Read More Than Good Enough Online

Authors: Crissa-Jean Chappell

Tags: #reservation, #Indian, #native america, #teen, #teen lit, #Young Adult, #YA, #Young Adult Fiction, #young adult novel, #ya novel, #YA fiction, #teen fiction, #teen novel

More Than Good Enough

BOOK: More Than Good Enough
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Woodbury, Minnesota

Copyright Information

More Than Good Enough
© 2014 by Crissa-Jean Chappell.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Flux, except in the form of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

As the purchaser of this ebook, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook on screen. The text may not be otherwise reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or recorded on any other storage device in any form or by any means.

Any unauthorized usage of the text without express written permission of the publisher is a violation of the author’s copyright and is illegal and punishable by law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Cover models used for illustrative purposes only and may not endorse or represent the book’s subject.

First e-book edition © 2013

E-book ISBN: 9780738739793

Book design by Bob Gaul

Cover design by Ellen Lawson

Cover image © Superstock/4107-620/Belinda Images

Flux is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

Flux does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business arrangements between our authors and the public.

Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific reference will continue or be maintained. Please refer to the publisher’s website for links to current author websites.

Flux

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Woodbury, MN 55125

www.fluxnow.com

Manufactured in the United States of America

for Harlan

one

Names are like tree rings. You might end up with a lot. But if you chopped me open and looked inside, you’d find only one. That’s the first thing I learned after I moved onto the Miccosukee reservation with my dad.

We were gliding through the Everglades on Uncle Seth’s airboat. The late afternoon sky gleamed in the smooth surface of the water, as if the clouds rolled under us. All around the boat, a chain of lilies floated. Nothing to hear except the fan blades roaring away.

On my lap, I held the baby alligator that we’d caught
in the tall grass. My uncle said that somebody must’ve kept the gator as a pet. When it grew too big, they dumped it in the swamp.

“They probably kept him in a bathtub,” he said, tapping the gator’s snout. “He didn’t eat right. Not enough meat and bones. See, his back’s all twisted.”

The gator squirmed in my fingers, looking for escape.

I knew how he felt.

We swerved up to the docks and cut the engine. A sign bolted to the post said
MICCOSUKEE PROPERTY. NO TRESPASSING
. The breeze smelled like woodsmoke and low tide. My aunts had waited for us all day, cooking
sofke
with cornbread.

Our sneakers clattered down the boardwalk. In the middle of the island was a chickee hut, its thatched roof jutting above the oak trees. No walls. Everybody was hanging out by the fire, talking super fast in
Hitchiti
. I didn’t understand a single word, but I had a feeling it was about me.
A bunch of kids were running around, playing stickball. They wore patchwork shirts that drooped over their jeans, and in both hands, they carried rackets. They took turns, lunging across the grass. I wanted to join them, but I had no clue how to play.

As I turned away, Dad called out, “Trent, aren’t you hungry?”

“No,” I said, heading to the water.

I found a quiet spot by the canal. Uncle Seth and my dad used to climb the big trees here, but that was a long time ago. Now the shoreline was choked with stringy cattails, the “gravestone” of the Everglades.

“A lot of fish have disappeared,” my uncle said. “Back in the day, we had so many, they used to jump into my canoe.”

I couldn’t tell if he was making this up. Uncle Seth was real good at stretching the truth. Not that I’d call him a liar. I mean, at least he didn’t mess with my head. That was my dad’s job.

In my arms, I held the gator. Did he even have a name? I crouched down near the canal and let go. Uncle Seth told me it couldn’t survive on its own, but I didn’t believe it. For a second, the gator didn’t move. Then it crawled into the water like it knew exactly where it belonged.

A couple weeks before, I was in the garage at my mom’s house, messing around with my bass guitar, trying to teach myself this epic spider-walk technique I learned on YouTube. It was sad how much I’d been neglecting my bass. My pinky kept slipping over the frets and making this wacked-out
zppppptttt
noise. It was beyond irritating.

Music is what got me into Southwinds, the magnet school for super-obsessed people who start playing violin at age two. Right. Everybody’s a genius. Here’s the truth. My grades had crashed and burned that last semester. I just wasn’t into it. Not when you’ve got teachers like Mr. Harding (aka Hard On) forcing you to play
Canon in D
over and over. It was so freaking boring. If I tried to freestyle, he’d get pissed.

When Mom found out I’d been ejected from Southwinds, she blamed the school. Then she called the principal and he blamed me.

“How could you fail all your exams?” Mom wanted to know.

Easy. I never went to class.

“This is inexcusable, Trenton,” she said, slamming down the phone. “I can’t have you going to Palm Hammock with all those druggies. Lord, what is this world coming to? They’re installing metal detectors on campus. I read it in the paper.”

If you asked me, regular school sounded a hell of a lot better. Metal detectors were nothing major unless you’re, like, carrying a Bowie knife in your sock.

Mom wouldn’t drop it. “We are having a discussion. Now.”

Discuss what? I was already done. Over and out.

I sank into the chair and slapped the tabs to “All Along the Watchtower.” My dad used to say that Jimi Hendrix was part Cherokee. When I was little, Dad would lock himself in here and play along with 94.9 Zeta Rocks. He’d crank the stereo so nobody would catch his mistakes. Still, I could tell he was good. More than good.

Mom got so frustrated with my little solo, she left the garage. I think she started crying. I felt kind of guilty for a nanosecond. Then I heard her on the phone, talking to my dad. They got divorced when I was little and he spent the past decade behind bars, but now that he’d gotten out of jail, he was staying with us. He was supposed to be looking for work, but as far as I could tell that wasn’t happening.

I played louder.

Jimi’s refrain buzzed through me, as if his rage had channeled into my hands. That’s the most awesome part about bass guitar. It’s a physical thing, almost percussive. I was so into it, I didn’t hear the car pull into the driveway.

The garage door rumbled open, ultra-dramatic. I watched a blade of light cut across the wall. In my mind, I heard drums thumping like the soundtrack to an old Western. I really hated those movies. The Indians were usually white people in headbands. The director would record their lines and play it backward, just to make it sound like another language. How dumb is that?

My dad marched up to me, wiggling his hands in the air. “Rocking out” on air guitar. Yeah, that’s what he was doing. God, just kill me now.

“Very cool,” he said. “How long you been playing?”

“About an hour,” I said.

He looked confused, then gave me a fake-ass laugh. “No, I mean, when did you start taking lessons?”

Dad had never heard me play, but he’s the one who’d promised to teach me. Obviously, that’s hard to do behind bars. So Mom dragged me to Suniland Music, this place inside a strip mall. A player piano gleamed in the front window, the keys thudding all by themselves. Mom said it was “high class,” but it always scared the shit out of me.

Dad tried again. “So, I hear you’re switching schools. What’s going on with that?” He scratched his goatee, one of his “very cool” props, in addition to the “awesome” cargo shorts and the “bling” around his neck. Yeah, he was living the thug life.

This whole situation was making me sick. Without saying anything, I picked up my skateboard and shoved past him. Dad was yelling at me. There wasn’t much I could do about it. What did he want? I couldn’t go back in time and change my grades.

I slammed the board on the concrete. God, I used to skate, like, the second I woke up on Saturdays. Now the deck was chipped and I needed to glue it back together. The bearings were gunked with dirt. Basically, I’d been abusing that board with neglect, just like the rest of my life.

As I rattled across the driveway, I made up lyrics in my head. Nothing that deserved an award. Just random phrases about the darkness, how it swallows you whole. Guess I was talking to myself. Pretty sad, I know.

BOOK: More Than Good Enough
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