At Home With the Malibeys, the Final Questions

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—”

“Level.”

“I’m sorry?”

“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.

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.

At Home With the Malibeys, Button Pushing

Before we get to the fun with our favorite Cardiff Kid, a side track into my life, and how crazy I can get at times.

Last night, after work, I went out for a nice, thirty minute drive, to see a wonderful lady who proceeded to shoot electricity into my face.  Yes, I started on electrolysis last night, and it was an experience, having your facial hairs shocked out of your body one at a time.  Actually, more like shocked until they are dead, and then plucked away.

I was in the chair for two hours, and there was pain.  I spent most of the time tense and clutching an armrest in one hand and a grounding bar in the other.  (Yeah, you gotta let that juice flow through you, baby.)  And when the two hours were over, most of the left side of my face and parts of my chin were swollen and numb, and stayed that way for a while–like, for the rest of the night–and I looked like I was attacked by bees.

I mean, it wasn't that bad . . .

I mean, it wasn’t that bad . . .

I’m going back for my next session next Monday after letting everything grow out for two days, which will make getting all the gray hairs easier.

So then the right side of my face will look like this.

So then the right side of my face will look like this.

There’s a lot of redness and just a bit of puffiness this morning, but as Cosima Niehaus once told one of her clone sisters, “Thank god for concealer.”  And it will be getting a workout today.

The personal horror show is over, let’s get back to the one starting up in my story.

Kerry is starting to get a bit of shit from him folks–and, yes, I did write after all the stuff I’ve shown you above.  Almost a thousand words of stuff, actually.  Kerry’s parents–well, his mother mostly, it seems–find it a little hard to believe their baby we-still-don’t-know-he’s-a-witch boy would have friends who are girls instead of hanging with the boys.  And that gets addressed.

 

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

Kerry slowly turned towards his mother, unsure if he’d heard her question. “What?”

“Do you have any friends at school who are boys?”

“Well, there’s a guy in the advanced class I’m taking who we hang with a little after class, and a couple of others we know in other classes, but—” He looked down at his fish and chips while clearing this throat. “Not really.”

His mother’s fingers lightly tapped against the table top. “Not really what?”

“I mean, I don’t really hang out with them.” He shrugged. “Not like, you know, close friends.”

His father decided to join the conversation. “So almost all your friends are girls?”

Kerry half-turned his head in his father’s direction. “Yeah, I guess.” He shrugged. “Is there anything wrong with that?”

Louise wrapped her hand around her glass of mineral water. “It might not be a bad idea if you had some male friends—” She looked across the table at her husband. “And not just this Girl Who Writes.”

Kerry heard the capital letters on each of the last three works, and he did his best to push any nasty comebacks aside. “I don’t know why it’s a big deal I don’t have any close friends who are guys—”

 

There’s that slam again, and this time, as I point out, Kerry’s hearing Mom capitalizing those words.  Again, wait for what happens there, and you’ll find out Mom is using some of Kerry’s geekness against him.

 

His mother shook her head. “You did when you were at school here.”

“No, I didn’t, Mom.” He scoffed loudly. “I didn’t have any friends here; everyone thought I was a strange American kid with a funny accent—remember? The only reason you think I had friends is ‘cause I told you the moment people found out you worked for the BBC, they wanted to know if I could get them tee shirts and stuff.” He pushed his half-eaten wrapper of food away. “Jeez.”

 

Kerry’s usually pretty calm and cool–when he’s not crying, yeah–but now he’s getting a bit flustered.  And kids from California have a funny accent?  Dude . . .

 

“I agree with your mother—” Davyn seemed to lean a little further forward, if that were possible. “Having some boys your age as friends—”

“Is boring.” Kerry couldn’t understand what the big deal was about his choice of friends. They were never like this when I was going to school here. “Besides, Salem is mostly girls anyway—it used to be an all-girls school, you know.” He turned from his father to his mother, and back. “Since it’s mostly girls, it makes sense that I’d make friends with them, right?”

“All the more reason I’d think you’d want to hang out with some boys.” He father sat back, chuckling. “There’s safety in numbers, isn’t there?”

 

Yeah, watch out, Kerry!  Those girls have cooties, and if you’re not careful, before you know it they’ll wanna do stuff like hold hands and kiss and sleep with you, and tell you all about how they’re going to marry you and . . .

Oops.  Too late.

Kerry starts asking his own questions, and . . .

 

“Only if you think the girls are out to get you.” Kerry decided to try and push the conversation back on his parent. “Didn’t you have any girls as friends, Dad?”

Davyn’s response was immediate. “No.”

Kerry needed a few seconds to comprehend his father’s answer. “You’re kidding.”

“He’s not.” Louise smiled at her husband. “Your father was quite popular with the women before we met.”

His father smiled back.  “The women I knew loved the accent.”

Kerry stared straight ahead through half-closed eyes. “I don’t want to know.” He turned back to his mother. “What about you, Mom? Didn’t you have any guys who you were just friends with?”

Unlike with his father, his mother didn’t answer for almost ten seconds. “Well, yes, there were a couple—”

Kerry raised his right hand as if he were celebrating a victory. “There you go—”

“They were gay.”

“Oh.” Kerry pursed his lips and blew out a raspberry. “I see.”

 

As I was told yesterday, the implications that his parents could be forming are (1) Kerry is a playa, or (2) Kerry is gay.  How do his parents get those ideas?  Well . . . they pretty much were that before they found each other and got married.  Makes you wonder if Louise figured she was getting the Bay Catch of the Day when she landed Davyn, because he’s got that Richard Burton accent thing going.  As Kerry says, I don’t want to know.

But, you know, moms being moms, she wants to know all about these . . . girls.  And now the uncomfort level is about to get cranked, and if you pay close attention, Kerry sort of gives away a little of the game in the process before–

 

His mother wanted to know more about Kerry’s choice of friends. “So, how do you know these girls?”

He looked up and nearly rolled his eyes. “Mom.”

“Mom, what? Don’t I have a right to know about your friends?”

Kerry wanted to tell her it was none of her business, but figured he would tell his parent as much of the truth as they wanted to know, then head for his room. “Nadine’s in the advanced class we’re in—”

“We’re?”

“Annie and I: we’re in an advanced class together, and Nadine’s there.”

“I see. Go on.”

He cleared his throat. “Nadine is also my keyboard tutor—”

“Wait?” Davyn cocked his head to one say. “A keyboard tutor?”

“Yeah. First day of school I found the school’s collection of keyboards, and the head of the Arts and Music Department, Professor Ellison, and I started talking. He found out I like a lot of old music, and asked me if I wanted to learn how to play better.” He nodded slowly, turning back to his mother. “He got Nadine to tutor me on different technologies and things like that, on top of learning to be a better player.”

For the first time during the conversation Louise seemed impressed. “I didn’t know that.”

Kerry shrugged. “All you had to do was ask about some of the stuff I do there.”

His mother didn’t care for the implication that she was uninterested in her son. “And Emma?”

“We’re in almost all the same classes, and she likes racing.” There’s a few other things that you don’t need to know about her, though . . . “Also, there aren’t a lot of Americans in our level, and she still sort of thinks of me as one.”

Davyn almost laughed. “Must be strange being an ex-pat in your own country.”

Kerry chuckled. “There’s so many kids from everywhere that you start thinking at times like we’re in our own little country.”

His mother snorted. “I can imagine—” She wasn’t interested in all the students at Kerry’s school—just one more in particular. “Now about The Girl Who Writes—”

Kerry had finally reached the point where he wasn’t about to take any more of his mother’s passive-aggressive attacks. “She’s not a Doctor Who episode, Mom. She has a name: it’s Annie. Okay?” It was only after he uttered the last word that he realized he had started breathing hard due to his anger.

 

–He starts to lose it on his mother.  You’re picking on the woman he loves, Louise–not that she knows that, or, as you will discover, she’d give much of a shit about.

Louise is referencing the Doctor Who episode The Girl Who Waited, which dealt with Amy being split into two parts, with one of them living alone through just over thirty years.  Given what his parents do at the BeeBee, it’s possible his father probably managed some of the sound effects processes for the episode, and his mother may have help on the visual effects.  Needless to say, the episode doesn’t end on a completely happy note, and Louise is likely jerking her son around a little, playing on his love of the show while at the same time kinda pointing out, without really knowing, that they both are waiting for this summer to end.  This was what Kerry meant when he said to Annie in London, “Better than The Girl Who Waits,” though Annie replied she does wait, and that eventually led to a tear running down her cheek . . .

Yeah:  Mother of the Year here.  I wonder what she’d say if she knew her son could blast her across the room?

Hey, how about a look at my novel so we end on a happy note?

Hey, how about a look at my novel so we end on a happy note?

The Sadness, the Songs, and Everything

The first chapter of the new novel, Chapter One, is a done deal.  Almost seventy-eight hundred words in five days–

I have proof right here.

I have proof right here.

Which isn’t a bad start to things.  It’s not a NaNo Start, but close enough.  I only do NaNo Starts during NaNoWriMo, though getting through ten thousand worlds in the first few days isn’t that big of a deal for me–I’ve done it a couple of times before.  Not this time.

So . . . Annie’s crying.  Well, one tear’s worth of crying, but still, it’s a start.  She doesn’t do more, but in the course of events we learn that, yeah, this isn’t the first time.  What was?

 

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

“Do you know what was the hardest part of the day we returned from Salem? Going to dinner with my parents.” Annie’s eyes didn’t leave Kerry’s, and they seemed to reflect her emotions. “I sat there and was pleasant and answered questions and tried to keep a smile on my face through most of the evening, but the entire time we were together all that mattered was seeing your face as I left you in Amsterdam. I felt the pain of out separation with every step I took.”

“So did I.” Kerry pulled Annie in and held her close. “Ms. Rutherford had to clean me up before she could take me home.”

Annie brushed his cheek with her fingertips. “I’m so sorry that happened.”

“It’s not your fault, Sweetie.”

“No, but I don’t like to see you in pain.” She rested her head against him for a moment. “When we returned home that night, my mother wanted me to sleep in my room in the main hour, and I tried, but after an hour I gave up and went out to the lake house and started a fire—”

“Did you use cherry wood?” The scent of cherry wood burning in the lake house fire place as he experienced it in the vision of their wedding night remained strong within his memory.

“Yes, I did—” Her mood began to lighten a little. “I sat on the sofa and stared into the fire and thought of you at home looking up at the moon and imagining me looking back at you. I got up and went to the deck and sat and did the same; it wasn’t until I started to write that first letter to you that I realized my cheeks were wet.” Annie kissed him slowly, at first brushing his lips with hers before showing her full affection. “You’re the only one who’s ever done that to me. My parents haven’t made me cry since I was about five, but you—” She touched his chin, then ran her fingers across his chest. “I’m away from you for a few hours, and I’m crying.”

She signed and leaned into him. “Don’t tell anyone, particularly Helena. I don’t want them to know.”

“Your secret’s safe with me—” He touched his head to hers. “Forever.”

“I know.” She wrapped her arm around Kerry’s back. “I love you.”

He reached for her hand, found it, and gave it a squeeze. “I love you.” He kissed her cheek. “You know how much I’ve wanted to say that to you since we left America?”

Though she suspected the answer, she couldn’t ask because they suddenly found they were no longer alone. “There you are.”

 

Helena and Erywin:  Romance Buzzkills Since 2011.  That’s one of the problems with people being able to teleport in and out:  they just show up and there they are.  Just as long as the don’t know it at the lake house during “The Moment”, if you know what I mean.

We hear about cherry wood again, and that aroma seems to haunt Kerry a little, probably because he wants to smell it first hand.  And now we know that seeing how you’ll be away from your soul mate for months will bring a tear to the eyes of a girl who hasn’t given her parents the satisfaction of seeing her cry in seven years.  That Annie, she’s a tough one.

Still, there are still things ahead, and stuff to do . . .

 

Annie’s arm remained around Kerry as she turned to face the owner of that voice. “Hello, Helena.” She nodded to the women standing next to her. “Hello, Erywin.”

“Hello, Annie.” Erywin hung her right hand on her purse strap. “You been taking care of Kerry?”

She turned to him and smiled. “I’ve given him more attention in the last four hours than I’m certain he’s had in the last four weeks.”

Helena nodded. “I’m sure he’s not gone without” She pulled out her phone and checked the display. “I told your mother I’d have you back for dinner, and it’s almost eighteen.” She dropped the mobile in a jacket pocket. “We need to leave.”

“I know.” Annie began to step away from Kerry, then turned and hugged him passionately. “I wish I didn’t have to go.”

“I wish I could stay with you the rest of the summer.” Kerry didn’t want to release her: he wanted to go home with her, see her parents, visit her lake house, sit before the fire and gaze up at the loft where their vision said they would one day consummate their love . . . “It isn’t fair.”

“No, it isn’t.” She gazed into his eyes. “But I must.” Annie touched his lips. “Promise me you won’t cry.”

He nodded slowly. “I’ll have a smile on my face when you leave.”

“You better.” She walked slowly towards Helena, turning around two-thirds of the way there to address her soul mate as she walked backwards. “Seven weeks, yes?”

“Seven weeks.” He pulled one strap of his backpack—which he’d been carrying since leaving the bench—over his right shoulder. “Pogrizhete se, prekrasnata mi srodna dusha.”

Annie laughed as she took her place at Helena’s right side. “You’ve been working on your Bulgarian.”

Kerry shrugged. “What else am I gonna do this summer?” He forced a smile. “See? Smiling. Just like I promised.”

“Just as you promised.” She reached for Helena’s hand, but stopped short. She kissed the right index and middle finger of her right hand, then held them out in Kerry’s direction. “Obicham te, Kerry.”

He did the same with his left hand and fingers. “I love you, Annie.”

She smiled and managed a small wave before they jaunted out.

 

Those kids, laying the lips on each other right in front of the adults.  Should be mentioned that they’re adults who’ve gotten them rooms at hotels/inns, but still . . . the kissing parts.  You have to read them.  And there has been a lot of kissing on this lunch date.

And kissing leads to–singing?  Yep, because I said I was going to work a certain song into this scene, and damned if I didn’t.  Behold!

 

A second after Annie departed Kerry’s smile vanished. He closed his eyes and started sobbing, fighting to stay on his feet. He felt as if he were back in Amsterdam, watching Annie follow her mother out of the airport. The afternoon was perfect—even the weather was unable to dampen their enthusiasm and love.

He felt a light touch on his shoulder, and Erywin was next to him, singing.

I turned around she was gone
All I had left was one little flower in my hand

But I knew
She had made me happy

Flowers in her hair
Flowers everywhere

Even with tears streaming down his cheeks, he couldn’t prevent himself from smiling. He’d heard her once before, when she was under a spell that compelled her to sing, and while others in Sorcery class had laughed and joked, Kerry could only imagine her on stage during the Ostara Performance, back when she was a student, singing to the school the way she was singing to him—

I love the flower girl
Was she reality or just a dream to me?

I love the flower girl
Her love showed me the way to find a sunny day

 

And in case you were wondering:

Always have your notes for different languages and song lyrics at hand and ready.

Always have your notes for different languages and song lyrics at hand and ready.

That’s always how I do things, by keeping my notes close at hand for just the scene.  One day I’ll need to move all my Bulgarian comments to a separate text file so I’ll have them for reference.  Not to mention a few songs I’ve used here and there, though in the last novel I only did one song, and Kerry referred to it in the scene above.  I’ve had my kids go to the Russell Square Pert a Manger in both novels, and Erywin has sung in both novels?  What else can I set up as happening every year?

But it helps to have things around, and that’s one of the reasons I like that little strip over on the right of Scrivener:  it gives me places to keep things.  Such as that word count.  I wrote in two different locations and I kept track of what my count was at each station.  I also finished up this last section during the first thirty minutes of The Americans, mostly during ads and when no one was speaking Russian, because when that happens you gotta check the subtitles.

How’d you like that song, Red?

 

Kerry sniffed a couple of times between the chuckles. “What’s that? I’ve never heard that song.”

“It’s something my mother used to sing.” Erywin slipped her hands into her jacket and hugged here purse close to her body. “It was one of her favorite songs. Whenever she was feeling down she’d sing, and that was part of her repertoire.”

“Nice.” He wiped his face clean with his hand. “You have a lovely singing voice, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

“Did you ever do Ostara?”

There was a slight pause before she answered. “Yes.”

 

Why the pause, Erywin?  I’m sure there’s a story there–well, I know there is, because I’m also Erywin.  And a song Kerry didn’t know?  Yep.  Because his mom was an egg when that one was popular, and more than likely didn’t listen to it as a kid.

Now that he’s crying, Kerry wants to know–

 

He decided not to pursue any more questions there: he sensed it was something Erywin didn’t want to discuss. “Does it ever get better?”

Erywin shifted her weight from one leg to the other. “What?”

“The pain.”

She shook her head. “No. You get better at managing it, but the actual pain never gets better.” Erywin looked off into the distance, concentrating on something. “If it’s any consolation, the pain doesn’t get worse. Usually.”

“Yeah.” He slipped the other strap of his backpack over his shoulder and adjusted it into place. “I’ll learn.”

“You will.” Erywin moved so she was standing in front of Kerry. “Do you like ice cream?”

He laughed. “I’m twelve; of course I like ice cream.”

“There’s a little shop in Brighton that has the most incredible confections.” She cocked her head to one side. “Care to give one a try?”

“And ruin my appetite for the wonderful take away we’ll probably have tonight?” Kerry wondered what sort of meal Annie was going to sit down to later in the evening . . .

“In that case, we can share a parfait.” Erywin gave Kerry’s arm a squeeze. “How’s that sound?”

“Sounds good.”

“I’m glad.” She punched the location into her phone app before holding out her hand. “Let’s go.”

He stared at her hand. “Don’t we have to wait for Helena?”

“No. We discussed this before coming here, and she’ll meet us there.”

“Oh.”

“We considered taking you both, but then thought—” She lowered her hand. “You would probably rather have the time alone.”

“Thanks.” He sighed loudly as he looked around the still-empty park. “This was the best four-and-a-half hours of the summer.”

She reached for him once more. “Don’t worry: we’ll take you both next time.”

Kerry took the outstretched hand. “Will there be a next time?”

Erywin winked. “You know it.”

 

Ice Cream!  Everyone likes ice cream, especially twelve-year-old boys.  I love that line, actually:  was quite proud to think it up, and it seems the sort of smart ass thing Kerry would say to someone with whom he’s comfortable as a friend.

Where they matching making?  Don’t need to do that with kids who’ve seen their wedding night.  More like a couple of friends knew it was the mid-point of the summer, and it might be a good idea to let these two have some time together.  But there is the promise of another outing, and while I might not happen this novel, it’s something that will happen with some regularity.

One chapter down, many to go.

It’s a good start.

Love’s Long Laments

I make no secret that I tend to write about relationships.  I can’t tell you how many times I received a response from a blog fan concerning The Foundation Chronicles:  A For Advanced, that stated, “I thought this would be about magic, but it’s really about love,” and I just smiled because that’s so true.  Anyone can write about casting magic:  it’s happened a lot since a certain boy wizard appeared on the literary scene.  But what about relationships?  What about love?  And what about putting them in usual locations and circumstances that could affect the outcome of that relationship?

I do that.  A lot.

I thought about this last night when I was editing Kolor Ijo.  My main characters, Indri and Buaua, come from different cultures and religions, they come from different backgrounds, and when it comes to the paranormal, they come from far different experiences.  Long ago I laid out a series of stories around these two, because if there’s something that’s not lacking in Indonesia–where the stories take place–it’s the supernatural, and the supernatural there would pretty much kick the asses of the Winchester Brothers without so much as working up a sweat.

Sure, she looks harmless, but you'll think differently when she's ripping your heart from your body.

Sure, she looks harmless, but you’ll think differently when she’s ripping your heart from your body.

But though all their trials and tribulations, Indri and Buaua will never be anything but great friends and colleagues.  And it’s not their religion that keeps them apart:  it’s that they recognize they each have their own lives, and there isn’t any interest in getting the waters muddy with a lot of face hugging of the good kind.  I like that, because it means I can concentrate on the investigation of the horror and not get bogged down with a lot of stupid, “By doing this, I’m putting him/her in danger!” tropes that should die out faster than certain ghosts and goblins.

But when it comes to some of my other characters, however . . .

There’s Couples Dance, where the married couple in the story learn about the twisted romance of the people who owned their house, and there’s Suggestive Amusements, where a writer and his muse become something of a couple when he realizes mythical beings need love, too, even though they know they shouldn’t become involved in the romantic affairs of mortals.  In the end things go wrong for both couples, but that’s the breaks, right?

And then there’s Echoes.

Behold the Old!

Behold the Old!

Echoes was written at the very end of 2011 and through the month of January, 2012, and last edited December, 2012, right after I finished writing Kolor Ijo.  As my stories go it’s one of my shortest:  just under twenty-one thousand words.  It’s also one of my more personal stories, because it was written at a time when I was starting a new job I hated, I found myself moving to a new location, and I was dealing with separation anxiety of the worst kind.  In short, I was more of a mess that ever before.

It deals with characters from my novel Transporting, and it’s a strange world.  For one, it’s twelve hundred years in our future.  For another, it takes place in a parallel universe that’s like ours, but it’s not.  This was where I started working on the idea of The Multiverse, which is something you’ll hear a lot of in The Foundation Chronicles, because my witches know there are a billion different universes out there, and while be can’t visit them, that doesn’t mean things can’t slip through to here.

Albert Dahl is also something of a transgender character, because though various handwavium and not a little technobabble, he becomes Audrey Dahl, who is just as nutty and crazy as him, but also the beloved of her lesbian partner in crime and duty to the Crown, Cytheria Warington, a planetary duchess from this future with access to a time machine who originally kidnaps Albert from 1986 because she thought there was something different about him.

Already you can see this is an unusual relationship.

Echoes is about Albert and a love that could have been.  He dreams now and then of a woman he knew when he worked in Chicago, Marissa, which whom he had a brief affair that left an enormous, lasting impact upon him.  The relationship was so intense that, in the course of the story, the reader realizes that while he loves Cytheria, he still loves this Marissa, who, however you cut it, has been dead a long time.

Which leads to the main gist of this story:  did Albert and Marissa ever get together in the universe in which the current future Albert now lives?  See, not only did he come from the past, but from the past of another of these multiple universes, and that means that an identical Marissa and Albert could have lived at the same time in his current universe, and they could have been . . . happy.

Really?  You believe that?  You don’t know me well, do you?

In a nutshell, after an order from the Crown–in this world everything is ruled by various aristocracies, and they all pledge fealty to the Queen–the reader learns the truth:  he did exist in this work, and he did not only get together with Marissa, but they married, had kids, and were happy–

For a short time, for it did all go to hell at some point.  Such was Albert’s luck, that another version of him couldn’t even find true happiness.

I just reread the last chapter of that story, and it still affects me.  I cried when I wrote it; I cried when I edited it, and I’ve cried a little reading over it now.  Like I said it’s a personal story, and reading it brings back those times in all their horrid glory.  In the last chapter of Echoes, Albert and Marissa meet in a dream, though Marissa knows it’s a dream and that she’s deal, and she puts forth the question that perhaps she’s really the remnant of what Albert’s Marissa had been, that somehow jumps from on universe to another, found the Marissa living in the universe where her Albert–her love, as she calls him–and took up residence there and found a way to pass from one of their generations to another until she found her Albert living in the future.  It’s a hell of a twist, you have to admit.

But that story reminds me of another couple . . .

Albert Dahl is sort of an older, far more screwed up version of a certain Ginger Hair Boy (you gotta trust me on that one, but yeah, he is), and Marissa is a less stuffy and controlled version of a well-known Chestnut Girl.  Marissa even calls Albert “love”, which is a whole lot like “my love” when you think about it.  And the last line from Dream Marissa is, “Sweat dreams, my beautiful Albert.  Sweet dreams . . . of us.”  Hummm.  Now who have I heard say that before?  Oh, yeah:  this girl.

 

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

Annie saw Kerry’s eyes flutter, and in that moment she wasn’t an almost seven year old girl sitting in the crook of the arm of a six year old boy with whom she was sharing a dream—she was back in Bay #1, cuddled up next to her soul mate. “Kerry?”

“I’m tired, Annie.” He turned his head enough that he could see her lying snuggled next to him. “I feel so tired.”

“Then you need to sleep.” She laid her hand part-way across his chest and circled it over his heart. “I won’t go anyway. You’ll be safe.”

“Okay.” He rubbed his check against the top of her head. “Good night, Annie—”

She was about to tell him the same when Kerry finished his thought:

“I love you.”

Annie gasped in a near-silent voice. “Good night, Kerry. I love you.”

“No.” He chuckled as he fought to keep his eyes open. “You’d say it in Bulgarian.”

She chuckled as well. He would know that. “Yes, I would . . .” She leaned up and kissed his cheek. “Leka nosht, Kerry. I az te obicham.”

“Um, hum.” His eyes closed and his breathing slowed as she sunk back into sleep.

Annie made herself comfortable against Kerry’s torso. She only now realized that his right arm was draped over her torso, making sure she was secure against him. “That’s it, my love.” She stopped rubbing his chest and left her hand there. “Sleep and dream. And remember it so you can tell me in the morning.”

Sleep began to take her as she wished her soul mate into dreamland. “Dream of your tree in California.” Her eyelids fluttered. “Dream of reading to your Chestnut Girl.”

Her eyes closed as she sunk into the same sleep that was claiming Kerry. There was only one thought left that needed saying before she joined him in unconscious bliss . . .

“Dream of us.”

 

Yes, I went there with that, and I make no apologies for that last line, because I was going to use it no matter what.  Does that mean Annie and Kerry are Marissa and Albert.  No–but maybe a little yes as well.

A writer does remember all the things that made them what they are–to somewhat paraphrase Harlan Ellison, they are all of the lies that are your life.  A little of Kerry came from Albert, though Albert is far more messed up where love is concerned, and while Kerry is now confident in his love for Annie, Albert never finds that contentment because the one true love of his life whom he can never forget was taken away.  And since you know I time lined out the lives of those characters, a reader would eventually discover that Cytheria also lost the one great love of her life, and as much as she may love Audrey, she is forever reminded of what she could have had, but couldn’t because, as the movie Roman Holiday reminded me last night, the aristocracy has its duties they must uphold.  And because of that, Cytheria spends her life silently suffering.

Cytheria and Albert/Audrey are broken people, they really are.  They do love each other in their own way, but it’s never going to be the love they could have had, so they instead settle for the love they have.  That will never be Annie and Kerry.  While life may never be completely fair to my witchy couple–and if you think it will, again, you don’t know the stories I spin–they will love each other, and that love will grow more intense over the years.  Annie and Kerry heal each other–in another story, one might say they complete each other, and in a way that is true, because they are far better together than apart.  And in the opening chapters of the next novel, you’ll even see Annie do something that she never did in the first novel.  Why?  Because of Kerry.

And, no:  it’s not kill Emma.

Not yet.

They’re not a perfect couple, but they do represent something I long for, and it’s one of the reasons I sometimes found myself having a difficult time telling the tale of my kids, because what they have is something I’ve always wanted.  One of the reasons I developed Albert is because he did represent my outlook on love at the time:  you can’t always get what you want, and that means you settle for what you can get–and in doing that, you’ll never truly be happy.  You may believe you are, but in time you see it for the lie it represents.

Annie and Kerry are my current outlook on life and love:  sometimes you do find your soul mate, your moyata polovinka, and when you do you work your ass off to try and make it happen.  It may not happen, because life sucks like that, but don’t give up hope, because as I said yesterday, hope is sometimes all we have.

And why would you want to give up on that?

Weaving Through the Emotions of the Day

As I stated in yesterday’s post, it was the one month anniversary of my coming out at work, and therefore the anniversary of my going into true full-time living.  And like life itself, yesterday was pretty much an up and down day.

It started out fine, albeit snowy and cold.  A storm rolled through Sunday and there was a lot of stuff on the ground, which made walking into work a bit of a chore.  I don’t mind that; I’ve done it more than a few times in the past.  No, the morning and lunch time were fine.  It was in the afternoon that things fell apart . . .

I was working on a program that I’m going to help demo today, and it wasn’t so much there was an issue with the program as there was an issue with the data–which, to use a technical term, sucks.  I run into this issue all the time–and it doesn’t help that I’ve mentioned it as well, how it seems like nothing really works when I try to test, and sometimes I spend hours attempting to verify if it’s the program that’s acting wonky, or it’s something in the data.

Yesterday it was something in the data.  And it was driving me beyond frustrated.

"Why do you do this to me?  Why do you hate me so?"

“Why do you do this to me? Why do you hate me so?”

Here’s something else to consider:  last Friday afternoon was Shot Day, which I do every other week.  I do my injection and get the estrogen into my body.  It’s usually a few days later before I start feeling moody and emotional, so if I do a shot late Friday, it normally starts hitting me about . . . Monday afternoon.  And that’s when I really started to feel like I was loosing it hard . . .

By the time I left work I was a semi-angry, emotional mess.  Then I have a mile-long walk ahead of me, which allows time to think about things and stuff, and the stuff and things that were on my mind weren’t good.  Nope, not at all.  Which means by the time I’d reached the front of the capitol building I was pretty much on the verge of tears, and I fought off the urge to let it all out for about three blocks–

And that urge ended as soon as I was inside my apartment.

I got dinner going, and as the computer was coming up I broke down.  It was a pretty epic meltdown, one that I haven’t actually had in a while.  It’s the kind that involve a lot of tears and even a little screaming, and it went on for about ten minutes straight.  It was straight-up nasty, and I wasn’t feeling all that well once I had the computer up and I was still a mess–

And then I found a message waiting for me.

I don’t want to say that there’s someone I know out there in Internet Land who has a connection to me, but when their first post is, “How are you feeling?” and a little while later in the conversation you’re told that they felt you calling and that they needed to check in on you–yeah, something’s there, and that something helped me feel better.  Upside to this all is I was far better an hour later, and by the time I went off to bed, while I might not have been feeling one hundred percent, I was better than I when I’d first walked through the apartment door.

I even managed a bit of editing last night–maybe three thousand words.

All in all, not a bad day for a massive roller coaster ride.

The Boy With the Long Emptiness

One of the maxims of writing is, “Write what you know”.  Which is a hard thing to do for this novel, because what do I know about witches and super science and secret organizations that run the world without us knowing anything.  Okay, for that last I have notes from last week’s meeting . . .

But this novel isn’t all about witches and magic and fighting off some dark, unseen presence–though give me a few more scenes and you might be surprised.  It’s also about feelings.  It’s about my two main characters learning about stuff, you know . . . things.  That’s what happened earlier in the current scene I’m writing:  Annie came back in to see the laid-up Kerry, apologized, and told him a secret.  It’s all good, right?

Kerry’s got a few secrets of his own.  He tells Annie he understands strange relationships with you parents, because he has the same.  But he doesn’t stop there:  oh, no.  That would be too easy.  Because Kerry’s been hanging around Annie for almost two months now, and he’s discovered that, after all the years of being around his parents and experiencing an unaffectionate relationship with them, he really does have feelings.

Which leads to this:

 

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

Annie nodded slowly, witnessing the emotions flowing across Kerry’s face. Something was bothering him, something that he wanted to say aloud, and she wasn’t about to leave him alone with feelings that seemed to bother him. “Kerry?”

He took two deep breaths before he quickly raised his head so he was looking directly at Annie. “A couple of years ago my mother told me she wished I wasn’t with them. I knew she didn’t mean that I wasn’t with them in Cardiff: she meant she wished . . .” He took a long, tortured breath as his gaze shifted away from Annie. “I wasn’t here.”

 

Write what you know–and I know that one.  Because my own mother dropped that bomb on me when I was ten.  Sure, I was probably driving her crazy with my depression and all the other baggage I was carrying, and this moment came after my parents pulled me out of therapy after two months–therapy that was suppose to help me learn how to “make friends,” because one of my mantras then was, “No one likes me.”  At that time in my life I never left the house except to go to school and places with my parents.  There was one point where I didn’t leave my room unless it was necessary for about two years.

I’m sure none of this had anything to do with the various sentences my mother threw at me from the time I was about six that always ended in, “Like a girl.”  Yeah, thanks.  Lots of help there.

Fortunately Kerry has Annie.  And while he might not understand everything there is to know about girls, he will understand this:

 

If she could have Annie would have taken Kerry and pulled him close and held him, but she couldn’t do that, not with him being unable to move. She moved as close to him as possible. “Do you remember when we had lunch in Russel Square?”

He didn’t look at her, but Kerry nodded. “Yeah. That was—”

“Do you remember telling me that you felt that no one cared for you, that you weren’t loved?”

Kerry gaze slowly returned to Annie’s hazel eyes. “Yes. I remember.”

She laid their hands upon her chest and held him tightly. “You’re wrong. You’re worthy of love, Kerry: you deserve love. You deserve to have someone tell you at least once every day that they love you. You deserve to hear those words and know them to be true.” Annie lightly, lovingly kissed his hand. “I love you, Kerry. I always will. And every day, as long as you live, you’ll hear me say those words to you.” She placed his hand against her right cheek and closed her eyes. “Every day.”

Kerry felt her warm cheek against his fingers, her skin against his. He started to smile, then the gravity of her words fell over him, and it was all he could do to stare opened mouth, his breathing coming in short, jagged bursts. As Annie opened her eyes and looked back into his, he finally found his voice. “Every day . . . That’s a long time.”

“Yes, it is.” Annie lowered his hand so it once more rested on the bed, though she refused to let it go. “Unless you keep letting Emma crash into you.”

He began laughing; Annie joined in a moment later. The seriousness of the moment was now in the past, replaced by their levity. Kerry coughed once. “Yeah, that could shorten my life considerably.”

“By more than a few years.” This time the lights across the ward were out for three seconds before coming back on. “And I think—”

“That’s your cue.” Kerry slid his hand from Annie’s. “You better get going before Nurse Gretchen throws you out.”

 

Of course he remembers, Annie:  it right there in that scene.

Of course he remembers, Annie: it right there in that scene.

The rest of the scene comes tonight, when Kerry starts to understand something important.  Something not just about Annie, but about himself.  Something that’ll bring another kind of hurt–

Don’t worry, kid.  You don’t have to stay empty forever.

Girlfriend in My Pillow

First, the writing thing.  Though there was a bit of a struggle with the writing–motivations just weren’t what they should have been–I managed to squeak out a little over nine hundred and forty words in my newly added scene.  This did some interesting things to the word count–while the count for Act Two is now hovering just before forty-nine thousand, five hundred words, the count for the full manuscript hit a new milestone . . .

Yeah, two hundred thousand.  That could almost be the title for a Stargate episode.

Yeah, two hundred thousand. That could almost be the title for a Stargate episode.

I’ve only passed into the territory once before, and there’s a very good likelihood that this novel is going to surpass that other novel by some distance.  Just gotta keep going, moving forward, and remember that the next scene is gonna involve some math.  Just for me, though:  you won’t see it.  Science, bitches:  it makes writing better.  Or so I’m told.

Let’s put that behind me, though, because there’s something on my mind, something bothering.  Probably because I know the true meaning of what happened . . .

I’ve written a few times about how I’ve felt my dreams were either sadly lacking or simply non-existent.  Some of that has to do with my sleep habits, which are, frankly, pretty sucky.  It seems like if I don’t go to bed late and sleep for six hours straight, I wake up kind of out of it the next day.  Or for several days afterwards.

However . . . the last week or so the dreams have come back strong and with a vengeance.  Exceedingly vibrant as well.  Like last night, it seemed like I was spending a lot of time going to a job that I didn’t walk, and that it was cold and snowy in July, and when I arrived as said word someone tried to take the keys to my car, and I ended up breaking their arm to keep that from occurring.

It was Friday morning, however, that really hit me hard . . .

I’ve been in situations where I can’t tell if I’m truly asleep or not.  It’s like a waking dream; I know something’s going, I know I’m seeing something, but am I just thinking these things, or am I stuck in a dream so vivid that it feels like I’m awake?

Whatever I was feeling Friday morning, it doesn’t really matter.  What I felt was having a woman I’ve known for years, rolling over in bed next to me, saying good morning, honey, you’re up early, then leaning in close to me to plant a good morning kiss.  I leaned in close to receive said kiss and give her one of my own . . .

And that’s when I realized I was alone in bed.  Not only that, but my left hand was slowly rubbing the pillow I keep there to hug when I go to sleep.  I broke into sobbing, and it took me a good thirty minutes before I was able to drift off to sleep once more.

Unlike this young lady, I'm rarely smiling when I'm doing this.

Unlike this young lady, I’m rarely smiling when I do this.

With the return of the dreams have come the return of the emotions.  April was a bad time for feelings, and there were a lot of crying jags.  Tomorrow starts the first of my hormone treatments, or as some might say, “Welcome to Puberty 2.0!” and I have a feeling the next month or two are going to be crazy times at the casa.

Add to this a lot of heart string tugging on my part . . .

I can get through it.  Just takes a little perseverance, right?