Beneath the Hardened Child

This is All About Annie.  Really, we are in that place where she’s being asked about stuff–you know, things–that that stuff happens to pertain to a certain Ginger Hair Boy from Wales.  It’s a given that her mother knows a bit about the boy, but Daddy?  If there was a Nopesville, Bulgaria, Annie’s father would be mayor.  But isn’t that how it is?

This means that, now, in the space after coming home and going to dinner, Papa gets a little me time with his lovely little witch.  Annie knows what he wants–he’s just taking his time getting there.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

“We’re also thrilled with all the advanced classes you’ve been invited into. Although . . .” Victor rubbed his right index finger just under his lower lip. “Why didn’t you take Advanced Transformation and Advanced Flight One?”

Annie had expected these questions as well, and had her answers ready. “I’m auditing Advanced Transformation: Professor Kishna is letting me study the advanced spells with someone else—” She left the question of with whom she was studying and moved to the next answer. “—and as far as Advanced Flight One: everyone knows if I need additional flight training, I know where to turn.” She turned raised eyebrows and slight grin towards here father. “Is that not so?”

Victor couldn’t keep from chuckling. “That is true.” He sipped his tea for the first time. “I’m certain I could do as well as any of your instructors.”

They sat quietly looking at each other across the small table. Annie kept expecting her father to continue speaking, but he said nothing as his eyes darted from point to point around the siting room. After thirty seconds she decided to make things easy for him. “Papa?”

He sat up attentively. “Yes, Nini?”

She grinned partially due to what she was about to say, and partially due to her father calling her by the nickname they’d used for years. “You can ask the question you really want to ask—” She raised her tea mug to her lips. “I don’t mind.”

 

First off, Annie’s tired of beating about the bush:  if you wanna ask about my boyfriend–of which said terms has yet to come up–go ahead.  And second–Nini!  Annie has a nickname!  One that Kerry doesn’t know about.  And in case anyone’s wondering:  Kerry’s nickname is “Hey, You.”

Now that you have permission, ask away, Papa–

 

Victor set his tea upon the table and wrapped both hands around the mug. “How is Kerry?”

Finally. “He’s good, Papa.”

“And how is your time with him?”

“I enjoy being with him.”

He cleared his throat as quietly as possible. “Yes, but . . .” He raised his gaze and met Annie’s soft stare. “How is he to you?”

Annie set her mug aside and lightly placed her folded hands on the table before her. “He’s always nice to me: he never gets angry or mean, and he’s never raised his voice except when he’s frustrated with himself. He’s kind and always keeps me in this thoughts. He greets me every day with ‘Good morning’ and says ‘Good night’ before we go to our rooms to sleep.” She allowed her gaze slip slightly to the right. “He’s always there with a sweet word or affectation—” She looked back at her father. “He makes me feel wonderful, Papa.”

Wonderful Annie is a good witch filled with sunshine. Make her unhappy, and . . .

Wonderful Annie is a good witch filled with sunshine and unicorns. Make her unhappy, and . . .

 

Annie is a complex girl.  You could say, “Oh, but she’s a teenager:  of course she’s complex,” but there’s more to it than that.  Some might say that any girl who starts planning her wedding at around the age of seven with a boy who may be nothing more than a dream figment is probably a little obsessive/crazy, but there’s far more to her than just a stalker mentality.  She is in love, and she’s getting to the point where she doesn’t care who knows.  That little look off to the side–that’s her love remembrance.  And to tell one’s father that a boy they just met for about five minutes makes you feel wonderful . . . that’s heavy.  So much so that her father is a bit taken aback:

 

Victor regarded his daughter for fifteen seconds, his face a combination of calm interest. “You weren’t like this when you came home after your A Levels—”

“That’s because I missed him, Papa.” She glanced off to her right once more. “I was sad to leave him at the airport that day.”

He nodded slowly. “You were holding hands when you arrived in Vienna.”

Annie kept her head turned slightly to the right while her eyes turned back towards her father. “We were, yes. We hold hands nearly everywhere we go.” Her right eyebrow rose as she gave her father a quizzical look. “Didn’t Mama and you hold hands when you were at school?”

“Yes, we did.” Victor returned his daughter’s look. “But we never did that in front of our parents.”

She shrugged. “I’m different: you know that.”

 

She may as well said, “I’m not like the other girls,” and she’d have been right.  Oh, you saw us holding hands?  Ha!  I’m Annie:  I do what I want!  And to show she means business, this short little passage happens–

 

“I most certainly do know that.” He twisted slight in his seat so he could cross his legs. “I only want to know that you’re happy, and that this boy isn’t—”

“His name is Kerry, Papa.” Annie’s face froze into impassiveness as one thought entered her mind: I won’t allow him be spoken of in the same way Kerry’s mother tried to speak of me. I won’t. “Please don’t call him ‘the boy’. He’s more than that.”

There were a couple of slow, measured breaths from across the table before Victor spoke. “I apologize, Nini. I didn’t mean any disrespect.”

 

She knows about being “The Girl Who Writes” and she’s aware Kerry lost his shit on me mom for saying that, so you know Annie isn’t going to give either parental member a lot of slack when it comes to using a term like “the boy”.  And to say “He’s more than that”–yeah, she’s leaving little doubt where Kerry stands with her.

All this said, I figure to finish this scene tonight, and with this scene goes the chapter.  Not a big chapter, but one that seems to be taking a long time.

Don’t worry:  everything’s going to start going to hell here soon.

Fumblings Before the Questions

When writing you some times discover that things aren’t going to come as easy as you want–particularly when you’re tired and stressed out.  I know this is gonna sound crazy, but that’s been me the last couple of weeks.  A lot of it is work related:  some of it is due to needing to pay my quarterly taxes and discovering I might fall just a little short of where I wanted to be payment-wise.  (Just so you know, I won’t end up short.)

I actually fell asleep twice during the afternoon yesterday for about forty-five minutes at a time.  It’s my body telling me, “You need rest,” and I was trying to get it.  I also ate a lot of chili, which can’t have been good for my waistline, and I was paying for it a little last night.

So when I finally did get around to writing It wasn’t a lot–about seven hundred sixty total, and I pushed the scene up over a thousand words.  However, I did hit my mark of one hundred and sixty thousand words in the novel–at which point I called it a night.

It was also a good point to end the story.

It was also a good point to end the story.

What was the gist of what was written?  We know Annie’s dad was somewhere he shouldn’t have been, and that’s where the action picks up–

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Victor Kirilov appeared humbled by his daughter’s remarks. “I didn’t think you’d mind. I apologize.”

“Well, now that you’re here—” She motioned for her father to remain sitting. “I’ll be out in a moment.” She entered her bathroom and used the toilet, thinking all the while about her father. There was little conversation about school: the proceeded directly to the public jaunt stations so they could return home, then she went straight to her room, changed into her night clothes, took her adjustment mixture, and was asleep in minutes.

It didn’t require a huge stretch of the imagination to understand why her father was there. She was fully aware he wanted to have a short talk—and to discuss a matter that didn’t require her mother. Annie finished and washed her hands, preparing for what would come next.

She returned to her sitting room: her father was at the table with two steaming mugs before him. He pushed one across the table as Annie took the empty chair. “I brought tea. I though you might enjoy some when you woke up.”

Annie wrapped her hands around the mug. “Thank you, Papa.” She waited a moment, warming her fingers against the ceramic, then stood next to the table with her arms spread.
Victor stood and gave him daughter a hug. “Welcome home, Anelie.”

“Thank you, Papa.” The last time Annie hugged her father was the first day she left for Salem. As she’d grown older she’d found it less necessary to have physical contact with her parents, but now she felt a hug was needed—if for no other reason than to show her father she still loved and cared for him. “I’ve missed you and Mama.”

“And we’ve missed you as well.” He waited for her to sit before taking his seat. “It will be good to have you home for these next two weeks. And your grandparents are looking forward to seeing you.”

She finally took a sip of tea. “I’ve been waiting for that since Mama wrote and said we were getting together.”

“Yes, but we’re meeting on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas.” He slowly tilted his head a little to the right. “We all agreed it would be easier to get a room, and that everyone could spend more time together.”

“I agree.” Annie lightly tapped the rim of her mug. “That also gives us more time to spend together on Christmas.”

“That’s what our parents thought: as much as they want to see you, they thought the three of us should spend Christmas together as a family.” Victor waited a few seconds before staring across the table. “How is school?”

Annie stared at the surface of her drink. Now it begins— “It has been good. I can’t believe a year and a half is already over.”

He sat back in his chair and folded his hands across his stomach. “It was like that for your mother and me: one day we were walking through Founder’s Gate on our way to our E and As, and then you’re finishing your C Levels and half your schooling is over.” His sigh was soft. “Time seems to pass differently there at times.”

“It does.” She nodded. “It does indeed.”

 

The questions are about to start, and we actually see Annie giving her father a hug, which is something that she doesn’t do much.  Annie and her father have had . . . let’s say issues, and they don’t always see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.  And now she will have to deal with Daddy finally meeting the boyfriend and having questions.  It should be fun.

And that should be tonight.

Adjusting For Home

I said I’d have another post, didn’t I?  Sure I did.  Now, the writing’s been a bit slow this morning, ’cause I’ve had shopping, and I’m cooking a big pot of chili in my crockpot, and I’ve washed all my clothes as well.  Between running out and running up and down, and snacking and trying to stay awake, it’s been a busy morning.

Let’s not forget the other blog post, too.

Anyhow, a few things have popped up.  For one, I’ve had a discussion about Annie dreamwalking Kerry, and I brought up something that I’ve thought about for a while:  once Annie figures out how to do that, she can spend all her time with Kerry while they’re awake, and then, once they’re asleep, she can come and visit him in his dreams.  It means that if she’s in the mood, she can spend all her time with Kerry, and he with her.  This could make her a bit like a Magically Overly Attached Girlfriend, and that means she needs a meme:

"You wouldn't want other girls sneaking in here, would you?  That could be . . . bad."

“You wouldn’t want other girls sneaking into your dreams, would you? That might be bad.”

Annie will keep you safe, Kerry.  Don’t worry.  Ever.

Yesterday was also saw the road leading up to Kerry’s house, so why not look at the road leading up to Annie’s.  Well . . .

And it looks this way right now in the novel.  Sort of.

And it looks this way right now in the novel. Sort of.

That area heading off into the woods on the right is the route heading into the mountains and going right to the Kirilovi Home.  It doesn’t look that way, but it is.  And while Annie’s parents have cars–and they even take them out for a drive when they want to maintain appearances–most of their visitors don’t drive, if you know what I mean.  You can be if or when Kerry comes to visit, it won’t be via this road.  Doesn’t mean he may not take the car into town, but a visit to Annie won’t involve ground travel.

But right now Annie’s home, and if Kerry is home thinking about her, that probably means Annie is thinking about him . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie’s eyes gradually opened and took in the darkness of her room. There was some ambient light, most of which came from the glow of her digital clock. She locked her gaze upon the readout: 19:15. It’s seventeen-fifteen in Cardiff— She rose up on her right elbow and brushed the hair from her face. He’s probably home and finally getting the opportunity to relax.

She slipped her legs from under the covers and sat on the side of the bed as she wriggled her feet into here slipper. Annie brushed her hair back over her shoulders and brought the lights in her room to their lowest level; only then did she make perpetrations to rise and face the rest of her first day home for Yule Holiday.

Her necklace and charm bracelet were on the jewelry tree sitting upon her dressing table. She’d considered wearing the necklace to bed, since he’d left it on when she’d Adjusted on the flight from Berlin to Boston with nothing happening. Adjustment sleep was so deep and full that a person almost never moved—almost.

Annie let the locket dangle inside her night shirt, where it felt cool against the bare skin over her heart. She slipped the charm bracelet on after that, smiling as she thought back to only a few hours before when they arrived home and she removed her jacket, both parents caught side of Kerry’s gift dangling around her left wrist. Her mother finally made the inquiry, and she nearly laughed when she saw the look they exchanged upon her saying it was as gift Kerry gave her during their first day in Berlin. While her father wasn’t certain what to make of this gift, Annie saw her mother realized the significance immediately—

The robe floated off the back of the chair where Annie set it after unpacking and hung in the air. She stepped up and backed into it, slipping her arms into the outstretched sleeves. She’d begun practicing this move a few months before after watching Helena doing this with one of her leather coats, and seeing her get into her coat that way brought back the memory of her mother sometimes do this same thing with her winter coats. It was necessary, then, for her to try the same thing, and since her skill with the Levitation spell was excellent, she crafted this action in a matter of a couple of days.

Walking towards the door she wrapped her robe around her and tied the sash. I imagine I’ll be able to slip this onto my shoulders with another month of practice. She waited until she was right in front of the door before waiving it open. I wonder if I’ll be able to actually dress myself that way? Mostly likely it would be easy with a dress—

“Ah, you’re finally up.”

Annie instinctively clutched her robe and held it tightly around her neck when she saw the visitor sitting in her sitting room. “Papa. You’re not supposed to come up unannounced.”

 

While Annie doesn’t mind a little tea with her mother in her sitting room, it seems as if having her father pop up without making an announcement first is a big social no-no.  And it probably doesn’t take a genius to figure out why he’s there–

You only have to wait until I write that part so you can see if you’re right.

Willkommen in Wien: Antworten und Abschiede

Interesting morning, let me tell you.  If I were more superstitious I’d say the people in Philadelphia who said today is the end of the world may have been on to something, but it’s really more like someone’s been jacking around with the firewall filters, and that’s messed people up.  Never the mind:  I have my excerpt, and maybe a little something else that I’ll mention at the end.

Still in Vienna and still with Daddy Kirilovi.  Now, you know Annie’s dad isn’t going to lose the opportunity to ask a certain Ginger Hair Boy a few questions, and so, yeah–he does . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Another protracted silence fell between Annie’s father and Bernice’s charge, and she wondered who was going to be the first to speak. Annie watched them both, her eyes flitting from Kerry to her father and back, examining both the way her father was examining the boy standing before him. It was Victor who broke the stalemate. “Are you enjoying school, Kerry?”

He nodded. “Yes, sir, quite a lot.”

“Must have been something of a shock to find out you were Aware.”

“Um, yeah, it was a bit.” He cast a glance towards Annie for just a second.

Victor noticed the glance. “Have you enjoyed your time with Annie?”

Annie’s face darkened as she glanced towards her father. “Papa.”

Annie would really like to look more peeved, but do you know how hard it is to find that picture?

Annie would really like to look more peeved, but do you know how hard it is to find that picture?

 

Yeah, Papa, you wanna watch going there with Daughter Dearest standing next to you, ’cause she’s protective of the moyata polovinka and she’ll get all up in someone’s business if they aren’t kind.  Fortunately, Kerry’s not gonna freak:

 

Kerry held up his hand for a moment. “Naw, it’s all right, Annie.” He started to relax, though there was a hint of nervousness in his voice. “Annie did a lot to help me fit into this new world; she helped me understand The Art so I could become a better witch—and a better sorceress.” A light grin played across his face. “She’ll say that’s not true, but I know different.” He smiled at her before facing her father. “I value every moment I’m with Annie, sir. She’s . . . She’s a special person. The most special.”

Bernice knew of the things that Kerry had already surmounted, but over the last minute she’d watched him present his bravest face ever. Victor Kirilov was an imposing man even though he wasn’t tall or large, but his confidence gave him an unshakable persona. She saw, as did Annie, and Kerry was a bit unnerved, but he didn’t cower—and if the look on Annie’s face is any indication of her current mood, she’s proud as well.

Victor turned to his wife. “We need to get home.” He placed a hand on Annie’s shoulder. “This young lady needs to do her adjustment before we go to dinner.”

“I agree.” Pavlina turned to Bernice. “It was pleasure meeting you again.”

She adjusted her purse so it set better on her shoulder. “Same here, Pavlina.” Bernice held out her hand. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Mr. Kirilov.”

“The pleasure was mine.” He shook her hand, then held his out for Kerry. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Kerry.”

“Thank you, sir.” He gave Victor’s hand a quick shake. “I’m glad I got to meet you.”

“Oh . . .” The right corner of his mouth curled upwards once more. “I’m sure it won’t be the last time.” He spread his arms as he took a step back. “Shall we go?

Pavlina waved to Kerry. “It was nice seeing you again, Kerry.” She shot a sideways glance at her husband. “I’m sure we’ll meet again soon.”

“I’m sure.” Kerry held out his left hand towards Annie. “I’m, um, I guess—”

“Hold on—” She spun around as her parents prepared to leave the waiting area. “I’d like to say goodbye to Kerry.”

Pavlina looked towards the young man. “Go ahead.”

Annie’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Privately?”

Victor seemed about to say something when Pavlina hooked her arm in his. “We’ll wait in the corridor.”

Bernice patted Kerry on the back. “I’ll be outside, too.”

 

Now, one might say Annie’s dad cut short the meeting, but really:  in a public place, do you really expect him to ask something like, “Are you doing kissy-face stuff with my daughter?”  Victor is a somewhat public person among Foundation people–being an F1 driver who just finished a season in third place will do that for you–and it wouldn’t do to have him getting all intimidating on a twelve year old boy.  Even if he did see that boy holding hands with his daughter.  Who wants to say goodbye to that boy Privately.  Did you get that, parents?  She wants privacy.

 

She headed into the corridor and leaned against the wall waiting for the kids to finish their goodbyes. She saw the Kirilovis standing about five meters from the entrance, speaking quietly to each other, and Bernice could only imagine the conversation they were having . . .

Annie and Kerry stood against one wall of the waiting room, and were just visible to Bernice. She saw their heads bowed and close together as they faced each other, holding hands. Annie touched Kerry’s cheek as she said something that appeared to relax him: it was only then that Bernice noticed his right hand quivering slightly. He listened as Annie spoke, stroking her arm as if to confirm she was there.

There was a moment when they gazed into each other’s eyes before hey kissed long and tenderly. Once the kiss finished then broke into a hug, and she observed Annie whisper something into his ear—something obviously pleasant and meaningful, for he was smiling as the turned and headed hand-in-hand for the waiting room exit . . .

They held each other’s hands tightly one last time in the corridor. Annie beamed. “I’ll see you in a couple of weeks, my . . .” She caught herself before speaking the last words within earshot of her parent. “I’ll write.”

“I’ll write back.” He quickly kissed her hand. “Have a good holiday, Annie.”

“Have a good holiday, Kerry.” She released Kerry and waved to Bernice. “Take care, Ms. Rutherford. Have a good holiday.”

“You, too, Annie.” Bernice waved back. “Enjoy your holiday.”

“I will.” Annie kissed two right fingers and held them towards Kerry. “Goodbye, mlechna.”

He did the same with his left fingers. “Sbogom, malko samri.”

She turned away with a giggle and smile and rejoined her parents. Kerry watched them walk away for a few seconds before her turned and approached Bernice. It was only then, while facing her, that his shoulders slumped. “Wow.” He let out a long, deep sigh. “Wow.”

“Let’s go sit in the lounge for a few minutes—” She pointed down the hall behind her. “Let them get to the public platform so they can jaunt home.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” He followed her to the small lounge where those who arrived early for an arrival or departure could wait in comfort. They found a couple of cozy chairs in a corner away from the few people there and sat. “Better?”

“Yeah.” He tapped his fingers on the arms of the chair as Bernice set her bad on the small, round table in front of them. “Why did he act that way towards me?”

She knew exactly to whom Kerry was referring. “Annie’s dad?”

“Yeah.”

 

Oh, you thought that was a grilling, Kerry?  Better watch out:  you may break under pressure.

Annie was about to lay “My love” on Kerry and caught herself.  One day soon she’s just gonna have to throw caution to the wind and kick it out there.  What she did call him was “sweet”, as in “sweet banista”, which is what she called him the night before at the Observatory, and Kerry responded with “Goodbye, little cabbage roll”, which is less romantic than “darling”, but darling might have had Daddy asking more questions.

Even so, Kerry got himself a case of the “First Time Father Meeting” nerves, and now gets to ask Ms. Rutherford about this.  Being that she’s a girl, she may have some experience in this matter . . .

Now, lastly, some news.  Yesterday I had someone ask me if I’d like to submit a series to Channillo, which is a website where people can post, in a continuing way, their novel series.  There are hundreds of writers already there, and it’s something that I may consider.  However . . . one of their stipulations is that whatever series you post there cannot be offered elsewhere for free, and were I to put, say, my first novel up, I’d have to go back over two years of posts and strip out excerpts that are hanging out on my blog.  Which, quite frankly, is a huge pain in the ass.

At the moment I’m wondering if this is a route I want to go, because I don’t figure to do a hack and slash on my blog that way.  The other choice would be to take another work of mine–say, one that isn’t selling all that well–and post it there with the promise of doing new content after the initial novel.  That’s a ballsy move, and one that would probably take up the majority of my time right now.

Right now I’m considering my options–one of which is I don’t think people are gonna pony up $5/month to read my first novel.  Maybe for another work, but not this one.\

So many decisions, so little time to do all the things I want to do.

At Home With the Malibeys, the Start of Dinner

I swear I’m not trying to rush into this story, but I spent most of the afternoon and evening working on this part–well, most of the afternoon was spent trying to futz around with the new Google Maps to make out a “fake route” for Kerry, because once I see a shiny toy like that, I have to make it mine.  While it would seem there are bugs to get ironed out in the new Google Maps to make the itinerary you’ll see below, it likely is coming.

I wrote almost fifteen hundred words over the course of several hours, because I wanted to get into this part of the story.  We didn’t get to see much of Kerry’s home life in the last novel, but this time we’re starting off with a little slice, and they’ll be more to come when we get into Yule holiday.  But right now in the story it’s two weeks before Kerry lights out of Cardiff, and the family has sat down for dinner . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were the days that Kerry’s mother Louise went into work at the BBC, usually commuting with his father, Davyn. Not only was Kerry left alone on those days, but the evening dinner usually consisted of take way, mostly Indian and Chinese, though fish and chips and kababs also made their appearance, and once in a while buggers and pizza would grace the dinner table.

Tonight dinner didn’t arrive until just after nineteen hours, due to traffic and a delay at the restaurant. Kerry’s parents picked up fish and chips, and while this has always been one of his favorites, since having the fish and chips at the school, the Cardiff fare simply wasn’t as good. He never let on, however, because he didn’t want to have a discussion about why the Salem food was so much better.

After all, when it’s made by artificial people using magical means, it was hard for Normals to match the results.

The seating was always the same: Davyn sat at one end of the table with his back to the family room, while Louise sat across from him with her back to the main lounge. Kerry sat between them, facing the wall separating the dining room from the kitchen, with his father to his left and his mother to his right. Even when they lived in California they ate in the same configuration when they all ate together. It was only during this summer home, after spending nine months at school with Annie that Kerry understood what Coraline told him that night he went to the hospital after his vision: all the girls save Annie sit on his right.

Even his mother.

 

That last part . . . there will be an answer, of sorts, as to why Annie is always to Kerry’s left, and he to her right.  Just give me another couple of hundred thousand words to get there, will ya?

 

His parents spent almost ten minutes going over their events of the day before Louise finally got around to checking up on her son. “How was your day, Kerry? Did you do anything interesting?”

Kerry actually had something interesting happen, something he’d expected for a few weeks. “My travel package came today.”

“What’s that?” His father barely looked up from his chips.

“My travel package for school arrived.” Kerry rubbed his hands against his thighs. “You know: tickets and itinerary. All the stuff I need to get to the staging point for returning students.”

“Oh.” Davyn finally turned towards Kerry, wiping his hands clean. “It’s time for you to return already?”

“Yeah, Dad.” Kerry tried not to sound sullen when he answered. “I told you about this last Thursday.”

“Hum.” His father shook his head. “It must have slipped my mind.”

“Where are you, um, staging this year, dear?” Louise barely remembered Kerry mentioning this last week, but didn’t want her son to think they were completely uninterested.

“Berlin.”

“Berlin? In Germany?”

“One and the same.” He fought hard to keep from rolling his eyes. Mom’s smarter than that: she’s trying to make conversation so Dad doesn’t look like he doesn’t care . . .

Vaguely remembering that last year Kerry stayed in London for a few days before heading to Amsterdam, she decided to see if he was doing the same this year. “How are your plans for this year? Staying in London again?”

Kerry shook his head. “Nope. Ms. Rutherford is coming here early on the twenty-seventh, and we’re taking a car to Cardiff Central, then the train into Paddington, a car from there to Liverpool Station, the train from there out to Stansted Airport, and from there I fly to Berlin.” He nibbled at a piece of fish. “Gonna make for a long day.”

 

That is the route as I worked it out.  It looks like this:

 

Car from home to Cardiff Cental
Train from Cardiff Central to Paddington
Car from Paddington to Liverpool
Train from Liverpool to Stansted Airport
Flight from Stansted Airport to Berlin Tegel Airport
Car from Berlin Tegel Airport to Crowne Plaza Berlin–City Ctr Nurnberger

 

There you have it.  You can probably figure out how he’s really going to travel, but for the sake of continuing to fool the parents, that’s what his itinerary says and what the tickets show.

Oh, and you can almost see the air quotes around “staging” when Louise says the word.

 

His father nodded. “Certainly sounds that way. Wouldn’t it be easier for you to leave for school from London?”

“Probably, but that’s not how The Foundation does thing. Berlin is the staging area for all the returning students from Europe, Western Asia, and most of Africa. Last year they staged out of Madrid, and, I think, next year we stage out of Paris.” He didn’t want to say he’d heard that from Annie during their last dream together.

Louise snorted as she played with her food. “Still doesn’t sound efficient.”

“Apparently it works, though. Gives The Foundation time to gather everyone up, and lets the students have some time in a different city every year.”

“Do you know which cities they visit?” When Kerry had returned home after school in early June, Davyn seemed primarily concerned with how The Foundation was able to ship students back and forth to various parts of the world. Kerry figured he was getting a feel for the sort of costs that were run up transporting kids every year.

Kerry nodded. “Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid, Rome, and Berlin. Last year the returning students were in Madrid, Berlin this year, next year Paris. Then I think . . .” He searched for something Annie had mentioned off-hand during their last dream. “We go to Rome and then back to Amsterdam. I remember hearing something about you always end up your last staging year in the city where you started.” Assuming you don’t start jaunting off to Salem by that time.

 

I’ve run through, in my mind, of course, all the cities that the Foundation is currently using for staging, and I even worked out the line.  A couple of things here, though:  once again, we are working with five points–like in a pentagram–and three of these cities are the locations for the main headquarters for The Foundation.  The Protectors headquarters (they are like The Foundation police) is located in Berlin, the Guardians headquarters (we know these guys) is located in Amsterdam, and the main Foundation headquarters is located in Paris.  How ironic that Annie and Kerry started out in the main city of the people they did a field operation for a half-year later.  One might imagine something dark and nefarious about that, but no:  it just happened to be in the schedule for the A Levels.

Now that travel is out of the way, the parental units try to do the small talk thing with the young don’t-know-he’s-a-witch-yet person:

 

Silence returned to the dinner table for almost a minute as everyone caught up on the food before them. Louise once more broke the silence. “You seem happy about going back.”

Kerry wasn’t going to try and hide his joy. “I am.”

“You were never like this when you were returning to school here—”

“That’s because it was the Cardiff schools, Mom.” Kerry tried to keep his tone as snide-free as possible, but given his hatred for time in the Cardiff school system, he wasn’t completely successful.

Davyn thought he’d try to lighten the mood by changing the subject. “I guess you’re looking forward to seeing your friends again.”

“Yeah.” Thinking about the people he knew who’d return to school with him lightened his mood considerably. “It’ll be great seeing them again.”

His father placed his folded arms on the table and leaned against them. “Who are some of your friends?”

“Well, there’s Nadine, and there’s Emma—” He blushed slightly as he grinned. “And Annie.”

His mother addressed her husband. “You know, the girl who writes all the time?”

 

Remember The Girl Who Writes, because it’s gonna make for some problems in a bit . . .

 

“Yes, that one.” Davyn turned back to his son. “Anyone else?”

Kerry didn’t have to think about that one. “A few of the instructors, also.”

“They have names?”

“Sure. There’s Erywin and Helena—you met them, Mom—and there’s Deanna and Wednesday, and Vicky.” He considered the others he knew. “There’s also Professor Kishna and Professor Semplen, but I don’t knew them well enough to call them by their given names.”

Louise eyed her son hard. “I was going to ask about that.”

“Yeah, some of the instructors want you to address them by their given names when you’re in private—” He realized he was missing someone. “Oh, and there’s Coraline—she’s the school doctor—and Trevor, our librarian and archivist.”

“I see.” Louise set her right knuckles against the bottom of her chin. “Those first three, though: those are classmates?”

“Yes, they are. Annie and Emma are in my level, and Nadine is an older—”

“Don’t you have any classmate friends who are boys?”

 

And leave it to Louise Malibey, mother of Kerry, to find a button to push.  “What?  Don’t you hang out with any boys?”  Yeah, push that button–push it!

So here we are–

Looking more like something I'd do for NaNoWriMo right now.

Looking more like something I’d do for NaNoWriMo right now.

–Eleven and a half thousand words into the new story, and only a little over a week is gone.  Not a bad pace, if I should say so myself.  It’s likely I won’t get much done tonight, however, as I’m off to get my face zapped again after work.  But I do wanna jump back into this scene, and into the next.  They are important.

Oh, and do you recall Annie telling Kerry in their last dream that there wasn’t any love in his house?

Yeah, remember that . . .

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.