I’m back up to NaNo Word Count Speed once more. Last night I wanted to finish this scene, even though I didn’t start working on it until after eight because I was tired and bored and I little afraid to say what needed to be said in the scene. At least my face isn’t a total mess this morning, and the swelling has nearly vanished.
This last section of the scene was hard on me, because I had to hurt Kerry. I know some of you are laughing because I’ve hurt Kerry plenty: broken limbs, broken ribs, a few concussions, and a messed-up knee. That stuff is easy to mend: knit the bones, give bed rest, medication, and magic, and you’re good as new.
No, this time I had to hurt him. He’s talked about it before, how his parents have been uncaring and unloving, and, in particular, his mother has said things to him that leads him to believe there are times she’d rather have a cat around the house than him.
And Kerry spoke up in a way at Mommy that probably isn’t going to please her–while, at the same time, she’s got some questions on her mind . . .
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
Louise stared back at her son for about five seconds before proceeding. “Annie, then. Tell me about her.”
“We’re in the same classes—” Kerry had already given some of this information to this mother not long after the first couple of letters, but figured he could fill in a few other details based around the fiction he’s been tutored on. “She’s also the only one in my level in my dorm, so we end up spending a lot of time together just because.” He shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant. “Because of that we spend a lot of time together studying, too. That’s one of the reasons we became friends.” That, and the fact we’ve known each other through out dreams since as far back as I can remember.
His mother appeared to consider Kerry’s words, staring at something over Kerry’s shoulder for about fifteen seconds. “Is she in that advanced class with you? When you mentioned that boy you know, you used plurals: ‘We hang with’; ‘We know’.” The right corner of Louise’s mouth curled upward into a tight grin. “And you did say you were in all the same classes together.”
There was something in his mother’s tone that he didn’t much care for, but he didn’t want to make another comment, not after his outburst moments before. He wasn’t certain what she was getting at, but he hoped she’s stop soon. “Yes, Mom: she’s in that class, too. We’re in every class together.”
“Who else from you year—”
“We say level, not year.” He smiled. “It’s just our term for things.”
That’s it, Kerry: keep correcting your mother. She’ll love you for it.
“Level, then.” His mother kept the sly grin in place. “Who else from your level is in the advanced class with you?”
“Um . . . no one.”
“Just you and Annie—right?”
Kerry nodded. “Yes. That’s right.”
“Hum.” Louise slowly interlaced her fingers and set her hands on the table. Her voice was softer, but the tone was nearly the same. “Kerry, do you like this girl? Do you like Annie?”
And here are where the loaded questions come in: do you like this girl? ‘Cause Mother wants to know.
The summer is almost over and now she wants to know how I feel about Annie? It had been their decision not to talk to their parents about their true feelings for each other, thought Kerry was aware that Annie’s mother knew a great deal more about how Annie felt for him. He agreed that he shouldn’t talk much about their relationship at school—and elsewhere. How could I tell my mother about our dream link without giving away what I am?
Kerry squirmed in his chair for a couple of moments. “She a friend, Mom—”
“Before this summer you never hand-wrote a letter in your life.” Louise unlaced her hands and set her left on in her lap, leaving her right one upon the table. “Now, every week, you write two, three letters.”
“I told you, that’s because she doesn’t have access to a computer or phone, so I can’t Skype or text her.”
“You could type and print out a letter.”
Kerry didn’t see a way around that question easily. “Annie asked me to write to her, so I do.”
“I know.” Louise tapped the table lightly. “And I know you, Kerry. You wouldn’t do that unless you liked her.”
As much as her relationship with her son may stink, Louise does know her son. And when your computer savvy boy starts hand writing letters, then something’s afoot. And, of course, his parents start taking the conversation of “You like a girl” into another direction:
His mother sighed. “We just want to make certain that you . . .” His mother slowly drew in a breath for a long, slow sigh as she looked up at the ceiling before speaking. “We don’t want you doing anything you could regret—”
Kerry started across the table and rolled his eyes. “Mom. What do you think I’m going to do?” He stared at his dinner with all sorts of thoughts running through his head. She’d die if she knew about all the times Annie and I shared a place to sleep . . . “And don’t worry: I’m not going to do anything stupid. I know better.”
“I know you’re smart—” His mother stressed the last word as if she were trying to prove that she didn’t believe it was true. “—but that doesn’t mean you know everything—”
“Mom, we already had that discussion at school with Doctor Gallagher.” The habit of addressing her as “Nurse Coraline” was strong, but during the times he was home alone he’d practiced using her other title, just in case. “It’s all right; you have nothing to worry about.”
You don’t know how hard it was to write “Doctor Gallagher”, because that’s not something my kids are used to saying.
His mother’s expression changed quickly from slightly smiling and somewhat concerned to coldly miffed. “You had that talk with the school doctor? When?”
“Back in March.” He didn’t need to think about the date: it was permanently etched in his mind.
“We never heard anything about this.” Louise glanced across the table for a moment, then back to Kerry. “We weren’t notified.”
“You didn’t need to be notified.” Kerry didn’t bother hiding his tone now: he was growing tired of feeling as if he was under interrogation. “When you signed the papers to send me to school your transferred your parenting rights to the school administration, and they usually let us choose if we want to do something.” He turned away from his mother, deadening her glare. “I was asked if by Doctor Gallagher if I wanted to have that talk, and left it up to me whether I wanted to have it, or not.” He let out a slow breath. “I said okay, and we talked.”
Silence descended over the dinner table. Kerry figured he’d said enough and there was nothing left remaining to speak about. “May I be excused?”
It’s never a good time to tell your parents that while you’re away at school you’re pretty much the master and mistress of your own decisions; they simply don’t like that. Particularly control freaks like his. And, Kerry: you’re not about to be excused. ‘Cause your mother has been hanging on your every word . . .
His mother pierced him with a stare. “What did you mean by ‘we’?” She leaned towards him. “You said we before, when you were talking about that girl—”
“Annie.” He barely croaked out her name.
“Annie.” Louise didn’t raise her voice, but her tone betrayed her anger. “Did you have this talk with your school doctor with her there?”
Kerry knew he’d screwed up when he said “we”; he’d known it the second the word left his mouth, and he’d hope his mother would think that by “we”, he meant Nurse Coraline and him. He didn’t want to say why they were there: he wanted this to end. He needed this to end. “Mom—”
He didn’t so much screw up as his mother wants to know the meaning of every word and what he meant when he used them, and she’ll keep hammering away at him until he gives up the info she wants. And it isn’t going to help that his father interjects with something from out of left field . . .
His father joined the conversation once more. “Kerry, did you do something with this girl? Something that made your doctor believe you both needed this talk?”
“No, Dad.” Kerry’s mind started racing as he thought about the best ways to spin the story so he didn’t say anything. “There wasn’t any—”
“Did you do something to Annie?” Louise’s voice started to grow louder as she started imagining her son being caught in the worst possible situation.
“No, I didn’t do anything.” He didn’t look at either his mother or father: Kerry didn’t want to meet anyone’s gaze. “I didn’t do anything; nothing happened.”
“Then why would you have this discussion together? Why?
Way to go, Dad: throw it out there that maybe your son was caught doing something with Annie that he shouldn’t have done. Just keep ramping up the pressure until something comes out, and you know it will, ’cause this isn’t going to end well for Kerry . . .
Because we had a vision . . . “Nothing happened—”
“Then why would you—”
“Because I had a wet dream about Annie.” Kerry screamed out the words in this mother’s direction. He calmed himself enough to continue without yelling. “I had a wet dream, and I got freaked out by it—” I saw us together on our wedding night, and didn’t know what it meant at the time— “—and I went to the hospital and they called Coraline, the doctor, and she talked with me about what happened and asked if I wanted to have the talk—” He took a couple of deep, ragged breaths as he began returning to something close to normal. “—and before we did she found out from another counselor that something similar had happened with Annie—” She had the same vision months before, but couldn’t tell me about it because of an enchantment—
Kerry closed his eyes as he lowered his head, fighting to control his breathing and his emotions. “We’re sorta like a couple at school: everyone knows that, everyone’s seen that. That’s why we had the talk together: because Coraline thought it was best we heard about this as a couple.” He swallowed once, then opened his eyes. “There, that’s what happened—” He turned to his mother. “Can I go now?”
Louise sat silently for several seconds before she hissed out her reply. “You’re excused.”
Yes, Newt, you can leave. You can even take your shame with you.
Kerry bolted from his chair and trotted towards the stairs, running up to the first floor. He paused for a second at the top of the landing, seeing his red face in the large mirror his mother mounted there to “help the feng shui of the home.” He turned left and nearly ran into his bedroom, shutting and locking the door behind him.
It was only after he’d sat on the edge of his bed that the tears started. He’s said things that he swore he’d never tell anyone but those who already knew about the vision, but his parents badgering lead to him making mistakes, and those mistakes led to his revelations. I didn’t really say what happened, just the aftermath. He leaned over, his head nearly between his knees, as he sobbed as quietly as possible.
I’m allowed to be who I am at school. He sniffed, then decided it was better to let everything flow outward. I’m a witch and a sorceress, and I’m far more advanced than the other kids in our level. I’ve flown two miles into the air: I’ve raced another person at three hundred kilometers and hour. He sat up and wiped his cheeks dry. I’ve helped defend the school; I’ve fought monsters; I’ve saved people. I’ve been on a secret operation, and I’ve faced bad guys who wanted to kill me and others.
And all my parents do is embarrass me.
He lay back on his bed and waved his curtains closed, letting the room fall into shadow. Kerry levitated his glasses to his desk ,rolled over, and buried his wet face into his pillow.
He couldn’t wait to leave the summer behind and return to school.
I mentioned earlier that I had to hurt Kerry, and while nothing close to this ever happened to me, I’ve had conversations with my own parents, at Kerry’s current age, that felt more like badgering than just wanting to gather some information. I never had “The Talk” with either of my parents: my father didn’t want to give it (I found this out later in life), and my mother was so cold when she asked me if I “wanted to know about sex” that I just said no, and left it at that. I was also about fifteen at the time, and had read enough of her books over the last five years to get an clear understanding of how reproduction worked.
I think my reaction would have been worse than Kerry’s.
Last night saw eighteen hundred words written, and this last scene was the largest of the new novel. And . . . there’s something coming–
If you look closely, you’ll probably fear what is meant by the titles of the next two scenes.
Is it a good something?
Define good for me.