Here it is, just before five-thirty in the morning, and I’ve not only been up since about a quarter to four, but I’ve been writing for nearly the last fifty minutes while listening to ABBA and Crowded House. Sometimes you can’t sleep because you had a sore, irritated eye from the night before that made writing difficult; sometimes you can’t sleep because you’ve got a scene rummaging around in your head and you gotta get up and write out five hundred or so words–which is what I’ve done this morning.
So what’s got me up this morning? Kerry. Actually Kerry and his mother, who is hovering over him like a UFO looking to abduct him so they can conduct strange experiments upon his young body. Mommy Malibey seem to have a bit of a bug in her bonnet, and she’s not getting off to a good start after Kerry tells her about the great lunches they have a school–a point she continues upon before they delve into family matters–
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Louise crossed her arms as she watched her son finish making his lunch. “It would appear. Do they serve filet mignon every night, too?”
“No, just on Wednesdays and Saturdays.” He quickly changed the subject. “What time’s dad coming home?”
“He’ll be in the office until about three or four—” Out of habit she checked the digital clock on the wall, which was set to the familiar AM/PM cycle; Kerry found it amusing that she never grew used to universal time. “You know how Christmas Eve is: they have to go over all the final sound edits for all the specials tomorrow.”
Kerry finished pouring the last of his soup into a bowl and set his sliced sandwich around the edge of a plate. “Yep—” He set the bowl in the center of the plate and grabbed a spoon. “Wouldn’t want the TARDIS sounding doggy on Christmas.”
“No, we wouldn’t.” His mother finally broke into a smile. “He said he’ll be home for dinner no matter what.”
“Sounds good.” He headed into the dining room and took his normal seat at the table. For a moment he thought his mother might join him at the table, but instead she headed into the family room and sat on the sofa watching television. It was obvious, however, that every few minutes his mother would glance in his direction and watch him eat, and he thought there was something on her mind that she wanted to share with him, and it had nothing to do with lunches, at home or school.
He was correct. After five minutes his mother found the need to open up. “I tried contacting your school.”
Kerry finished chewing before answering. “What for?”
“I wanted to speak to your headmistress about her response to my letter.”
“Oh?” He looked down and away just long enough to roll his eyes. “Didn’t you get one?”
“Yes, but . . .” Louise crossed her legs and pulled a sweater around her shoulders. “I felt her response was a bit too formy for me.”
“Formy?” Kerry stared into his soup bowl, smiling. “Is that a new word?”
“You know what I mean.” Louise got up and walked into the dining room, putting on the sweater before she took her normal seat to Kerry’s right. “I wanted to discuss a few things with her, so I called the school.”
Here we are again, back to “The Letter” about “The Talk,” and Kerry doesn’t seem too want any of this–well, he sort of looks at it as nonsense. Nor does he want to hear about it again, so he tries to deflect the conversation . . .
“How’d you get the number?”
“It was in the literature we were given last year.”
“Oh.” Kerry was vaguely aware it was possible for the Normal parents to call a number that was linked to an office somewhere. The idea was if something important came up and a person couldn’t get in touch with the school through email, they could place a call that would eventually get passed along to the people in charge at Salem.
Louise ignored his exclamation. “I never did get the chance to speak to her, however. I was told she’d contact me when time became available.”
“I’m not surprised—” He finished the last of his sandwich and wiped his mouth. “Headmistress Laventure is pretty busy. About the only time we ever see her is when there’s a all-student announcement, and everyone has to show up to hear her.”
His mother seemed not to care for her son’s explanation. “Well, I would think—”
“Mom, we have students from all over the world.” He polished off the soup and pushed the plate forward. “I’m sure she hears stuff from parents all the time, and has to find time to talk to them all.” He headed into the kitchen to get a glass of water: when he returned his mother was still at the table. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“You wouldn’t?” She waited only long enough for him to sit then continued. “This thing that happened with you—”
Kerry started across the table, focusing on the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. “Mom, let it go.”
Louise started at her son, almost unsure if she heard him correctly. “What?”
“I said let it go.” He set down his water glass. “That talk happened almost nine months ago, and it’s been four months since I told you.” He slowly shook his head. “You still act like it’s the worst thing in the world that’s ever happened to me.”
What Kerry is doing right now is something the Kerry from a year ago–really more like eighteen months–would have never done. The Kerry we first met about five hundred and seventy-five thousand words back was moody and quiet, and for him to tell his mother to “Let it go”–well, in another year he could get up and start singing the most infectious earworm ever released upon humanity, but right now they’re words of advice he’s offering his mother–
Who doesn’t seem to enjoy having her son tell her to let something go. Especially when she damn sure isn’t ready to do just that.
Nothing in the way of a visible emotion crossed his mother’s face, but Louise sat silently contemplating her son’s words for almost ten seconds before formulating a reply. “The point isn’t about if what happened was the ‘worst thing in the world,’ it’s that your school allowed the doctor there to discuss a . . . private matter with you without asking your parents if she could.” She slowly and deliberately set her hands upon the surface of the table and moved slightly forward. “You’re surrounded by girls—you said so yourself. What is it? Five times as many girls—”
“Between three or four girls for every guy.” Kerry glanced as his mother as he nodded.
“Between three or four then. What I’m saying is you’re starting puberty, and with all these girls around you’re going to have . . .” A look of unease crossed Louise’s face. “There’ll be temptations—”
“Mom.” This time Kerry didn’t hid the eye rolling.
“I’m only saying, it’s a challenge you’ll face, and given the personal nature of the matter, your school’s doctor should have at least told us she was going to have this discussion so we could give our input.” Louise cleared her throat. “And despite your belief that no harm was doing, I still believe that we should have had this talk with you, not—”
“Why didn’t you?”
Now, first off, Kerry’s tired of his mom harping about this thing that happened. He’s moved on–well, sorta. I mean, it’s not like he can go, “Oh, hey, Mom? The real reason we had this talk is because your future daughter-in-law and I had a vision of ourselves in our birthday suits getting ready to do the Wedding Night Boogie.” Yeah, that would go over real good.
Secondly, while Kerry may not have a problem expressing himself at school, his social skills at home suck. Back at Salem he has pretty normal and honest conversations with adults who, quite honestly, have offed people with the flick of a wrist, so having an adult conversation with one of his peers isn’t that big of a deal. (In case you’re wondering, that includes three of the five coven leaders who are also their instructors–Maddie, Jessica, and Erywin–along with Wednesday, Helena, Ramona, Harpreet, and in Kerry’s case, Vicky. You can throw Isis into that mix as well, since she’s instructing Annie as well with Kerry tagging along.)
The point is, Mom is not Helena Lovecraft–hell, she’s not even on par with one of his fellow B Levels. Unfortunately, Kerry’s brain isn’t registering this fact, and once more his mouth is working faster than his mind because Mom has a way of winding his ass up. Or maybe he is thinking and has just had enough, because he lays some cold, hard facts on Mommy Dearest:
The interruption disrupted Louise’s thoughts. “I’m sorry—what?”
“Why didn’t we have that talk?” Kerry finished off his water before turning to his mother. “I told you about the girl-to-boy ratio last year when we were at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for Christmas, so you knew about that for five months before I came home from my A Levels. Then I didn’t tell you about the talk until the middle of August, when I got my travel package, I was was here—what? Two and a half months? Since you knew that there was all this possible—” He half smirked. “—’temptation stuff ‘ at school, why didn’t you have this talk with me over the summer? I mean, it wasn’t as if we were busy doing anything, and since there’s always a couple of days every week when we’re home while dad is at work . . .” He shrugged before standing and gathering his dishes. “Plenty of time for that talk we never had, Mom.”
He walked into the kitchen with his mother close behind. He didn’t look at her as he deposited his dishes on the counter and so he could clean them. “You know what I think? I think you’re upset ‘cause you never got the chance to say no.” Louise stood to Kerry’s right, regarding him coldly. “I don’t think this has anything about Dad and you wanting to have a talk about sex—more like it’s all about not getting to control what was said—or what you wanted me to hear.” He rinsed off the dishes and set them on the drying rack before turning towards his mother. “Isn’t that right?”
Louise slapped her son hard across the face.
And . . . that last line is why I was up writing. I needed to get that out of my system before heading off to work. I had to bring that section of the scene to a conclusion and get it out in the open because I simply couldn’t sit on it for another ten, twelve hours.
I’ve seen this coming for a while, and while it’s a horrible thing to lay on one of my kids, it needed doing.
It’s times like this he really needs Annie close by . . .