Authors: LJ Scar
Tags: #travel, #cancer, #dogs, #depression, #drugs, #florida, #college, #cheating, #betrayals, #foreclosure, #glacier national park, #bad boys, #first loves
TEXT COPYRIGHT ©2013 LJ SCAR
Published by LJ Scar at Smashwords
All Rights Reserved
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The characters and events portrayed in this
book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or
dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. To the extent
any real names or individuals, locations, or organizations are
included in the book, they are used fictitiously and not intended
to be taken otherwise.
For the Best is told in two overlapping
stories by the characters Hanna and Tanner. Be sure to note
character name in bold when a passage changes voice.
grade, 8 years
Mr. Hamm led a new boy into our 4th grade
class. He was a mess of brown hair, and brown eyes. All my
classmates turned to inspect – Tanner we are told to call him.
Mr. Hamm brought him to a seat across from
mine. Seven seats deep, G for him and N for me. Both of us were
saddled with long hard to pronounce last names. A future Mr. G and
I snuck a look and gave a hesitant smile –
my offer goes unnoticed. Never new, I wondered what it felt like to
be unknown. Tanner sounded like a targeted name, another bull’s eye
for gym class. I imagined a rocket propelled dodge ball flung from
boys too strong to have a rubber weapon in a class of
The sound of the old world map unrolling
distracted me. Another day of Florida history, particularly the
first coast history, drilled into our spongy brains. Ponce De Leon,
the fountain of youth, Fort Matanzas down in St. Augustine. Every
year of elementary seemed to repeat the same events.
Mr. Hamm stretched followed by a yawn, “Who
needs a break?” The young teacher liked to give thirty minute
recesses in the morning to accompany the one at lunch.
Mrs. Renn’s special needs education class
was already on the playground. Several of my classmates hesitated.
Undeterred, my friend Della and I went to the teeter totters.
Another playmate, Peyton, climbed on my end to add weight since
Della had twenty pounds on me.
“What’s your name?” One of Ms. Renn’s pupils
“Hanna. What’s yours?”
The R didn’t purse, sounding like a W.
Annunciation was my specialty, as I spent two years in speech.
“Nice to meet you Trevor.” I offered my hand like Daddy taught
Trevor sported a goofy grin. His size didn’t
lend me a clue to his age and with Ms. Renn’s class all lumped from
kindergarten to sixth grade I couldn’t guess.
“Aaahh, look Hanna banana has a new retard
friend,” Benny, one of the mean boys, taunted from the swings.
Benny scared the crap out of me. Once he
cornered Della and me on the merry go round when no teachers were
present and stuck a frog up my shorts. Then he bragged he’d touched
my privates to all the boys. Since that incident, I steered clear
I whispered to Trevor, “He’s just a big
bully. Ignore him.”
Della stopped teetering looking
uncomfortable. No way did she want Benny to start in on her. Trevor
began crying and I looked for an adult but Ms. Renn and Mr. Hamm
were up by the gate talking, probably about First Coast
“It’s okay Trevor.” I patted his arm in
“Tanner,” Trevor cried and looked toward a
dark haired boy four swings down, the new kid in my class.
Trevor’s volume increased. “Tanner, Tanner,
Tanner swung back and forth, pretending not
I ran to the swing and grabbed Tanner’s
hand. Startled he looked at me with dark tear filled eyes. I leaned
in, so only Tanner could hear. “Don’t let Benny see you cry. He
gets meaner. I’ll distract him.”
“Last 4th grader to the merry go round is a
rotten egg!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. Dusty sand trailed
those challenged as attentions shifted. I fell behind, lagging to
make sure Tanner attended to Trevor.
I woke panicked. In the fragment of the
dream that remained, I couldn’t tell her I loved her, my mouth was
full of pennies, the metallic taste a memory on my tongue. My mom
was standing in my bedroom doorway, saying goodbye, but I couldn’t
hear the sound.
If anyone asked me at sixteen what I most
wanted, my answer would have been for my mom to be cured. I would
have given up years of my life just to have more time with her.
If the same question was posed to me now, I
wouldn’t have an answer. At eighteen, my life had crumbled to the
point that my only objective was to get through each day.
Back before my world collapsed, I talked to
God. Really, I bargained with him, made plans. None of it
God doesn’t negotiate, I thought walking in
the dark through my subdivision. Tripping on a buckle in the
pavement, I cursed my neighbors who didn’t have their porch lights
on to light my way. While I was at it, I flung a few F offs to the
guy who still had but didn’t deserve my love. Said boyfriend,
a.k.a. Tanner, lived in the subdivision next to mine. All I had to
do was walk out of my cul de sac up to the privacy fence, slide two
loose boards, slip through into the easement owned by the utility
companies, and trespass across Mrs. Couch’s yard.
From the curb, I watched the drunken antics
through the bay window like staring at tropical fish inside the
tank. The music blared from within as the crowd chanted along with
a lyrical drinking game.
The door cracked, a guy stumbled outside,
spotted me, waved and yelled Hanner. I cringed in distaste. The
melding of my name with Tanner’s had occurred last year, our junior
year, when we catapulted to the “it” couple.
I ignored the distraction. Tanner’s older
car was in the drive boxed in by the more expensive rides of our
classmates. I reached in the open window and hit the trunk. Three
black non-descript book bags were trapped in the grocery netting. I
picked up and felt each. The heaviest held textbooks. I tossed it
back. The two packs with the tell-tale rattle of pills I took.
A couple was locked in an embrace on the
side of the house. Freezing, I listened not wanting to be caught.
Their hushed voices told me I’d gone unnoticed. As I closed the
trunk, their silhouette moved in unison and their words fell into
prehistoric grunts and moans.
Slinging a pack on each shoulder, I
9 Years Earlier Summer
“Ok, I’m Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter,
you’re my wife, Terri, and Trevor you be our family dog, Sui,”
Tanner exclaimed as he perched with his fake Bowie knife on the
banks of the retention pond behind his house.
Tanner was always
making me play his wife, or girlfriend role from some TV show.
Mostly, I just went along with it. We’d been playing together since
that first day we met on the playground. On the bus ride home, we
figured out he lived in the subdivision behind me. I thought it
helped that I liked to include Trevor. Trevor was great to play
with because he filled many big character roles: Chewbacca from
, Hagrid from
, and various
animals that Tanner made up. At that moment, he was slinking down
the embankment portraying a crocodile.
“I don’t want to be Terri! I want to hunt
crocs too. Crikey!” I laughed while Tanner slipped as the kayak
slid on the slick bank.
“Too bad. Only one girl travels with Steve
Irwin and that is Terri.”
“You’re getting too close to the water.
Remember when the police came out and pulled that alligator out of
the pond last year? What if it had babies?”
“Hanna, I mean Terri, don’t you know crocs
are way meaner than gators?”
“No Steve,” I drew out the name in
exaggeration, “I don’t know how much meaner crocs are than gators.
But if Trevor gets caught in the pond by the homeowner’s
association again we are going to all be in trouble.”
Trevor was elbow deep in sludge. Before he
could take a swim, Tanner and I each grabbed one of his legs as he
writhed and rolled imitating the footage he’d seen on
. We were no match for one boy who equaled our
“Trev, come on please,” Tanner begged.
Trevor hissed like a croc and flipped.
Tanner and I rolled into stale black water on the clay pond’s
As we stood knee deep in the guck, Tanner
climbed out and held his arm out to me. “Terri, my one true love, I
think we just caught the nastiest croc ever.”
I was zoning. A blue heron was outside my
government class window. Not sure why, no pond, no fish but it was
there. The giant bird spread its wings and took flight, a sign.
“Hanna?” I looked up at the teacher.
“I have a note that your presence is
requested in the principal’s office.”
When the bell rang, I was still being hard
pressed for answers. A prescription bottle for a pain killer that
was written for my mother had been confiscated from another
student. The snitch said lots of pills were floating around at
parties. I knew they were all leftover medications from my mother’s
I’d reluctantly enabled Tanner to sell the
pills, mostly by being complacent. Pain relievers, anti-anxiety –
he kept those, the others he researched online. If the drug listed
a side effect of hallucinations or had a warning not to operate a
moving vehicle, it was deemed worthy of popping. I even sat back as
he refilled prescriptions.
I could still hear Tanner’s words. “Don’t
worry Hanna, they would never suspect me. We can sell the pills.
You need the money.”
Of course, he was right. No one would expect
Tanner, one of the prospects for valedictorian, the guy getting a
full-ride scholarship to the only school he bothered applying. The
evidence led straight to his girlfriend, the depressed, below
average student who lost her mother earlier in the year. It was a
no brainer. My last name matched the one on the prescription.
“Hanna, you have had a rough year. I can
sympathize with your circumstances but not your choices. I haven’t
notified the police and I don’t plan on getting them involved.
However, you leave me no choice but expulsion. I’m sorry to say
this will be a stain on your permanent school records.”
, I thought. My mom was
dead. My dad ditched us about a year and a half ago. I’d been
living alone for months, in a house that the bank was taking. I was
flat broke. I had no one I considered a friend at school, except
Tanner and he had essentially ruined what was left of my life.
Rough didn’t quite describe what I’d gone through. What little
emotions left in me went numb.
Expelled…three months shy of a
His words became garbled as he informed me,
“You will not be allowed back for any extracurricular activities
such as sporting events or prom. Your disappointing mistake will be
permanently etched into your high school transcripts.”
I left without offering a defense. No
stopping at my locker to gather my things, just down the stairs,
through the exit and eventually into the parking lot. I reached my
mom’s black sedan. Her perfume still lingered on the leather seats.
It was just another bill to me. The bank would take it too.
My mom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma when I was barely a teen. She was the picture of health,
just a little hoarse and fatigued. The chemo came. She lost her
hair. Her beautiful face changed shape. Doctors called it moon
face, some kind of swelling from the treatment. She kept a brave
Dad was a road warrior, always gone for his
job as a regional manager for a pharmaceutical company. During
Mom’s first bout of cancer, he was supportive, even shaved his
head. Mom went into remission several times, healthy then dying,
healthy then dying. It was emotionally draining on our family. My
father became apathetic, and as the months passed, he distanced
himself from her and eventually from me.