Stillness in the Heart

I had a hard time writing last night.  One of the issues before me was how to get the scene started, because words weren’t working.  There was also a certain amount of distraction around, but none of it had to do with my usual face burning, because I’m not doing that until Wednesday.  It was just my mind being all over the place.

But there was a section of my brain that felt a little bit of suffering, and it didn’t have anything to do with getting an electric probe shoved into my skin, it was about emotions.  Feelings.  Wantings, you might say.  I’m in the down section of my hormonal cycle, and I was slipping into sad mode while I thought about, and wrote, the scenes before, because it began pulling up old feelings I’ve had for quite a while.  And it was hitting me hard, because . . . well, let’s start the excerpt and perhaps you’ll see.

 

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

Seconds after opening his eyes, Kerry sensed the silence and the darkness. The darkness was easy to notice: even in the aftermath of the Midnight Madness there was always ambient light available so any students who stayed until the end—or had fallen asleep, as Annie and he had done on many occasions—could find their way out of the Dining Hall without fear of running into or tripping over furniture.

Then there was the silence. Even at the end of a Madness there was some kind of soft noise: students or instructors speaking; the shuffling of feet; the crackling of dying embers in the huge fireplace. None of that existed at this moment. The room was beyond deadly quiet: it was as if Kerry awakened in the quietest room in the world.

If not already aware that this was the Dining Hall, Kerry might have believed he was lying in his bed back in his room—

Except for one thing . . .

 

It not hard to figure out what that one thing is Kerry has here in the aftermath of the Midnight Madness, and not back in his room.

 

He propped himself up on his left elbow and watched the still-sleeping Annie. During all their moments when they’d slept together, she was usually the first to wake, or she’d wake at the same time. The only time he’d ever seen Annie sleeping was the morning after returning from Yule holiday, when he’d found her on the sofa in the Mezzanine Commons, she she didn’t look much different then than she appeared now—face soft and slack, lips parted slightly, eyelids smooth and forehead unfurrowed, her hair piled to the sides around her ears.

Kerry imagined this was how she’d looked every night, so completely different from the person he’d seen in his dreams for almost a decade. It seemed impossible that this was his Chestnut Girl, the one he’d played with as a toddler, the one he’d read to when he became a tweener, the girl he’d loved for so long before telling her—and the girl who he’d forgotten, and whom he’d fallen in love with once again before remembering he’d never loved anyone else.

After watching her for almost a minute, Kerry touched his finger to her lips, applying the slightest of pressure. At first Annie did nothing, then her head shifted to the left before slowly returning to the prior position. He did the same thing, but this time Annie’s head rolled back slightly. She gasped before speaking in a soft, sing-song voice. “Ummmm, az sŭm na toplo. Drŭzhte me tuk, Obicham da sŭm na toplo.”

He’d chuckled, for he’d never heard Annie talk in her sleep. It made sense she’d speak in Bulgarian, with it being her native language; his only regret was not knowing what she’d said—save for obicham. He’d come to recognize that word so well that when writing over the summer to Annie, he’d ended his letters with the phrase “Obicham te”—”I love you.”

He kissed her on the cheek, touching her as gently as he had her lips. Annie sighed as a tiny smile began to form. He kissed her again, and she squirmed the slightest bit, her hands moving slowly under the comforter. Kerry gave her a light kiss on the lips—

 

This kids and their watching someone sleep moments.  We’ve already seen Team Annie at work as she’s done her Edward bit a couple of times and watched Kerry for a few minutes in the hospital before saying screw this and moving right up into the bed next to him, and now it’s Team Kerry not only watching, but doing a little touching.  And smiling.  And kissing–let’s not forget the kissing.

And this is where I was having problems writing, because feeling Kerry do those things–I so wanted to do them myself.  When I wake up in the middle of the night, it’s just to stare up at the ceiling and wondering about things and people:  I never get the chance to look over and see someone sleeping and dreaming away the night.  I needed to get up and walk away for a bit, to just recompose myself after bring out that scene.  It’s only a few hundred words, but it touches me, and even hurts a little–

So many times Kerry sat awake in the dark, when there was no one, even in his dreams, to comfort him.

So many times Kerry sat alone in the dark, where there was no one, not even from his dreams, to comfort him–

And for so long now, I’ve felt the same.

Ah, enough of this.  Let’s finish up with my kids, because this is their story.

 

Annie gave the softest of moans as her hand blindly reached upwards and touch his head and shoulder. He held the kiss for about fifteen seconds, and when he pulled away he was peering down into her now slightly opened eyes.

“Ummmahhhh.” Annie arched her back as she stretched. “You woke me with a kiss.”

He ran a finger over her left cheek. “I thought you’d like that.” He kissed her again, and while he didn’t hold it as long as the last, it was far more passionate. “There’s something you need to know . . .”

Annie was fully awake now. “What is it?”

“We’re the only ones in the hall. It’s empty.”

She was sitting up a moment later and looking around. It took but a moment to confirm his statement. “Hummm.”

“Do you know who was in charge of winding down things tonight?”

“I think it was Helena and Erywin.” Annie lay back and looked up at her boyfriend. “It looks as if she thought we needed to speak to each other.”

Kerry knew what she mean, for this wasn’t the first time they were allowed to sleep on after the Madness was over. Back at the end of March Professor Lovecraft let them sleep over so the Dining Hall could clear out and Annie could ask him an important question . . . “So it would seem.”

 

And that last time in the Dining Hall was the lead-up to the final “Do you want to be a Good Sorceress?” question, and that turned out all right.  At least for now.

The remainder of this scene has been changed a lot from how I first saw it, and I should get to that tonight.

I’ll remember to stay out of the dark.

The Short Suppositions

So here we are, the final post of 2014, but the penultimate writing for The Novel That Wouldn’t End.  But that’s not true anymore, either.  Sitting here on the cusp of a new year, there are seventeen remaining scenes, split among five chapters and two parts.  And once those are finished, then it’s The End time and I can take a bit of a rest and figure out what comes next.  There’s also the possibility that I’m going to add one last scene, because the final scene in the novel is really two-in-one, and I do love splitting that stuff up.

The funny thing is I don’t remember writing a lot last night.  Getting into Google Docs and having a friend help with editing another project I’m working on, yeah, that took a while, but when I comes to the novel it didn’t seem like I wrote a great deal–and yet, there’s two thousand and sixty-six words in the scene, and that’s not something to brush aside.

But what were those words?  Questions asked by Erywin, questions answered by Helena, and, it would seem, and understanding between them of what may lay ahead for my kids.

None of this are happy thoughts, but then what are at this point?

 

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

Erywin took a long, deep breath before asking her next question. “Any news on Ruth?”

“According to the people who were doing clean-up, the woman you fought was her doppelgänger. They’ve checked up on her family and they’d fine—mother, father, younger brother, all still alive. She probably left in a hurry from home just like fake Kaden did.” Helena shook her head. “As far as the real Ruth is concerned, we’ll never see her again. The Deconstructors are good at disposing bodies: they either dissolved her after leaching as many memories as they could from her, or dumped her in the middle of nowhere.” She slipped her hand from Erywin’s and folded both in her lap. “I figured a team’s looking into the matter now, and by this time tomorrow Ruth McRoberts will have never existed.”

Erywin hated hearing such news. “Such a waste. The girl has one year of school with Tanith, and for that she dies. Not to mention I hate it when women join up with the Deconstructors—”

“Our struggle stopped being the matriarchy verses the patriarchy a long time ago, my dear. May as get used to the fact there are as many pissed off female witches these days as there are male who aren’t buying into what The Foundation is offering.”

 

Just as they would have done had Kerry and Emma died, it looks like the Guardians are going in and “harmonize”, as they would say, the McRoberts Family with the new reality.  You don’t have a daughter; you never did.  And everyone who ever knew her will forget she existed.  Maybe Tanith will remember her, but she’ll never know that the girl she was talking to the day before she met Annie and Kerry was an impostor.

Also, in that last statement from Helena, you get a tiny glimmer of The Foundation/Deconstructor brouha.  Is it really as simply as a battle between the genders?  Hum . . . you’ll probably find out if I ever get around to writing the third novel.

Something else is on Erywin’s mind . . .

 

“True.” Erywin had been carrying a question since they arrived at the CDC, and she needed it answered. “Why didn’t they attack the children right away? Why did they wait?”

“Could be any number of reasons.” Helena had wondered about this as well. “Best answer I can come up with is miscommunication on the Deconstructor’s part. When Tanith left early fake Kaden probably didn’t check with fake Ruth to see when they were suppose to get together. He probably then told the third member of the party to get over to the mall and get some eyes on Tanith, and by the time he got there Annie and Kerry had already hooked up with Tanith and were on their way to the park.” Helena crossed her legs. “That would explain fake Kaden leaving in a hurry: once they realized there were Foundation witches with Tanith, there was a need to get everyone on site in a hurry. And then the kids went invisible and silent, you were laying low, so . . .” She shrugged. “They threw up blocking spells and waited for everyone to show themselves.”

 

Deconstructors:  Bad Guys You Don’t Want Planning Anything.  And there is some truth here, because they don’t have a huge network, they don’t have centralized headquarters, they seem like a bunch of mopes involved in a rear guard action.  Which, we all know now, can screw up a modern army pretty well if you plan your hit and runs effectively.

Something pushes Erywin’s buttons, however, and it would appear that the Deconstructors moved into KC about a month before Team Salem showed.  As Erywin points out in a passive-aggressive way, that was about the time they were called into action.  So one might assume . . .

 

Erywin sighed before standing up. “Walk with me, please.” As soon as Helena was along side, Erywin began speaking in a low, confidential voice. “Tell me you had no idea we were going to run into Deconstructors.”

“No mentions what so ever, and I didn’t have anyone coming to me with secret information.” Helena stared straight ahead. “You saw the same reports I saw.”

“I believe you. I know you’d never lie to me, and if there had been evidence of Deconstructors, we wouldn’t have gone.” Erywin stopped near a small line of trees and stared out over the lake. “But I think someone in San Francisco knew. I think they were aware of what the kids could do. And . . .” She exhaled a long, low sigh. “I think they wanted to throw those kids into a situation where they’d have to do everything they could to stay alive, and they’d use everything magical they had to make sure that happened.” She frowned. “It seems they got their wish.”

 

If the Guardians are good at watching and manipulating, then one might stand to reasons that they knew there was a good chances that a throw-down was inevitable.  I mean, if you suspect you’ve got a couple of wonder witches working for you, it’d be a shame to let their powers and skills go to waste, right?

And what does Helena think?

 

Helena slowly reached out and took Erywin’s hand. She held it in silence for about fifteen seconds, just staring out over the lake with her partner and companion. “I believe that, too. I know the Guardians too well, and even though everything seemed on the up-and-up . . . it appears that everything was leading to the three of you confronting the Deconstructors.”

Yep–she’s got the same sinking feeling.  Probably even more so for her, because she not only knows the sort of buttholery the Guardians can employee, she helped put the kids on the firing line.

Which leaves my two witches having these last thoughts:

 

Erywin said nothing, allowing the quiet of the CDC campus gather around them. “What happens now?”

“Now?”

“Are the Guardians going to keep after them until they bring them into the fold?”

Helena shrugged. “Why wouldn’t they? They kept after me, didn’t they?”

Erywin snorted. “Yours was a different situation; they knew what you were from day one.”

Helena’s dark eyes shifted just enough that she could take in Erywin’s profile. “Yeah? What the hell makes you think they haven’t known the same about those two?”

 

That’s right, Helena:  plant that kernel of doubt that maybe the Guardians have known something for a while, and this was their way of proving it.  The situation was different with Helena–her grandmother did work for the Guardians, and though it’s never said, her mother works for them as well–and Helena was pretty much learning to kill at an early age.  It could be said that the Guardians have had their eye on Annie for a while, but Kerry?  Well, he did have the fortune of living right in the Guardian’s back yard in San Francisco for a few years, and they picked up on him pretty easily, so . . .

I’m not saying.  At least not right away.

Act Three is currently just over seventy-six thousand words–

That'll do quite nicely, now, won't it?

That’ll do quite nicely, now, won’t it?

–And by the time I’m finished with tonight’s scene with Annie and Kerry, it’ll be closer to seventy-eight thousand.

We’ll see, won’t we?