The Essential Essence

When I say, “Oh, this should only go for another few hundred words” and “This will finish up just over five thousand words”–I’m a liar.  Really.  Because while I finally finished the scene that I’ve worked on for, oh, seven days, things went on far longer than I expected–

Like a thousand or so words futher.

Like a thousand or so words further than expected.

Yeah, just over sixty-two hundred words, making this the largest scene in the story.  Like I said, Annie and Deanna get together and they start talking–oi!  These ladies can gab.  And they were about to watch some video together, which brings me to thinking:  I would totally love to write a scene where Deanna and Annie are sitting on some pillows, comfy in the jammies, watching Mean Girls and quoting the movie in Arabic and Bulgarian.  “Wal ha a ma.”  “Prestani da se opitvash da donese sluchi:  toĭ ne shte stane.”  A laugh riot, I’m telling you.

We were going to watch something, yes?  Okay, then:  let’s go to the video:

 

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

It picked up with Deanna—who was off screen—mid-way through her initial greeting. “I’m loath to call myself ‘mistress’ of the discipline as some have; the title infers more than makes me comfortable. Come, let’s sit together.”

Annie watched herself step through the mass of pillows that lay on the floor that day. “Thank you. You’re quite kind.”

The off-screen Deanna’s voice remained calm. “Not at all, Annie.”

The shock that on-screen Annie felt was not only apparent, but watching-Annie felt it hit her once more as her past self spoke. “How did you—?” She listened to Deanna’s explanation where she stated the obvious. “You know how I know your name—and how I know Kerry’s, too.” As she’s never seen him react the first time, Annie couldn’t prevent a smile appearing as Kerry’s head snapped around at the mention of his name. “How?”

There was a hint of amazement in Deanna’s voice. “I love how off-balance he was then.”

Annie nodded. “He was.” She heard Deanna say she’d seen them coming, and the ever-so-logical ginger boy on the screen checked his surroundings. “Do you have monitors in here?”

“It’s a good thing I’m used to questions like that—” Deanna spoke over her voice telling Kerry she’d had a vision.

Annie did chuckle at Kerry’s response after she told him that the seer had a vision. “You mean like precognition?” The chuckled turned into a smile as she hear on-screen Deanna confirm Annie’s answer and ask them to sit. “I told him to have an open mind before we showed up. She listened to him attempting to rationalize Deanna’s claim of knowing how they were arriving. “I’m happy he learned fast.”

“Much better than some of your fellow levelmates.” Deanna regarded her memories of that day. “I had a few students that Friday night who needed some hand holding regarding what they saw that day.”

“There was a point, though . . .“ She heard Kerry say he didn’t believe in precognition.

“You were worried he would be the same way?” Deanna signed. “I wasn’t paying attention to him, for in time he would come around.” She looked over to Annie. “I was watching you.”

“Why?” Annie found the seer’s statement surprising. “You knew I was a Legacy—”

“Yes, I read your report, remember?” Deanna’s chuckle verged on laughter. “I was watching how nervous you were. You did a great job keeping it bottled up inside while keeping it hidden.”

Annie was glad Deanna couldn’t see her face, because she knew the woman next to her would had no problem mistaking her look of surprise. “You’re very perceptive.”

“Well, I wasn’t exactly playing fair.”

Now Annie’s curiosity was peaking. “What do you mean?”

 

I wrote all of the above last night while consulting the first novel, so that the words heard–all of the sentences in italics–and actions seen were accurate.  And just like Annie you’re probably saying, “Okay, what’s the big deal?”  Well, I left off one sentence, which starts this next section, followed by what I started writing this morning–

 

“You’ll see—” Deanna turned back to the display on the ceiling. “Sabrina, restart this video to the point I originally indicated, and replay with the aura recording applied.”

The screen went black. “Ready, Deanna.”

“Play the video.”

The scene played out as before, but the biggest change to Annie was how they appeared on-screen, with the bright glow of normally invisible energy surrounding each of their bodies. “You filmed our auras?”

“Apparently.”

Annie silently damned herself for asking a stupid question. “Do you do this for everyone?”

“Sabrina, hold the video.” Deanna waited three seconds after the command before answering. “No. Just you that day.”

“Why?”

“Something I felt in the vision that told me you were coming. There was a sensation that this meeting was important—more implied than stated—and that seeing your auras was necessary.”

Annie didn’t know what to feel at hearing this revelation. Seeing someone’s aura was considered the same as looking into their mind and emotions, as a skilled reader could know volumes about a witch with just a momentary glance. It was then that something Deanna said only a minute before registered— “You said you were weren’t playing fair. Did you use Aura Sight on us?”

Deanna’s answer came immediately. “Yes. I was watching you the whole time that way.”

“Because you felt it was necessary.’

“I felt it was important.” She commanded Sabrina to start the playback, then pointed at the floating screen. “Watch.”

 

You know, when seers get feelings about their visions, it’s a scary thing.  Nearly all visions are literal things:  you see one, and you try to make sense of what you saw.  When you see something and begin getting hunches about something you should do, that’s when you begin wondering what the hell is going on.

And as Annie points out, you see someone’s aura, you seen into them.  Not only can you tell they’re a witch–which is why they were using enchantments to hide those little tells in their auras that might give them away to Deconstructors–but you can tell what they’re thinking and feeling.  It’s one of the things a witch will do to see if someone is lying, because unless the person they’ve speaking to is really damn good at manipulating their aura, the person asking questions can look at the other person’s aura and instantly tell if they’re bullshitting their ass off.  Which instructors can see auras?  All of them.  They only have to use Aura Sight to view them.

Now, point of etiquette.  It’s generally considered bad manners for witches to constantly use Aura Sight to look at another person’s aura while they’re talking to them.  It’s like hooking someone up to a lie detector while you’re having a polite conversation, and witches who constantly do so hoping to call another person out on something are considered assholes of the first order and usually end up getting shunned by the rest of the witch community.  Plus, one witch can use magic to look at the aura of another witch to see if they are using magic–because crafting spells do things to your aura–and if they suspect they’re being watched, well, they’ll just hide their aura and make you go fish.  Because aura hiding is totally something you can do as well–

Oh, and yes:  Guardians know all these little aura tricks.  Which is why trying to find out if Helena is BSing you is an exercise in futility.

Here’s where we get to learn a little about auras:

 

This time Annie paid attention to the glow around Kerry’s and her bodies. Their auras were brilliant and filed with speckles of violet light—both the marks of Aware witches. Kerry’s alternated between an orange-yellow to brownish-orange, while Annie’s flowed from bright pink to orange-yellow to orange-red. “Why does mine have that bright yellow border?”

“That was my tip-off that you had a touch of fear: bright yellow indicates a fear of something—losing control, losing respect—”

Annie looked away from the display for a moment. “Losing someone you love.”

“Exactly.”

“What does the rest mean?”

“The orange-yellow indicates intelligence and confidence, while the bright pink shows affection and love.” Deanna paused to allow Annie to consider what she’d said. “You were looking for answers to what happened over the summer, weren’t you?”

“In a way. I hoped you might . . . see something.” She pointed at Kerry. “What about his?”

“The orange-yellow you know, but in Kerry’s case he was being far more scientific in his assessment of what he was seeing, which is why that color is more vivid for him. As for the brownish-orange . . .” Deanna swallowed loud enough for Annie to hear. “Given the way he was acting, those are his repressed emotions shinning through.”

“Literally.” Annie was astonished by how easily Deanna was able to read their moods and feelings by watching their auras, giving her more reason to learn Aura Sight as soon as possible. “Why have you never shown this to anyone? It doesn’t seem all that startling.”

 

I did a bit of research trying to find an aura interpretation that I liked, and what I eventually found works for me.  I’ll probably even start writing those down as a hand guide to use.  The colors do represent what the kids were feeling at the time:  Kerry was trying to come up for reasons about what he was hearing and seeing–remember, this was the day after their E & A, and his was about as fresh in his mind as it comes–and Annie was looking for something, just as Deanna surmised.

But this isn’t the reason she wanted Annie to see this video–this is:

 

“It’s not.” She pointed at the screen, where Kerry was about to sit next to Annie. “Watch.”

Annie did as instructed. She saw Kerry set down his backpack, move to on-screen Annie’s right, and sit— “I am. What—”

“Sabrina, hold image.” Deanna propped herself up and turned towards Annie. “That’s why I’ve never shown this to anyone.”

The moment on-screen Kerry sat next to on-screen Annie their auras merged and became as one, a combined glow of orange-yellow surrounded by an aural border of emerald green and royal blue. “I don’t understand—”

“The aura of a person is the reading of them essence: your mystical fingerprint, so to speak. It remains yours and is always kept separate from those around you. Even if you’re holding someone in your arms, or laying with them, there is a discernible border that separates yours from theirs.” Deanna rolled over and lay back. “Your auras merged. When I saw it happen that day it took every gram of willpower I possessed not to gasp. It was the most incredible thing I ever witnessed.”

Annie started at the screen. “This doesn’t happen—ever?”

She nodded. “This never happens, even to people who are deeply in love. It’s like your essence merged and became one—” Deanna drummed her fingers against her pillows. “What you’re seeing is impossible. And that’s why I’ve never shown this to anyone . . .” She said nothing more, preferring to leave all further actions implied.

 

Your auras merged.  And when you do something that surprises the School Seer, then you are truly remarkable because you’ve shown someone whose ability is to see things that haven’t happened something they’ve never seen.  Which means that if Deanna was having visions of Annie and Kerry before ever meeting them–and there are indications she was–this was something she never once saw.

I’m not presenting the rest of the scene because . . . well, because thing are said, and I’m not giving anything else away.  At least not until this book is published.  Needless to say Annie learned a big secret about her relationship with her soul mate, and it’s pushed open the door of understanding a little bit.  Not a lot, but enough that people can peek in and begin wondering.

I’ve done enough for today.  I believe my work here is done . . .

Tea and Visions

Let’s get to the personal stuff right away, shall we?  First off, the friends I spent time with last Sunday drove up and met me for a few hours in The Burg–and they brought me something . . .

This is the face of evil, I tell you.  Evil.

This is the face of evil, I tell you. Evil.

I’d pretty much came from work so I didn’t change, and this is one of my nicer tops.  As you can see, I was given a nice little pink box.  And what was inside the box?  A hand-made necklace and a note asking if I’d be my friend’s maid of honor.  Of course I said yes . . .

I was also told I do have other expressions besides Resting Bitch Face.

I was also told I do have other expressions besides Resting Bitch Face.

So I’m wearing that into work today.  Nice, nice, nice!  Tomorrow nails, and Sunday I’m going to a makeup party.  A girl never has enough time in her life . . .

Oh, I also wrote.  I wrote . . . well, more than the night before.  In fact the scene is just short of thirty-one hundred words, which makes it a big scene, and it’s something I should finish tonight.  “Should” being the operative word.  I’ve seen that plan fall through more than once, but I’m confident I should finish tonight.  Should.

As a few people guessed, when Deanna and the Kids (that’s gonna be my next band name, by the way) speak of “tea”, they mean “visions”.  Hence today’s title.  Deanna does talk the kids into trying her little trance-inducing experiment from the year before again, and they’re both game.  Sorry, Ren, but Annie just can’t hear you:  lalalala, I’ve got fingers in my ears!  She wants to see what happens, too, and so there aren’t any questions–we’ll save those for the end–here’s the majority of the scene as written:

 

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

“Don’t worry.” Deanna let her hand hover over the water kettle, crafting a spell to heat the water. “When the door close the note outside switched to indicate I am in conference—” She filled two infusers with loose-leaf tea and dropped them into cups. “—so there isn’t any need to worry we’ll be interrupted.” She crafted a spell over the cups, mumbling something softly as she set the enchantment in place. “There.”

Kerry watched with interest as Deanna created the trance spells before bringing the cups to Annie and him. While it seemed so many of the witches at Salem crafted their art the same way, there were enough variations among the staff that it reminded him there was more than one way to—as Wednesday had said more than a few times last year—Make Your Art Real.

He smiled as Deanna handed him his cup. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” She passed the other to Annie. “Let me get the water.” She returned with the kettle and two spoons, which she handed over right away. “Just like last time, let me pour the water, and once that’s done, look into your cup as you start stirring. Don’t worry about the infuser getting in the way—”

Annie looked up. “Why not?”

“Because it won’t.”

Kerry coughed. “Do we really need that?”

“Yes. Because if everything goes right, you may need something to drink when this is over.” Deanna chuckled softly. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.” Annie barely heard Kerry’s response as she kept her eyes locked upon the center of her cup. She waited for Deanna to stop pouring, then started stirring, noticing out of the corner of her eye Kerry doing the same. She didn’t hurry, for there was nothing to do but allow trance to come over her—if it really were going to happen this time . . .

Your eyes are locked up the darkening sky, clear and growing darker. The sun had set off to her left some fifteen minutes earlier, but there’s still considerable light here, two thousand meters up.

You don’t know the stars the way Kerry does, but there are a few you recognize on sight. Polaris is nearly straight ahead, and the Summer Triangle is easy to make out now that it’d getting dark in the east. The moon is setting with the sun, and once the sky is dark there won’t be anything but the stars—

Which are being drowned out by the city ahead. Your destination—both your destination. You glance to your right and there’s Kerry upon his Espinoza, five meters away and keeping pace, the collar of his flying jacket turned up against the chill of the high air. You wait until he’s finished with whatever he was checking on his tablet before getting his attention. “How much longer, honey?”

“We should be down in fifteen minutes—” He sits up and points ahead. “Yonder lay our city, Sweetie.”

“Yes, I can see.” You slide-slipped the broom a few meters to the right, getting closer for no other reason that to get closer. “I’m so glad we decided to fly tonight—” You look around at the deep twilight sky. “Though not really dark enough to make it night.”

“It’s dark enough.” Kerry keeps his attention on you, letting his broom more or less fly on its own for a few moments. “Twenty down—”

“Thirty to go: I know.” You adjust your heading a little to the left, and Kerry matches you. Structures you know so well are coming into view as you both approach at high-speed. “Ready to descend?”

“It’s about that time.” Kerry adjusted his goggles and nodded at something ahead. “You wanna go over there first before checking in?”

You can’t keep the smile off your face. “Most certainly.” You begin descending, reaching out as if to push away a stray cloud—

Touching the room door as Kerry holds it for you. “Hello, again.”

He enters and gently latches it shut. “I made certain we got this room.”

You turn and wrap your arms around his shoulders. “I know you did.” The kiss you place upon his lips is more soft and sweet than most. “Because you know I love this room.”

“It’s a good one for me, too.” He helps remove your backpack before he slips off his own. “It’s been a long day.”

“And tomorrow is almost here.” You hold your arms to the side and stretch before shrugging off the stylish black leather flying jacket and hanging it on the back of the door. “Give me your jacket?”

He hands you his jacket before removing your roll-on bag from your backpack’s Hammerspace. “You want to shower before bed?”

“It’s not like we need it. We should be good until tomorrow.” You sit on the edge of the bed as Kerry retrieves his own roll-on bag. “I thought maybe we’d get up breakfast, then come back here and nap before cleaning up and going out.”

He listens and nods. “That’s a good plan. You have anywhere in particular you want to go?”

You shrugged before smiling. “I want to do some shopping—”

“Really?” Kerry looks over his shoulder, mock surprise upon his face. “I had no idea.”

“Silly.” You stick out your tongue before wrapping your hands around your knees. “I want to pick up a couple of nice outfits.”

“This is the place to do that.”

You pause before asking the next question. “Any chance we’ll see her here?”

He slowly turns and leans against the chest of drawers, facing you. “No.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” He smiles as he crosses his arms. “I told you she wouldn’t.”

“I don’t know—” You twist your head and cock it to one side. “It’s a chance for her to pick up a few nice things—”

“Now who’s being silly?” He comes over and kisses you as soft as you kissed him. “After the day we’ve had, sleep is of the order.” Kerry starts to zip open your luggage. “Which pajamas you want?”

You stand and take a single step towards him. “My love.”

He turns. “Yes.”

You reach for the heme of your tee shirt. “I believe I’d rather wear—” Your words are muffled as you begin pulling your shirt over your head—

“This.” Annie’s shirt was two-thirds of the way up her torso before she realized she was sitting in a classroom in Memory’s End—and that Kerry was facing her, helping her with her top. “Kerry.”

Annie.”

 

Hey now!  You kids, get a room–oh, wait . . .

There you have it:  Annie’s vision.  Last book we saw Kerry’s vision, only because if we’d seen Annie’s–no, we don’t want to go there.  As it was we did see her vision.

Something else happened last night, however.  In the process of getting Annie’s vision completed, the novel crossed the forty thousand word mark.  I know because I checked, and I even found the exact moment . . .

Yes, I keep track of things like exact word that makes my work a novel.  Don't you?

Yes, I keep track of things like exact word that makes my work a novel. Don’t you?

I went back and figured out the Novel Line moment, and put it in my notes to the right.  So I’ve hit novel time again, just three days past a month into writing.  Like I said, I’m almost on NaNo Pace with this story, and that isn’t bad.

At least I’ve got the kids at the school.  What’s the worst that can happen to them now?

Off Into the Sunrise

The children are left behind, but they will return soon–tonight for sure.  Here we have the last time you’ll see any of the instructors chatting.  Salem is filtering away slowly, and this is the last of it right here.

For the school at Cape Ann is a memory now.  Sure, it gets mentioned, but in a few we’re not even going to be on the same continent.  We have three more counties to visit, and in the reverse order as we visited them almost four hundred thousand words ago.

Now, though, we have this:

 

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

Erywin sighed as she stood. “And with that I must leave you.” She leaned over and patted both children on their shoulders. “Enjoy your flight, and enjoy your time together.” She quickly left their cabin and made her way past the remainder of the students. She entered the closed-off section at the rear of the student section and shut the door behind her, letting out a loud sigh as she leaned against the bulkhead wall.

“Are they okay?” Deanna’s concern came through in her voice.

“Better than they were this morning.” Erywin took her seat to the left of Deanna. “But they’re still down. When Annie’s unable to push away her sadness after an hour, you know it’s serious.”

“It will be hard on them, but there’s nothing to be done.” Deanna crossed her legs and repositioned her tunic across her waist. “They’ll have to resign themselves to spending the summer apart.”

“I’m certain they have, but . . .” Erywin leaned closer to her traveling companion as the plane was pushed backwards out of the hanger. “Deanna, did we do the right thing letting them spend last night together?”

 

Erywin, as stated, is a lot like Kerry:  she wears her emotions out where all can see them.  Perhaps in the edit there’s a passage I’d like to add where Deanna mentions that Erywin is like Kerry, and that she identifies with both children, who in turn remind her a great deal of her own relationship.  But for now I’m leaving that out, because it’s not about Erywin, and that line would be a good one for the second scene of the next book, of which I know pretty much how the first six scenes will play out.

How does Deanna answer?

 

Though she possessed no doubts about their actions, Deanna needed to address Erywin’s concerns. “It was necessary.”

“I know you told us it was something we needed to do—still, they’re so miserable—”

“And how miserable would you imagine them this morning had they spent the night apart in the hotel with the rest of the students on this plane?” Deanna turned to face the woman next to her. “Yes, it’s possible one would have went into the other’s room, and it’s possible that wouldn’t have been allowed, given they weren’t being supervised by anyone from the school—”

“I know, I know. As you said, they were entitled to this moment alone, that it was important for their relationship.” She shrugged. “I do hope that all that happened last night—”

“They’re still virgins.”

 

Thanks for that TMI Update, Ms. Arrakis!  Though that wasn’t quite what Erywin was looking for . . .

 

Erywin raised an eyebrow and smirked. “I was going to say that all that happened last night was a lot of heartfelt moments between bouts of crying, but I suppose one can be thankful for that good news” She eyed the seer hard. “How do you know that?”

Deanna didn’t blink. “You know how I know that.”

“The same way you knew they needed to be together last night?”

“Yes.”

She knew she wouldn’t get an answer, but Erywin had to ask. “How much do you know about them?”

 

And there’s as damning a passage as any.  How would you like to have students under your charge, and know about the discussions they’re going to have about sex a few years in the future?  Or know that they had sex?  Or have a vision of them having sex?  Talk about a brain bleach moment.  But that’s something Deanna deals with, not just with these kids, but with others, and even with her friends and acquaintances.  As the next line shows, Erywin was also Deanna’s instructor at one time, and you have to wonder if she wonders if Deanna used to flash on details of their future together.  It’s one of those things that does have to drive you a little nutty, even in a world where nutty is pretty common.

So what does Deanna say?  Not what you might think–

 

Deanna stared at the bulkhead in front of her for about ten seconds, and Erywin was certain her former student would either ignore the question or reply that it was impossible for her to say. Instead Deanna responded in a low voice that could barely be heard over the whine of the starting engines. “Not as much as you think. When I first saw them I knew who they were—I’d seen their names, and I was aware of Annie’s family—but that didn’t register. Not even after I had the short vision of them at Memory’s End on Orientation Day did they register. It wasn’t until I spoke with Annie the following week, when she first discussed her concerns about Kerry and their dreams, that I realized they were a couple I’d seen in a few visions.”

She straightened her legs as she looked in Erywin’s direction. “There’s been a few others since they’ve arrived. Some you know, like telling Coraline to let Annie spend the night after the Day of the Dead. But there’s been others . . .” She shrugged. “I’ve seen one where they discuss the needs not to do that one thing, if you know what I mean—”

“I know what you mean.”

“It happens in the future, that much I know.”

“How?”

Deanna shook her head. “I can’t say. I can’t.”

Blasted Seers. Erywin almost rolled her eyes as the plane lurched on the way to its take-off point. Always teasing and never spilling. “Isn’t it true that even though you’ve had that vision, it doesn’t mean it’ll come true?”

 

In about a hundred words at the back end of a huge novel we finally see a little of Deanna’s visions, and the only snippet of what she has seen of these two in the future.  But if you think there’s more, you’re wrong.  Or are you?

 

“That’s true.” Deanna set her hand in her lap and began preparing herself for the flight. “A vision is only a possible future, and not only the future itself. There always exists the possibility that one of both of them will do—that—before they get married, and thus partially invalidate their feelings on their own vision.”

There was something in Deanna’s statement that caught Erywin’s interest. “You make it sound like they will get married.”

“I can’t say.” The seer exhaled long and slow. “Only the future knows.”

Only the future— Erywin stretched out her legs as the 777 made its final turn prior to departure. But you said you couldn’t say—not that it wouldn’t happen. She closed her eyes as the engines revved and the jet lumbered down the runway. How much do you know?

 

We won’t get an answer to that question, not here.  Not any more this story.  Nope, it’s flashing behind us as we sail down the runway on the way back to Amsterdam.  If there are any answers, they come later.

For now, we say goodbye.

So long, Salem Witch School.  See you next year.

So long, Salem Witch School. See you next year.