Made of stars, p.1
Made of Stars, page 1
Table of Contents
Other books by Kelley York
About the Author
OTHER BOOKS BY KELLEY YORK
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Kelley York. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
2614 South Timberline Road
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Visit our website at www.entangledpublishing.com.
Edited by Stacy Abrams and Alycia Tornetta
Cover design by Alexandra Shostak
Ebook ISBN 978-1-62266-020-9
Print ISBN 978-1-62266-021-6
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition October 2013
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: Barbie, Jetta, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Sharpie, Cheerios, Olympics, The Godfather series, Mission: Impossible, Rolling Stone, Kmart.
Nobody loves my broken boys as much as you.
When we first met Chance Harvey, he was playing with Barbies.
Not in the dressing-them-up sense. He had Malibu Barbie tied to the end of a fishing pole by her ankles and was reeling her in from the creek behind Dad’s house. Even at eight years old, my half sister, Ashlin, and I both thought this was pretty bizarre.
Chance turned to stare at us with wide, round green eyes that didn’t really fit his face. He was covered in grass and mud from crawling up and down the banks, camouflage paint smudged across his cheeks, and he stared at us like we were the weird ones.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
He was a runt, closer to Ash’s size than mine, and I knew I could scare him off if he was there to cause trouble. My eyes narrowed. “That’s my dad’s house,” I announced, pointing to the rooftop visible through the trees. “And this is his part of the creek. He’s a cop, and you’re gonna be in trouble if I tell him you’re here.”
In retrospect, I don’t know why I felt the need to be so mean. I was a kid, and I guess being tough seemed like the thing to do, especially in front of my sister. But Chance, frustratingly unbothered by my threat, turned his back to us. “Well, let me finish this and I’ll go away.”
I crossed my arms to wait for him to get lost, but didn’t it figure that Ashlin, in her mouse-sized voice, piped up with, “What are you doing?”
Chance regarded her with a crooked smile over his shoulder, like he’d been waiting for one of us to ask that very question. “I’m doing a rescue operation. Duh.”
Ash’s eyes widened and she took a step closer. “You’re rescuing Barbie?”
Chance stood up, straightened his back, and placed a hand on his hip. I remember thinking that with that one simple gesture, he looked more grown-up than we did. “Yeah! But see, there are so many down there, I don’t know where to start. You should help.”
My sister didn’t even wait for my opinion. She darted past me in her summer dress and grass-stained sneakers and crouched by Chance’s side while he gave instructions on how, exactly, we were supposed to go about this rescue mission. He spoke to Ash, but his eyes were always on me.
That was how it all started. Fishing Barbies out of the creek.
We’ve spent our summers with Dad since I was five. Every year, when school let out, Ash flew to Otter’s Rest, Maine, from her mom’s on the West Coast, and I was put on a bus or train because my mom’s place is only across the state.
And, when we showed up, Chance would be waiting. “It’s about time,” he’d say, hands on his hips where he stood on our back porch in his bare feet with his messy hair and big glasses. I’m not even sure he needed those glasses, seeing as half the time he took them off and propped them on his head or lost them altogether, and we’d spend hours searching for them while Chance wandered in circles, hands outstretched, claiming he was too blind to help.
I couldn’t tell you where Chance lived, what school he went to, or what his parents’ names were. But I could tell you his favorite type of ice cream and exactly how he ate it (rocky road, picking out the nuts and marshmallows to eat last), how he could recite every lyric from every Queen song in existence, and that he had a soft spot for animals and sad movies that made him tear up.
In my opinion, I knew all the things about Chance that mattered most. Chance was strangeness and whimsy in human form. Chance was our friend unlike any other friend Ashlin and I have ever had.
Chance was our summer.
We didn’t see or talk to him through winter, but when we arrived for summer vacation, the three of us came together like we’d never been apart. For seven years, all I looked forward to as I plodded through school and my monotonous life with Mom and her boyfriend was the day I could pack my things and see Chance.
This is the first I’ve been at Dad’s for more than a few days since I was fifteen, and I know a lot can change in two years. I had to fight with Mom just to get here now: she wanted me at college, and I wanted to take a year off. To spend with Dad. To spend with Ashlin. To think about my future and what I want out of it. Maybe, just maybe, to see Chance again.
It’s weird showing up while there’s slush on the ground and the air is damp and cold. Dad’s house nestled off the side of the road looks different surrounded by skeleton trees instead of green, green, green.
There is no Chance waiting for me on the porch.
Not that I expected there to be; how would he know we were coming? We were here every summer without fail until Dad took a bullet to the spine in the line of duty two years ago, and while he recovered, we were kept at our respective homes. Away from Dad, away from each other, and away from Chance, with no way of contacting him.
I have no clue where or how to find him. Don’t know where he lives, don’t have a phone number, don’t know if he has any other friends in town… I called information once, but I didn’t know his parents’ names. Dad wasn’t exactly in the physical state to be doing some detective work to find out, either.
Ashlin and I will have to put our heads together on how to find him when she shows up. Until then, I’ll keep stepping outside, forgetting how cold it is even as the deck freezes my feet. I’ll keep watching and waiting for the guy I haven’t been able to get out of my head after all this time. That’s the sort of person Chance is. He gets under your skin, and even when he’s gone, you still feel him there like a dull ache. A warm memory you can never quite reclaim.
When I see her emerging from her gate, she still has the remains of a summer tan and a splash of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Once upon a time, she hated those freckles, until Chance told her they were cute and now she never tries to cover them with makeup. She goes to Dad first, careful in the way she hugs him. A rare smile pulls at his mouth as he puts an arm around her, the other not leaving his cane for support.
“My girl.” He sighs. “I’ve missed you.”
“Say that again after you’ve had us around for a few months.” Ash pulls away and turns her attention to me.
“Hey, short stuff,” I say with a grin.
Ash smiles a mile wide, throwing her arms around my neck. She smells like fruity body spray and shampoo and home. Being away from her and Dad all winter never felt right. This is how things were meant to be: me, my sister, and Dad.
All we’re missing now is Chance.
Early on, Chance asked us about our parents. He knew that Dad was a cop, that we spent summers here with him. What he didn’t understand was why, for the rest of the year, we lived with separate mothers. The idea seemed to baffle him. For us, it was as normal as night and day. (It wasn’t until we got older and our friends at school told us our situation was weird that we realized how abnormal it really was.)
“Dad was dating my mom,” I’d explained. “And they had a fight so they broke up for a while, and Dad was seeing someone else…”
And, somehow, that had all spiraled out of control. Dad ended up with neither of those women and had two kids instead. Maybe he didn’t do right by our moms—as they so frequently remind us—but Dad has never failed to be a good parent. He says it’s hard to view his bad relationship choices as a mistake because he got Ash and me out of the deal.
I think I resented him a lot at first. Him and Ashlin both. I saw them as the cause of my mom’s unhappiness and, by extension, my own. It was hard to hang on to that resentment, though, when Dad tried so hard and Ash understood exactly how I was feeling because she was going through the same thing. Maybe our life was strange, but we loved each other. It worked for us.
Chance’s life, on the other hand, was a puzzle of a thousand pieces that never fit together quite right. According to him, his parents traveled for work a lot and often left him home alone, and so he had the freedom to spend practically every day with us. But when we tried getting Chance’s number or e-mail address to keep in touch, he insisted he wasn’t allowed phone calls and his parents wouldn’t get Internet connected at the house. Going to the library for computer access, he said, was too much of a hassle. It was one thing to walk to our place. It was another to walk all the way into town.
The more I think about it, the things that made little sense then make even less sense now.
That night, at dinner, Ash prods at her food and asks Dad, “Do you think maybe you could ask one of the guys at the station to pull up Chance’s address? I mean, otherwise he’s never going to know we’re here.”
“You know I’m not supposed to ask for information like that.” Dad doesn’t look up. And yet, after he takes another bite, he adds, “I’ll see what I can do.”
When we all retreat to bed for the night—Ash and me to our rooms upstairs, Dad to his converted room downstairs because navigating the steps is still impossible, even with as much progress as he’s made—I take a few minutes to call my girlfriend, Rachael. It’s the first time we’ve been apart for this long in the year we’ve been dating, and while I’m enjoying the space, I did promise I would touch base with her.
She sounds happy to hear from me, but this time of night, I know she’ll be knee-deep in homework and studying and won’t have time for me.
“I’m sorry, Hunter. You really need to call earlier in the day. Can we talk later?”
“Sure. Sorry for interrupting.”
“It’s okay. Why don’t you call back in the morning? I miss you.”
“Yep. Miss you.” I do miss her, but I can’t say that I would trade being here for seeing her. Rachael hadn’t even wanted me to come to Dad’s and argued with me on it for weeks. It’s still a sore spot for me. This? Coming here? It was important, and Rachael, Mom, and her boyfriend…they all dug their heels in and thought of any reason why I shouldn’t go. Why getting into college right now was more important.
After hanging up, I change clothes before collapsing into bed. My first order of business after getting here the other day was to tear down the old movie and band posters that were so outdated it hurt.
The only decorations I did leave up were the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. It was a summer-long project where Dad and I laid out a map of constellations and went to town, until an entire night sky stretched from corner to corner. I couldn’t bear to take them down. Something about tracing their familiar patterns is still soothing as I lie alone, brain moving too fast and too loud to think properly.
They remind me of the times Ash, Chance, and I laid out on the back deck and watched the sky. Chance had a story for every constellation I pointed out. Ash used to love Orion, because the three stars that formed his belt were the only ones she could spot all on her own. Chance, though, went for the more elusive Draco.
He loved the stars, and he loved dragons. Draco was the perfect combination. He said his mom had taken him to a planetarium once when he was little. He’d fallen in love with the night sky right then and there.
I think about everything I’ve wanted to say to Chance over the last few years. The letters I wanted to write but had nowhere to send them. I wanted to ask him about school, about what he wanted to do after graduating, about maybe even coming to visit me at my place sometime. I wanted him to know how important he was. Not just to me, but to Ash and Dad. And about how there were a few years there where things got rough for me and what got me through was knowing, come summer, I would get to see him again.
I search out the Draco pattern on my ceiling. Chance would lay his head on my stomach while Ash laid on his, and he would twirl her long hair around his fingers as he told us the stories about Draco. Something with dragons and knights and princesses, maybe with witches and ghosts thrown in for good measure. I can’t remember the exact story, but I fall asleep to the sound of his voice murmuring secrets and fairy tales in my head.
This is the first time I’ve seen Dad since he’s been able to walk on his own again.
It’s kind of a miracle, if you ask me. After being shot, he was told by the doctors that he wouldn’t get out of a wheelchair again. Last time I was here, Isobel—a nurse turned family friend who lives down the street—had to assist him with everything from getting dressed to going to the bathroom.
I think it killed him a little inside to need that kind of help.
He went from being an easygoing and smiley guy to withdrawn and mopey. Mom says it was natural for him to be depressed, and I still see the shadow of that depression hanging over him, but I’m sure he’ll cheer up having Hunter and me around for the winter while the two of us decide what colleges we’re going to apply to next fall. He wanted us to come out even while he was hurt. Swore up and down he could handle it. But both our moms jumped at the excuse to not let us visit; my mom because she never got over Dad and being the other woman, and Hunter’s mom because, without Hunter there, she actually has to take care of the house on her own.
I can tell Dad is enjoying the freedom of being mobile again, even if he needs a cane. But there’s plenty around the house that Dad can’t do no matter how hard he tries. He can’t scale a ladder anymore, can’t haul boxes or move furniture. Isobel does a lot more than she ought to do, but she shouldn’t have to. Not while
Hunter and I throw ourselves fully into cleaning, fixing, and organizing. Dad sits by anxiously as we go through the attic and drag down old boxes of clothes, photos, knickknacks, and paperwork. Eventually, he relaxes when he realizes we aren’t going to throw away anything important.
We also take his truck a few miles up the road and food shop. Easier for Hunt and me to get the errands done in a quarter of the time it would take Dad to do it, and an hour later we’re home with the truck bed full of grocery bags. When Hunt notices Dad staring at us as we put stuff away, he asks, “What?”
Dad shakes his head. “Nothing. Just not sure when the two of you got so grown-up, is all.”
Hunter and I exchange looks and shrug. Back home, I never willingly did this kind of stuff, because Mom only made me do it out of her own laziness. Hunter was in charge of a lot around his house, so maybe he’s more used to it. But I see him smile a little before he turns away. He’s used to doing it but maybe not used to getting any appreciation for it.
When we’re done, Dad has his face in the newspaper and a cup of coffee in hand. Before we can wander off, he slides a piece of paper across the table. On it is an address I don’t recognize, and Dad says, “Drive safe.”
by Kelley York / Young Adult / Gay & Lesbian / Suspense have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes