Joe Peter (aka J.P.) knocked the books out of Betsy’s hand. “What a clumsy, ugly girl you are. Is that why your parents left?”
She flinched, but kept her eyes on the ground. Bringing her abandonment into it was a low blow, but one he was particularly fond of. Betsy had learned years ago not to engage him in any way. If she ignored him, he’d get bored and go bother some other poor kid.
He flicked her on the forehead. “Later, Buttface.” His two buddies snickered and hurried after him as he strode toward the parking lot.
She picked up her books and straightened. Tom, the black-clad, tough-looking new kid stood before her holding out her Calculus book.
“Don’t worry, Betsy,” he said with a surprisingly low voice for his thin frame. “Karma has a way of taking care of things.” He gave her an odd smile and walked away.
If karma were real, J.P. wouldn’t make it through high school. Betsy wasn’t a malicious person, but that boy had made it his personal mission to grind her into the dirt, and she wished someone would do the same thing to him for a change. She marched out to her car, eager to get home to the sanctuary of her grandmother’s rose garden. She put him out of her mind and set her thoughts to college as she drove toward home. Only six more months until she was free.
She idled at the traffic light, surprised to see Joe Peter’s tricked out hot rod to her left in the double left turn lane, a girl in the seat next to him, his friend, Roger, in the car behind him. When the light turned green, J.P. and Roger gunned it. Roger swerved in front of her car before she’d even completed her turn, and tried to pass J.P. on the right.
“Jerks,” she muttered, watching in disbelief as J.P. weaved slowly from side to side across all three lanes, blocking Roger’s passage. Betsy hung well back, not wanting to get mixed up in their dangerous antics. Where were the cops when you needed them?
Eyes riveted to J.P.’s bright red car, her mouth opened in horror as his car swung sharply back toward the center island. As if in slow motion, it hit the curb, the rear end flying up almost perpendicular to the ground. The car jumped onto the island, it’s tail slamming back to earth as it crashed nose-first into the wheel of a semi-truck heading the other way.
Time sped up again, and it seemed as if whole minutes had passed rather than mere seconds. Numb with shock, she passed the wreckage. The girl who’d been in J.P.’s car was sprawled on the pavement trying to push to her knees. J.P. was still behind the wheel, holding his head. Roger had sped away from the scene.
The truck driver leaped out of his cab, a cell phone pressed to his ear. All around her cars came back into focus as they stopped along the roadside.
She glanced at J.P. again. Maybe there was such a thing as karma after all. With that thought, Betsy pulled to the side of the road and dialed 911. Then she got out of her car and headed for the wreck.
There were two people who needed her help.
NOTE: The accident portion of this story is based on an incident I witnessed during my senior year of high school on my way home. I was right behind two boys who played this game on the road. The only thing that happened differently is that they hit a woman in a car (not a semi), injuring her too. The boys and girl were students at my school, but I didn’t know them.
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