Eric Horton finds himself plagued by terrible nightmares of explosions, fire, and someone screaming. The more they occur, the more real they seem, and he starts to question whether they're just harmless dreams, or the foreshadowing of a dark and devastating future.
And that's not the only thing out of place. He's been uncanny on the soccer field, saving shot after shot with what feels like a supernatural awareness of where the ball is going next. Then there's the connection he feels with Renee, the new student from France. It's as if he's known her forever.
When Renee's father starts experimenting in the University physics lab and asks Eric to serve as a test subject, Eric must again question whether what he's seeing and hearing is reality - or something far beyond it.
When his best friend Will starts drinking way too much and Renee has eyes for other guys, Eric loses the edge he's always had in the goal, and confidence in himself. If he's going to pull it together, Eric must tap into a part of himself he never knew existed, and that might just be the part that connects us all.
|Publisher:||Brown Books Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Tracy Richardson wasn't always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. In a weird way that book has even shaped her life through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in biology like Mrs. Murray, and without realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg's parents. Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environmental issues and metaphysics. When she's not writing, you'll find her doing any number of creative activities - painting furniture, knitting sweaters, or cooking something in the kitchen for her vegetarian, carnivore, and no-carb family. She lives outside Indianapolis with her husband and two children and their Jack Russel terrier, Ernie.
Read an Excerpt
By Tracy Richardson
Luminis BooksCopyright © 2013 Tracy Richardson
All rights reserved.
A car horn sounds outside. I grab my gym bag and water bottle off the kitchen chair.
"Bye, Mom. Will's here."
"Bye, Eric. Good luck!" Her disembodied voice floats down the stairs.
On the way out the side door, I pick up my soccer ball and dribble it with my feet down the driveway to Will's waiting Taurus. No small feat in flip flops. The car's windows are down and the stereo is up — loud. The A/C doesn't work, but we would still have the windows down to show off our good taste in music. I lob the ball through the back window, toss my gear in behind it and climb into the front. "The new system's totally tight." I say as I fasten my seatbelt.
"It's cool. Kind of makes up for driving a 'mom-mobile'." Will grins as he backs down the driveway.
"What do you mean? You've got your own wheels and it's a sedan. I have to drive the real 'mom-mobile' — the minivan. So, you ready for tonight?" I ask as I beat in time to the music on the dashboard.
"Yeah, two-a-day practices are brutal in 90 degree heat. I'm glad they're picking the teams tonight. What do you think our chances are?" Will glances over at me.
"Pretty good for Varsity. You're definitely the best defender and I don't think the other keepers are any better than me. We've been playing together so long, they can't break up our defensive unit." I say and give him a friendly punch on the shoulder. I do feel confident about our chances, but still. It's nerve-wracking to have three days of killer try-outs and not know for sure if you're on the team.
"I hate when they're calling out the names. Makes me sick to my stomach until my name's called." Will pushes his straight blond hair back from where it hangs over his eyes as he pulls into a parking spot at the field. "Well, good luck."
We walk over to the field trying to look calm and confident, and sit down to put on our cleats and shin guards before joining the rest of the guys for warm ups. The coaches have been running us all week and tonight is no different. Even after running all summer to stay in shape, I was still gasping and sweating after the first day of tryouts. But I was in better shape than most of the guys — at least I didn't throw up. It's one way the coaches use to weed out players.
After doing a few wind sprints and running drills, they split everyone up into teams — Freshmen, JV and Varsity. Will and I are both in the Varsity group — so far so good. We all get one last opportunity to show our stuff before the cuts are made. I'm with the goalkeepers who are all grouped together and will be subbed in so we each get a chance to play.
As a group, the keepers are bigger than the field players. Taller and bulkier. At 6' 2" I'm one of the taller ones. Tall and lean, though. More rangy than bulky. The field players need to be strong and fast and have incredible endurance to last the whole game. A keeper needs to be quick and explosive to move the instant a ball is shot, tall and strong to cover the whole goal and stop rocket shots, and fearless enough to dive into the air or at an opponent's moving feet without hesitation. I move away from the other keepers to begin focusing my thoughts. I always get a rush of adrenaline before a game or scrimmage and I want to channel it into performance instead of letting it turn into nervousness. I put on my gloves, fastening the Velcro at each wrist, and turn to watch the game.
Will is coming off the field when I get subbed in. We bump fists as he jogs past. He's jacked up and loose — he played great. "Nothing goes in, big guy!" He says. I just nod.
I position myself in the goal. I touch the left side of the goal, then walk to the right side, touch it, and then move to the center and touch the crossbar to orient myself. It's my ritual. I crouch in the center with my knees bent and arms in position to catch a ball. I feel confident, strong — ready. The coach starts the play.
The other team immediately takes control of the ball and the play moves onto my side of the field. Good. More action for me.
The opposing team's striker sends the ball out to his right and his midfielder runs onto it. I move to that side of the goal and my left back covers the front. Our defender is all over the midfielder. I see that the opposing striker has moved into position in front of the goal to take a pass from the midfielder.
"Watch for the cross!" I yell. I've got the near post of the goal covered, coiled and ready to spring and I want my center back to cover the forward.
The midfielder beats my defender and sends a pass through to his forward in front of the goal. I see it coming and leap out to punch the ball clear of the goal before the forward can head it in. My fist connects with the ball with a satisfying thwack! My center back takes the ball and sends it in a long arc to the other end of the field.
Yes! Adrenaline is surging through me and I'm pumped from stopping the cross. Now the play is on the other end of the field. I watch, staying focused on the action.
The other keeper makes a save and quickly punts the ball down the field before my defenders have moved back. The opposing forward runs onto the ball. He takes off, sprinting toward the goal, and beats my defender.
It's a breakaway! My heart is pounding. It's just me and him. The forward is approaching fast. Should I come out to meet him and dive at his feet or stay big and block the shot? It's a split-second decision. Make the wrong choice and it's a goal. Wait! A thought flashes into my consciousness. I know where the shot will be. Left side — DIVE! I'm off my feet almost before the forward's foot connects for the shot. I feel myself flying through the air, arms reaching. The ball is rocketing toward me. The ball strikes my palms and I push it wide, deflecting it outside of the goal and then I crash to the ground.
I jump up quickly in case the ball is still in play. My team has control of the ball and is moving it down the field. Squinting into the sun, I watch the play. Adrenalin is coursing through my veins. Total rush!
When I get subbed out I scan the sidelines for Will and jog over to him so we can rehash the play.
Will smacks me on the back. "You stuffed him!" Will's hair is dark with sweat, his face glistening and gritty. "How do you do that? I swear you were off the ground before he took the shot."
I wipe my face on my shirt and take a long drink from my water bottle before answering. "I don't know. Just reflexes I guess." I don't want to make too big a deal about it with Will, but sometimes I just get a feeling of knowing. It just flashes into my head. Maybe it's from years of playing, but when it happens it feels different than reacting on instinct without thinking. It's like knowing without thinking.
"I bet it gets you a spot on Varsity for sure. Maybe even starting."
"Yeah, well you were like a brick wall out there. Nothing got past you. Your keeper didn't have any saves to make."
"Thanks. Glad you noticed that you're not the only star out there."
"Whatever." I've been friends with Will forever and I know he's got my back, but there's always been a competitive side to our friendship. I'm thinking Right, how many saves did you make? but I keep my mouth shut and turn my attention to the play on the field.
After all the players have had a chance to play and the scrimmage is over, the coaches have us run two cool-down laps around the field and then gather by the trainers' station to stretch. This is it. When they select the teams. But first the coaches go through this long speech about how everyone is a winner and good sportsmanship and how difficult it was for them to decide.
"We're hot, we're tired and we stink," I say to the guys sitting next to me. "Just call out the names already." This elicits a rumble of laughter around me.
"Okay, enough with the comments Horton." Coach Swenson says. I shrug. "Let's get to it. Here are the teams. Freshmen first. When I call out your name, move over across the field to where Coach Vince is standing." He gestures to his right. He begins calling off the names for the Freshman team and then the JV team. Each player jumps up when his name's called, relief on his face. Will and I wait through the JV names — we're not called. Now it's just the players who made Varsity and those who didn't make it at all waiting on the grass. I have to believe that I made Varsity, but there's still that small fear that I didn't make the cut.
"Okay. Now for Varsity." Coach Swenson calls out. "Ashmore, S., Asplunth, W.," Will jumps up and I give him a high five. My heart is pounding. I'm waiting for the 'H's'. "Bartlett, B., Cohen, A." My breathing is shallow, like I'm holding my breath. "Franklin, M., Gordon, S., Horton, E." It feels like my heart actually stops for an instant. Horton! Varsity! I made Varsity! I jump up and jog over to the group surrounding Coach Vince.
"Eric, alright!" They clap me on the back. "Congratulations," says Coach Vince and shakes my hand. Will grabs my shoulders, "Hey, man! We're on Varsity!"
"I know," I say stupidly. I actually feel a little wobbly in the knees the relief is so great. "Varsity. I know." I lay down spread-eagled on the grass and savor the moment. The coolness of the grass feels wonderful. Yes! Varsity! But then I hear the coach call out 'Morgan, B.'— Brett Morgan — the second string Varsity keeper from last year who's a senior this year. My euphoria dims. I'll have to beat him out to get the starting spot. What good is it to be on Varsity if I sit on the bench?CHAPTER 2
I struggle TO get my locker open for the third time. Why do I always get the crappy lockers? Okay, just turn the dial to the last number and quickly lift the handle. It catches and I open the locker door. Finally. I start loading books from my backpack into the empty space. Kids are swarming through the hallway, rushing around before the first bell rings.
"Good day, young scholar." My friend Cole leans up against the locker next to mine.
I smile to myself. "Hey." I can see his feet from my bent-over vantage point. "Nice toe socks." He's wearing rainbow-striped toe socks with flip flops. As I stand up I see that his skinny legs are sticking out of blue jean cut-offs. "And shorts. Did I miss the text? Is the first day of school '80s day?"
"You like? I joined the Gay-Straight Alliance and I'm showing solidarity with the rainbow socks. The '80s look is just a bonus."
"It's definitely in line with your anti-establishment position." A group of girls passes us and one calls out "Hey Eric. Hey Cole — cute socks!" They all laugh.
"The unexpected bonus is the chick magnet factor. Who knew?" Cole smiles his lopsided grin.
"Yeah, who knew? But don't they all think you're gay? That kind of cuts down on the hook-up potential."
"Well, there is that to consider." Cole is unabashed. I shake my head.
"What's your schedule this year? Did you drop AP Environmental Science?" Even though he tries to hide it with lack of ambition, Cole is pretty smart.
"No, my parents applied the pressure/guilt trip that I need an Advanced Placement class to get into college and I caved. At least it's a cool class and Mr. Ogle isn't bad from what I hear."
"Yeah, it's supposed to be a fantastic class. Man, it's freezing in here. They've got the air cranked full blast." I'm shivering in my shorts and T-shirt. I grab my hoodie out of my backpack, pull it on and shake out my hair.
"Do you find your luxurious wavy brown locks to be a chick magnet? Girls do seem to like the shaggy soccer player look." The fluorescent lights are reflecting off of Cole's glasses and I can't tell from his face if he's serious or not.
I give him a look. "If you say so." Over Cole's shoulder I see Will approaching through the throng of students. The three of us have been friends since elementary school. He claps a hand on Cole's shoulder.
"Starting the year off on the right foot, Cole?" His gaze is on the toe socks. "Are you guys ready for AP Enviro?" Will is tanned and rock solid from spending the summer working construction and playing soccer. I know I don't look too bad myself from being outside so much and working out. I'd like to think that's a better way to attract girls than wearing toe socks. The first bell rings.
"Yup. Ready." I slam my locker shut with my shoulder. "Let's go."
We make our way through the sea of humanity that is the student body of Monroe High School. As juniors we've been through the drill before, but it's still incredible how many kids are here. One thousand per grade. Our lockers are in the junior hallway, so we see a lot of kids we know. But still. How many can you know out of one thousand people?
I follow Will into the classroom and glance around the room as the second bell rings. Most people are talking or taking out their notebooks. A dark-haired girl is sitting in the front row by the door. She looks up as we walk in. My gaze brushes hers and my breath catches in my throat. A sudden zing runs through me, almost like a jolt of recognition. I must've stopped in my tracks, because Cole crashes into me from behind and I stumble, breaking the eye contact.
"Gentlemen, please take your seats." Says Mr. Ogle.
We grab three seats in the back and I check out the girl from there. I've never seen her before. I would've remembered. Her straight dark hair falls below her shoulders and she is sitting sideways in her chair facing the front, so I can see her profile. She's pretty in an unconventional way. Not Barbie Doll pretty, more dramatic with her dark hair and pale skin. I kick Cole's foot across the aisle.
"Who's that girl?" I whisper.
He shrugs, "Wouldn't you like to know?"
"Yeah. Do you know her?"
Mr. Ogle starts going through the usual first day of school routine, handing out the class 'rules' and syllabus with the website info.
"Welcome to Advanced Placement Environmental Science, where we explore all aspects of environmental science, including chemical, physical and biological. This year we'll be focusing a lot of attention on traditional and alternative energy sources and how their usage affects the environment. We have field trips scheduled to the Benton County Wind Farm and the Eagle River Coal Gasification Plant." Cool. Field trips are always a good thing. Will is sitting in the seat in front of me and I tap him on the back of the head with my pen. His dad works at the Coal Gasification Plant. He reaches behind his head and tries to grab my hand.
"And I am pleased to tell you that we will have a very prestigious guest lecturer visit us this year. Dr. Auberge is a distinguished Nuclear Energy physicist visiting from the world renowned Overet Lab in France who is studying cutting-edge areas of alternative energy sources. He's spending two years at the university and has agreed to come and teach a few of our classes, and," Mr. Ogle pauses for effect and glances around the room to make sure he has everyone's attention, "he is offering an internship in his lab starting second semester to one of the students in this class."
There is a general murmuring in the room as everyone digests this bit of information. It's usually a pretty competitive group in the AP classes, so there's sure to be some interest. "Also, we have a new student in the class who happens to be Dr. Auberge's daughter. Please welcome Renee Auberge." He extends his hand toward the dark-haired girl by the classroom door. Renee. She inclines her head and smiles.
"Vous-êtes Française, mademoiselle Auberge?" Cole asks. Geez.
"Oui," she answers in a clear, lilting voice — at least to my ears.
"Bienvenue à Monroe High," says Cole, and he stands up and actually bows.
"Merci. Thank you," she answers. It looks like she's trying not to laugh. She's looking at Cole, but could she also be looking at me? I nod and smile at her and she nods back. Will turns around slightly in his seat and gives me a lecherous look. Great. I hope that doesn't mean that she's caught his interest too. Maybe he's thinking about the internship. I raise my eyebrows at him and shrug.
"Thank you Mr. Rosenberg for acting as our welcoming committee," Mr. Ogle says. Cole makes a flourish in the air with his hand and inclines his head slightly before sitting down. "Okay, now we have a lot to cover this year, so let's get started. First semester we'll focus on human energy consumption and its effects on the environment. We'll look at the current practice of extracting and burning fossil fuels and compare that to alternative sources such as solar, wind, nuclear and so-called clean coal." I see Will bristle at Mr. Ogle's remark. "Hence the field trips."
I take out my binder and start taking notes. The lecture is actually pretty interesting and I've been looking forward to this class. Mr. Ogle is one of the cooler teachers, but he's still kind of goofy in his corduroys and button down shirt — like he's trying to dress like one of the hipster crowd instead of being stuck in the same '80s time warp as Cole.
Forty-five minutes later the bell rings and everyone slams shut their notebooks and starts gathering up their stuff. I glance toward the door at Renee. She's putting her books into her book bag. I grab my backpack, slide out of my chair and make my way over to her before I lose my nerve. I stop in front of her desk and she looks up at me.
"Uh, hi, um, I'm Eric Horton. And, ah, I can't say it in French like Cole, but welcome to Monroe." She looks at me with a slight smile like she's waiting for me to say something else. My mind goes completely blank for a moment. Then I quickly say, "I could show you around school, ah, if you want, sometime. It's a pretty big place." Whew — hopefully that didn't come off as completely stupid.
Excerpted from The Field by Tracy Richardson. Copyright © 2013 Tracy Richardson. Excerpted by permission of Luminis Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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