You know what this means, right? Sure you do…
And me at Harrisburg Pride with my teammate, Ms. Smackman.
Yeah, I know it’s been a while, but here I am in the, um, well, sorta the flesh, I guess.
It’s been a long, boring day and I think I’m going to write tonight, but I spent most of the day watching movies. The first was the Netflix original How It End, and the answer to that is “Not fucking well.” Really, a dumb, simple, slow-ass movie where little happens and the actors–Forest Whitaker among them–appear to phone it in with little or no enthusiasm. It’s getting rocked like the Casbah and if your were of a mind to watch this, don’t. Trust me on this.
After that turd I watched American Psycho, which I hadn’t seen in about ten years, and I’m sorry, but I laugh at a lot of the lines in this flick. Really, if you wanna be shocked read the book, which is a horror story mixed in with commentaries on commercialism–along with a crazed cameo by Tom Cruise–and it’s not for the faint of heart.
But enough of murders and executions. Let’s get our butts to Bulgaria.
Kerry has a hot kettle and he’s heading up to the stair to the first floor, which is Annie’s sanctuary. And what happens? Let’s find out.
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
Due to his work in the school’s superlab, Kerry had become somewhat proficient at negotiating spiral staircases, but this was the first time he’d had to walk up one while levitating an object. He peeked up over the side as he grew closer to the first floor and saw Annie seated at a table, her back to the stairs. He took in her posture: she was sitting upright, one hand in her lap while she sipped from the cup in the other. She looked almost regal. And it suits her…
She set down her cup and half-looked over her shoulder. “You can come up: I won’t bite.”
“I had to make sure.” He made his way to the first floor landing and looked around: it was a somewhat plain space with two large windows and two closed doors, one to his immediate right and another in the corner on his left. He approached the table at which Annie sat—the only furniture in the space. “So… this is you sitting room, I take it?” He took the only other seat, the one opposite Annie.
Back in the day when I was excerpting the first novel, a few people felt Annie came across a little cold and a bit entitled, with the word “princess” getting bantered around once in a while. Yes, Annie comes from money, but she also comes from manners, and as she points out, she’s doing something that proper ladies have done for a considerable amount of time–
She ran her finger around her cup as she seemed to examine Kerry. Much like her mother she wore silk pajamas, only hers were a dark burgundy. “Every girl should have a sitting room so she can entertain visitors.” Annie raised her right eyebrow, mimicking her mother from a little over thirty minutes earlier. “I mean, you wouldn’t expect me to entertain you in my bedroom at this time of day, would you?”
Kerry set the kettle down and removed the time spell. He sat back as a puff of steam came out of the neck. “No, I wouldn’t. That would be rude.”
“Exactly.” Annie placed a tea ball in a cup and poured in the hot water. “I know you like a breakfast blend for morning tea, so I had one made for you.” She finished pouring and levitated the saucer and cup toward him. “Take any of the snacks here: Mama made plenty.”
Now, one could argue that Annie should haul her ass downstairs and had tea with Mama at the dinning room table, because having a sitting room where you entertain visitors totally smacks of privilege. And it does, no lie there. But this is how Annie was raised, to be a proper lady. And she is. She isn’t putting on airs for people: this is something important to her.
But who else would like to imagine how many people have actually sat across from Annie who weren’t of her immediate family? The answer to that–and you know I have it–is not a lot: maybe a couple of classmates before she headed off to the Big Witch School.
And, as she points out, this isn’t something she’ll do for much longer:
While he hadn’t seen the snacks up close when he first woke, he recognized them as a combination of mekitsa and banitsa. He picked up a mekitsa and set it in a small place, after which he spooned a small amount of jelly next to it. “Your mother and you do this every morning?”
“Ever since I was seven.” Annie added hot water to her cup and chose a banitsa to nibble. “Sometimes it was the only time we had to see each other during the day and we wanted to make the most of that time. We started out with tea and eventually it ended up becoming a ritual that could go on for hours if we allow that.” She sipped her tea and slowly set the cup down. “It won’t be long before I won’t have this time with Mama, so it’s important I make the most of the time we have together.”
Kerry sat back in his chair, slowly chewing a mekitasa as he glanced out the window to his right and behind Annie. While it was still dark outside, the sky was clear and gave the impression the sun was rising soon. “What time does the sun rise around here?”
“I’m surprised you don’t know.” Annie looked up from her food and laughed.”
“Yeah—” He rolled his eyes. “I should have checked.”
“It’s all right. The sun’s fully up about fifteen before eight, but the mountains to the east tend to keep our meadow in twilight until about nine. Funny this is, while this is the shortest day of the year, after this sunrise comes a little later every day until the middle of the first week of January, then they start coming earlier while sunset comes later.”
“Interesting.” He crossed his legs. “So, what’s the plan for today?”
“Oh…” Annie held her tea cup before her face and looked up over it. “I think you already know.”
Annie knows all these things she does with her family will soon come to an end and she wants to get the most out of those events–though when your mother can pretty much jaunt to just about anywhere in the world, who’s to say Annie won’t still have morning tea with Mama? I’d say the odds are pretty good.
As for what the kids are going to do once it gets light outside–I think you can guess what’s coming next…
Today has been a somewhat busy day. Why is that? Well, I was out skating before 7 AM. I was actually in front of my apartment building at 6:35 getting my skates on and by 8 AM I’d skated 4.8 miles/7.7 kilometers, at which point I got back into my street shoes, got coffee, and went home.
Most of the intervening time has dealt with uploading and editing film I took of my skating, which amounted to a lot of me taking my time getting somewhere. Originally I wanted to skate down 2nd Street and I think next week that’s exactly what I’ll do.
Oh, and here’s a picture of me at the north end of my little jaunt:
So, now that Kerry’s learned about Victor and his Polar Express and how one gets coffee around the Kirilovi Household, it’s time Pavlina filled him in on how, um, things are handled in the morning…
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
Pavlina stood by the island for a few moments, silently regarding Kerry. When she finally spoke, her tone seemed almost apologetic. “There’s something you need to know about what Annie does in the morning.”
Kerry finished filling the kettle but didn’t plug it in. “Okay.”
“Every morning Annie and I have tea. I take up some tea and a few snacks and we talk: sometimes for a half hour, sometimes for an hour. She doesn’t like it when someone else goes up first instead of me. In fact, she prefers to send for another visitor after we’re finished.”
Annie had mentioned her morning tea ritual a few times in the past, but hadn’t realized it was this formal. “So what you’re saying is, after you’re finished speaking with her—”
“She’ll likely have me ask you to come up.” She nodded towards the stove. “That’s why I put on a second kettle: so you’d have hot water for tea.”
Pavlina levitated the tray. “I imagined by the time you’ve finished your coffee she’ll want to see you.” She smiled at Kerry before heading up the stairs.
In the Kirilovi Household even Ginger Hair soul mates gotta wait their turn before seeing their Chestnut Girl. Annie has a routine at home and woe be to the person who breaks that routine. We saw Papa do it last year and Annie didn’t come off as happy at the time.
So how does Kerry feel about this?
Kerry plugged in the kettle and turned it on before putting the filter in the mouth of the Chemex and filling it with coffee. Though he tried not to act too surprised, he did find it just a little strange that he’d have to wait to see Annie until he was summoned. At the same time, he didn’t want to act like he had the run of the Kirilovi House and do something that would eventually run him afoul of the family, including Annie—
He figured the best thing to do was make his coffee and wait.
A little over thirty minutes later he’d just finished his coffee, had put his mug in the dishwasher, and was hand cleaning the Chemex when Pavlina came down the stairs with the kettle she’d taken up. “She’d like to see you now, Kerry.” She set her kettle on the island. “You don’t need to wear your robe up; we’re rather informal, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
That was all Kerry needed to hear. As soon as he turned the coffee maker upside down, he hurried back to his bedroom to remove his robe, then returned to the kitchen. He glanced at the kettle on the stove. “Just a simple time spell around that, right?”
She nodded. “Yes. You want me to remove the spell?”
“Naw. I got it.” He levitated the kettle and set it just above his upturned hand. “Thank you.” He moved around her and headed up the stairs.
Just as he suspected, Kerry was summoned. Boy, the wife-to-be doesn’t play at this morning tea business: you come up when she wants you and not before. Doesn’t matter if you’re going to be the father of those little witches she’s carrying: you get to have tea with her when she’s ready and not a moment before then.
And now that Kerry’s going up to the sitting room, we can see how Annie deals with this sort of engagement…
Just as I promised, here’s the excerpt from the novel I said was coming. And it’s going to have things in here that have never been spoken of before now–
However, let’s have some coffee first.
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017, 2018 by Cassidy Frazee)
He was surprised to be offered coffee, but then he was aware that Annie’s parents knew he was heading off on the Polar Express in a few weeks and coffee was one of the items the team were packing. “If you don’t mind, I’d like a little coffee.”
“There’s an electric kettle under the counter there—” She pointed at the corner behind her. “In the cabinet above it you’ll find everything you need to make it. There’s coffee in the refrigerator: we have both Sulawesi Toraja Kalossi and Ethiopian Sidamo: Victor grounded both by hand.”
Kerry had no idea which of the two were the best, so he grabbed the first container he found. He retrieved the electric kettle before opening the cabinet. He smiled by what he saw. “You have a Chemex?”
Pavlina nodded at both kettles began whistling. She shut off the five under both and waved a spell around both. “A habit left over from when Victor flew the Polar Express. I’m sure you’ll probably keep yours.”
The Chemex isn’t designed for anything but making coffee. You put in your filter and your grounds–and the Chemex uses special filters which gets rid of a lot of the oils that lead to a bad aftertaste–then you boil your water in a kettle and pour the water over. And that’s it. Simple, hum?
I’ve had mine for about two and a half years and I love it.
So this is what Kerry is taking with him into the wilds of Canada when there’s a need for coffee–well really, a need to caffeinate the kids so they don’t fall asleep while flying–and Victor still has his. Only one thing about Victor and the Polar Express–
Kerry levitated both the maker and filters to the counter. “I thought Annie told me he didn’t fly the Polar Express? That he didn’t go because you asked him to stay?”
“That’s true: he didn’t go—the first time.” Pavlina carefully levitated one of the kettles to the tray. “During their dress rehearsal flight, Victor and his wingmate flew into some incredibly nasty weather and decided to land and let it blow over. His wingmate misjudged the approached and crashing, breaking his right arm and giving himself a nasty concussion. Victor used one of their panic buttons to get back to the school.
“Now, even though his wingmate was cleared for the Express, they were both unsure about his flying. Victor was then offered the opportunity to fly with someone else—an upper Level student who’d already flown the Express—and it was then I asked him not to fly unless he was one hundred percent certain that he wouldn’t have problems. So he didn’t fly.
“The next year, however, his wingmate and he were given the chance to fly: it’s something the school does when they have students who were unable to fly the Express during their C Levels. So he’s not credited with flying the Polar Express during Advanced Flight Two, but he is credited as having flown the Express as a ‘make up’ in his D Level.”
Palivna raised her right eyebrow, something Kerry had seen Annie do many times. “Understand?”
He nodded. “Absolutely.”
Though Victor didn’t do the Polar Express the first time around, he did manage it as a D Level–it’s just that it doesn’t get quite the recognition as when you do it as a C Levels. This is also the first time we hear about the “dress rehearsal flight”, which is something that happened the weekend before the Express and which happens the weekend after the kids return to school–
Something Kerry will do as well.
Now that all the history is out of the way, it’s time for Pavlina to lay down a few ground rules…
So here I am and yes, I actually have an excerpt. It’s been a few days, I know, but I haven’t done any writing in a few days and since I wasn’t writing, no point in posting what I’m not writing. Right?
It’s time to move the action, so to speak, back to Pamporovo, and in doing so we go to the first day of winter, 2013. This will be Kerry’s first full day in Bulgaria, a country he’s never visited, and you can imagine it’s going to be a bit busy. Why is that? Well… he’s with Annie. Something’s bound to happen.
Before those two get together, though, people gotta wake. That includes a Ginger Hair Boy–
Kerry sat up in bed and listened to the silence. He looked around in the darkness and realized how much being at Annie’s house was like being back at school: everything was incredibly dark and quiet. He assumed most of the quite was due to them being in the middle of the mountains, but he also suspected the wall and door facing the living room were enchanted to keep out ambient noises.
He sat still for about twenty seconds and then decided to get up and moving. “Lights low; computer on.” Just as with his dorm room in Cernunnos Coven, the lighting system here was controlled by magic, and ever since Isis gave his computer an “upgrade” at the end of his A Levels, he could control the system through vocal command.
He swung his legs out from under the thick comforter. “What time is it?”
The computer responded in a pleasant female voice. “It is 05:31.”
“Any new email?”
“Okay.” He’d hoped his parent would send him one to find out if he’d arrived safely at his Yule destination. While he’d send them an email the week before saying he was staying with friends, he’d not bothered telling them the friend in question was Annie. It didn’t matter: they hadn’t responded in the week before yesterday and they didn’t respond during the night.
They evidently didn’t care.
This is the first time we’ve seen Kerry use voice controls on his computer. Annie has a monitor supplied by the school in her room and we’ve seen it work with voice command, so why not give Kerry’s computer the same interface?
I should point out that in my original idea for C Level Yule, where Kerry stayed at school while Annie returned home, he was going to give his computer to Annie to take back home while he used a school laptop to Skype her once or twice a day. But that isn’t happening, so no need to go on about how sad all that shit was gonna be.
Speaking of sad, Kerry has emailed his parents that he’s off with a friend for Yule, but they’ve not emailed him back. Which is further evidence that his parents are twats. Though who knows if this is because both parents are twats, or if it’s just his mother and his dad doesn’t say a word because he doesn’t want to put up with the shitstorm that comes every time he disagrees with Louise. Eventually we’ll learn the truth, but for now they’re both being twats.
Now that Kerry is more or less up, it’s time to get all the way up. And that means…
Kerry used the bathroom to relieve himself, then threw on his robe, put on his slippers, and slowly opened the door. Light came from the kitchen, but the rest of the house was in darkness. He moved out of his room and covered the few steps to the kitchen, wondering who he’d find—
“Good morning, Kerry.”
He was a bit surprised to find Annie’s mother standing at the kitchen island, still dressed in her green silk pajamas, setting finger snacks upon a tray while two kettles were heating up on the stove behind her. “Good morning, Pavlina.”
She glanced in his direction. “Sleep well?”
“Yeah, quite.” He kept his voice low, subdued. “Sleeping here’s like being back at school.”
“We use a number of the same enchantments.” She finished arranging the tray before turning towards him. “You don’t have to keep your voice down: Victor can’t hear you in the lower levels, and while there’s a enchantment on the stairs to keep the ground floor sounds from going upward, I’m certain Annie’s awake.”
He chuckled. “I should have known. She told me she’s usually up by five-thirty when she’s home. I am, too, for that matter. It’s a bit of a habit now.”
“The same with me. Victor, however—” She looked at the kettles as if she expected something to happened, then turned back to Kerry. “He often spends a lot of late nights with his team during racing season, so he’s come to appreciate sleep and wakes up when he’s ready.” Pavlina leaned against the island. “Would you like some tea? Coffee?”
Again, it only makes sense that a lot of the magic used at the school is gonna be used in most witches homes. Hell, there’s probably a list of enchantment that are taught later in a student’s life so they can fix things up when they get their own homes. You can bet Kerry’s already using a few of this to “fix up” his room at home.
So Pavlina is offering Kerry both tea and coffee. And not only is there a reason for that, but we’re gonna learn a secret in the process–
Man, this weekend has been a busy one. If you followed my Saturday video you’ll know I recorded it early in the morning because I was going out to brunch with one of my teammates, Summer, and by the time the day was over we’d have crepes, we’d walked through the Masonic Gardens, had cooling drinks, and watched a couple of episodes of Sailor Moon Crystal. For sure a busy day.
Then yesterday… well, yesterday I was once more up at six and heading down to Lancaster to be there by eight because I was attending a derby clinic given by world champion jammer Satan’s Little Helper.
Yes, you read that right: I was hangin’ with Satan from 8:30 to 12:30. She’s a jammer with Angel City Derby Girls, the L.A. derby league, though after having won a gold at the World Cup in February, she’s sort of taking some time off and going around coaching. While I didn’t skate, I observed from the sidelines and learned a hell of a lot while a couple of my teammates got their hands dirty. Oh, and got a selfie with Satan herself.
By the time I was home from that, taking time out for lunch, and picking up a few groceries for the week, it was about four in the afternoon and I wasn’t in the mood to do anything but veg. Which was why I didn’t get a post out yesterday.
But today! Hah! It’s all a different game now. And we finish up the excerpt I began on Friday–which is finishing up Annie’s and Kerry’s time in Copenhagen. And reviles their final destination–
The area ahead of them was well lit, far better than it was on the path they’d just walked. Kerry saw the reason: just off-shore sat the statue of The Little Mermaid, perched upon a rock under the spotlights. There were quite a few people around the statue taking photos and a few of them were standing just under the bolder upon which the sculpture sat.
Kerry’s smile was wide and bright. “It’s Ariel. I knew the statue was in Copenhagen, but I wasn’t sure where.”
“Now you know.” Annie stopped them almost in front of the stairs leading down from the path to the stones below. “I’ve been here many times. This is the first time I’ve come with someone other than my parents.”
Yes, they are at the location of the statue of The Little Mermaid, which is one of the most well known statues in the world, and one of the most defiled as well, as it’s possible to go right out to the rock she’s sitting up and… do things to her. Like paint her, put jerseys on her, and saw off her head. Yep, all those things have happened: the head was actually sawed off twice and the original head–the one removed the first time–was never recovered.
In case you ever wondered–or not–this statue has been officially copies and can be found all over the world. So in case you can’t make it to the original sitting on her rock on the side of the sea, you can find her at all these locations:
Copenhagen: The Langelinie, Carlsberg Breweries, and Tivoli Gardens. (Yes, there are three versions of the statue around the city.)
Moldavia, Romania: Piata Libertatii (Liberty Square).
Madrid: Parque Europa
California: Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale and Denmarket Square in Solvang.
Connecticut: atop Victor Borge’s grave in Greenwich.
Utah: The International Peace Gardens, Salt Lake City.
Iowa: Mermaid Square, Kimballton.
Michigan: on the banks of the Flat River in Greenville. (Note: this is not an exact replica and some don’t consider it official.)
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands: in the town of Charlotte Amalie.
Brasilia: the Department of the Navy headquarters.
China: The Window of the Word theme park, Shenzhen.
Japan: corner of the Scandia Restaurant, Yokohama
Seoul: Yeouido Hangang Park.
That’s a lot of places to see this girl.
While I never saw The Little Mermaid when I worked in the Shenzhen SEZ, I did see this one: the statue of Nuwa, one of the main Chinese goddess. She created mankind and fixed a rift in Heaven, so she’s a big deal. She’s also one of the largest mermaid statues in the world, if not the largest: about forty foot tall and twenty-two feet wide.
This statue wasn’t far from the hotel where I’d stay in Shekou and I could see it out of my window.
Now that you’ve gotten all the Little Mermaid information you never asked for, what does Kerry think of this statue?
“I’m honored.” He glanced at Annie. “Are we gonna go down and get pictures?”
“Let’s wait for some of the people to clear out.” She noticed how excited Kerry seemed. “You’re enjoying this.”
“Oh, yeah. I like mermaids.”
“You like mermaids?” She eyed him suspiciously. “I didn’t know that.”
“Oh, there’s a lot about me you don’t know.” He smirked. “Not really, but liking mermaids was one of those things that didn’t pop up until—”
Kerry not only loves the statue of Ariel, but he loves mermaids. Wow, it’s almost like he got that from someone…
Of course, something comes to mind and Annie brings it up:
“That’s understandable.” Annie slowly raised one eyebrow. “You know, with transformation magic—”
“I already know.” Kerry turned to Annie, chuckling. “Realized that a couple of years ago.”
Annie watched Kerry out of the corner of her eyes. “And now that you can—”
He interrupted, speaking out of the corner of his mouth. “Ixnay ethay irlgay uffstay.”
Even though she didn’t know pig latin, Annie understood enough. “Still a touchy subject, I see.”
“I went in your room and finished your packing. That’s enough for now.” Kerry turned to face her. “I’m a ways away from becoming the Ginger Girl of the Sea.”
“Fair enough.” Annie pulled him close for a kiss. “By the way, your other night clothes are in your bag, aren’t they?”
He nodded. “Didn’t have time to head back to my room to drop them off.” He shrugged. “No big deal.”
Annie looked over his shoulder. “Crowd is thinning out, my love. Would you like to get a picture with Ariel?”
He turned to look at the statue. “You know, I can’t be this.”
Kerry turned back to Annie. “I’ve been with your family for about eight hours and already I’m jaunting to different parts of Europe for dinner like it’s no big deal.”
“It isn’t.” She pulled him close. “You once told me I had a far different life than yours, that I went to places you only dreamed of visiting. Understand this, my love: one day we will visit all those places you dreamed of visiting and we’ll do it together. That will be our life.” She kissed him deeply before turning him towards the stairs. “Let’s hurry get a picture: we don’t want Ariel to get cold waiting for us, do we?”
What Kerry says in Pig Latin is “Nix the girl stuff.” What he really means is “Don’t remember me I can become Ariel’s twin sister,” because, yeah, bruh, you can totally do that. Maybe not this year, but give it time and you know you’ll have it down.
Now that the evening in Copenhagen is over, it’s time to move on to the next day–and is Kerry in for a bit of an awakening…
While I’ve yet to write today, it will happen later this evening. That’s exactly what I did last night and I ended up writing just over two thousand words. Not bad, huh? And it’s an important scene because it’s not only the First Day of Winter, 2013, but Kerry learns about Annie’s morning tea and how she likes it handled. Also, you learn something interesting about Victor in that scene, too, but it’s probably not what you think.
But this scene–this is the same day that Kerry arrives in Pamporovo, but after Annie and he adjust, which is to say it’s dinner time. Or really, after-dinner.
Kerry strolled down the Langelinie hand-in-hand with Annie, enjoying the cool night air next to the waters of the harbor. They’d spent about ten minutes at the Gefionspringvandet getting photos before walking a couple of hundred meters to the Langelinie Pavilion. There paused there long enough to get a quick snuggle and kiss before continuing onward.
When Annie’s parents said they were going out for dinner, Kerry expected they’d probably jaunt into Sofia, but instead they jaunted to Copenhagen, where they dined at a semi-casual restaurant on Esplanaden. Kerry was even more surprised when he was told her could order anything he liked, so he started with fried scallops and chose the duck confit as his entree.
It was an enjoyable evening, going on for about two and a half hours before Pavlina and Victor decided it was time to leave. But they didn’t go home: standing on the corner of Esplanaden and Bredgade, Pavlina took Victor’s hand and told Annie they were going for a walk and that she should take Kerry down to the Langelinie, telling her that they’d catch up with them at the statue. Victor said they should enjoy their walk before heading off across the street with Pavlina, his arm around his wife’s shoulders as they vanished into the evening crowd.
As they walked down the promenade Kerry was silent, taking in the cool night air. There wasn’t any snow on the ground and the temperature hovered around 5 C. If it weren’t for the light drizzle, he would have found it a perfect evening.
Annie wrapped her arm around his. “What are you thinking about, my love?”
“Dinner, what else?” He smiled as he looked straight ahead. “When I visited my grandparents two years for Yule I got leftover pizza; last year I got take away. This year it’s scallops and duck.” He looked at Annie as he chuckled. “Quite a departure.”
“It is.” She leaned against him, snuggling into his body. “Plus you ate in Copenhagen for the first time.”
“That I didn’t expect at all. Why come here?”
It’s been pointed out in other excerpts that Kerry is developing quite a taste for the sort of food Annie has enjoyed growing up, and this is just a continuation of that. It may not be a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, but jaunting off to Copenhagen, Denmark, to grab a bite isn’t something he does on a regular basis. As he pointed out, his last two “Welcome Home” Yule dinners were leftover pizza and takeaway curry. Now, dining out with the Family Kirilovi, he’s getting fried scallops and duck confit. Gotta admit, it’s a big step up.
We get to see Pavlina and Victor head off on their own little night walk, first holding hands and then Victor wrapping his arm around his wife as they stroll across a street. It wasn’t so much they wanted the kids to be alone as it was they wanted to be alone, and Annie probably knows this. So Kerry and she walk down to the Langelinie, which is a major park in the city. And they enter the Langelinie by passing the Gefionspringvandet, which is Danish for the Gefion Fountain, dedicated to the Norse goddess of plowing, foreknowledge, and virginity. The statue itself depicts a story from the Ynglinga saga, where King Gylfi promised her all the land she could plow in a day and a night. So she turned her four sons she’d had with a giant into oxen and chewed up so much land that it split away from Sweden and became Zealand. Because of course.
Now that the history lesson is out of the way, the question remains: why come here? Well–
Annie slowed her pace slightly as she took Kerry’s hand. “Mama and Papa own a house here, so they know the city rather well.”
This was news to Kerry. He’d never heard Annie mention that her parents owned property elsewhere. “I wasn’t aware.”
“I don’t talk about it, but tonight there’s no reason to keep it secret.” She tightened her grip on Kerry’s hand. “The bought the house here five years ago: at the time Papa used it as a place to stay when he was racing in this part of Europe. Three years ago they bought another house in Feldafing, Germany, about thirty kilometers from downtown Munich. Last year they bought a farm outside San Sebastián, Spain. I’ve yet to see that one, but I figure I’ll get to spend some time there in the coming summer.”
“Wow.” He found the news extremely interesting. “Why the buying jag all of a sudden?”
“Mama says they’re getting ready for retirement. Papa is probably going to stop racing full-time not long after I graduate and he may become a part-owner of his race team. If he does that, they’ll likely spend most of their time either here or in Germany.
“But Mama told me the properties in Germany and Spain were bought through The Foundation using fake identities. I think those places are meant for when my parents are in their eighties and nineties and people are wondering why they still look like they’re in their fifties.” She glanced over at Kerry. “They can’t stay in Pamporovo once that happens.”
Kerry understood the matter perfectly. Once he’d learned that witches age far more slowly than Normals, he came to the understanding that it wasn’t possible to remain in one place for more than twenty or thirty years, least neighbors begin wondering why you didn’t appear the age. He knew Annie’s parents were edging into their late 30s, but it wasn’t hard to confuse either of them for people ten years younger. He was also aware they’d go through this as well and the lack of visible aging was one of the reasons they were unable to pin down just how far in the future some of their visions occurred.
He sighed. “I guess we’ll have to do the same one day.”
“So once your parents move out of Pamporovo, what happens to the property?”
“I get it. I’ll always have the lake house, but I was told I’d get the main house as well.” She pointed to something ahead. “Look. We’re here.”
As we now know, witches don’t age like us Normal folk and when Pavlina and Victor are in their eighties people will probably think they are in the late forties, early fifties, and if they’re still in Pampovoro that sure as shit won’t do ’cause too many people will know them. But fall out of the public eye for a while, move to another part of the country, and before you know it The Foundation has set you up with a new identity and you have another sixty, seventy years to kick it. Annie suspects that’s why her parent have other properties in Europe under different names, ’cause when the time comes Pavlina and Victor are gonna take it on the run and disappear, but not, if you know what I mean.
And we hear here, for the first time, that Annie gets the property at some point in her life. Not just the Lake House, which is always hers, but the main house and her mother’s greenhouse/lab as well. Sure, she wants to live in France–and Kerry will bring this up later–but she’s also gonna keep her roots in the mountains of Bulgaria.
Until then, they have a watery guest to entertain soon…
So far I haven’t gotten around to writing today, but never fear, I’ll do that today. For most of the day I’ve been taking it easy and I plan on getting in my thousand or so words around the time my dinner is ready.
In the mean time, I may as well get the rest of Kerry’s trip to Bulgaria out to you.
It’s not only coming, but I’m going to give you a quick video as well. So hang on–
—Where he was standing in a large, clear area in front of a somewhat unassuming house. There was snow everywhere and the wind was blowing. It also seemed far colder than school had been yesterday.
Pavlina released Kerry’s hand. “Let’s get inside before we freeze.” She headed for the house at a brisk pace, levitating Kerry’s bag behind her. Victor did the same with Annie’s luggage and motioned with his hand to open the door just as Pavlina stepped on to the porch. Everyone was inside less than five seconds later.
Kerry stood to one side as Annie’s family made their way to the center of the room. This gave him the chance to examine his surrounding. While he’d heard Annie’s descriptions of her home many times, his first impression of the room in which he stood—he figured it for the living room—was that it appeared quite simple for the home of a Formula 1 driver and his pharmaceutical research spouse. Then again, there was nothing visible that told him he was also standing inside the home of three witches—
In a couple of scenes we’ll get a better view of the area where the Kirilovi’s live, but needless to say, they don’t live anywhere in town: they’re right up in the mountains. Which means there’s snow and not a little isolation. Which means nothing when you can jaunt from Vienna to your home in the blink of an eye.
And now that we’re home and inside, let’s look around:
Pavlina turned towards Kerry and addressed him. “Alright, Kerry. Let me give you a quick tour of the mail floor. Right now we’re in the living room, but we only use this when we’re entertaining.” She pointed towards a door at his left. “That the front closet. We usually put visitor’s gear there, but you’re not one of those people. We also have our cleaning supplies there. To your right—” She pointed at the door immediately across from the closet. “That leads to the lower level and Victor’s and my private residence, as well as the tunnel to my lab and the lake house. While you may use to tunnel to travel to the lake house and back, I ask that you don’t enter our residence or my lab.”
He nodded. “Sure. I won’t go to either of those places unless invited.”
“Thank you. “Now—” Pavlina turned and pointed to an open door in the far right corner. “That’s Victor’s office. He won’t conduct much business while you’re here, but if the door is closed he’s busy and you shouldn’t bother him.”
“If the door’s open you can go in and look at my brooms; I have them in cases.” Victor offered a wide smile. “I would ask, however, that you not attempt to open the cases, nor go through my desk.”
“I wouldn’t think of it.” Kerry nodded. “Though I would like to see your equipment when we have time. Also, I brought my broom: I thought I’d get in a little flying over the holiday.
Victor’s smile grew brighter. “Excellent. I’m certain there’ll be time to fly. I’ll get you a stand for your broom if you like.”
“That would be great; I didn’t bring my stand from school.”
Pavlina decided to move the tour along. “If you’ll come here, Kerry.” She motioned to a closed door set in the far wall of the living room. “We’ll go there in a minute. The ground floor bathroom is to your left: it’s only a half-bath—” She stopped in the open space between two room. She motioned towards the large table in the middle of a brightly illuminated room. “This is the dining room. If we’re not eating out, we eat here. I’m sure Annie told you our dining rules?”
He shook his head once. “No electronic gear at the table, all phones off.”
“She’s training you up nicely. Here—” she motioned to her right. “—is the kitchen. There are plenty of snacks in the refrigerator and pantry, but I ask that you not spoil your appetite before we dine. That door there leads to the mudroom, which leads to the back porch and the back meadow. When we leave the house it’s usually through there, so you’ll find coats, boots, all outdoor gear there. Now, I know you brought your winter coat—” She pointed him and at the dark blue coat he wore. “—but as I’m sure you discovered, while it might work in a Salem winter, it won’t do up here in the mountains. So we pulled out some of Victor’s old things so you’ll have a proper coat, hat, mittens, and boots.”
Kerry hesitated before speaking. “Thanks, but I also brought my cold wear flying gear—”
“Which is white so it acts as camouflage when airborne.” Victor chuckled. “If you were outside by yourself and something happened to you, we couldn’t see you.”
After careful consideration Kerry agreed. “You’re right.”
Pavlina smiled back at him. “We’ll size you up tomorrow morning. Also, those stairs—” She pointed at a spiral staircase going up. “They lead to Annie’s floor—which is where she should go so she can adjust and we can go to dinner later.”
I thought this description might be a little too much, so I included a video. Which may or may not answer everything for you.
Annie’s on her way to her room to get adjusted. Which means that leaves Kerry alone with the parents. Since he needs to get settled…
“I’ve gotten the hint, Mama.” She pulled her bag towards the stairs. “I see you in a few hours.”
Pavlina stepped in front of her. “Is your adjustment mixture in your bag?”
“No, it’s in my purse.”
“Then go on up and get adjusted. I’ll bring your bag us after getting Kerry settled.”
“Okay, Mama.” She gave Pavlina a hug then turned and hugged Victor. “It’s good to be home.” She glanced towards Kerry before addressing everyone. “See you in a few hours.”
As Annie headed up the stairs Pavlina touched Kerry on the shoulder. “Let me show you your room.”
They returned to the closed door off the living room. Pavlina waved it open and moved aside to allow Kerry entry after her retrieved his luggage. She stood just inside the doorway as she spoke. “This is the guest room. This is where Victor and I first slept when be bought the house, then it was Annie’s room after she was born. We moved her up to the first floor when she was almost seven and it’s been the guest room ever since.
“This door—” She reached for the door immediately to her left “—is the walk-in closet. You can put your things here. That—” She pointed to another door just to the right of the closet “—is the bathroom. It’s a full bath, so you will have all the privacy you need.” Pavlina motioned to the large roll-top desk to her right. “We brought in a desk and chair so you have a place for you computer—you brought that, didn’t you?”
Kerry finally removed his backpack and set it next to his luggage. “Yes, right here.”
“You won’t have any trouble logging into the wifi as we’re the only router for kilometers. I’ll give you the password later.”
“You have an end table over there and a wardrobe as well. Feel free to use both.”
“I will.” He looked down, suddenly humbled. “I want to thank you again for letting me stay with you.”
“There’s no need, Kerry. It’s our pleasure.” Pavlina moved so she was standing directly in front of the boy. “Remember, by you being here, you’re ensuring that Annie has a wonderful holiday as well. And that means Victor and I will also have a wonderful holiday, so you see how it all comes back to this moment?”
Kerry smiled as he nodded. “I do.”
“Good. Do you have your adjustment?”
He pointed at his backpack. “In there.”
“Then I’ll let you get adjusted.”
Kerry stopped Pavlina before she left. “Do I need to dress up tonight?”
She shook her head. “No, it’s going to be casual. What you have on will do.” She stepped into the doorway. “Have a good rest.” She stepped into the living room and the door closed behind her.
Kerry picked up his backpack and removed his pajamas from where he’s stashed them before leaving the hospital. He changed, used the bathroom, then drank his adjustment mixture before quickly crawling under the covers.
He fell asleep thinking about how nice the pillow felt…
As you can read, this is quite the departure from when he’s come home for Yule before. At least we can be assured that he’s not going to get slapped across the face like his mother did to him last Christmas Eve. I dare say this visit is going to go a lot better.
Now that he’s “home”, I guess everyone should get something to eat–
There hasn’t been any writing today–at least not yet. I found myself struggling most of the morning with things that happened then–yes, I love getting text messages at seven in the morning to do things that don’t concern me–and things that happened last night. And about last night…
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love to convince myself that I can’t do something. It’s not just moments of doubt: it’s getting into my head and pulling out all the reasons why I can’t do something. And I did that last night after practice. I didn’t have a good 27/5–in fact it was horrible–and though the rest of the night wasn’t that bad, I focused on that and just kept hammering back into my head. By the time I went to bed last night I was convinced I should quit because I’m never going to do the one thing that will make my dreams come true.
I was even harping on it a little this morning. For so long I’ve heard I’m not special, that I’m nothing but a disappointment, that there are so many times when that’s all I see.
There’s something we need to do for certification that I call a 1 In 13. It’s one lap of the track in thirteen seconds or less from a standing start. It’s just hit it the moment the whistle blows and go full-tilt boogie for one lap. It’s like Olympic short track ice skating when everyone gets nuts, only it was me and another girl out there and not a half-dozen other people looking to take your ass out.
When I did it maybe 7 or 8 months back, I think my best time was 12.6 seconds. Last night I did it three times and each time I was down around 11.5 seconds, with my fastest being 11.3 seconds. There was nothing stylish about it: I just powered down both straights and coasted through the turns as close to the inside line as possible. And the time I skated was the time needed to skate 27 laps in 5:05.
I need to channel that energy into my flying laps, ’cause it’s my guess if I’d gone three or four more laps I’d have likely hit a couple of sub-11 seconds laps. And that would get me to where I need to be.
I have to stop listening to the voices of the past ’cause they haven’t done shit for me. Ever.
Speaking of someone who’s past voices have pretty much told him he’s not special, either, is on this way to where he’ll spend Yule Holiday. It’s all new for him.
And he’s not listening to the voices of the past.
The jaunt station at Vienna International Airport flashed into view as Kerry steadied himself against his luggage. He normally didn’t get dizzy or disoriented when jaunting, but he’d turned his head to the left to check on Annie just as they departed Salem and the sudden transition threw him. In a matter of seconds he had his orientation and followed Annie off the platform and into the waiting crowd.
There were no problems leaving Salem—other than Kerry needing to go and finish packing Annie’s luggage which was done with no issues, as Coraline had promised. He spent the night in Bay #1 with Annie, sleeping next to her in Bed #1, which was a first for them both. Then a quick release, breakfast, and waiting until it was time to leave for Vienna—
Which brought them here.
While Annie made her way towards her parents, Kerry headed towards Berniece Rutherford, who had contacted him earlier in the week to let him know she’d see him off. “See him off” wasn’t the correct terminology, however: as she explained, it was necessary for her, as his case worker, to make certain the people taking him in for the holidays were actually there. It didn’t matter that she knew who Annie’s parents were and that she’d spoken with them before: there was protocol to follow and she wouldn’t break the rules.
Kerry was actually happy to see her. If there was one constant away from school that he could count upon, it was Ms. Rutherford looking after him. As she’d told him many times over the last year, if he needed help, she’d be there for him.
Just like now.
She appeared happy to see him as he approached. “Hello, Kerry.”
He stopped about a meter and a half away. “How you doin’, Ms. Rutherford?”
“I’m well.” She held her tablet in her crossed hands in front of her tummy. “Looked forward to the holiday?”
“Actually yeah, I am.”
“Well, let’s get you processed so you can be on your way.” She turned and walked with Kerry the few meters to where Annie and her parents stood. Bernice addressed each. “Annie; Ms. Kirilova; Mr. Kirilov.”
Annie’s mother almost seemed ready to roll her eyes. “Berniece, please— Pavlina and Victor.”
“Sorry, old habits. Speaking of which—” She patted Kerry on the shoulders. “I need to establish proof that Kerry left with you. So if you will—” Ms. Rutherford held out her tablet. “I need both your signatures and thumbprints.”
Victor stepped forward. “Of course.” He signed and affixed his print. “Wouldn’t want The Foundation of accusing us of losing Kerry.”
“We certainly wouldn’t want that.” Pavlina did the same as her husband. “I hope that satisfied everyone.”
“It does, indeed.” She turned to Kerry and gave him her warmest smile. “I want you to have a good time. Please enjoy your holiday—and if you need me—”
“You’re just a call away.” He smiled back. “No problem. Have a good holiday, Ms. Rutherford.”
She turned towards Annie and her family. “And I’ll extend my wishes that you all have an incredible Yule. Annie; Pavlina, Victor.” She took a step back. “See you all in a couple of weeks.” She turned and departed the station.
There you have it: Kerry’s made it out of the school and into the Vienna Airport, and Annie’s family have taken responsibility for his well-being. And you know they will. After all, if something happened to him, a certain Chestnut Hair Girl would probably lose her shit in a major way.
Now, the next section has a large part spoken in Bulgarian, but I’m gonna provide translations. Because that’s how I roll.
Pavlina looked to her husband. “We need to leave as well: these kids need to adjust so they’ll be on our time when we go to dinner.”
“We’re going out to dinner?” Annie fell in line next to her mother as the Kirilovi Family turned towards the exit.
“Yes. We thought it’d be nice to save the home cooked meals for tomorrow.” Pavline looked at Kerry. “Come along. We wouldn’t want you to get lost.”
“I’m right behind you.” He fell in next to Annie as soon as they were outside the jaunt station and walking towards the open area were people could jaunt in and out of The Foundation-controlled areas. He watched Annie closely and noticed her limping slightly after about a minute of walking. Coraline had warned her that while she was healed, she might not be back to one hundred percent mobility for a couple of days.
He wasn’t the only one who noticed the limp: Pavlina glanced at her daughter a few times before speaking to her in Bulgarian. “Zashto kŭlvash, Annie? (Why are you limping, Annie?)”
Annie replied in a matter of fact-like tone. “V posledniya mesets se prisŭedinikh kŭm rund derbi liga. Schupikh desniya si krak i kitkata snoshti po vreme na trenirovkata. (I joined a roller derby league last month. I broke my right leg and wrist last night during practice.)”
Kerry didn’t know what exactly Annie said—it didn’t bother him that her mother and she were speaking in their native language as it’s probably how they talked when he wasn’t around—but he was certain that she’d said she broke her leg during derby practice the night before, since “rund derbi liga” sounded enough like “roller derby league” to indicate the subject.
While Annie didn’t act like it was a big deal, her father and mother thought otherwise. Victor gave her a strange look while Pavlina seemed perplexed. “Roler derbi liga? Kakvo e tova? (Roller derby league? What’s that?)”
He was walking next to Annie when she gave her reply, looking straight ahead with a smile on her face. “Tova sa momicheta na rolkovi kŭnki, koito obikalyat edna pista i se blŭskat edin drug. (It’s girls on roller skates who go around a track hitting and blocking each other.)” She turned towards her mother. “Tova e mnogo zabavno. Kharesva mi. (It’s a lot of fun. I like it.)”
Pavlina seemed surprised. “We’ll discuss this tomorrow.” She motioned towards one of two large portals set in the right wall. “Here we are.”
That Annie: already she’s acting like getting hurt was part of what she signed up for–and if you remember, she was told “when” not “if” she got hurt. Now, she might not be so flippant if she had to wait twelve weeks to get back on skates like my teammate did, so having access to magical healing powers can help you keep that attitude. It might be a different story had she shown up in a wheelchair being pushed by Kerry.
Now that Annie and her mother have that business out of the way, it’s time to move on:
There were two public jaunt area in the area under the airport to allow witches the ability to jaunt in and out of the facility without having to go through security and leave via the same routes as Normals. One area was set aside for incoming jaunts and another for outbound. They turned through an archway located under the sign “Departures/Foriroj” and entered a huge, well-lit circular area painted in horizontal lines of sky blue and lemon yellow, with “Departures/Foriroj” emblazoned upon the wall in black letters three meters high opposite the archway.
Pavlina and Victor stepped to a point near the wall about six meters from the wall. Victor held out his right hand. “Annie, let me take your luggage.” She passed it to him: he instantly switched it to his left hand and held out his right again. “Take my hand, Nini.”
She nodded as Pavlina spoke to Kerry. “You stand next to Annie and give me your luggage, then take both our hands.”
Kerry was familiar enough with what was about to happen that he didn’t ask questions. In a matter of seconds he passed off his luggage and took both Annie’s and her mother’s hand. “I’m ready.”
Victor looked down the line to his right. “Everyone else?”
Pavlina nodded. “Take us home, love.”
Kerry felt the scenery around him shift again—
And tomorrow you’ll see where Kerry ends up.
Today has been another good day of writing. I’ve finished off another scene in the current chapter, adding another twelve hundred and sixty-six words to the story.
As you can see, scene three has the kids going to Copenhagen, and if you know a little about the city you’ll understand the scene title. If not, a picture of me at my computer might have it make more sense.
Yep, there are little mermaids in this story–sort of. You’ll find out when the time comes.
That means that today we get to finish off the first scene here. And we will. Because, as you’ll see, there’s a problem:
“There’s only one thing.” Coraline thought for a moment before throwing up an additional privacy screen. “I don’t want her climbing the stairs to your floor in the tower. Now, I know she has to go up and down stairs at home, but it’s not as far as having to climb the ones in the coven—”
Annie cleared her throat. “What she’s trying to say is I haven’t finished packing and I can’t get up to my room to do the rest.”
Kerry looked down at his soul mate. “One of the nurses could jaunt you up there.” He turned to Coraline. “Couldn’t they?”
“They could—if they were here.” Coraline cocked her head slightly to the right for just a second. “You probably aren’t aware of this since neither of you have been up here the day everyone leaves for Yule, but as soon as Gretchen is off-duty, that’s it, it’s just me running this place. And as soon as the last student is out, I shut it all down until 4 January.” She lightly touched her mouth with her closed right fist, bouncing it off her lips a few times. “There is another way, however—”
Kerry felt that wasn’t this other way was, he wasn’t going to like it much. “Yeah?”
“You can do it.” Annie tried to sit up and eventually quit and raised the head of her bed slightly. “I can tell you what I need, which isn’t a lot. Then you go back to the tower, finish your packing, then go to my room and finish packing my things.”
So, Annie planed on finishing her packing tonight. And she needs it done. And she’s certain Kerry can do it for her. They even got it worked out–
Coraline smiled. “Then you can call Gretchen, she jaunts in and gathers you and the bags up in Annie’s room, and jaunts you back her. Or I can come and get you. Easy peasy either way.”
Kerry was silent for almost ten seconds before he pointed out the obvious. “Yeah, about that… There’s only one way I can get into Annie’s room and—” He looked down as he sighed. “I don’t want anyone to see me.”
Yeah, about that…
We know there is a way for Kerry to get into Annie’s room, because it’s been done before. However, Kerry’s not eager to do it again and certainly doesn’t want to be seen by people in the tower, which is to say Kerry doesn’t want to be seen by any nosy B Levels.
Coraline has it figured out, however, which means she probably spoke to Annie before helping out with this idea:
“Good point.” Coraline tapped her chin. “Did I mention you’ll do this after lights out?”
“No, you didn’t.”
“That’s when it’s going to happen. And you know how lights out is the night before going home at Yule—” A big smile appeared on Coraline’s face. “Everyone’s in their bed with visions of getting the hell out of here as soon as possible.”
“It makes sense, my love.” Annie reached out and took Kerry’s hand. “I know it won’t take you long to pack and I know what I need—” She closed her eyes for a second. “At least I think I can tell you everything.”
“It’s okay: I’m pretty sure I can fill in the blanks so I don’t miss anything.” He gave Annie’s had a squeeze as he turned to Coraline. “Okay, I’ll do it. Do you have something I can wear after I transition over?”
Coraline gave Kerry a strange look. “Don’t you have night clothes for the other—you?”
“You can put them on in your room then change out of them when you’re back here.” Coraline shrugged. “It’s not that hard, is it?”
Kerry realized he was making a big deal out of nothing. He’d already walked around his floor in the middle of the night as other half and there hadn’t been a problem—which was how this would go tonight.
He brought Annie’s hand to his lips and planted a kiss upon the back. “It’s not a problem, Sweetie.”
Annie gave Kerry her best medicated grin. “Thank you, my love.”
He smiled down at his injured soul mate. “Hey, who else is gonna change genders for you, huh?”
So the problem of getting Annie packed for the trip home for the holidays is over and Kerry is willing to do something that he last did about seven weeks before so it’s done. You know it’s true love when someone changes apparent genders for you so you don’t have to worry about not being packed.
Like it or not you’ve just read the last scene in the novel to take place in the school during the year 2013. The next time we’re back here it’ll be 2014.
And that means tomorrow we start traveling to Bulgaria…
We come to that time when the kids are getting out of the school for the Yule holiday–
And they are, for the first time, going to the same place.
Yes, it’s time for Yule in Pamporovo and there’s been quite a bit of writing. As a matter of fact I finished the second scene a few minutes ago and that’s put the chapter at about thirty-seven hundred words, which is quite a lot.
But before they head for Bulgaria, there’s something going on before that moment. And here it is:
From the time Sabrina made contact with him in the library, it took Kerry about a minute to find himself entering the hospital. He strolled through the waiting room and headed directly for Coraline’s office, where he found Nurse Gretchen sitting behind the desk. He knocked on the door frame. “You wanted to see me?”
Nurse Gretchen looked up and pointed towards him. “She does.”
He turned and found Coraline standing outside Bay #1, with the privacy curtain pulled about two-thirds closed. She beckoned him forward. “I have something for you.”
Given the fact he was summoned to the hospital, the bay outside of which Coraline was now standing, and the time, Kerry had a pretty good idea what was waiting. “What happened?”
“Well…” Coraline made a pushing motion with her hand and the curtain retracted about halfway to the wall. “I think you should hear it from your one and only.”
Kerry peeked around the curtain and had his suspicions confirmed. “What happened to you?”
It should come as no surprise that the “you” in question here is Annie, and since she’s in Bay #1, chances are she’s hurt.
Oh, boy, is she hurt…
Annie lay in Bed #1 dressed in a yellow nightgown, a blue cast covering most of her lower right leg and foot, a similar blue cast on her right wrist, and an IV running to a patch on the back of her left hand. She slowly turned her head toward the sound of Kerry’s voice and smiled. “I had an accident.”
Coraline leaned slightly towards Kerry. “She’s on pain meds so she’s not all the way coherent.”
He chuckled while giving the doctor a strange look. “I’m a bit familiar with that feeling.” He moved into the bay and took up position next to Annie’s bed. “What kind of accident?”
“I was—” Annie closed her eyes for a second as she tried to focus. “I was doing one eighty transition toe stops and had pretty much mastered them as a slow pace, so Holly suggested I try them at a little quicker pace. So I did—” She smiled as she remembered her practice. “I did three extremely well. The fourth, however—”
“Not so well.”
“No.” Annie lay back into her pillow. “My skate caught as I turned and…” She looked up at the ceiling. “My mind is a bit fuzzy: I’m having difficulty telling you—”
Kerry patted her shoulder. “It’s okay, I understand. I’ve been where you are enough to know.” He turned to Coraline. “What’d she break?”
“She torqued her leg resulting in a trimalleolar fracture about a quarter of the way up from the ankle. Also, when she went down she tried to break her fall by putting her hand out and that resulted in a scaphoid fracture of the wrist.” Coraline stepped into the bay and pulled the privacy curtain all the way closed. “She also dislocated her shoulder, but that was easy to fix. The rest will require at least eight hours for my magical nanoids to do their thing.”
Hearing that left Kerry but with one other question. “Are we gonna be able to jaunt out of her at nine tomorrow? Her parents are gonna be waiting for us and if we can’t—”
Coraline held up her hand. “Don’t worry, Red: she should be fully healed before oh-six hours and I’ll be in here at seven to give her a discharge and a clean bill of health. Only thing—” She looked down at Annie. “I don’t want you on skates for seventy-two hours after discharge.”
Annie smiled. “Since I’m not taking them home, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“And once you’re back next year, I want to check out your leg and wrist before I clear you for skating.” Coraline glanced over to Kerry. “I was told to treat these derby girls just like I treat the fliers.”
He shrugged. “That makes sense.”
I considered posting an image of a trimalleorlar fracture, but after looking at a few I decided against putting up pictures for you to see. If you’re really interested, Google “trimalleorlar fracture” and gaze upon the carnage, ye mighty. One of my teammates suffered a similar fracture back in February–she was doing something almost the same as Annie when she snapped her leg–and I believe I know someone else who had the same thing happen to her, which required screws to repair the damage.
And then the wrist break– We’re always told not to use our hands as a brace when we fall to avoid breaking our wrists and the only time I’ve seen a teammate break a wrist–yep, she put her hand out as she was going down. Sometimes you can’t help it ’cause habits are hard to break, while bones are easy. See what I did there? Sure you did.
So things are cool: Annie’ll be all healed up before returning home.
That doesn’t mean we’re done–
Yesterday was supposed to be easy. And it was. I put together two more playlists for YouTube, went to dinner, watched JFK last night, and–oh yeah. I wrote.
There you are, I’m already into Chapter Twenty-four and I started it off with just a little over twelve hundred words. Which means I’m one scene down with thirteen to go, with hope that I saw that number down by one today.
This last excerpt is from Chapter Twenty-two and it deals with the time after Annie’s first practice. I can tell you that once you’ve had your butt kicked by the first practice you can feel like you wanna walk away and keep walking, so it’s not unusual that my Bulgarian Princess isn’t at her best right now…
Annie walked out of the Dining Hall after practice, pulling her rolling gear bag behind her. Her hair was still somewhat matted from the helmet, though she’d teased it out a bit so it wouldn’t look like it was sticking to her head. Her leggings and tank top were soaked and starting to slowly dry in the warm air inside the Great Hall. She considered giving her left armpit a sniff but decided against the action: she was certain after a couple of hours of sweating she smelled quite ripe—
She stopped as Kerry stepped around the corner and leaned against the wall. A smiled brightened her dour demeanor. “My love.” She set her gear back next to her. “How long have you waited for me?”
“Maybe five minutes.” He shrugged appeared to think. “Which would be ten for you, I guess, given you were in a time expansion field.” He walked towards her and opened his arms—
Annie took a step back. “Please, don’t. I’m a sweaty mess. And I smell.”
“Like you never hugged me when I was the same way.” He gave her a hug and kiss before motioning towards the Rotunda. “Let’s sit for a bit.”
There he is, derby widow Kerry, ready and willing to hug his little cabbage roll even though she’s sweaty and probably smells, too. As he pointed out, she didn’t mind hugging him when he was the same way, so now that he has the chance why not return the favor? Keep the sweat in the family, I say.
They slowly made their way to the benches along the south wall of the Rotunda. Annie realized that the last time she sat here was during the Day of the Dead attacks, when she attempted to rest after showing the other girls a bit of sorcery. She sat, wincing as she did.
Kerry noticed his soul mate’s grimace. “Rough practice?”
She sat back and exhaled deeply. “We skated a lot of laps. Then we did twenty minutes of knee falls. Then twenty minutes of weaving between cones.” She rested her head against Kerry’s shoulder. “That was the first hour. I think we mostly did pace lines and stops the second.”
Kerry slipped his arm around Annie’s shoulder. “Sounds like a workout and a half.”
“It was intense. I heard a couple of girls say they might not come back on Thursday.” Annie closed her eyes. “I wish I could take a bath. Showers are nice, but the way I feel now, a nice long, hot bath would be wonderful.”
If Annie thought that was hard, wait until she starts doing crunches and planks.
“Well…” Kerry hugged Annie tight. “We could drop your gear off in the tower commons and then fly out to the Diamond. I could get us into the team clubhouse and you could use the baths in the girl’s locker room.”
“Let me think about that.” She smiled, her eyes still closed. “Angry said she’s going to speak to the headmistress tomorrow and see about getting a dozen baths installed in the lower levels so we can used them after practice and bouts.” Annie opened her eyes as she sighed. “I hope she says yes.”
“I don’t see why she wouldn’t.”
Annie gave a slight nod then sat up. “Can I ask a question?”
Kerry looked at her with a half-grin on his face. “Any time.”
“Why didn’t you ever talk about practice?”
For about five seconds Kerry looked straight ahead; when he finally spoke it was in a low, quiet tone. “When I first started racing practice I didn’t think it’d be a big deal. I mean, I’d flown fast, even did that on West End. I though it’d come easy.
“Then we had to practice getting our times down on the Green and Blue Lines and we needed to hit some of the turns faster and with more exactness—” He turned his head slowly towards Annie. “After hitting some of those turns as fast as you can over and over, taking all those gees, it felt like someone had hit you again and again with a cricket bat.
“I’d come back and just deal with the soreness because—” He lowered his gaze. “I figured you didn’t want to hear about how hard it was.”
Annie placed her hand on Kerry’s knee. “Were you afraid I was going to think you couldn’t take the strain?”
He nodded. “Something like that. You dad handled it: I guess I didn’t want you to think less of me.”
“My love—” She placed her hand under his chin lifted his head. “I had never compared you to my father, and I would never think less of you for that work.”
Kerry took her hand and smiled. “Also, I didn’t want to bore you. Nor did I want to sound like I was bragging.”
Though it rarely comes up, Kerry is aware that he’s sorta competing with another Kirilovi, though they left the school years before Kerry was even born. Doesn’t matter that Annie doesn’t care about what he father did when he was a student, even money Kerry sees reminders of her father’s accomplishments at least one a week, either on the Wall of Remembrance, or down at the Flight School, or even in The Diamond.
And like it or not, he feels he’s competing against him at times, even though he isn’t.
At least Annie doesn’t have to worry about being compared to anyone who’s come before her, as she’s on the ground floor for a new sport. One that she’s gonna have to tell her parents about–
But that can wait until she’s home for Yule. As for now–
Annie chuckled. “What have I ever done that would make you believe that?” She touched a finger to his lips. “Glupavata mi lyubov. You should know better.”
He chuckled as well. “I guess I should.”
“That’s said—” She drew in a breath. “Why do you want to know about my practice?”
“Because I want to know everything about you.” He slowly caressed her check. “There was never a time when I didn’t want know about you. And that includes your practice.”
Annie snuggled against him, forgetting all about being sore and sweaty. “I never thought I’d get involved in a sport at school. Neither racing or fighting interested me. And now—”
“And now you happen to be one of those bringing a sport here for the first time.” He rested his head against hers. “You’re going to do great.”
She looked up. “You think so?”
Because if there’s one thing I know about Annie Kirilova—” Kerry slowly lifted her way so he could looked directly at her. “—it’s that she doesn’t go into anything half-hearted. Anything you go into, you go into it with the intention of being the best. If you can’t be the best, you walk away.”
Annie stayed silent for almost ten seconds before kissing Kerry. “You know me too well, my love.”
He blushed. “I would hope I know my wife pretty well by now.”
She laughed. That’s the first time he’s called me his wife in a place where others could hear us. And he didn’t care… “I don’t know if I’ll be the best player. But I’ll certain do my best.”
“We’ll see.” Kerry stood and helped Annie get to her feet. “You wanna use one of the baths down at the clubhouse?”
“Maybe some other time. Right now—” She tilted her gear bag on to its wheels. “I want to get clean.”
“Got it.” They began walking towards the West Transept. “Can I ask another question?”
“You have a derby name yet?”
“Not yet.” Annie looked straight ahead so Kerry couldn’t see her lopsided grin. “But I’m working on that.”
There you have it: Annie’s on her way to being the best.
Of course, that doesn’t mean she won’t experience a few problems along the way…