Home > On a Tuesday (One Week #1)(5)

On a Tuesday (One Week #1)(5)
Author: Whitney G.

“I need you all to be focused and I need you all to be sharp,” Coach continued. “I know a lot of you are seniors and you’re trying to enjoy the last of your so-called glory days before you graduate or pursue other things. I also know that some of you need to be reminded that certain activities don’t ever need to come before football, and that there’s a time and place for everything.” He stepped directly in front of Kyle and glared at him.

“Is there something you’re trying to imply right now, Coach?” Kyle smiled. “You can’t assume that I’ll always catch your not-so-subtle messages.”

“You’re lucky you’re so goddamn talented, son,” Coach stepped away from him and walked to the other side of the room.

“We need you all to look at our comments on your morning performances and take them very seriously,” Coach said. “For those of you who scored a four or less on the conditioning regimen, you can head out to the field now to see if you can impress me and get into the seven range. The rest of you, I’ll see you on the field in an hour!”

There were a few groans, but he ignored them, as usual.

“Can I talk to you for a minute, Connors?” He motioned for me to follow him into the hallway.

“Sure.”

He waited until he was sure no one was following us. “So, look. I know what happened this summer was painful and difficult, but I want you to know that I never, for one second—”

“Can we not talk about it?” I interrupted him. The sooner I could erase it from my memory, the better.

“Oh, thank fuck.” He let out a breath and crossed something off his clipboard. “Check on Grayson Connors’ emotional well-being and try to sound like a parent instead of a coach. Glad we’re all done with that.”

“Is that all you wanted with me, Coach?”

“Not so fast.” He shook his head. “I received an email from the registrar this morning. Something about you missing some core credits you need to graduate, I think. Or maybe it was about you having a low GPA.”

“That’s impossible,” I said. “I have all A’s.”

“Really? With what I’ve heard about your reputation, when do you find the time to study?”

I gave him a blank stare.

“I mean, I’m very impressed to hear that. Good for you, son.” He cleared his throat. “You’re excused from practice this afternoon so you can talk to your advisor. Go get that sorted ASAP, will you? And if you need any more emotional support from me about any lingering feelings you have from the summer—” He paused. Then he shrugged and returned to the locker room, not even bothering to finish that sentence.

Thankful that he’d dropped it, I grabbed my bag and left the practice facility, taking a shuttle back to campus. I’d known all along that my avoidance of Literature classes would eventually catch up to me, but I thought it could’ve waited until the spring semester instead of this one.

I walked into the Cathedral of Learning and took the elevator up to the Honors College, knocking on my advisor’s door.

“Come in,” a soft voice said. “The door’s open.”

“Hey.” I stepped inside and crossed my arms. The woman behind the desk was not my advisor. She was his secretary and ever since my freshman year, she’d made it more than clear that she hated me because she thought I was ‘taking up someone else’s deserving spot’ in the Honors College.

“Where’s Mr. Henderson?” I asked.

“Well, hello to you, too, Mr. Connors.” She pursed her lips. “Good to see you in person for a change.”

“Where’s Mr. Henderson?” I repeated. I could feel contempt rolling off her in waves and I didn’t have time for her bullshit today.

“He went down to the English Department to meet with someone.” She motioned for me to take a seat. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

“I’ll wait for him to get back.”

“Oh, come on,” she said, motioning for me to take a seat. “I can totally help you. I’ll be nice.”

“Fine.” I remained standing. “I’m missing some Literature credits, but first I want to make sure that I’m on track to graduate on time.”

“You waited all the way until your senior year to check on that?”

“I’ve been busy winning championships.”

She ignored my comment and tapped away at her keyboard. “Well, let’s have a look. This can’t be right, can it?” She squinted at the screen. “Your grades are so not what I was expecting.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, I’m just—Wow.” She was staring at the screen in disbelief. “There’s nothing but A’s here. Not a single C or D, and you've made Dean's list repeatedly. What exactly is your worry?”

“I purposely put off all the Literature requirements until now, and the system finally caught it. I need to find a way to do some type of alternative.”

“Ah.” She started typing again. “Well, that’s a big problem. There are no alternatives allowed for Literature—especially for someone who wants to earn a minor in English Writing. You’ll need to take three advanced lit courses per term to catch up, and the easiest ones are on the freshman and sophomore level so they wouldn’t count towards your graduation anyway.”

“Is there any good news?”

“I could pair you with a peer tutor, if you like.”

I groaned at the thought. We had plenty of peer tutors at our mandatory team study halls and except for a few, most of them were more interested in hooking up with me and my teammates than helping us with our studies. If it weren't for the fact that I’d made my mom a promise about keeping all A’s in college, I wouldn’t have even bothered trying to fix this.

“Are you sure there aren’t any alternative courses?” I asked. “Maybe I could talk to the dean?”

“Now, Grayson, I think he’s pulled his fair share of favors for you, don’t you think? I know there’s no way you got these grades in honors classes and played football. I heard about the mess he got you out of this summer. Come on now.”

“Excuse me?”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Her cheeks turned bright red. “That didn’t come out the right way. I can schedule a meeting with the dean, if you like. What day works best for you?”

“That’s okay.” I gritted my teeth. “I’ll get a tutor on my own.”

I heard her calling after me as I turned away, but I didn’t look back. I slammed the door on my way out of the office and headed down to the fifth floor to find my real advisor.

I shook off whatever the hell her “his share of favors” implied and walked right through the doors of the English Department.

“Well, hello there!” Mr. Henderson waved at me from the copy machine. “Nice to see you, Mr. Connors!”

“Nice to see you, too.”

“I was on my way back to my office, but I guess I was taking too long.” He laughed and picked up his papers. “I didn’t get the chance to tell you personally last year, but congratulations on winning the Heisman Trophy.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Just so you know, me and my son are huge fans and we’re crossing our fingers that you’ll make history with a fourth championship this year. No pressure, though.” He walked over to me. “What can I do for you today?”

“I need to be placed into three advanced literature classes this fall,” I said, then I hesitated. “I also think I need a private peer tutor.”

“Not a problem.” He snapped his fingers. “I actually have a person in need of someone to tutor, so you’re in luck. Let’s pull you up in the system first, and then we’ll call the registrar to make sure everything lines up. You won’t mind having a female tutor, will you?”

“No.” I tried not to smile. “Not at all.”

CHARLOTTE: THEN

Seven years ago

Pittsburgh

I GLANCED OUTSIDE THE massive windows of Highland Coffee and tapped my watch. The girl I was assigned to tutor was now fifteen minutes late, and I was wondering if I should've picked a coffee shop that was easier to find. I'd looked her up in the student directory earlier and noticed that she was an honors student, so I figured these tutoring sessions wouldn't take up much of my time this semester.

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