A is for austerity, p.1
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       A Is for Austerity, p.1

           Bethany Ebert
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A Is for Austerity

  This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, locations, events, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright ? 2015 Bethany Ebert

  All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.

  The cover photograph was taken by HolgerLi at Flickr.com. It is in the public domain. Use of cover photograph does not imply photographer's endorsement of viewpoints contained in this novel.

  As this book is a fictional story set in contemporary times, the names of some musicians, celebrities, automobile companies, and other pop culture entities have been included. Use of these names does not imply any endorsement of the novel or viewpoints expressed therein.

  ISBN 978-1-311-88629-3

  First edition

  Chapter One

  The soccer ball sailed through the bright blue sky, a beacon, an omen. A testimony of skill. It was 1996, and Parker Beloit was the best soccer player in the third grade. He knew it, the coach knew it, his classmates knew it, the sky knew it.

  He kicked the ball again.

  From the corner of his eye, he saw Matt Dietrich waving his arms, signaling for a pass, but he had such a direct path to the goal, and why waste it on Matt if he could score the goal himself? It seemed precarious. Too risky.

  It was better planning to make the goal yourself.

  He wound his leg back and kicked, using the toe of his soccer cleat, but that hurt because his shoes were wearing out again. Sometimes, like now, he kicked too hard, misjudging the distance. Wearing his glasses during soccer screwed up his game. He usually went without. Maybe it was a mistake.

  He pinched the front of his shoe, wincing.

  The ball sailed into the metal bleachers, and then there was a crashing sound.

  "Oh man, you missed," Jordan said.

  "Wow, look at it, though, that went pretty far," Ryan said, shielding his eyes against the glare of the sun.

  "Well, I better go get it." Parker sprinted off to find the soccer ball.

  Thwack. The ball hit him square in the forehead. Somebody threw it at him.

  "Hey!" he yelled, rubbing his forehead.

  His assailant was a pasty red-headed kid in the bleachers, grubby-looking with thick glasses, glaring at him, face pink with anger. His hair was bright. It reminded Parker of cinnamon and the fall. It was a poetic sort of view, like a painting. The kid held up a cardboard square with a bunch of tangled wires and a few broken Styrofoam balls, smashed into small crumbs. "Hey yourself, douche! You ruined my science project!"

  Science project? "It's recess, douche! Why are you working on a science project?"

  The redhead took a deep breath before speaking. "Because," he said, "it's extra credit for finals week for Advanced Articulated Science. I have to build a 3-D model of the solar system, and I did, but you just ruined it."

  "I'm sorry."

  "Not as sorry as you'll be when you end up in detention."

  "For what?" Parker asked, exasperated. "It was an accident. I said I was sorry."

  "For being a douche!" The redhead squinted at his 3-D model, brushing a few crumbs of Styrofoam off. He sighed heavily.

  "Hey, now, that's enough," the recess monitor said, walking up to them on the playground. His big shoulders blocked out the sun. He furrowed his enormous eyebrows, scratching the side of his head. "You kids calm down. And no swearing."

  "'Douche' isn't a swear word," Jessica Harper pointed out, always helpful. Ryan shoved her, and she laughed.

  The recess monitor sighed. "Okay, enough." He pointed at Parker, then at the kid in the bleachers. "Both of you, go straight to detention after school today. No more funny business. And Jessica, stop goofing around, or I'll put you in detention too."

  Jessica stopped laughing, then pulled the corners of her mouth down.

  God, it was useless. Detention. Fine, whatever. Parker pretended like he hadn't heard and kicked the ball over to Matt Dietrich. The game started up again, and everything went back to normal.


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