Mornings With the Seer: Simple Warnings and Thoughts

Here I am, coming to you on the New Hotness, my first new computer in ten years.  Picked it up about four in the afternoon, started in on it about fifteen minutes later, and by about seven I had just about everything I want to have and need in the system–including about six thousand pictures I’ve taken over the years–but since this computer has a 1 terabyte drive, I’ve about eight hundred and thirty terabytes to play with.  It’ll be a while before I fill it up.

In comes the new, out goes the old.

In comes the new, out goes the old.

Honestly, when I packed the old computer up I cried, because it’s really been my companion for just a few weeks short of a decade now, and you build attachment.  But there are still things on there I can used, and who knows?  I may pull it out once in a while and give it a spin just for old times sake.

The biggest changes, besides the keyboard being slightly off-center, are the way the programs appear.  Everything is just a little larger, which sort of makes everything look as if I’m back on my old nineteen inch monitor back in Indiana, but it’s livable.  The biggest change is the way Blender looks; it sort of pre-renders everything for me.  Before everything looked like this:

And for your viewing enjoyment, follow Kerry's route along the line from left to right.

Can you handle all the green?

And now it looks like this:

With shadows and everything!

With shadows and everything!

So much different.  I think I can get used to this.

Oh, and it has a built-in camera which I just had to try out–

The writer as a thirteen year old girl getting a new selfie.

The writer as a thirteen year old girl getting a new selfie.

By the way, that’s how I normally look when I’m home from work.  Now you know.

What this all means is that everything from here on out is written on the new machine, and I even made a note in Scrivener of the first paragraph written using this computer.  Because that’s what I do.

And speaking of new . . .  What is up with Isis?  Well, since I wrote over six hundred words last night and finished the scene, you’ll find out.  Like right away.

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

They both bounded up the stairs to the first floor and hurried over to where Isis waited. Annie spoke for them both. “Good morning, Director.”

“Morning to you both.” She nodded in the direction of the transept alcove leading to the security offices. “Let’s get out of the open, shall we?” They wandered over into the alcove above the ground floor of the West Transept and were well out of sight before Isis spoke. “Before I say anything else, I want you to know you’re not in any trouble.”

Both children appeared slightly confused for a moment, casting glances with each. Kerry eventually turned to the security director. “So if we’re not in trouble—?”

“It must be something else, yeah?” Isis’ smile was bright in the gloom of the security area. “It is: Deanna wants to see you.”

“About?” One of Annie’s eyebrows arched high as she forwarded the question.

“She didn’t say. All I was told was to wait for you to enter the Hall and stop you before you got to breakfast.”

Kerry joined Annie in the arching eyebrow column. “And she knew what time we’d come through because—”

Isis snorted loudly. “You don’t have to be a seer to know your schedules. You’re both like clockwork when it comes to getting to the Dinning Hall: six on the weekdays, six-thirty on Sunday, and between six forty-five and seven on Saturday.” She shook her head. “You guys shouldn’t be so predictable: if someone wanted to take you down, they’d know when and where to wait. Maybe not now, but . . .” She gave a shrugged that was nearly nonexistent. “It’s something to keep in mind later on in life.”

Annie knew what Isis was referencing: that they needed to watch their routines when they were members of the Guardians so that they not become vulnerable to attack by Deconstructors, or those witches who may be working with them. It wasn’t something she’d considered before, but now that Isis had brought the matter to her attention— “Thank you. We’ll keep that in mind.”

 

Sometimes the Seer sees what you’re doing, and sometimes the Chief of Security knows your schedule ’cause you do everything like clockwork and that can be a dangerous thing. The kids are on a schedule here at school so there’s little one can do about that, but Isis is letting them know that doing that once you’re out of school isn’t always a good thing.  It’s even a worse thing when you’re job involves spying and hunting down Deconstructors, ’cause someone may just come after your ass one day while you’re sitting in your favorite cafe having lunch ’cause they know you hang there every day between eleven and twelve-thirty.  Keep changing up that routine, kids, because it can save your life.

Now, the important question is:  what does Deanna what?  And . . .

 

Kerry’s mind was working along the same lines. “Yep. But about Deanna: what time did she want to see us?”

Isis hooked her thumbs in the pockets of her jeans. Like many of the other instructors and staff she adopted a more casual feel during the weekends. “She said she wanted you out to the tower by nine.”

“The tower?” Annie almost did a double take. “She doesn’t want to see us at Memory’s End?”

“Nope. She told me to tell you to come out to Åsgårdsreia Tower and meet her in her office.” Isis took a step back from the children. “And that’s all I have to tell you.” He nodded back towards the Rotunda. “You should get going: whatever Deanna wants, it must be important, so I wouldn’t be late.”

Kerry gave a knowing nod. “We won’t.”

“Thank you, Isis.” Annie took Kerry’s hand and led him towards the the stairs. She said nothing until they were three steps down from the first floor landing. “This can’t be Guardian stuff.” She stopped after two more steps, careful to keep her voice muted. “She’s not involved.”

Kerry looked down and sighed. “You think this has something to do with our visions?”

“Perhaps. It’s just—” She looked down the flight of stairs. “Why is she being so secretive?”

“Because she knew if she contacted us directly we’d start asking question.” His chuckle came off sounding particularly grim. “So if Isis tells us—”

“She knows we won’t get anything from her.” Annie turned and descended the staircase slowly. “It has to be about the visions. I can’t imagine her discussing anything else with us.”

“True. Unless—”

Annie stopped half-way down. “What?”

“What if—” His face twisted into a thoughtful grimace. “—there’s something we haven’t thought about?”

 

Yeah, kids:  there’s always something you haven’t thought about, and this is probably one of them.  The thing here is when Deanna wants to meet you in Memory’s End, she’s usually doing so as a friend and adviser, but when she’s meeting you in her office in the tower, where she does all her official Coven Leader stuff, it’s often an indication something important is about to get said.  We’ll see, won’t we?

And you'll see it right here, I promise.

And you’ll see it right here, I promise.

One last thing:  as I gave a shout out to Yuri Gagarin, today I give a shout out to Al Shepard, who today became the first American to fly into space aboard Freedom 7, aka Mercury-Redstone 3.  The flight lasted only fifteen minutes, and due to the publication of The Right Stuff we know Al flew with a spacesuit full of pee, so think about that the next time you’re bitching about having to get in the car and drive a couple of blocks down to the local convenience store to pick up a few quick items but you don’t like the fact you have to throw on pants.

Though we never had any astronauts attacked by wolves.  Yet.  There’s still time for that to happen . . .

Mornings With the Seer: Expectations of the Coming End

First, a couple of important updates.  The most important is that according to the tracking on my order, the new computer arrives tomorrow, which means after I get home from work I’ll have the fun job of getting it set up, which means getting logged into the router and wifi, downloading a browser, syncing that so I can get my bookmarks, then downloading Scrivener, Aeon Timeline, and Scapple and getting the licence keys into those versions so I can get them up and running–and, yes, I already have that information ready.

After that it’s just a matter of bringing over the files for those three things and making sure they run okay, and then I have the whole weekend to update my system with what I need like Sweet Home 3D, Gimp, and Blender.  My guess is that I’ll have the majority of everything I want up by Saturday afternoon.

That’s doesn’t mean I won’t be writing:  it just means I won’t be flipping the “Y” key back into position every minute or so in order to use it.  I also plan to keep this system for backup, and I’ll likely see about getting the key replace so I can use this in a pinch.  You never know, right?

I also have a new pair of tennis shoes, a pair of Ryka Teanna, which are an older shoe I picked up off QVC the other day.  These are my first really styling woman’s workout shoes, and I got them in Coral (or should I say, “CORAL!!!”?) and they fit wonderfully.  I don’t think I’ll need a lot of time breaking these in, and I can wear them to work now and then.

But what about the writing, Cassie?  Glad you asked–

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Kerry took her hand as they exited the Pentagram Wall exit and proceeded down the garden walkway to the Great Hall. “When the date is right I’m supposed to give a penny for The Guy, but right now I’d rather give you a penny for your thoughts.”

“Oh, just considering our thoughts for the next few weeks.” Annie gave his hand a squeeze. “How we’re going to spend our weekends for the rest of the month—or at least our Saturdays.”

“Are we going to do anything that will allow you to wear your sapphire earrings again?”

She tried to keep from blushing at the mention of her most special pair of earrings. She wore them the evening of his birthday dinner, and though Kerry never once brought up that she was wearing them, she received several complements indicating how gorgeous she made them appear. After they returned to the school Kerry politely asked her if she’d wear them to the Madness, and though she felt as if she were showing off just a little, given that it was his birthday Annie left them on after they changed and headed off for the school’s weekend pajama party.

It was only in private, once they’d returned to the tower and realized they had some moments alone in the ground floor commons that she told him how much she enjoyed the complement—though she felt a touch guilty as she felt the attention she drew took away from his day. He kissed her and said that he loved that she drew attention. “That’s why I bought them; I knew how great they’d look on you.”

Annie lost track of time after that, and couldn’t rightly say when they finally managed to returned to their floor that night . . .

She put on her best coy smile. “It’s likely we won’t do anything before the end of the school year that would allow me to wear them, however—” Annie leaned upward and whispered in his ear. “If we spend the night in the same location we spent it before going home last year, I’ll be certain to wear them to dinner.”

Now it was Kerry’s turn to blush, for he knew what Annie meant exactly. At the end of their A Levels they were permitted to share a room at a bed and breakfast, the Sea Sprite Inn, that had connections to The Foundation. Though there’s been nary a word about a return to the Sea Sprite Inn from Helena, Erywin, or Deanna—the women behind their stay—both Annie and he suspected they’d be given another invitation.

 

Well, now, a few weeks before the end of the school year and their mind is drifting towards a night alone at the Sea Sprite Inn, which was their first real time alone together.  Sure, they were together in Kansas City, but there were two bad-ass witches on the other side of the connecting door, and do you really believe they would have knocked before coming in if they felt something was up with these kids?  They probably would have just jaunted into the room and stood hovering over their bed.

Also, we do see that even though she doesn’t show it, Annie loves a little attention.  I mean, she’s a thirteen year old girl, and thirteen year old kid want a little attention now and then.  Okay, sometimes a lot of attention.  But she did enjoy being told she made her earrings look lovely.  I wonder if she’ll wear them one night when her family goes out to dinner?

 

“I’d like that a lot.” They were almost to the entrance to the East Transept, but rather than wave open the door with magic he pulled it open instead. “After you, Sweetie.”

“Thank you, sladkoto mi tikva.” She looked back smiling as Kerry followed her through and joined her side after a few steps. “Preparing yourself for the return home?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I probably can’t go around whipping open doors with modified levitation spells right away—” He snorted as they cleared the transept and entered the Rotunda. “Otherwise the parental units will probably start freaking out and—”

“Annie; Kerry.”

Both turned and found Isis standing at the first floor railing looking down at them. Annie waved. “Good morning, Isis.”

“Good morning.” She motioned at them. “Could you both come up here? I need a moment of your time.”

“Certainly.” They headed straight for the stairs next to the hospital. Annie kept her voice low as she looked straight ahead. “I wonder what she wants?”

 

Yeah, what does Isis want?  Well, you’ll find out tomorrow.  At some point after I write it.

Which will be some point after my birthday dinner . . .

Which means if I'm not too blasted, I get to add to this.

Which means if I’m not too blasted, I get to add to this.

Mornings With the Seer: Before Breakfast

This is going to be kinda a short post today.  Maybe, I don’t know, not yet.  See, there’s stuff going on behind the scenes, things you haven’t seen . . . and there, my stuff and things are out of  the way and I can move on.

But seriously:  I have a problem, and probably will for the rest of the week.  Here’s what happened.

Now, a lot of things happened this weekend, most of the sucky.  And to add to the suckiness, the fingers of my right hand hurt for some reasons.  Like I slept on them funny, or something.  But that’s something else.  The main thing started with the except below, which isn’t long or sweet:

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

With the school year and classes winding down, Annie discovered that suddenly having lots of free time to spend with Kerry was far more enjoyable that she could imagine. With the end of racing three weeks before, this left the whole of their Saturdays open to hang out around the school grounds and take excursions off-campus. Last Saturday they went into Boston with Jessica, Madeline Palmescoff, and Professor Polly Grünbach, and while Deanna and Ramona were taking some students into Salem after lunch, Annie had heard from Helena yesterday afternoon that Erywin, Harpreet, Wednesday, Isis, and she were planing on taking about thirty students into New York City for most of the day.

Though she’d seen most of the world’s large cities she’d never visited New York City, and she was eager to see Times Square and spend time in Central Park with Kerry. It wasn’t that she never had the opportunity to spend time with him in a park-like environment, but having seen so many romantic pictures that part particular park in the spring, her mind’s eye allowed her to imagine the two of them there taking their own springtime pictures.

For now, however, they kept to the grounds, and their plan for the day was to have breakfast and spend a part of the morning in their lab, they heading up to Observatory Tower to finalize their end-of-the-year project in Astrophysics One. After that it was back to the Dining Hall for a quick lunch before—well, Annie had ideas for this afternoon . . .

 

Then disaster struck:  I broke a key on my keyboard.

"Now how am I gonna be brilliant?"

“Now how am I gonna be brilliant?”

Yep.  flat out broke off the “Y” on my keyboard.  Now, you will notices that I’m still typing a number of words that have “Y” in them, but I kinda haveta look at the keyboard when I hit that key because there’s just a little green stop there now, the pressure pad.  It still works, but it really slows me up when I’m doing stuff.  Like writing.

My beast of a laptop is just a couple of months short of ten years old.  That’s a lot of time to get out of a computer these days.  I’ve stated before that I would hate to give up my computer because we’ve been through so much together, but if I wanna keep being productive on my home system, and I can’t do it with a busted-ass system.

Last night I ordered a new laptop:  17 inches, Windows 10.  I did not get the 2-in-1 because I don’t really need anything like that, so a system with eight gig of memory and a one terabyte drive will do the trick for me.  Even after pulling the trigger and ordering it I was still a bit sad about having to replace my computer–

And then, right in the middle of the climax of Fear the Walking Dead last night, when I’m trying to take notes for the recap I’ll right tonight, the damn computer locked up on me.  For about ten minutes.  Needless to say, after that I was more like, “Okay, having a new computer won’t be that bad.”

The new system arrives later in the week, which means I’ll likely spend part of the upcoming weekend getting everything set up on that machine.

Here we go:  I’m finally stepping into the future.

A Certain Day in May: Wishes and Kisses

Here I am, down to the coffee shop on a rainy and gray Beltane, writing my butt off and feeling better than I did yesterday, which was probably one of the suckiest days I’ve had to push through.  But push I did, and I even managed to get in three hundred words last night, though I had zero motivation to do any writing.

However, Chapter Thirty-two is finished, and a little checking shows that this is the shortest chapter of the novel, shorter than Chapter Nineteen, which was just over fifty-one hundred words.  Hey, I’m still over three hundred thousand words total, so it’s all good.

And it's not like I've been slacking to get to this point.

And it’s not like I’ve been slacking to get to this point.

I should point out that last night’s and today’s writing has happened for the most part while Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue plays in the earbuds.  As a personal note, this has always been one of my favorites pieces, one that I discovered when I was in seventh grade, and one which I’ve loved dearly ever since.  In other words, I knew this before a certain airline made it famous in their TV ads.

Now that my kids are on “their” bench, where is their conversation leading?  Well, let’s listen in–

Continue reading

All the Time That Be Time

What is going on this morning?  Not a lot, to be honest.  I’m off to get my nails done in a couple of hours, so I’ve sort of piddled around trying to motivate myself to write.  However, I didn’t sleep for crap last night despite being tired as hell, so my mind is a muddled mess.  So much so that I knew anything I tried to put down in the system would come out full of suck, so I haven’t bothered.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy . . .

For a few weeks now I’ve meant to make some changes to the time line that is the story of my kids at school, though change really isn’t the right word:  additions is more like it.  That’s the way my mind works, with lots going ’round and ’round all the time and things always popping in and out.  What’s been bugging me, however, is that I haven’t done anything about these pop ups for a while, mostly due to just feeling too damn exhausted to get in there and put things into my little Book of History.

And while I’m doing this I should mention that I’ve been rocking out to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannons at the end.  Only in Russia would a composer think, “Now, I need an instrument to make the climax memorably;  what should I use?  I know:  cannons.”  Yes, Comrades, in old Russia, orchestra blast you!

Since I’m down to my last three chapters of this novel I’ve begun getting things in shape for the stories to follow, while I mostly concentrate on three events that happen outside of school, though I fourth started taking hold in my mind this morning.  Two of those event involve both of my kids, and two of them involve Annie alone.  My little Bulgarian Pop Princess all by her lonesome?  Why not?  She’s a big girl, she can handle herself.  And don’t worry:  it’s not as if Kerry doesn’t get enough screen time on his own.  But sometimes a girl needs a little Me Time just to chill and be herself.

Now, I’m about to lay out something I’ve only parts of here and there, but this is the real deal now:  here is the time line I’ve used for B For Bewitching.  At least this is how I take my cues when I’m putting the story together.  First, we have the sections for Annie alone and Kerry alone.

Just a little of what the kids go through on their own--

Just a little of what the kids go through on their own–

What is up there is pretty much all the key points from the start of the novel to the end.  You can see there are a few details off to the right that, I will tell you now, aren’t going to be in this novel, but in the next–that’s one of the reasons a couple of points have been scrubbed, because I don’t want you to know what they are.  I will go ahead and spoil this now:  the event in the upper right hand corner in “Annie’s Story”, the 02 June Meeting, that starts off the next novel, C For Continuing.  The first novel started and ended with Annie, and this current novel started with Kerry and will end with him.  That means the next novel starts and ends with Annie.  Simple, huh?

Below this is another layout, seen here:

And what they go through together.

And what they go through together.

This not only shows events they enjoy together, but the very bottom lays out some of the school’s event–like, the entirety of racing season.  You’ll notice that a few more events are scrubbed here, because that’s necessary, trust me.  Below this I even have a mark showing the time covers by each novel, and at the very top I show when certain holidays occur during the year, so if there’s a question about when something is happening, I can look there.

This is a little of what I keep hidden behind the scenes, and like I said at the beginning, I’m adding to this.  Adding mean thinking through the story, and that also means research prior to plotting.  Really, you wouldn’t believe what I’ve already discovered in the last couple of weeks playing around with these various ideas . . .

And just think:  you only have a few years to wait before you see them come to fruition.

A Certain Day in May: Salem Surprises

Well, today has been a strange morning, because, for the first time since making my way to The Burg, I didn’t set my alarm.  That means I woke up about a half-hour later than normal, and that means I couldn’t make coffee and there was little else I could do before the need to get ready for work took over.

"Do I have to go into work?  Can I just lay around and do nothing like I do on the weekends?"

“Do I have to go into work? Can I just lay around and do nothing like I do on the weekends?”

Now, I did get to writing last night, and managed a decent amount before I had to stop all that and gather my notes for Orphan Black, which was a bit of a chore in that so much was happening so fast that it was all I could do to keep up.  But I at least learned an Allisonisum:  if you’re a scientist and a lesbian, you never let anything go.  This girl is rather snarky.

The last scene in Kerry’s Birthday chapter sees him and Annie back at the school.  And it seems as if he’s in a good mood because of how dinner went–

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Though the temperatures were only a few degrees above freezing, Kerry found he didn’t need more than his heavy robe to keep the cold at bay, and the thick set of wool sock he wore with his slippers kept his feet sufficiently warm. It didn’t matter that much: the sky was clear and dark, the wind still, and the one person he needed was walking along side.

Midnight was nearly here, and it was almost time to say goodnight to both Annie and his first day as a teenager.

The dinner at Turner’s Seafood was an incredible affair. Besides Annie and he, Helena was there with Erywin, Wednesday was there with Isis, and Coraline was there with her boyfriend, Gregory Everheart, whom they’ve met here a year earlier. They were both surprised to see Deanna and Trevor join them, as they weren’t “out” officially as a couple at school, but both children knew better.

They conversed for about forty minute after sitting down, enjoying their appetizers and drinks, though while everyone else enjoyed a glass or two of wine, Annie and Kerry had to suffice with sparkling apple cider. They continued speaking through dinner, enjoying their dishes and company, all the way into desert. The moment Kerry worried about came as soon as a small cake with chocolate frosting and five candles arranged in the familiar pentagram shape was brought to the table, and after sitting through another rendition of “Happy Birthday” Coraline and Kerry blew out the candles and looked at each other as if they were glad they wouldn’t need to do this again for another year.

The moment that was the most surprising came while Erywin was cutting up the cake and handing around slices. It was while he was passing a slice to Coraline that Gregory Everheart learned close and asked a question of the doctor of the School of Salem . . .

 

So, Annie and Kerry hanging with the power couples at school:  Helena and Erywin as well as Isis and Wednesday, who are finally stepping out.  Coraline’s there with her boyfriend–who was mentioned in the first novel during the kid’s time as the Sea Sprite Inn–and finally we have Deanna and Trevor stepping out together.  Everyone at the table a witch save one, and that’s Gregory, who is about as Normal as they come.

However, what is this thing he asks?  Well . . .

 

They were nearly to the covered section of the walkway leading to Cernunnos Tower when Annie leaned against Kerry’s arm and sighed. He was rather certain he knew what brought about his soul mate’s sound of happiness. “Something on your mind, Sweetie?”

“Oh, I was thinking once again—” She brought him to a stop so she could lean her head against shoulder. “It’s rather romantic getting engaged on your birthday, don’t you agree?”

“I do” He kissed Annie’s forehead. “And given how much of a romantic Coraline is, she thought so as well.” Kerry remembered how quickly the news spread around the Midnight Madness moments after Coraline entered the room and took her place with the rest of the instructors, and it wasn’t long before perhaps a their of the girls in the Dining Hall came up and asked if they could see her ring. They joined those students as they had been asked before returning to the school not to say anything to anyone, and pretend they weren’t aware of the event. “She certainly enjoyed showing off her ring tonight.”

“Of course she did: a girl is supposed to get engaged once in her life and turn it into an event.”

“Is that how it’ll be with you?”

“You’ll find out when you propose to me and we’re engaged.” Annie slowly pulled Kerry towards their bench. “Come, my love: let’s sit.”

 

And there you have it:  Coraline got engaged, which means she’ll one day go from being Doctor Coraline Gallagher to Doctor Coraline Everheart.  And she had fun showing off her new rock at the Midnight Madness, so it’s obvious she’s happy as hell.

This brings up another question and that is:  how the hell does Coraline go about breaking the news to her soon-to-be new husband that there’s something that makes her just a little different from all the other girls–

"Lesson One:  Bewitched is not a good example of our marriage."

“Lesson One: Bewitched is not a good example of how our marriage is gonna go.”

Needless to say, that’s gonna get covered her a little in the next part of this scene.  For now just know:  it’s something that Coraline will need to do, and it’s something Vicky and Jessica have done as well, and it’s something that Isis’ father did.  It happens that witches marry Normals, because there are a lot more of them than there are of the Aware, so make it work, guys.

So will Annie want to show up her ring when she gets engaged?  It sounds like she will.

Only question that remains now is the when.

A Certain Day in May: The Moment of Giving

Kerry’s Birthday Adventure is nearly over, and that’s because I managed my way through another night of nearly eight hundred word writing to bring this second scene to an end.  I didn’t think that was going to happen, but it did.

I even have proof, which is all that matters.

I even have proof, which is all that matters.

 

Now, there isn’t much to say at this point about the writing:  it was just writing, you know?  You wanna know the payoff, which is something I’ve promised for a while.  Well, here it comes, just like the blog title says.

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

They entered Salem Green, one of the numerous walkways found around downtown Salem, and they quickly found themselves in a small lot behind the restaurant where they would dine this evening. The moment she was certain they were alone Annie pulled Kerry to a stop before drawing him off to the side next to some trees. After a short kiss she reached inside her purse and pulled out a small, gift wrapped box. “Happy birthday, my love.”

“I wondered when you were going to spring this on me.” After removing his backpack and setting it down he turned the box over slowly in his hands. “Quite a difference from last year.”

“Yes, but just as important.” Annie leaned against Kerry resting her chin on the hand she’s clamped over his left shoulder. “Last year when I gave you the Espinoza, it was to allow you to become a better flier and, in time, an excellent racer. I wanted you to feel the sky and become comfortable being there. This, however—” She nodded towards the box. “It’s going to help you next year.”

“Really? Well—” He began to carefully unwrap the package. “Let’s see then.” In about thirty seconds he had the paper off and handed it to Annie to fold and place in his backpack. The uncovered box was slightly smaller than his mobile and completely unadorned. Upon sliding off the top he discovered a small silver clam shell case inside. He popped it open—

Inside was a compass.

Kerry lifted the small device from the case, snapped the case closed, and began examining his present closely. The compass itself sat at one end of a Plexiglas baseplate that curved around half the ring dial, and extended a few centimeters to where he noticed the rulers, an orienting arrow, and a small magnifying lens. He moved it about, watching the arrow slowly align on magnetic north no matter which way he turned.

“I’ve spoken with Penny and Alex about what they did on The Polar Express.” Annie moved around so she was facing Kerry. “I know how you navigate: maps and a compass and visual flight rules, nothing more. And as the navigator of your team you need know that the course you’re setting is correct.” She nodded towards his hands. “I was told by Alex that’s one of the best you can get: it’s what she used during their flight. It will adjust for magnetic variances, it glows in the dark so you can navigate at night, and best of all, that one is global: you can use it in both the northern and southern hemispheres.” She chuckled. “I don’t know if we’ll ever need that function, but I figured it was good to have because you never know where we might travel.”

 

I’m certain there are a few people reading this going, “Are you kidding?  That’s Kerry’s present?”  No, really:  that’s what she bought him.  I’ll even show it too you, because I do know what it looks like.

The gift that any witch with a couple of million Euros in a trust fund can afford.

The gift that any witch with a couple of million Euros in a trust fund can afford.

While that is the current 2016 version, the 2013 version is nearly identical–I know, I’ve looked.  But there’s a little more that goes with this gift . . .

 

“That’s really nice.” He was rather impressed with his new toy, and he not only flashed upon an image of him using it to plot a course on a map, but he also considered the notion that one day in the future he may be somewhere in the southern hemisphere using this navigation aid. “Thank you.” He pulled Annie close and kissed her with great tenderness. “This is a beautiful present, Darling.  I’m going to start working with this over the summer.”

“I as much figured.” She tapped the hand that held the case. “There’s more.”

He pushed away slightly in surprise. “There is?”

“Yes.” Annie chuckled slightly upon the utterance of his question. “Open the case and look inside the lid.”

Kerry did as instructed and saw what he missed when he opened the case the first time: the inscription inside the lid—

 

Tova shte vi otvede obratno kŭm men. Lyubovta, Annie.

 

He read it three times, hoping his nascent Bulgarian would be sufficient, but the only words he recognized were the last two. “I know the last part says ‘Love, Annie’, but I don’t recognize the rest.”

She moved next to her soul mate and pointed at the inscription. “It says, ‘This will bring you back to me’.” Annie turned and kissed Kerry with as much tenderness as he’d done with her moments before. “And it will. No matter where you are, when you want to reach me, you will.”

Kerry closed his eyes and heard her words in his mind once more, then a second and third time. Only then did he slowly open his eyes, though he couldn’t see for they were filled with tears. “Oh, Darling—”

Annie touched his cheek. “What is it, my love?”

“The gift.” He sniffed back the tears. “It’s just a compass, but the feeling you placed within—” He hugged the love of his life tightly. “What did I ever do to deserve you?”

She placed his face between her hands and, while gazing into his eyes, spoke to him in tones of hushed reverence. “You were born.”

 

I ran that last line of the except–“You were born”–over and over for the last week, and most of the time when I played out the last part of this scene I’d begin crying.  It’s touching because Kerry understands what Annie’s saying to him with such a simply gift:  no matter where you are, you’ll always find your way to me.  And since the inscription’s in Bulgarian, no one else–save someone who speaks Bulgarian–will know what Annie had inscribed.

It’s for them and them alone.

Now, something I want to touch upon, so bear with me . . .

The idea of a compass really came to me about a year and a half ago, though I have to admit I didn’t start doing my research on this until about a week back.  It seems like a cheap-ass gift–what did Annie spend?  About €50?  Yeah, about that.  Considerably less than what she spent on Kerry’s broom.

I’ve said several times in the past that they give gifts based upon feeling, not cost.  The most Kerry’s spent on Annie so far was a few hundred Pounds on the earrings, and mention will be made in the next scene about them.

As for this gift . . . I have a little something to show.

A few nights back–Monday the 25th around 10:30 to be accurate–I was chatting with my friend Tanya, who is the person who created the original Annie upon whom my Annie is closely modeled.  We were chatting about the story–which we tend to do–and I brought up the matter of Kerry’s gift.  And here’s what was said:

 

Cassidy Frazee
That will get mentioned, but he’s getting his present from Annie.

Tanya
Oh!!
Does she end up giving him the same thing or is it something else?

Cassidy Frazee
She gave him his broom for his twelfth birthday. This year, because he’s doing the Polar Express the next school year, she’s giving him an engraved compass.
They give gifts that mean something. :)

Tanya
Not just because??
lol
Maybe Kerry could use some chap stick
all that wind can’t be good on the lips

Cassidy Frazee
She’ll have written on the back, “This will bring you back to me. Love, Annie.”

Tanya
awe
that’s adorable

Cassidy Frazee
It’s what Annie would do.

 

Of course I hadn’t decided on the exact type of compass the other night, and once I picked the Plexiglas one engraving something on the back would have been out of the question, which is why it’s now inside the case lid.  But that’s beside the point:  what’s important is Tanya’s last statement:  “Awe.  That’s adorable.”  Only the Real Annie(tm) would understand the meaning behind the gift, and get that it’s not a matter of being cheap, it’s a matter of being on point.  This will allow him to navigate across hundreds of kilometers of wilderness in the middle of winter with the intention of returning to the school.  Which they consider home, because we know, home is where the love lay.

Home is where Annie waits.

So, the gift is Real Annie(tm) approved, and that’s all I need to hear.

And you can bet a certain kid is gonna spend a lot of time zipping around England and Wales over the summer making sure he can find his way home when it matters the most.