and then, though I wasn’t allowed to go very far or fast. I did get a good head for altitude, though—I loved flying up four, five hundred meters and circling the yard. That was also when I received my first warning about letting Normal people see us; it wouldn’t have done to get my picture taken while I was flying over Pamporovo.”

Annie clutched Kerry tightly, holding him with her right arm as she slipped her right leg over his. “I received my broom for my ninth birthday. I thought I’d get a Witchy Poo, but Papa bought me the Espinoza 3500. I was a bit intimidated when I saw that, because I knew it was an advanced broom—my mother didn’t even fly one, she had a Witchy Poo—but Papa said he was going to take me flying and show me how to fly properly. I thought we would go the next day, but that was a Sunday, and Papa was off racing, so then sometime during the week—but it didn’t happen. Not that week, nor the next. Three weeks later I was still waiting for him to take me flying, and I knew we wouldn’t have many good flying days left—

“So one night when Papa was away and Mama was working in her lab I took the Espinoza out to the back field and decided I’d teach myself to fly. And I had no successes at all. I’d get off the ground, but I’d never get much higher than five or six meters, and it seemed like I’d fly for forty, fifty meters and then the broom didn’t want to fly any further, and I’d have to land.

“After about thirty minutes I’d made it down by the lake, close to where my house now sits. It was dark and a storm was rolling in; the wind was picking up, there was some thunder and lightning, and it was starting to sprinkle. I was almost five hundred from the house, and I was determined to fly back. I know now that I shouldn’t have flown, because I was angry and Vicky told us broom don’t respond well to anger. I didn’t know that at the time, and I didn’t care. I was determined to fly back, and do all in one long, slow stretch.

“I got on the broom popped up into the, and stuck out for the house. At least that’s what I wanted to do. What happened instead was I shot about ten meters into the air, veered to the right over the lake, and slammed into the water at speed.

“It was like hitting the ground: the force stunned me, and I started sinking. And since it was dark once I was under water I couldn’t tell which way was up. All I remember is that I never let good of the Espinoza: I felt it in my right hand as I started blacking out . . .

“I woke up on the short, coughing and spitting, next to my tree—”

Kerry brushed her hair with his fingers. “You have a tree?”

“Yes, I do. One day you’ll see it. But for now . . . I was laying on the shore next to it, having no idea how I made it out of the lake. The broom was next to me, and I thought later that maybe, because I want to get back to the show, it actually flew us there. I don’t know; I have no idea. Maybe one day someone will search my memories and figure it out, but I don’t know.

“I lay there for about five minutes as the rain poured down on me. I finally got to my feet and walked back to the house, dragging the Espinoza behind me. I went up to my room, took a hot bath, and went straight to bed. In the morning I took the broom to my father, handed it to him, and told him I’d never fly it again. He augured with me, tried to convince me that I was being hasty and impulsive, but I wouldn’t relent: I told him to lock it up in his office and if he didn’t, I would. Eventually he did.”

Annie finally sat up so she could face Kerry. He’d seen her unhappy before, but this was the first time he could say he was seeing her sad. “I know I hurt my father by doing that. I know I broke his heart. But at the same time, he broke mine; I felt as if he’d lied to me, that he’d betrayed me. Even though my mother told me that it was my fault that I’d gone out and almost drowned, I felt I wouldn’t have put myself in that position if he’d only kept his word and took me flying.

 

And there it is, Annie’s First and Final Flight.  The start of her “I hate flying” phase, and–according to Mama–the origin of her “daddy issues”.  And it’s easy to see how this driven girl, the one intent on proving to herself that there’s nothing that can’t be done, comes off like a spoiled little brat–particularly when you realize that she follows up this flight with her then demanding the construction of a lake house near where she almost died.  Because when Annie wants something, she gets it.

No truth to the rumor that she also made Papa buy her a chocolette factory.

No truth to the rumor that she also made Papa buy her a chocolate factory.

There’s something else she has to say as well:

 

She lay down next to Kerry once more, inching against his body as she had before. “That’s why I love flying with you: when we fly, it’s just us, and scenery below and the sky all around. There’s no orders, no doing anything wrong—it’s just us enjoying the flight and each other’s company.” She touched his lips with her fingers, using her lightest touch. “Mama told me at Yule that you would be like Papa when it came to flying, and that was one of the reason I was drawn to you. She’s wrong—” Annie kissed his cheek. “You’re nothing like Papa; you’ll never be.”

Annie allowed the silent to build around them before she finished her thoughts. “You’re a great flier, and you’ll become a great racer. And though I’ll never be quite as good as you, I’ll fly with you anywhere—because I love you. But these things we do, we have to do them for ourselves. If we don’t, then they have no meaning to us—they have no meaning to our lives.”

She sank into the crook of his arm and chuckled. “Just don’t ever be afraid to go all the way to the top without me, because I won’t hesitate to go there without you.”

Kerry kissed Annie’s forehead. “Don’t worry, Sweetie: I’ll get there.” He sighed softly. “I’ll always get there, one way or the other.”

 

Yeah, Soulmate, you better always be pushing for the top, because someone’s gonna leave you in her dust if you don’t.  Sure, she sort of makes it sound like a joke–but Annie’s not joking.  And there’s a scene coming up where she gets pretty serious about that fact.  She isn’t saying that to be mean:  she’s saying it because it’s true.

Annie does these things for herself, because she wants her life to have meaning.

All she wants is for her soul mate to find meaning in his life as they travel into the future.

Just Another Bad Racin’ Deal

After the mess that was Sunday, Monday night’s offering were much better.  It was a far better time at work, and a far better time at home, even if I did have to pay my taxes and a few bills.  But for the first time in a while, I came home and wanted to write.  Because I not only had to finished my scene in the hospital, but I had to set up something else.

When we left off our duo of adult female instructors and staff, a duo of female students, and a lone boy all by his lonesome, it looked as if the women were getting pretty pissed at each other.  In fact . . .

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Vicky took a deep breath and put her hands on her hips. “Don’t go there, Coraline. You know this sort of thing happens once in a while.” She nearly stuck a finger in Coraline’s face. “I can’t keep an eye on all the kids all the time; I also didn’t know they were going to get so far out in front—”

“Maybe they wouldn’t have if you hadn’t put them on advanced brooms this soon.”

Silence closed in on the ward as the School Doctor and the Flight Instructor stood staring at each other, each waiting for the other to say something. The silence was broken not by either woman, but when Kerry spoke. “It’s okay, guys.”

 

That’s it, Kerry: step right in between two women about to throw down. Mr. Clueless to save the day! What could go wrong?

Plenty, because he starts up with some really bad excuses for why he’s lying in bed with a broken ankle, a almost busted skull, and his knee destroyed. He would have made some stock car drivers happy with his “It’s just one of those racin’ deals” words–but with this crowd, not so much:

 

“Yeah, I mean . . .” Kerry found himself at a loss for words as he felt the stares of the two adults in the room upon him—

But mostly he felt Annie’s stare—and it wasn’t pleasant. As she had done moments before with Emma, her eyes were unwavering hazel orbs that radiated extreme cold. Kerry felt she wasn’t so much looking at him as she was seeing something she’d never encountered before—and she wasn’t happy about finding said object before her.

She slowly drew in a long, deep breath and momentarily held it, her eyes locked on him, never once turning away. As she exhaled a sound emanated from somewhere deep in her throat; Kerry had never knew such a sound could come from Annie, and he didn’t like what he heard. He almost looked away, but became afraid of what might happen if he did.

Annie spun on her heel and addressed the head of the ward in a low, dark tone. “Nurse Coraline, since Kerry can’t move, can I take he’ll be eating dinner here?”

Coraline glanced for a moment at the now quaking Kerry. “That’s correct, Annie.”

“Am I permitted to dine with him?”

Coraline fought hard to keep the smile off here face. “Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Oh—” She turned to once more stare at Kerry for a few seconds. “I’m sure.”

 

You’ve officially gotten The Look, kid. Congratulations. The growl was extra. No charge.

So Annie leaves, and Kerry decides to double down on being Mr. Clueless with Nurse Coraline, who, were she a real person, is having a field day with this kid, because she’s getting to school him on the Ways of Piss Off Girls–and she’s having a blast.

 

It was only when it was just Emma and Coraline that Kerry finally found the courage to speak in a soft, quivering voice. “Nurse Coraline?”

“Yes?” She moved out of the ward hall and into the space between the beds. She had a good idea about what he was going to ask.

Kerry didn’t disappoint. “Is Annie mad at me?”

“What do you think?”

“Uh . . . yeah?”

“Yeah is right.”

He looked off to his left, unloosing an exasperated sigh. “Why? What did I do?”

Coraline leaned closer and lowered her voice. “She’s upset about your accident—and the excuses Emma and you gave.”

“But—”

“Kerry, her dad was a racer here, and he did a bit of it on the outside after he got out of school.” She rested her hand against the headboard of the bed. “And she’s probably also heard all the same lame-ass excuses you gave her a minute ago.”

Learning back as best he could, Kerry threw up his arms and spoke in a squeaky, out-of-breath voice. “I didn’t know that. She never talks about her family or her father—how’m I supposed to know?”

Coraline sat on the edge of Kerry’s bed. “Red, let me tell you something about girls in general, and your girlfriend in particular.” She leaned forward until she was a few tens of centimeters from his face. “Saying that you didn’t know something—?”

Kerry gulped slowly, feeling like he didn’t want to know the answer. “Yeah?”

She scrunched up her face. “Doesn’t work.” She shook her head several times and smiled. “Nope. Not one bit.” She quickly stood. “I better check on Annie: it wouldn’t do if she tears up the menu by accident.” With that she departed the bay, leaving him almost alone.

 

Nurse Coraline’s bedside manner sometimes leaves a little to desire, but you can bet Kerry’s gonna remember all of this. Not that it’ll make much sense.

But really, the coda here elevates this beyond the mundane. Because obviously Emma hasn’t been paying attention for most of the last month and a half:

 

“Hey, Kerry?”

He turned towards Emma, who had been sitting quietly while Annie had gone cold on him. “Yeah?”

“Is Annie really your girlfriend?”

Uhhhh.” Kerry fell back into his pillow and stared at the ceiling. “Emma, I’m in so much trouble . . .”

 

Way to rub that salt into those wounds, Emma. Maybe you should have taken Kerry’s leg off, then he might have garnered more sympathy. And you would have been killed in front of the adults, but shit happens, right?

With this out of the way I’ll add a new scene tonight.  You’ll see it on the graphic below, and it’s something that I decided needed to be shown, in only because the following scene makes a little more sense with it.  Also, it’s going to open up a dynamic in the kid’s relationship, and important things will get said.  But one scene comes in, and I’ll pull another out because it’s not needed.   I’ll talk more on this tomorrow.

And old scene leaves, and a new appears.  It's the Circle of Writing, yo.

And old scene leaves, and a new appears. It’s the Circle of Writing, yo.

The Boy Who Lay Broken at the Bottom of the Chicane

Today is starting with a bit of fuzziness, because I was out until two AM last night, and there was a vodka martini–shaken, not stirred–there as well.  So here it is, ten ’till eight, and I’m just getting into my post.  Oh, any my computer is being a pain in the butt as well, taking forever to come up.  This, too, also happens.

All of my racing scenes are finished, and they ended the way I expected them to end–with pain.  Though up to the point where everything get painful it was a good race.

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Just like at Sunrise Bends, Kerry had caught up to Emma at Polar Turn, but as he tried to take the inside, she threw another block, forcing him to break and slow. While he wasn’t upset, he was getting a bit peeved that he wasn’t doing that to her, and she was taking every advantage of him—

She pulled away fact, accelerating down the straight leading to Northwest Passage. This straight was only three hundred and fifty meters, but it was a fast three-fifty that led right into the Northwest Pass, the last turn before heading into the two point two kilometer curving straight known as West End, the fastest part of the course, and the one section that Kerry had already taken at high speed.

Emma cut into the inside of Northwest Passage, holding good speed. Kerry was right behind her now, only about four meters back, taking the turn a little wider because he wanted to set up his exit and come out on a different line than Emma. He saw her line and had it figured out: she was taking the turn tight and would line up on the west side of the course. Kerry wanted to set up on the east side, so he’d have plenty of room to pass—before Sunset Boulevard, he hoped.

He knew what he had to do if he was going to get around Emma. It was just a matter of flying smart and not letting her action get to him. Because he’d realized what she was doing with her blocks: she was trying to rattle him. She was trying to get him upset—and when you’re upset, you’re going to make mistakes. Kerry wasn’t about to make a mistake. By they time they were in Sunset Boulevard, she’d follow him.

Emma was really turning on the speed, however. She zoomed out of Northwest Passage and was into the wide expanse of West End in a matter of seconds. Kerry pushed his broom forward, the air speed indicator a blur as he chased her down. The lines were set just as he expected, and while he knew he’d have a little farther to fly to be able to pass her, he also had more room to move, but being on the outside of the gently curving course, he saw further than Emma—which meant he’d catch his marks well before her.

I'd like to point out that there's another grave near Sunset Boulevard.  Nothing says, "Hey, kid, lets not forget your mortality," like putting graves near a race course.

I’d like to point out that there’s another grave near Sunset Boulevard. Nothing says, “Hey, kid, lets not forget your mortality,” like putting graves near a race course.  Though I do believe the graves were there long before the courses . . .

I did a check on the amount of time they’d be in West End going as fast as I know they’re going, and it’s not a lot of time–which means there’s a lot of quick thinking going on while they both zip alone.  I used to do a lot of computer racing–so much so that I had a good steering wheel with force feedback and a six-speed in-line shifter that I ended up breaking because I did way too much racing–and I used to be like Kerry:  I was always thinking as I raced, looking for my marks, checking the cars around me, thinking about how I was gonna set someone up for a pass.

Kerry is doing that as well, thinking about what’s ahead.  And he’s picked up what Emma is doing to him is–in the words of a racer who once won a race by “accidentally” getting into the back bumper of the guy in first place and spinning him out with about two-thirds of a lap to go in the race–“rattle his cage” a bit.  And both times she did so, it worked.  However . . .

 

He was only a few meters behind Emma when he saw the course curving to the left. They were entering Sunset Boulevard, and this is where Kerry expected to make his move. He waited to see if Emma would set up on the outside of the curve, or if she’d diamond the turn. She reminded hard against the outside line, just as he’d expected. Kerry took the middle of the corner, keeping his speed as he felt the g-forces picking up as he prepared to pass Emma on the inside.

He saw the upward flick of her head as she saw him coming. When he was three meters from her processor she cut hard to her left, throwing a block as she cut the turn in a hard diamond. Kerry didn’t slow this time, however. He went up and over to her right, setting up on the outside of the curve, maintaining nearly all his speed while she lost a few kilometers an hour due to her quick cut-over move. He glanced over his shoulder before shouting into the comm. “You seem to lack three dimensional thinking, Selene.” He returned his focus to the track, fighting to stay on course as he navigated the turn.

 

Sorry about that, Emma, but you can go over in this race, too.  Maybe she wasn’t paying attention to the races that day.

Let’s just take this to the end, so we can see how this ends in pain–

 

Kerry wasn’t taking any chances. He slipped to the middle of the course, read to cut left or right if Emma tried to pass. It wouldn’t be possible for her to go over or under him as he’d done seconds before, but then they weren’t officially racing, and maybe she wouldn’t care if she cut through one of the holographic rectangles, not if it meant getting around him—

“Selene; Starbuck. Stop NOW.”

The moment Kerry heard Professor Salomon shouting in the comms he pulled back on the shaft of his broom as hard as possible and struggled to bring the PAV to a stop. The broom turned sideways as he pulled back harder with his left hand than his right, but he managed a controlled, sliding stop.

Emma, on the other hand, wasn’t as quick. He saw the panicked look on her face as she realized she wasn’t going to stop in time and that she’d spear Kerry. She pulled hard to her right, sliding her broom at him, slowing considerably but not stopping . . .

Kerry screamed as the shaft of her broom hit the outside of his left knee; a second later Emma fell into him and pushed him over. They both tumbled several meters down part of the rocky incline that made up Double Dip. The second he hit the ground Kerry felt a searing pain in his right leg; something was broken, but he didn’t know what. Emma fell half on top of him, half on top of rock; she screamed as she rolled away from him. He finally came to his own stop when the right side of his head smacked a small rock, leaving him with an agonizing headache.

He lay on his back looking up at Professor Salomon hovering maybe five meters overhead. Even though he was slightly dazed, Kerry recognized Annie flying in from behind and sliding up next to the professor, looking none too pleased. He took a deep breath, wondering what was coming next while watching professor tap the side of her helmet—

The professor spoke matter of factly. “Coraline, I need a pick up.” She stared at the fallen racers while Annie glared at Kerry. “I’ve got two down in Double Dip . . .”

 

And thus I get my somewhat Swedish title for my post today (though the original title of The Girl with the Dragon TattooMän som hatar kvinnor–actually translates as Men Who Hate Women, but I won’t quite go there), because Kerry’s a bit busted up, and we see the beginning of an injury that’s going to plague him for, believe it or not, at least three more novels if these stories ever get that far.  And, it goes without saying, Annie’s a bit upset.  There’s a scene I’m considering adding, but I have decided upon that scene yet.  If I do, it explains a little about–well, you’ll see, because it would come after the next scene, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

After all, there’s a lot of writing to go.