November 23, 2014

J.L. Bowen’s Sneak Preview: Remember Me

Remember how your mom always said, “If you do something bad,  karma will come back to you and be ten times worse.” My hero, Hunter, learns the hard way—being a bully comes back and bites him.

Not only did I have to write an apology letter to Ms. Pease, but my dad came in to meet with the crone. I wouldn’t let dad tell her what was going on with mom. It wasn’t any of her business and I didn’t want her pity. I wouldn’t believe her pity even if she tried to lump it on me.
I threw my equipment bag into my truck. I at least got to eat dinner before I drove to the Arvada library to meet my tutor. I forget to ask mom her name. Dad didn’t know. He said it was a girl in the honors program. Goody for her. A superior bitch to lord over me.
I walked into our house and the aroma of roast beef filled the air. My mouth watered. Mom always had dinner ready after practice. Not sandwiches, but a full cooked meal and a dessert. She didn’t work, but to me, she worked all the time. The house was always clean, yard immaculate, laundry done. But it was her cooking I loved the best. No one was as good of a cook as my mom.
“Hello, Hunter,” mom said. “How was school?”
Dad put down his newspaper and eyed me suspiciously.
“Good. Even math.” Not true, but I wasn’t going to tell him that. Ms. Pease had been her usual pleasant self of humiliating me and other kids who didn’t know the answers to area questions. “I’m going to take a shower before we eat, okay?”
“Sure,” mom said. “Remember your tutoring is at 7:00 pm at the Arvada Library.”
“I know. Hey, by the way, who is my tutor?”
“Coach Juárez’s daughter, Jazmin.”
I stopped half way up the stairs. Crap, could anything go my way? Coach Juárez was my offensive coordinator and we were at a truce. In freshmen year, Jazmin and I had been in the same math class. I still remember that bad day in Mr. Lemon’s class.
“Is x squared and x times 2 the same?” Mr. Lemon asked.
I raised my hand, so sure I had this. “Yes.”
“Hunter, put a 3 in both the equation. And tell me if they’re the same?”
I tapped my pencil on desk, trying to figure out if I had given the right answer. Mr. Lemon always wanted you to double check your answer. “Yes, they’re the same.”
Jazmin was sitting next to me. She shook her head and showed me her notebook where she had written x squared equaled nine and two times three was six.
“Hunter, are they the same?” Mr. Lemon had asked again.
Jazmin was smart, ten times smarter than me. She rarely spoke but when she did, her answers were always right. I should have thanked her and changed my answer. But no, I was pissed. She was staring at me. Her hair flared out around her shoulders and she looked good. But I didn’t care. I wanted to hurt her. So, I did.
Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars flashed in my mind. “Shut up, you-know-it-all Jazmin the Hutt,” I whispered under my breath.
My friends heard and snickered. To this day, they refer to her as the Hutt.

She winced as if I’d hit her. Tears formed in her large cat eyes. Immediately, I regretted it. Luckily, Mr. Lemon hadn’t heard.

I insisted I was right, but he explained why I was wrong. I had tried to pay attention and had pretended to not notice Jazmin. She’d put her head on her and her thick brown hair flooded her desk.

“Jazmin?” Mr. Lemon asked. “Are you feeling well?”

“No,” she said. “May I be excused?”

She had run out of the room. That was the last time we spoke. Coach Juárez had made me run thirty laps around the track. Thirty, no joke.

I should have apologized to her, but like a weasel, I had ignored her for the rest of the year. She never showed me another answer. I had flunked math and had to take summer school.

Now, she was my tutor. And held my future in her hands.



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