A Taste of Home

Today it’s all about the past.  Enjoy!

 

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The Deconstruction of the Wall of Dreams

There comes a moment when you have to pull out the last of the secrets and show them.  At least in this book, that is, because while I’ve presented a lot of secrets about my kids over the course of nearly fourteen months, there are a few that will carry over into other stories.

Right now, however, we’re dealing with secrets in the here and now.

Kerry is saying he’s figured out their final dream together, the one that both have had difficulty seeing, even with his memory block of their dreams removed.  It’s a big moment because it really defines why he lost touch with Annie, why he couldn’t remember all their dream moments together.

And how does he start?

 

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

Annie almost slipped away from Kerry’s embrace so she could turn and face him. “Really?”

He nodded. “I think so.”

“When did this happen?”

He looked down at his lap, avoiding Annie’s sideway glance. “After we fell asleep last night at the Observatory, I had a dream, and . . .” Now he met her gaze. “I saw something.”

His last three words had Annie wondering: did he have a dream, or was it a vision? She knew her rune dream was actually a vision, and while Kerry’s seemed to be more of a dream, one could also debate that something was telling him of a possible future, and reminding him of the steps he needed to take to get there.

Annie waved her hand at two of the lights and extinguished them; she felt there was too much light in the room, and she wanted things a bit more intimate. “What did you see?” No matter if it were a dream or vision, Annie had to know something about that last moment they shared in dreamspace.

His voice remained low as spoke. “It was short. I saw us in a fog, talking—well, not really talking, but—” His face twisted into a grimace. “I was upset, standing there with my hands over my ears, and I could hear you saying you had to go away . . .” He gulped softly. “That was really all I saw, but it was enough to get me thinking when we were flying back to the tower.

 

Something triggered him up at the tower.  Maybe it was falling asleep together and being in close proximity to Annie, and having things just chipping away inside his head.  He goes on:

 

“I didn’t go back to sleep right away when we got back to our rooms. I stayed up and thought about what happened, starting at the beginning, and then read through the books, trying to find answers to what I was thinking.” He pressed his face into Annie’s hair. “I remember, I had a bad day that day; my mom was yelling at me about something—I don’t remember what, but I remember I went to bed upset and wanting to see you—”

“I remember I had a bad day as well.” Annie’s voice grew soft and tender. “My father and she were going on about my attending Salem and how it was going to be great for the family to have another Kililovi there—” She slowly shook here head. “By the time my mother was finished I didn’t want to hear about Salem anymore, I just . . .” She held onto Kerry’s comforting hand. “I wanted to see you.”

“We were both like that.” Kerry slid down on the bed a little so he was cheek-to-cheek with his soul mate. “In bad mood and wanting to see each other. Only . . .”

“Yes?”

“When I saw you I knew something was wrong, and I felt it hit me. You asked me how I was doing, and I asked you. Then . . .” He swallowed before speaking softly and slowly. “You said, ‘I have something to tell you; I’m going away’.”

Now Annie did sit up and turn her head. “Wait, I don’t remember saying it that way. I told you that I had news, that I . . .” The realization hit Annie that the moment she’d had so much trouble remembering returned to her as if it had happened just yesterday. “That I have something to tell you; I’m going away.” The shock she felt flowed into her face. “I did say that.”

Kerry nodded while keeping his eyes downcast. “I know you said that you were going away to school in America, but that came after. By that time—” He closed his eyes. “I was already starting to lose it.”

The scene rushed back into Annie’s memory: Kerry looking sad when he greeted her; her telling him she was going away; the look of anguish that took hold as he couldn’t believe what he’d heard; she telling him in a dejected tone that she was going to America in a few months, that their sleep schedule would get changed, that she didn’t know how it was going to affect their dreams—

And the crying, the moaning, the hacking sobs as Kerry . . .

Annie’s breath quickened. She tightened her grip around his hand. “You thought I was abandoning you.”

He opened his eyes and a few tears dribbled from his eyes. “Yeah.”

 

Finally, just by getting that first little part out of the way, Kerry is able to remember what he saw, and so is Annie.  It’s one of those, “Oh, really?” moments when it happens–and because strange things happen here all the time, it’s not that unusual for it to come together suddenly.

But Annie remembering she came on a little brash?  Well, we are talking about Annie here.  And that leads here to what she remembers prior to this night . . .

 

Don’t leave, please. They all leave. Everyone leaves me. That was what he told her in the middle of his delirium during their night on the ward. Annie also remembered what he told her at the end of the first Saturday Madness: My best friend . . . and the only one who loves me. She understood the meanings of these statements: He feels I’m the only one who loves him—and that he was afraid I was going to leave him. She closed her eyes an saw Kerry in that last dream, almost screaming out his sorrow. Just as his Chestnut Girl left him . . .

Annie returned to the hollow between his arm and his warm body and wrapped his arm around her. “I’m sorry I hurt you, Kerry. I didn’t realize I was saying those things. Only—”

He continued to speak in a low, calming tone resting on the edge of sadness. “Only why did I forget?”

“Yes.”

 

Which is the reason that Annie’s been looking at for almost a year.  And because she’s so close to the subject, right on top of the matter, so to speak, she misses the most important part . . .

 

He pulled Annie tight against him, as if he were trying to merge with her body. “It finally came to me because of our meeting with Erywin in the glen. The whole things about being able to affect a person’s subconscious while in a dreamspace—

“We determined one person can’t affect another that way.” Annie rested her head against his chest. “So I couldn’t have done anything to you.”

“You didn’t have to.” He sighed. “I did it. I affected my own subconscious. Because . . .”

Annie didn’t wait for him to answer, because she knew the answer. “Because we didn’t know you were a witch.”

“Right. Neither of us knew. The only people who did were The Foundation, and they weren’t telling you, so . . .” He slowly ran his fingers across Annie’s silk-covered tummy. “I changed the dreamspace without anyone knowing. And in doing so, I changed my own mind.

“Remember in my rune dream the girl who was talking to me . . .” He reached over and lay his hand over Annie’s heart. “She said before I could give you my heart, I had to break down the walls around it. That’s what I was reading about this morning—”

Dream walls.” Annie didn’t mean to sound excited but the answer was so obvious. “You walled off all your memories of me and our dreams.” She turned her head just enough that she could see his pouting face out of the side of her eye. “That’s why you suffered déjà vu—”

“But why I’d remember things every so often—usually when I was really upset.”

“You were getting upset—”

“—Because I was remembering. Not just the dream, but why I walled them off.” He turned his head as Annie did, and they were almost chin-to-chin as his spoke. “That’s why I didn’t remember anything: because I didn’t want to remember. I thought you were abandoning me, but before you could talk me down, before you could reassure me that things would be okay, I used magic before you knew what I was doing. I put everything behind a dream wall and sealed it off.” Kerry bowed his head. “I did that because I didn’t want to live without you in my life—so I removed you from my life.”

 

What happens when you have a secret witch getting all out of their mind over something?  They run the risk of doing magic and screwing things up.  Just as on this operation they’re doing they’re worried Tanith will do something in public that will hurt others, Kerry did something that hurt him–well, it messed up his ability to remember something that was important to him.  All because he’s quick to lose it emotionally, and he didn’t know he know magic.

And now Annie knows this:

 

She heard the pain in his voice: he’s still blaming himself for what happened. “Kerry, it’s not your fault for what happened. We were both in bad moods, I approached you wrong, and . . .” She shook her head. “I would have made it better if I’d been able.”

He nodded. “I know.”

“I never wanted to hurt you; I never want you hurt.” She kissed his nose before lightly caressing his lips. “I think I know why I forgot what happened, too.”

“Because you realized, at some level, that you’d set me off.” He turned his head and sighed so he wouldn’t exhale into Annie’s face. “And in doing so, you’d somehow pushed me away.”

“That sounds right. I could remember you—”

“And you remembered that you wanted me back.” For the first time he smiled. “I got that part.”

“I did: more than anything.”

He pulled her close and kissed her. “Why did you want me to remember everything? Even after I feel in love with you again?”

“Because I wanted all of you.” Annie settled back into his arms. “I wanted you to return to every moment we ever shared, because all of those moment were the best of my life.” She grinned. “And you should know by now, when I want something—”

“You get it.” He hugged her tight. “I know.”

 

All better now–right?  It would seem that things are right in the world again.  And it’s a simple reason why Annie wanted him to remember:  because she wanted him back.  All of him.  Because she’s a selfish girl, and no way in hell was she going to leave him not knowing everything they did.

There is, however, a final revelation . . .

 

Annie closed her eyes and found herself drifting. “It’s funny, but now I can remember it all.”

“So can I.” He used simple levitation to adjust the pillow behind his back. “I think I broke down the last bit of the wall around my heart, and that probably affect whatever block you had.”

The implication of such a thing washed over Annie. “Does that mean we’ll share dreamspace again?”

“It might. One of the books indicated that lucid dreaming is easier when there are no barriers in your subconscious to hinder your progress.” He shrugged. “We’ll have to see.”

Oh, I hope it’s so . . . Annie drew in a deep breath and released it slowly, feeling cleansed after. “I’m so glad I had you read all those books.”

Kerry said nothing for almost five seconds, then quietly cleared his throat. “I wonder if it was you who had me read those books?”

“You know—” She barely turned her head as she gazed to here left. “What are you thinking?”

“It was our first day at school, I knew nothing about magic, we go visit the school seer—who we won’t have class with for three years—and a while later you’ve got me reading all sorts of books on divination and visions and dreams . . . With all the magic I could have studied, why that?” He almost whispered the question. “Didn’t you say Deanna had us in a trance?”

Deanna’s words in the hospital a few weeks came tripping back into Annie’s memory—You were in a trance for almost eight minutes: it was necessary—and it made her wonder what else the Seer saw in her vision on the flight over the day before. Did she see herself giving me an hypnotic suggestion to put Kerry on that path because she knew it would bring us to this point? “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not think about that because—” She half turned in his arms. “—I don’t want to imagine what else Deanna may know about us.”

Talk about secrets.  Is Deanna responsible for getting them to this point?  Breaking down Kerry’s walls and returning him to Annie?  Did she know this all along, even that first time when Annie came to see her?  Hummmm . . . I could tell you, but I won’t.

I will, however, leave you with my kids getting into something else here.

 

Annie threw her right arm over Kerry’s body and hugged him. “But we’re here, love. We’re together, we’re alone—and we’re back to where we were a year ago.” She glanced upwards at his face. “At least I hope we are.”

“We’ll find out.” He touched the towel. “How’s the hair?”

“Dry by now.” She untangled herself from Kerry’s arms. “I just need to brush it out and we can go to bed.”

She was about to slide off the bed when Kerry lightly touched her arm. “Can I ask something?”

Annie turned back toward him. “Sure.”

“Could I . . .” A red glow filled his face. “Brush it?”

She whipped the towel off here head and let her hair cascade over her shoulders. “You want to brush my hair?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Because—” He looked down at his feet. “I never have, and now I can.”

“Well . . .” Annie’s hand slid over and took Kerry’s. “If you do this, I might get used to it.”

“But can’t do it unless we’re alone, so I wouldn’t be able to do it at school.”

“Then maybe—” Her eyes sparkled. “That will come after we graduate.” She slid off the bed and pulled him towards her. “Come along, my love: I’ll show you how it’s done.”

 

Uh, oh, Kerry.  You better not do that!  First it’s brushing her hair, then it’s fixing the cabinets in the kitchen.  Just you wait . . .

Last night was two thousand and eight words of fun.  Really, it was.  I thought I would be upset writing, because I was suffering some major depression, but writing about it pulled me out.  And now–

There's only one last thing for them to do before they gotta get to work.

There’s only one last thing for them to do before they gotta get to work.

By the time they get back to school they’re going to be completely different kids . . .

The Characterization Dilemma

Last night was an interesting one.  Not because I was writing–I was, I wrote a new scene, and finished the chapter, so another five hundred fifty words in the pot, as well as few other changes to make the story have more sense.  No, this had to do with one of my beta readers.

I saw them on line last night, and they told me about the reading so far.  And it was not . . . good.  Basically, they got through the first three chapters and they couldn’t read any further.  Not because it was bad, mind you, oh no.  But it was slow, there was too much time being taken with the characters doing, you know, talking.  It didn’t make her want to go on and read more, which she said would mean that no one was going to read it because–boring!

She’s used this argument on me with the last novel of mine that I asked her to read.  You have to get a hook right away and pull the reader in.  I’ve read that before as well.  I asked her to start with Part Three and read that, and she read the hook from the first chapter and said, “That’s what you need, so get rid of Parts One and Two and start with Three.”  Sure, no problem:  that’s only eighteen thousand words, I’ll cut it right out.

I knew what she was getting at, however, because I’ve heard other writers talk about the same thing.  I explained that the first two parts are set up for what happens in Part Three, that you see things being set into place before the trigger is pulled and there’s some massive shit going down.  I explained that if you don’t have this, then when you start seeing things happening, they won’t make much sense.  Her position was, as a reader, she didn’t care, she wanted to get into the story, and if she couldn’t get past the first ten thousand words, she wasn’t going to read the other forty-three thousand.

It’s a characterization thing.  I’ve read about it before, particularly in television writing.  Most of those writers will tell you that if something running long, the first thing that goes are character building moments, because you need the car chase, because that’s what the viewer wants.  This was the same thing I was hearing last night:  please removed this boring set up stuff and get the reader into the action.  I even told her that she was saying this, not that it really mattered.

When I first started this short novel for Camp NaNo, I even considered including it in my current story.  I jettisoned that idea because, yes, the story is fifty-three thousand word, and should I add that to what I’m now writing, I’ll have a novel close to one hundred thousand words.  It wouldn’t be the whole fifty-three, either, because I’d likely kill ten thousand or more words to get it fitted in.  Still . . . that takes what I’m working now and pretty much guaranties I’d need to rewrite what I’m working on at the moment.

Maybe what I need are . . .

More Readers!

 

Really Just a Manic Monday

I should have figured out that when my dream was all about having my car stolen and then being threatened with rape by the cops investigating it that today was going to be a really crappy day.

Getting into work wasn’t bad since I walk, but my user account was shut down because I was off the system, on holiday, for four days.  Really, four days?  And you figured what?  I’m not coming back?  I’ve moved to California with an aching in my heart?  I died driving off the Pennsylvania Turnpike screaming, “I regret nothing!”?  Ah, well, I’m back, and sort of in business.  Happy December, yo!

The weekend was light writing time.  I was busy most of the morning Sunday, and well into the afternoon.  Once I managed from free time I reconnected with a few friends, and actually set up a couple of them as beta readers for an old novel.  So I have to format the book up as a pdf and email it out, and see what sort of feedback I get–besides, “You misspelled this!”  They’ll know up front it’s a rough draft, and I just need feedback on where it’s going.  Besides straight to hell.

So I didn’t end the scene, I didn’t move on to the last one of the chapter, I didn’t finish the chapter and start the first full week of school.  That’s going to happen this week, for sure.  And a few other things as well, but I’m getting it done.  I just need to do a lot of other things at the same time, and it slows everything down.

I’ve done this same thing the last couple of NaNos as well.  You bust butt for a whole month, trying to get a story written, and then 1 December comes along and it’s slow up time.  The rush to burn through fifty thousand, or more, words in thirty days throws off a lot of things, and you feel like you’re either going to take the month off, or struggle to get things done.  This is another reasons I don’t believe I’ll do NaNo again, because there was little writing in October, and now you have to get back to something like normal in December, and that’s two months when one could have been cranking out eight hundred to a thousand words a day, and I could end up with seventy-four to ninety-two thousand words on my story instead of just over sixty right now.

I have my work cut out for me tonight, to get things formatted and other things started.  Maybe I’ll even begin the editing process tonight, along with a little writing of new things, ’cause I’ve let the cat out of the magical bag in my story, and it’s time for dreams.  And not the kind with Dean Stockwell singing into a work lamp while Dennis Hopper looks on like he’s about the cry.  And don’t forget the guy dancing with the snake.

Yeah, that’s a completely different nightmare.  One I’ve seen more than a few times.

Into Thin Wordage

When you’re not working on a story, what are you doing if you’re a writer?  Well, there’s always Facebook games, and watching DVDs of old shows–or DRVs of current shows if you into that new fangled technology–or maybe some reading, or . . . you get the point.  Anything but writing, yeah?

Sometimes you want to write, even if you’re not working on a story.  Some people do research for stories and get notes, some people write fan fiction, which might seem a bit like spinning your wheels since you’re working with someone else’s work, except now it looks like Amazon’s going to find a way for you to publish that stuff now.  Or some of us might write articles on other subjects for people to read–you know, like blogging about writing and your life and the world, that sort of stuff.

When I’ve had nothing to do I’ve written articles and reviews, because why not?  I like to write, I like to give my opinion on things, and maybe I’ll even bring some information to another who’s never heard about whatever it is I’m penning about.  I’ve had that happen with games I’ve reviewed, and even gotten a thank you or two from the companies that printed smaller, independent games.  It’s when you get something of that nature that you feel good about what you’re doing, and something inside makes you feel happy.

Of course there’s also the flip side of that equation . . .

It’s enviable that if I mention I’m writing an article, I’ll have this conversation with a couple of friends:

“I’m writing an article.”
“Are you getting paid?”
“No.”
“Why are you writing it then?  What the hell is wrong with you?”

It’s one thing to write, and it’s another to get some kind of compensation for your work.  I’ve adopted a personal creed that if I feel like writing and sharing something, I don’t mind if I don’t get paid, if—  If I can get some kind of feedback on what I wrote.  Because as much as writers enjoy getting paid, they also like to have people talk about their work.

I don’t like to hear bad things about my work, but I’ll take it.  Because if people are making comments–even if they are somewhat inane and/or bad–it means they probably read your work.  I want people to read my stuff, and to form an opinion  or, if nothing else, to tell me they either liked it or it sucked hard roots.

When you get nothing back, when there is only the soft, quite hiss of a breeze where their should be comments, you wonder if you wrote something for the right audience.  You wonder if you were completely off the mark, or if people just looked at the title and went, “This is gonna suck, forget it.”

It makes you wonder if you wasted your time.

I know the argument, though:  it doesn’t matter if you’re not getting paid, it’s exposure.  But you know what some writers say about exposure, don’t you?  That’s what mountain climbers die from if they stay in the elements far past the time they should have gotten into their tent and zipped up in their sleeping bags.  And if your work is out there, lingering in the Internet Death Zone, with no one reading it, then exposure means jack shit, dude.

You’ll die.

What is the answer to all this?  Maybe it’s time to build my own mountain top . . .

 

The Dark Circus Has Left Town

When Ray Bradbury passed away last week, I had nothing much to say about it, only because everyone else was saying it for me.  I mean, when you have most of the world on the Internet posting their thoughts about the death of one of the last great fantasy writers, what can one say?  “Sorry he’s gone”?

Can’t even come close.

I was fortunate, in some way, to grow up during the 1960’s, and lean to read at that time.  A lot of my prime reading fodder was from the 1950’s, though it didn’t take long to discover works from earlier.  After all, I was right on the tail end of what was known as The Golden Age of Science Fiction, and saw the beginning of the New Wave.  Science fiction was there by the metric ton, and new things were being written every day–and sold with some of the most incredible covers ever.

While there was a lot of “Space Opera” that caught my attention, among the early novels that caught my eye was The Martian Chronicles.  Yes, my young mind then saw “Mars” and instantly went for the kill, because I was probably going to find some interesting spacy stuff there.  Oh, there was interesting things there, but damned if it had anything to do with science.

Bradbury was, first and foremost, a fantasy writer, and it showed.  Chronicles had as much to do with Mars back then as most of the stories written in the 1950’s and 60’s have to do with Mars these days.  (Arthur Clarke once pointed out that a line in his novel, The Sands of Mars, proved that science fiction writers often find it impossible to predict the future.  The line?  “There are no mountains on Mars.”  Oops!)  You had golden eyed Martians dying of the flu and turning to ashes.  You had cities of glass spires glistening in the pale light of twin moons.  You had trees popping up over night after a single magical rain.  You had sand boats, and hot dog vendors waiting out the end of the world.

And you had an horror actor who killed a government censor during a reenactment of The Cask of Amontillado.  Because if there was one thing Bradbury believed, it was that if you allowed stupid people to take control of everything, they were going to drag everyone down with them into a morass of ignorance and fear, all in the name of “protection”.

I dug on all this stuff.  This is what gave me a bendy mind.  This is why I hold science fiction to a very high standard to this day, and when you try to tell me, “X is good science fiction,” you’re liable to get a bit of a smackdown.  Yes, I am a grumpy old dude; yes, I also realize my stuff probably isn’t even anywhere near the level of goodness as the people I read growing up.

But I am trying.  I really am.  Because reaching for perfection is a goal all of those writers from the past will laud.

While there were a ton of Bradbury quotes floating about the Internet last week, most missed this one.  Probably because it was from a poem, the only one that was printed in the Dangerous Visions series of books.  And when you want to talk about writers, this not only hits the spot, it kicks it in the crotch:

 

I am the dreamer and the doer
I the hearer and the knower
I the giver and the taker
I the sword and the wound of sword.
If this be true, then let sword fall free from hand.
I embrace myself.
I laugh until I weep
And weep until I smile

Ray Bradbury, from Christ, Old Student in a New School (1972).

 

Sleep well, Dear Sir.  Some of us have taken up the mantle–

And strive to make you proud.