In a rural farming town in Saskatchewan, two teenagers have been engaged in a dance of flirtation for quite some time. Michelle, a ninth grader, is the epitome of the girl next door. Landon, a senior, is an all-around good guy who also happens to be a star athlete. But just as their relationship moves to the next step, Landon is killed in a tragic car crash.
As the families and community attempt to deal with the loss of Landon, Michelle seeks solace with a group of her friends. While sharing memories, the teenagers search for answers as to why their seemingly perfect world has suddenly been turned upside down. As Michelle quietly listens to their stories, she wonders how she will ever live without Landon, her protector and friend. Every place she visits and everything she touches reminds her of good times. As she courageously attempts to work through her grief, Landon's family embarks on their own journey through heartache, all while wondering how they too will ever go on.
Endlessness of the Stars is the poignant story of love, loss and hope as a community is forever altered after one of their own is taken from them forever.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Endlessness of the Stars
By Dale Boynton
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Dale Boynton
All rights reserved.
It is mid-afternoon in October in a small rural farming town in Saskatchewan. The K-to-12 school is about to end for the day. The school buses are lined up ready to take the kids home. The sun shines on the yellow paint as they wait there patiently for the ruckus about to erupt through the school doors. The air is filled with blowing dirt from the neighbouring fields and grain dust from the farms around the town. The bell rings to end the school day, and students of all ages rush out to the buses or their own vehicles for those old enough to drive. They're excited to get the heck out of class and go home and hang out with friends or maybe even do some homework.
Landon makes his way slowly out of the school, a black backpack slung over his right shoulder filled with his lunch bag and schoolbooks that he brings home to pretend he has intentions of doing his homework. He stops at the flagpole and slowly brings down the Canadian flag. The flag is flapping in the brisk autumn wind as he brings it down. He pulls down his Oilers hat, which is barely sitting on his head at the moment. Some of the girls who are a few years younger walk by and with a slow drawn-out sexy tone say, "Goodbye, Landon," teasing him with flirtatious smiles. They giggle to each other as they continue on.
"See ya later, girls," Landon replies, laughing along with them. He shakes his head; they are younger and he doesn't want any part of them, especially since everyone else seems to have already. The girls look back at Landon with their wanting eyes and stare at his black Hotel Coral Essex T-shirt and his cute butt in his dark blue jeans.
Michelle walks out through the high school doors, her soft brunette hair gently blowing in the autumn wind as she goes over to Landon. "You forgot your bunny hug inside, dork," she tells him as she hands him his grey Michigan Wolverines hooded sweatshirt.
"I didn't forget it," he says with laughter in his voice. "I was hoping you'd bring it to me." He shoots her a quiet smile, and she beams back at him, hoping he meant more than that. Landon finishes bringing down the flag, and as he is making a half-ass attempt to fold it back up, he can't take his eyes off Michelle's innocent and gentle blue eyes. It is no wonder guys get lost in her beauty. The two of them have been close friends even with a significant age difference for high school.
The senior class and some other students stick around in the schoolyard casually bantering about the school day, dating and sports. Once the buses have left, they decide to pull their trucks and cars up closer to the sports field by the school so the music can be heard. Some of the guys, including Landon, have changed into gym clothes. The girls are gathering around a couple of the trucks while the boys are getting organized to play a quick game of football.
"Just pick a player already, you wad," pipes up one of the guys as they wait for Johnny to make a pick.
"Shut up," Johnny shoots back.
Soon the teams are picked, and the trash-talking picks up. "Don't you think you should have picked someone who can throw a ball?" Shane, one of Landon's closest friends, jaws to Johnny while making an awkward throwing gesture with his left arm (Johnny is a lefty). Johnny just glares back at Shane and the rest of the team as they make gestures toward him and his teammates. The testosterone is high on the field, even though it is just a pickup game of football.
In the back of one of the trucks that the girls are sitting in is a cooler loaded with ice and alcohol, recently filled and brought over from the bar in town. Most of the high school kids drink and get their alcohol easily from the bar. Parents know this and accept it, just as long as the kids don't drink and drive. There's also a modified sofa in the back of the truck that some of the girls are sitting on, while the remainder sit on or stand around the tailgate. A stereo is playing "Wheat Kings" by the Tragically Hip from Gord's car among the trucks. Gord is big on his stereo and often talks about it, usually to get a few more panties at parties. These panties hang like trophies from the gearshift. The music is loud enough for the kids to hear as well as some folks in town whose homes are located near the field, but not too loud that anyone feels the need to complain.
The teams have been fairly and evenly divided up between seniors and the rest of the high school guys. Some of the players are more athletic than others, but no one team is stacked with natural athletes. In this small town, even the smaller social groups among the big ones are easily spotted, as is the case with the teams. The one team has Landon, the star athlete in the school; he is a senior and an all-around good kid who gets away with a lot but is never seen as doing wrong. For the most, part that is. The other team is headed up by Johnny, who is also a senior. He is always in Landon's shadow in sports, and when provoked he has a bit of a temper. Johnny and Landon pick the teams, with Johnny choosing first. On Johnny's team are seven guys who also have rough attitudes but still are good farm boys with occasionally scandalous personalities, including Gord and Max. Meanwhile, Landon's team consists of his friends, including Warren and Shane, who are more often than not breaking up the fights their friends start.
Also on Landon's team is Ethan, the oldest of his younger brothers. Like the rest of the family, Ethan is a gifted young athlete. While Landon takes after his mother's looks with his baby face, Ethan is more like his dad, slightly more chiselled and with a stockier build than Landon's long lean frame. The two compete with each other and against each other in almost everything they do, including sports, girls, partying and schoolwork. Well, the schoolwork is more Ethan than Landon, as Landon does just enough to get by. Both of their potentials are higher than what they are putting out as an effort, though—except on the field of play, that is.
The boys have started their game, and there is yelling and screaming from the field. It may only be a game of flag football, but country boys don't always play nice, and contact is expected, as some of them want to impress the ladies. "I am open" calls go out to Max as he runs a deep route, and "Throw the damn ball, you pussy" as Johnny is pressured by the defense.
"Oh my gawd," Max blurts out as he stops his route and begins to walk with Warren guarding him, very relaxed, "do something already before the girls realize you have a vagina."
Finally Johnny launches the ball up in the air toward Max, who now has three defenders on him. The ball is intercepted, and Landon's team takes over in their own end, near the girls. Laughter rises from the pile of people as Max and Johnny argue about the play.
"Shut up and give me the ball," Shane says as he rips the ball away from his teammates' hands and walks by the two squabbling players. "If you two ladies are done, let's play some football, or do you two need a timeout? Better yet, hug it out."
Max laughs with a smirk on his face, as if telling Shane that he got them, while Johnny just gets more frustrated with everything.
In the huddle, Landon gives each person his own route to run. They break and get set to run the play. "Hut one, hut niner, just hike the damn ball" Landon shouts out as the play starts. His teammates take off running their routes, some more intense than others. Johnny is covering his man with full intensity, like he was being scouted for the army or a college team. Landon fakes a pass to the receiver Johnny is covering. He then subtly nods his head to Warren, who is now running past Johnny and his own defensive coverage. Landon launches a throw deep and into the outstretched hands of Warren, who evades the grasp and weak tackle attempt of Johnny and strolls into the end zone for a touchdown. He spikes the ball and does some sort of shuffle while laughing. Meanwhile, Landon raises his arms for a quick moment in joy, but then turns and walks back to his end. A smirk is growing on his face and a bit of laughter comes out under his breath as he thinks about how hard some people try.
Johnny is fuming. "Where the fuck were you guys? Fuck," he yells out at his teammates.
"We were covering our man, what were you doing?" Max says with a who-gives-a-shit laugh and look on his face as the rest of the team chuckles at Johnny's frustration.
As the boys are playing, the girls are cheering from the truck and talking among themselves. Once in a while a guy or two goes over to get a beer from the cooler and change the song if it happens to be one he doesn't want to hear.
"You girls enjoying the show?" Max says as he cracks open a beer before heading back out on the field.
The girls basically ignore him and give him a casual, "Oh, for sure, so exciting" as the sarcasm drips off their comments.
The girls are talking about the guys out there and other boys from nearby towns, and the name that comes up the most is Landon's. Landon is the star athlete in the area; his dark brown hair pokes out from under his hat that he is rarely without. The girls love his deep blue eyes, his soft smile and how his top lip is almost hidden. As athletic as he is, he only takes care of his physique by playing sports. His demeanour tends to be quiet at times, but during sports he lets loose, not to mention his quick smart-ass remarks and humour he always chimes in with. However, he doesn't always let a lot of people into his private life, and in high school that is tough to do. A couple of the girls know some of Landon's personal life, but they don't talk about it, as Landon trusts them with it in a way that he doesn't trust others. He also knows a lot about them, as they find it easy to talk and open up to him with any and all issues.
"I remember back in grade 4, Landon and I shared a kiss," says one of the girls, a junior at the school.
"That doesn't really count—you were kissing everyone that year," Renee responds, and laughter bursts out from the girls.
"You weren't the only one," says Jen, a cute short blonde from Landon's class, as she takes a sip from her beer. "I was his first kiss in kindergarten," she adds with a smile, knowing that most of the girls won't even get a sniff at getting a kiss from him. It's not a secret that the kisses happened, but they just aren't a story that is always on topic. A few of the younger girls whisper among themselves—they want more details—but nothing more is said of it.
Meanwhile, Michelle just sits there wearing Landon's Michigan Wolverines bunny hug, her hands tucked up in the sleeves to keep warm from the chill in the air, her feet in sandals dangling from the tailgate of the truck. She tries to hold on to the little bit of summer before fall hits. She watches Landon play from here, sometimes looking back and smiling as the girls talk around her; she adds to the conversation from time to time, but only to be polite. Landon has no idea he is being eyed up by a young girl in grade 9 who is the epitome of the girl next door. She has innocence in her gentle blue eyes, her smile is soft and coy and could make the saddest clown smile, and her body is athletically curved. She and Landon are friends and fairly close for her being in grade 9 and him in grade 12, even in the small town where everyone knows everyone and talks to each other. The girls in the back of the truck all know of the friendship between the two, but with it being those two they don't think anything of it. Well, for the most part, that is—it is high school, and teenagers will gossip. Rumours are out there and Michelle has heard them, but she lets it all slide off her back.
Meanwhile, in the game, the teams are exchanging points and turnovers just as much as they trade barbs and trash talk. "Grow a pair!" Warren pipes up as the other team bitches about a hit that was legal and clean, but not when it happens to their player.
"This reminds me of your mom ... easy," Max trash-talks as he walks by Shane, scoring to put his team up by a touchdown.
The game continues, and the guys are getting tired but no one wants to quit yet. They decide after a few more plays and now a tied game that the next touchdown will be the winner. Johnny steps back and throws up a pass for Gord, who seems wide open. Landon catches up to Gord in coverage just as the ball is arriving. He gives enough of a distraction that Gord mistimes the ball and it goes through his hands and hits him with a solid thud in the stomach.
"Use your hands to catch the pass, not your gut!" Johnny yells out in frustration at the drop and the eventual turnover of the ball to Landon's team.
Landon drops back the very next play for what the other team thinks is a deep pass. Instead, he decides to run some trickery with a hook and ladder play. He makes a quick pass 20 yards down the field to Warren, who as he is running right, and with defenders coming at him, tosses the ball back to Shane, who takes off the other way with the ball. The defenders are in tow, as are his teammates. Johnny is coming on fierce and has full intent to be vicious, as he doesn't want to lose. Shane gets surrounded by the other team but slowly trudges forward. As he is almost down, he sees Landon out of the corner of his eye. They make eye contact and the ball comes out of the crowd back and to the right to where Landon is open. He takes off with only 20 yards for a victory. The girls are cheering as they run toward the boys for the touchdown. Landon senses that Johnny is in full angry flight to tackle him. He runs and can hear the footsteps and the heavy angry breathing behind him and slightly to the left. He makes a juke to the right just as Johnny takes a deep breath and makes a diving attempt to tackle him. Landon then just strolls into the end zone with a laughing smile on his face.
The girls are cheering and laughing at the play. Landon notices them but doesn't focus on them—but there is one in the crowd of girls that he does notice.
Walking by Johnny, who is just getting up and pounding his fist into the ground in frustration, Shane puts his hand on Johnny's head and gives his hair a tussle. "Wow, that was amazing, you were about as graceful as your mom on a stripper pole," he says with a chuckle and continues on.
"Thanks for coming out, ladies, it was a nice whoopin'" Landon says to the guys as he slowly walks by them on his way back to the girls and the vehicles. He isn't being a jerk, as he says it with a stupid grin on his face. They all tell him he got lucky and that they will get him next time as they pass by. Well, all of them except Johnny. He is still huffing and puffing as he walks grumpily to grab a beer.
By now it's almost five o'clock, and the guys are all tired from the game. They're standing around all sweaty in their clothes. Some, including Landon, step behind one of the trucks to change back into their regular clothes. The smell of Axe body spray fills the air from Johnny spraying it all over himself. Landon just shakes his head watching him put on the douche bag trailer-trash-whore lure. No one is worried about who won or lost other than Johnny, who is annoyed that his team lost by a late touchdown play by Landon. The frustration shows on his face and in the tone of his voice throughout the conversation he is having around the girls.
The guys slowly make their way back to the trucks. Some hop onto the tailgates while others stand around the girls and begin to drink a few beers. Johnny hops up and sits beside Jen. She is coughs a little as a joke, as the smell of Axe is killing her. The two have a weird friendship that may or may not be based around drunken encounters. The two are not exactly dating, but everyone knows that there is stuff going on. They both talk about the encounters with their friends all the time. Everyone knows but doesn't care.
Renee and Shane are getting slightly cozy on the endgate, but only casually flirting as friends. Shane slides his hand sneakily onto her knee. She looks away while taking a swig from her beer, and then she slides his hand off her leg politely. He tries again, and before she can move it he sneaks it up further and gives her thigh a squeeze. She shoots him a glare, while he looks back with his tongue out trying to get her to laugh. The two chuckle together and pound back their beers.
Excerpted from Endlessness of the Stars by Dale Boynton. Copyright © 2013 Dale Boynton. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
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