Bears Know Best
Part 17 of 28
Edited by Carla Ann
Thirteen year-old Taylor Landt’s step-mother believes that he should be the next great football player for the high school he’ll be attending in the fall. Having a dad who is an accomplished professional linebacker, and growing up surrounded by professional football coaches and players should all but guarantee his ability to dominate on the field. Unfortunately he hates playing football, and knows his height and build will never allow him to be successful at the sport. Faced with an obsessive step-mother who ignores his obvious talents in other areas but instead thinks he is a blight on his father’s reputation, Taylor does the unthinkable and moves to Ohio to live with his mother who abandoned their family and left him with his father eight years ago.
Soon after his arrival, Taylor discovers there’s more to his inability to follow in his fathers’ footsteps than just his height. Will it be possible for him to make friends in a new town in the middle of nowhere outside the shadow of his dad's fame? Will Taylor be able to finally make peace with his mother who abandoned them all those years ago? And how long can he keep his secrets to himself?
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The Legal Stuff: Bears Know Best © 2012 By Tiffany Shar
This is a work of fiction. Names, Characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 By Tiffany Shar. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.
Like the first three books I posted here on BigCloset, I will be posting a full copy here on BigCloset. I will be posting it up in 28 installments, but that may change if I feel like a posting needs more. The book has a total of 35 chapters and a short epilogue. The full version should be completely posted by September. For those that cannot wait however, I have an e-book version of the full book available from Lulu.com as of today. You may find it at My Store. My assumption is that the majority of my readers would be more interested in this edition of the book rather than a hardback or paperback. There are two types of eBooks available depending on how you wish to read it. One is the ePub format that you should be able to load on any e-reader (you may need an additional app, but I believe all will read it), and the other is a standard PDF formatted file. I believe the PDF is the best way to read it on a computer screen personally. If you enjoy this work perhaps you will consider supporting me by purchasing it ($8.95 for the eBook formatted files).
Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy reading Bears Know Best!
Chapter 22: Goodbyes and Time
THE NEXT MORNING I was shaken awake by Mom, before anyone else, “Taylor, you need to wake up and take care of ‘stuff.’”
I groaned, but she succeeded in getting me to go upstairs and begin on my regular care… It sucked, as usual.
By the time I showered, she had breakfast on the table and we woke the other girls up. Dad chose that moment to show up. I gave him a hug, “Good morning Daddy,” I told him.
“Morning Princess,” he told me as he kissed the top of my head.
We all sat down and dug into the variety of breakfast food that Mom had put together. She had set out scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, toast, and cut fruit onto the breakfast bar for everyone to dig into.
“How come you’re already dressed?” Breanna asked while munching on a piece of fruit.
I sighed, “This surgery requires some… umm… care of the area.” I said.
She raised her eyebrows and I heard her breathe, “Ouch!” I guessed Alyssa had kicked her under the table.
“I’ll tell you sometime, not at the breakfast table with my Dad here,” I said. He knew about it, but he was every bit as uncomfortable about it as I was.
I had intentionally sat next to Dad as we ate breakfast, and found myself just being quiet and sad about him leaving. It seemed like just five minutes later the two of us were standing outside next to his rented car. “Be a good girl,” he told me as he hugged me. “Hang in there, and I think this will all be fine. You have some really great friends already… and I’ll see you in a few weeks,” he assured me.
I was crying as I hugged him, “I love you Daddy,” I told him. “I wish you didn’t have to go,” I added.
“I know sweetie,” he said. “You know you can always come back with me…”
I shook my head, “Daddy, I love you so much, but I will not live in the same house as Rachel.”
“I really wish you two could get along,” he sighed, just as upset about it as I was.
“I know,” I said guiltily.
“Maybe when you come visit you two can work things out.” He told me hopefully.
I wanted to make a comment about Hell freezing over first, as an ode to the way I’d been raised the first thirteen years of my life, but I was nice and nodded, giving an unconvincing, “Maybe.”
He gave me one more big hug, kissing me on the top of my head, before getting into the car and driving off. I was wiping away my tears as I walked back inside to my friends. They saw I was crying and all of them gave me a group hug and worked to make me feel better. They used my bathroom and Mom’s bathroom to shower and got ready for the day. Other than Alyssa, everyone was gone by noon.
“So what are you going to do now?” Alyssa asked me.
I shrugged, “Not sure, I kind of feel like a nap…” I admitted.
She gave me a hug, “Let me know if you want to come over and do something later.” She told me and made her own exit after collecting her stuff.
I ended up napping off and on over the next few days, but gradually began to feel more like myself. By Friday I was excited to have permission from the doctor to attempt to play horn again. I was to take it easy still, but I was allowed to see if it was painful or not. Truth be told, I didn’t care if it was! It hurt at first, but I soon found that playing a bit softer and adjusting my posture on the donut made it bearable. ‘I’m just glad my teacher can’t see the way I’m sitting!’
I spent three straight hours practicing Friday morning before I was startled with a tap on my shoulder. “Ack!” I fairly screamed.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Alyssa told me.
I turned towards her and said, “Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting anyone.”
“I know, you had been ignoring your text messages so I decided to come see if you were home or not.” Mom had decided it was a good idea for Alyssa to know the code to get into the garage in case she couldn’t get a hold of me during the days… She was worried about me.
“Sorry,” I told her. “I’m still not used to…”
She gave me a hug carefully around my horn, “I know. I still can’t believe you didn’t have tons of friends down there though.” She told me with a smile.
I smiled at her.
“So are you just practicing all day?”
I shrugged, “I was having withdrawals from practicing,” I blushed a bit as I said it. The other kids at my old school used to laugh and make fun of me when they found out how much time I spent practicing.
Alyssa smiled at me, “I guess I can understand that. How are you feeling otherwise?”
I shrugged, “Mainly bored. I think I’m starting to feel like I can get out and do other things again, but I still keep getting tired easily it seems.”
“You want to go for a walk?” she suggested.
I looked down at my horn, knowing it would still be there later, and said, “Sure.”
I went upstairs and found my key and iPhone before the two of us set off to walk down the street a bit. We went maybe about half of the distance of our running circuit before turning back around to return home. Along the way we talked about her plans for the weekend. “So you’re going to race this weekend?” I asked.
She nodded excitedly, “Hopefully I can keep up with the others,” she mentioned with a smile.
“Where’s this one at?”
“Down in Cincinnati,” she told me.
“How long are you guys going to be gone?” I asked. I tried not to let the sadness in my voice carry through to her.
She looked at me worriedly, but said, “We’re leaving tomorrow morning, and coming back Tuesday.”
“I hope you do well,” I told her. We talked about the different things they had planned on their trip, and it sounded like a blast. I was feeling insanely jealous that her family did so many cool things as a family. About the only time I could ever remember doing anything ‘as a family’ in the last eight years was the trip to the zoo a couple weeks ago.
The two of us had reached my house again and I really didn’t know what to do with myself for the rest of the day. “Do you want to come help me pack?” Alyssa asked.
I shrugged, “Sure, I don’t have anything else to do.”
I ended up hanging out at her house for the rest of the afternoon before having to go home. The two of us had fun deciding which outfits she should be taking on the trip, and making fun of some things in her closet that needed to go! About five o’clock, Mom sent me a text message that she was on her way home to go get some dinner together.
“Good luck!” I told Alyssa as I gave her a hug.
“I’m sure it’ll be fun no matter what,” she mentioned.
“I’m glad you’re excited,” I told her knowingly. I walked the short distance over to my house after that and hit the bathroom before Mom would get home.
‘I never even put any makeup on this morning…’ I thought to myself as I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I heard the door open downstairs and close, and decided I probably should just ignore it for now. I also noticed that the wind pants and the camisole weren’t exactly making a great fashion statement either. ‘Do we have to go out?’ I whined loudly to myself as I made my way downstairs.
“You ready?” Mom asked me. I tried not to give her too much of a glare, but apparently I failed.
“Are you okay Taylor?”
I sighed, ‘Not fair that she can tell…’ I thought as I responded, “I’m fine… I guess.”
“Do we have to go out?” I asked.
“Why wouldn’t we?” She asked me. “I figured after not doing much for the last two weeks you’d like to go do some shopping in Erie after dinner.” She was testing the waters then.
For some unexplainable reason I suddenly burst into tears. I really didn’t understand why, it just happened. Mom was there in an instant, wrapping her arms around me. “Shh…” she told me, “It’s okay Taylor.”
It took me five minutes before I had control of myself. “Mom why am I crying?!? I’m not even that upset about anything!” I told her.
“Well… there could be a bunch of reasons for it Taylor, including stress,” she assured me. “It’s not like you haven’t had a billion reasons to be upset in the last few months!” she smiled at me then.
“So what set this off?” She asked now that the bomb had gone off and cleanup was possible.
“I really don’t know… I just wasn’t happy with the way I was dressed, and had no makeup on, and…” I bit my lip because I could feel another cry-fest threatening to make its’ way to the surface.
“Shh…” She smiled at me after giving me another hug. “If that’s all it is, let’s go upstairs and find something else for you to wear. I’ll even do your hair and makeup for you real quick if you want.”
I bit my lip even harder in response, as that made me feel worse and I loved that she was willing to do all of those things for me. At the same time I felt like some sort of helpless little kid too, ‘what in the world is wrong with me…?’ I took a moment to take in a deep breath before nodding and saying, “Okay.”
She followed me upstairs and asked, “Can I choose?” with a bit more excitement than I should have been comfortable with.
“Why don’t you go wash your face off real quick?” she suggested.
So it was that twenty minutes later we were in the car on the way to Erie. She’d found a pair of shorts that I hadn’t worn yet, along with a multi-colored top with teals, blues, and purples, which had ruffles coming down a long v-neck line and capped sleeves. It was pretty, but I hadn’t worn it yet as it seemed to cross some sort of line in my brain of ‘too girlie.’ I had caught my reflection on the way out of my bedroom and admitted I looked pretty. ‘Much better than before…’ I thought to myself.
So it was that we were able to get to Erie just before seven that night and were sitting in the lobby of a chain restaurant waiting for a table. Mom and I hadn’t been talking much, so I just kind of people watched. I noticed two boys with their parents across the room doing some people watching of their own… or I should say some Taylor watching… I blushed when I figured out they were checking me out. I decided to stare back at them and see if I could join in the sport that Alyssa had taught me. Sure enough they turned bright red and looked anywhere but at me!
I giggled a bit. “Be nice Taylor,” Mom looked over at me and whispered.
“Sorry, Alyssa told me that was fun to do.”
“Just because it’s ‘fun’ doesn’t mean that it’s nice,” she reminded me.
I sighed and caught another interesting bit of conversation right next to me on my left. “So when does your marching camp start up again?” The lady, probably the guy’s wife, asked.
“A week from Monday,” he told her.
That reminded me; we were supposed to be starting up with our camp then too! I looked over at the man’s shirt and saw it was a Conneaut band shirt.
“Mom, I think that might be my new band director,” I whispered to her.
She nodded and said, “I think it is, I recognize him from bringing some kids to play at a charity event this last year.” She paused, “Do you want to introduce yourself?”
I didn’t really have much need to at that point though, because the woman noticed the charm bracelet I had on my wrist. “I love your bracelet,” she told me.
“Thanks,” I said nervously.
“Do you play horn?” She asked.
I nodded, “I’ve been playing for several years now.”
“Where do you go to school?” She asked curiously.
“Well… actually I just moved up here from Atlanta, and will be going to school in Conneaut,” I told her with a bit of a blush.
“I see you’ve figured out I teach there,” the man said with a smile. “I’m Mr. Brandt,” he introduced himself.
“Taylor Landt,” I said. He noticed the similarity in last names and he seemed to grin a bit at that.
“You play horn? Really?” He asked with way more glee than I would have expected about that though.
I nodded, “Yes sir I do.”
“That’s amazing!” I looked at him quizzically, “Horn players always move away, never in!” he explained with a smile.
“Well my neighbor, and best friend, will also be going to high school and playing horn this year too,” I told him.
“Alyssa?” He asked.
“Cool!” The pager in Mom’s hand started blinking. “Say, if you want to stop by and pick up the show music for this year, I’ll be in the office Tuesday and Wednesday morning. We can also go ahead and sign out a horn to you.” He seemed a little cautious, “Hopefully I have one that will work for you, I wasn’t really expecting a new horn student to move in this year, I know I have a marching horn that will work… I may have to get a concert horn from the junior high or something.”
“Don’t worry about the concert horn,” I told him with a smile. “I have my own.”
I watched his jaw drop. “Really?”
“Really,” I told him with a smile as I stood up and shook his hand, “It was nice to meet you Mr. Brandt.”
Mom and I followed the hostess to our table a second later, and I commented to Mom, “That was random.”
She shrugged, “It’s pretty normal in this area to discover it’s a small world.”
I thought about that for a second and nodded. I ended up ordering an Alfredo Chicken dish, and was surprised to see on my iPhone that it was already almost eight when we walked out of the restaurant. “There’s not much time left to shop,” I mentioned to Mom.
“We’ll go to the mall first and then to Kohl’s,” she suggested.
I nodded, “Kohl’s is open till ten, right?”
“Yep!” she said excitedly. It had never really occurred to me, but her life had been just as much on hold the last weeks as mine had. We didn’t have nearly enough time to properly troll the mall, but we both walked out with a couple new tops by closing time. Kohl’s was a slightly more successful spot for Mom than it was me that day. She found a couple new dresses she could wear to the office on sale.
About the only success we had for me was pair of cute flip-flops that I could wear around the house or at the beach if I ever went there with the girls. I had missed a few of those trips due to being in the hospital, and there wasn’t much in the way of time left. I still wouldn’t be able to go in the water, but at least I could go hang out with my friends.
We returned home just after eleven and there wasn’t any doubt in my mind I was heading straight towards bed. I still felt like I was in an odd mood as I went to bed that night, but thankfully sleep erased all thoughts of mood for me.
THE WEEKEND PASSED with nothing of interest happening. I went for a walk with Mom in the mornings, and practiced horn when I returned. Danielle and Breanna convinced me to go to a movie with them Sunday afternoon. It had been an enjoyable afternoon, and the three of us just had fun together. I really could see myself getting attached to the two girls as my own friends, but it wasn’t the same as my friendship with Alyssa. I really felt like I understood the term ‘BFF’ much better now.
Along the way through the weekend I had a couple more unexplainable crying fests. The kicker for me was Sunday night when I found myself crying over not being able to find the pair of earrings I wanted to wear the next day to my appointment. Mom was there the whole time, and I got the feeling she wasn’t surprised to see the weekend continue like that. I decided maybe it was because I was getting the flu or something, because my stomach didn’t feel all that great.
Monday morning Mom knocked on my door and said, “Taylor it’s time to get up and get ready to go into Cleveland.”
I felt the same stomach issues as I got up, ‘At least I’m seeing a doctor today,’ I thought grimly to myself. Thankfully we had already chosen a skirt and a top for that day, or I might have said forget it and worn my pajamas. As I sat to go to the bathroom I pulled down my pajama shorts and panties and looked ahead. It was when I reached for a wad of toilet paper to wipe myself that I found myself screaming.
There was a bunch of blood in my panties, ‘Am I going to bleed to death?’ I asked myself in a panic.
There was a knock on the door, “Are you okay Taylor?” Mom asked over my sobs.
“No, I think something is wrong, I have blood everywhere!” I told her.
Thankfully I never locked the bathroom door, so she opened it, took one look at my underwear, and gave me a hug. “It’s okay Taylor,” she told me.
“No it’s not, look at that!” I told her. “Something must have gone wrong…”
I wanted to hit her right then, she was smiling.
“Taylor, something did go wrong,” she told me with that same smirk.
“Then why are you smiling?” I asked.
“Well, if this something had gone right I would be wondering who you had been sneaking off and had sex with.” She said, causing my face to burn in redness.
It was then that it dawned on me. “You mean…?” I asked.
“Yes Taylor, you’re bleeding because you’re not pregnant. And,” she said with a stern face, “you are to remain in that state for many years!” she smiled as she said that.
“Eeww…” I complained. “It’s worse than I thought.”
Mom just laughed at me.
“Taylor, go ahead and get your shower,” she told me as she opened the bottom cabinet below the sink, “and stick this in your panties when you get out.”
I glared at the item, and her, for several seconds. I’d had to use some maxi pads for the first week after the surgery, but this was the first time I’d be using a maxi pad for my… period. I couldn’t help but notice the ‘heavy flow’ on the box she had pulled it from. “I have to deal with this every month?” I complained.
“Well, it may be awhile before you get that regular sweetie, but yes.” She gave me a hug and I threw the offending panties and shorts into the hamper.
I only had one thought as I showered, and it was about my first period… I guess they had done the surgery in the nick of time. I felt so gross though that I seemed to scrub at my skin with the loofa even more than I normally did. I was supposed to have dialated again that morning, but only remembered as we drove towards town.
“Mom I forgot to do something this morning,” I said embarrassed.
She thought for a moment and asked, “The pad?”
I shook my head, “No, I put that in my panties.” I breathed, “It feels so weird by the way,” I told her.
She laughed, “Well, maybe in a few months you can switch to tampons instead. I think that’s what most of your friends probably use,” she told me.
“Anyway… no I forgot the other thing,” I told her.
“This is the first time you’ve forgotten, right?” She asked.
“Then it should be okay. Dr Wenger should be able to tell us more for certain, but I have a feeling you are about to the point that you should be able to decrease the times you’re doing that.”
“I hope so,” I muttered. I really didn’t look forward to that and dealing with blood at the same time.
She reached over and squeezed my hand, “Taylor, it will be fine.”
Moms are always right, of course. Dr. Wenger had me up on a table with stirrups on it, and examined everything. She told me I would only need to continue with once a day for the next few weeks and she thought I would be okay to stop.
“Why do I get to stop doing it so early?” I asked nervously. I’d read about transgender patients needing to do it for a year or more.
“Because you’re really a girl Taylor, everything for you was already setup right. Like I’ve told you before, you only had a malformed vagina. That looks to be healing just fine and you don’t have to worry about anything other than keeping that opening skin from sticking together. From what I can see you are actually past the point of that being a worry, but we’ll keep it up daily for a while just to be safe.” She assured me.
“Oh,” I said dumbly.
She smiled at me, “I can understand your worry. Actually, I’m amazed by the coincidence of us having this appointment on the day of your first discharge.”
I nodded. “Everything’s okay though, I’m not going to bleed to death?” I asked.
She shook her head, “Nope, you’re just going to have to get used to this monthly issue though.”
‘Great.’ I told myself. Dr. Wenger spoke with us for a good long while before we left. In that time she told me the same thing Mom had, that I probably should hold off on tampons for a few months still. I wasn’t complaining, I’d already grown tired of putting things up there; the idea of having one more thing to put in there was not something I looked forward to.
Mom and I left the hospital that day and went straight to the milkshake place without her asking me anything. “I figured you could use it,” she told me with a smile.
I smiled weakly back at her and the two of us were soon sipping on milk shakes. “I remember my first time,” Mom told me while we waited for food to come out. “I was more freaked out than you were,” she assured me. “Mom had been expecting it for some reason though, and helped me through it.”
“She’d been expecting it?” I asked. I thought back to her reaction this morning and wondered if she had been today too.
“Yes, see I’d been crying uncontrollably the couple days beforehand…” she admitted with a smile.
“So you knew I was going to have mine?” I asked with a shock.
She nodded, “It’s one of the signs.”
It was then that I remembered how soaked my pad had been when we got to the doctor’s office, and suddenly felt like I was ‘wetter’ down there than I should be. “Umm… Mom, I think I need to go to the bathroom,” I told her.
“Will you be okay?” She asked, concerned.
“I think so,” I said. I picked up my purse and made my way into the bathroom. I pulled out the soggy pad from my panties and figured it must have been really close to leaking. After I put a new one in I looked in the mirror at the back of my skirt to see if there was anything there, but it seemed alright. When I sat back down at the table my food was waiting. It was while I was eating that Mom proceeded to have one of the most embarrassing discussions in my life with me about everything I never wanted to know about periods. She even went so far as to tell me to make sure I had an extra pair of panties and pants with me on bad days.
After lunch we made a trip to Target on our way out of town to get a few brands of products to try and see what worked best for me. I felt sooo embarrassed and red as a boy stood in line next to us, and a cart full of feminine products being pushed by my mom. The fact that he was checking me out anytime he thought I wasn’t looking made it ten times worse. I didn’t feel like shopping that afternoon, so we headed straight home. I found that I once again was changing the pad, and tried a different brand to see if it would hold up any better. By dinner I was changing my skirt because of leak issues, and I just wanted to curl up into a ball and cry that night.
Mom forced me to spend time with her in the living room watching a movie though, so alone time was not in the cards. To her credit I appreciated it when she brushed my hair for me and rubbed my back. It made me feel a little bit better. I took a second shower that night after dealing with a now daily task, as I felt gross from the task and everything else.
TUESDAY MORNING I felt slightly less crabby, and excited to see Alyssa come out for a walk with me that morning. She and her parents had driven in late Monday night and she was still excited from her weekend. Apparently she had won three trophies related to her weekend races that she’d participated in. I told her about meeting Mr. Brandt, and his offer to give me the music and a marching horn if we stopped by today.
“We should totally go do that!” she told me.
“Yeah.” I said with less enthusiasm than I should have had at the subject.
“What’s wrong?” She asked me.
“I just…” I blushed, “Apparently it’s a good thing they did the surgery, because I had my first period start yesterday.”
“Oh my God that’s awesome Taylor!” she told me with a smile.
I glared at her. “Why does every other girl keep saying that?”
“Well it’s disgusting, horrible, and makes you feel crabby and emotional,” Alyssa admitted, “But, that means you can have kids, isn’t that kind of cool?” She asked.
I nodded, “I guess. I don’t even know what you’re supposed to do with a baby,” I told her.
“Well duh, you’re not going to have one right now!” She told me. “I mean, I am not going to hang out with a friend who’s getting knocked up all of the time,” she giggled, and that set me off too.
When we returned from our walk Alyssa showed me her trophies from the weekend. One of them in particular seemed pretty big, and said, ‘First place fourteen and under girls.’
“Cool,” I told her. “I wish I could ride right now, not that I could keep up with you in a race.”
“Next year you probably can,” she assured me. “How long until the doctor thinks you can ride again?”
“I’ve got another appointment towards the end of August. She seemed to think she could release me for that then. She only released me for marching band next week, yesterday.”
“Speaking of marching band, let’s get my mom to take us to the high school!” she told me.
“Well, let me grab my horn case really quick so I can get my mouthpiece out of there if I need it.” I said, forcing myself to be a bit more excited and happy than I felt. I also needed to go to the bathroom and change my pad again. I was wearing a pair of denim shorts that came down just below my fingertips, and a plain green v-neck stretch t-shirt as a top. I didn’t feel like wearing anything nicer that day with the way I felt.
As soon as I had grabbed my horn from downstairs I walked back over to Alyssa’s place to see her mom already had the garage door open. I climbed into the back with Alyssa and held my horn case on my lap. “That’s your horn Taylor?” she asked me. She was surprised because it was a different case than Alyssa had for her school horn. I loved having a horn that had a removable bell because it made the case much easier to haul around. My case even had backpack straps and a pocket where I kept a folder of music. Compared to the hard shell case that Alyssa had to haul around with her fixed bell it was a lot easier!
“Yep!” I said.
“How does it fit in there?” She asked curiously as we drove down the road. I went into a ten minute explanation on my horn and how it worked. “That’s really neat, maybe we should look into doing that for Alyssa…” she said thoughtfully. I knew her parents had some decent money, but I would be surprised if they could make a purchase like that without thinking about it first. Mine had run about five thousand for the horn and the case. What I really wanted was a custom horn like my former teacher had, and it seemed like my new teacher had as well. All of the major horn players had moved away from the major manufacturers to companies that were doing smaller runs and handcrafting everything.
It seemed like no time had passed and we were pulling up to the high school. I could see Mr. Brandt outside with some other kids spraying the parking lot with paint. It looked like he was painting on a fresh set of lines to a practice football field. Alyssa’s mom parked away from where they were painting. I hooked my arms through the straps of my case and walked towards him with Alyssa and her Mom. He looked up from the little green paint striper he was using and saw us.
“Hi there,” he said. It looked to me like he had just done the final yard line and we might have hit him at a good time. The other kids waved at us as well and it looked like they recognized Alyssa.
“Hi,” I heard Alyssa say at the same time as me.
“Taylor, right?” he asked. I was really impressed that he remembered my name!
“Yes sir,” I told him politely.
“And Alyssa, right?” she nodded as well and her mother introduced herself.
“This is Cameron, Julie, and Hannah,” Mr. Brandt introduced the three older high schoolers to us. “They’re the drum majors for this year and are helping me get ready for next week,” he explained.
“Nice to meet you,” Hannah said to me as she stuck out her hand. The others did so as well, but I definitely noticed Cameron seemed a little awkward as he looked at me. ‘Great, another looker,’ I thought to myself annoyed. ‘At least he’s sort of cute,’ a voice in the back of my head said and I felt mortified!
“You wanted to get a marching horn and the music?” Mr. Brandt asked.
“If you don’t mind,” I told him.
We followed him inside to the band room and I found myself inside an older room that had risers built-in to the room. He led us over to a closet where he pulled out two battered and worn cases that seemed to be gigantic. “Cameron, can you go get the valve oil off my desk, and can you grab two horn parts to everything Hannah, please?” he asked.
He opened the cases one at a time and pulled out instruments that looked like they were at least as old as my parents, and were just as beaten as the cases that held them. I watched him use valve oil on both of the instruments to get the valves moving, and he finally handed one to each of us to hold and try out. I shrugged my case off of my shoulder and grabbed my main mouthpiece out of the pocket. As I did so the three of them, Alyssa’s a mom, and Mr. Brandt got a look at my horn.
“Oh my God, that’s so pretty!” Julie said to me.
“Thanks,” I said and blushed a bit. I put the mouthpiece on the clunker and glanced at the first piece that was on top of the pile that Hannah had given me. As I sight-read through it quickly I could feel their gazes intensify.
“Wow.” Cameron said. “She’s going to be in wind ensemble, right Mr. Brandt?”
“If we can keep her here…” he breathed.
I read through another of the pieces really quick, but kept having problems with a valve sticking. “Just my luck I get the most talented horn student I’ve ever seen, and don’t have a decent horn to give her,” he said with a sad shake of his head.
“Alyssa is pretty good too,” I said, not letting her shrink into the background.
“Not that good Taylor,” she said back.
“What’s the chance we could hear you on your actual horn?” Mr. Brandt asked curiously.
I sighed, “I’m a bit rusty right now, I wasn’t able to play for two weeks,” I told him as I pulled it out. I played a few of the things I had played for Mr. Fark nearly a month ago, and felt like I must have just shot any chances of being normal to Hell in a span of fifteen minutes.
“Destiny is going to have trouble adjusting to not being the best anymore,” I heard Hannah mutter to Julie.
“Well, I don’t think you’re going to have any problems playing the stuff here,” Mr. Brandt said. The rest of them shook their heads as to state that much was obvious. “Are you taking lessons anywhere yet?” he asked. “I know of a good teacher in Erie…”
He stopped though when he saw my nod, “I’m working with Mr. Fark in Cleveland.”
“Well then…” he stuttered, “I guess you’re in good hands.” All except Alyssa and her mom didn’t quite follow that one, but the Mr. Brandt smiled at me. We stayed for about twenty more minutes and talked to Mr. Brandt and the three drum majors. They all seemed pretty cool, and I had a feeling I would get along with them just fine. On the way home though, with both of the junky horns in the back, I got an idea in my head that I wanted to check on.
Mom was still at work when I walked home from their house carrying my horn on my back, and the marching horn in my hand. It weighed as much as I did I was sure, and I struggled a bit to get inside. “I hope I don’t cause myself any problems…” I thought.
Alyssa had some chores to do, so she stayed at her place and I began working on my idea. The internet was my friend as I began looking at a few companies’ websites and found what I was looking for, a new horn! They were running about fifteen-hundred apiece for silver plated, and a bit less for brass colored. The one from the school was silver, so I guessed most of their horns probably would be too. I looked in my purse for my credit card and ordered two. I was not going to play on those junky horns, and Alyssa didn’t need to be either!
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