The Wrongdoer

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Chapter 7: Life is changing, slightly

Today, Mike anxiously waited for the school day to end instead of hoping it would drag on. So, when he forgot his agenda and Ms. Rond yelled at him, he could not get that stupid grin off his face. Since Mike was in such a joyful mood, he felt that someone had fast-forwarded the school day because soon he was exiting the school doors. Mike knew that it would still be very awkward having Cindy tutor him, but what really made him smile was the fact that Bradley would be bleeding jealousy. He knew Bradley might destroy him because of this, but maybe his jealousy would be so overpowering that he would completely forget about the bullying factor. Mike, however, doubted this.

When Mike left the school building, Bradley was waiting for him outside and he didn’t look very happy. Mike smiled his toothy grin. Bradley just wanted to slap that smile clean off his face and bury it in the snow where it belonged.

“Well, you think you’re so good, Mister Hotshot.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Mike trying to stop himself from laughing.

“I know Cindy’s tutoring you.”

“How’d you find out?”

“My parents had to go to a meeting about my sister so I snuck around and eavesdropped on your conversation. Now I’m really going to make your life a living hell! And once I’m done with you, you’ll be so destroyed and crippled that even when you blink it will hurt. You’ll be so weak that even getting out of bed could kill you. And forget about brushing your teeth, you’ll have no teeth. And your gums…well, they’ll be so sensitive that even if you stick dentures there you’ll bleed continuously. You’ll be so broken that cripples will spit and laugh at you. That will teach you that nobody should try to get the girl I want or they’ll become shit like what you’ll be.”

Mike looked down at the fluffy snowy ground that didn’t look so comforting anymore. The smile that he had on earlier was disappearing off his face. Bradley noticed this and smiled, delighted. To show his triumph, he pushed Mike down the icy hill.

When Mike arrived at his house, it was raining. Through the rapid falling raindrops, he could see Cindy was waiting at the door.

“How long have you been waiting?” he asked.

“Just a few minutes,” replied Cindy. “Why are you limping?”
“No reason.” Mike quickly dug into his pockets for his keys and fumbled with them inside the door lock before he finally opened the door. He held the door open for Cindy. “Sorry about the wait.”

“It’s O.K.,” said Cindy stepping inside. Mike followed after and closed the door behind him. “When I arrived, your mom was just leaving.”

“Yeah, she asked me to give you this.” Mike handed her a ten-dollar bill.

“Oh, I couldn’t accept that.”

But Mike persisted. “My mom insists.”

Cindy reluctantly took the money out of Mike’s outstretched hand and just nodded. She knew if she didn’t accept it, it would probably turn up in her mailbox or given to her directly from the source, Mike’s mother. Cindy had a feeling that this woman would find some way of forcing the money upon her so she knew it was best to accept it before any of this occurred. Maybe she was being more polite than she needed to be.

“She has two jobs. Her first job is she’s part of the airline staff and that goes on for the whole morning and then her second job is that she’s a sales clerk which starts right when school ends for us.”

“My mom is also part of the airline staff.”

Really?” Maybe he and Cindy had a few things in common after all.

“But she works full-time, not part-time.”

“Cool.” Mike tried not to sound too disappointed. He decided to change the subject. He noticed that the two of them were still wearing their coats and were dripping water all over the welcome mat. “May I take your coat?”

“Sure.” The bill was still in her hand.

Mike pointed to the purple bill. “Maybe you should put it in your purse.”

Cindy stared at the crumpled piece of purple paper. Now there’s an idea, she thought. She stuffed it into her small brown Coach purse hoping that maybe she could bury it and never see it again. “Sorry, I was just reading a small passage from Flanders Fields.” But Mike doubted that. He didn’t say anything, but he’d constantly seen Cindy glance at that bill. Never did her eyes move when she glanced at the banknote for more than a few seconds.

“Would you care to sit down?” Mike directed her to a small white couch in the living room. Cindy thanked him as she placed her purse beside her on the couch and her backpack on the fluffy white carpet. Mike decided to sit on the small wooden chair in front of her. “Would you like anything to drink?”

“That would be great. Do you have water?”

“Yep. Filtered or tap?”

“Filtered if it’s not too much trouble.”

“Well, if you call ‘trouble’ taking it out of the fridge.”

Cindy smiled, but Mike wasn’t sure if his flirtatious ways were appropriate. He quickly left, a bit embarrassed. This gave time for Cindy to scan the living room.

There was a small glass table in front of her and the walls were painted a calming jade green, which really did make her feel relaxed and comfortable. Besides the couch and the wooden chair, there was a small black-leathered easy chair for what, Cindy assumed, was for more lounging occasions. Beside that was a tall white lamp that was probably used if the comfortable participant felt like reading in the evening.

It seemed to be a very comfy living room and there was even a small fireplace close to the easy chair. Cindy wished she could curl up in that chair with a good book, basking in the warmth of the glowing fire. She looked out of the one large window behind her and saw sheets of rain pouring down the windowpane. It made her wish for that fire even more. She drew the creamy white curtains hoping to forget the sad rain. Sadly though, she could still hear the pitter-patter of the drops as they fell. With the curtains drawn though, she found that the room had suddenly gotten fairly dark and uninviting so she quickly turned on the pot light above her.

Soon, Mike entered and handed Cindy her glass of water. She placed it down on one of the wooden coasters on the table. Mike held his glass as he sat back in his chair.

“So what does your dad do?” asked Cindy as she unzipped her bag and began pulling out her red English binder.

“My dad works for the government,” said Mike as he watched her.

“Cool.” She placed her English binder on the couch. Mike noticed how it was so neatly arranged and not stuffed with papers to the point of explosion like his was. It was also decorated with lot of sparklers, stickers, and a few doodles. He knew that most of the girls in his class had decorative binders and if you were a girl and failing a subject, the teacher might not be proud of your work but at least you had a good-looking binder.

Mike was happy he had left his backpack in the hall beside the coat rack; knowing that without it not being close made him not feel embarrassed beside Cindy’s beautiful binder. Mike knew that Cindy’s binder was filled with perfect grades, neat writing, and probably even dividers to organize everything. With Mike, his binder was so disorganized that it was not only stuffed with papers it was also spilling out papers. It was tattered and worn and looked like it had been purchased from a salesman selling binders in a rainstorm.

“It’s cold in here,” said Cindy suddenly rubbing her hands together. She was hoping that maybe, just maybe, Mike would get that fire going.

Mike did, but not in the same way she hoped; he flicked a switch. Soon the red and orange gas burst from the fake logs. It was a gas fireplace. Cindy felt stupid that she hadn’t seen the glass in front of the properly made-to-look-nice-logs. Of course they were fake. They didn’t even look like real logs. She missed the crackling sound of a fire and the fact that she could move her hands close to it and not worry about burning them, but just sit there and be toasty warm. She had to admit she was a bit disappointed with the fake heating device, but she still decided it was better than no heat at all.

“Thanks,” she said trying to shield her disappointment. Mike felt that if he did everything Cindy asked him to do they might have a better relationship with each other or at least start one. “So, what do you want to learn first?”

“Compound sentences.”

Mike didn’t feel like being near Cindy at that very moment; he needed to think things over, so he told her that he needed to go to the bathroom. He had taken a long time with the glass of water, yet he felt he needed some more time alone to deal with his situation. In the bathroom, he stared into the mirror and started to wash his hands. He could not believe Cindy was his tutor, but what would happen if Cindy didn’t like him the same way he did? Would that mean that Cindy coming over would mean nothing him? He was so preoccupied with his thoughts that he didn’t feel the water scald his hands. “Ow!” he exclaimed.

The clock struck five P.M. Mike knew the time because the cuckoo clock in their living room cuckooed five times. Mike’s first day of tutoring was over. He felt he had a better idea of compound sentences and now knew that he had been mixing them up with run-on sentences. No wonder he had failed Ms. Rond’s quiz. He could still remember her comment:

sentence too long.

Mike luckily had no homework so after Cindy left, he sat down and watched The Simpsons gloating in the success of his first tutoring day and the whole day spent with Cindy. He was so happy that he laughed almost uncontrollably at every joke in the show.

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