New Up and Coming Author Jewel Beth Davis



Jewel Beth Davis

Originally published in SN Review (


The red light on the answering machine flashes on and off in an alarming manner. Listen. To me. Answer. Me. Come. On. Don’t. Walk by. You better. Listen.

It’s New Year’s Eve. Nothing very exciting ever happens to me on New Year’s. Tonight I actually go out ballroom dancing with friends. I arrive home around 1:30 AM, weary from the drive back and forth from New Hampshire to Portland, Maine. My lids are drooping and small kernels of unknown disturbances in my eyes seem to have magnified into glass shards. I walk through my office on my way to bed and glance at my answering machine. It’s blinking with four messages.

Four. I never get four messages. The machine is like a loud, insistent relative that I’m obligated to interact with but would rather not. If blinking had a decibel level, this would be a nine or ten. This is intriguing. I pause. It had better not be bad news. But why else would anyone call on New Year’s?

I think about leaving it blinking until the morning. I mean, whoever is dead or hurt will still be similarly situated in the morning. But I can’t do it. I don’t have the self-discipline for that. I reach my hand, the finger pointing like the Ghost of Christmas Future, toward the message button hoping they’re all wrong numbers. GingerlyI depress the button.

“Professor Jewel? Jewel? You know who this is? Yeah, you do…Do you? Never mind. It’s Turk.”

Good Lord. Turk? Sam Turcinski, better known as Turk, is one of my college students at M______ College. He’s a rugged, handsome blonde boy who makes me laugh in class. He has taken two Communication classes with me and has signed up to take a third. He’d earned Ds in his first course with me until halfway through the semester. I told him it wasn’t good enough. Apparently, that was the only impetus he needed. His final grade for that course was a B.

“Professor Jewel. I need help. You’re the only one I could turn to.”

Help me, Obi Wan. You’re the only one who can help me.

All my energy is focused on the machine.

Why me?

Oh God, is he hurt? Is he in jail? I live an hour away, too far to get there quickly. I am immobile. Listening.

“You see,” Turk continues, “I’m at a party at my best friend’s house. His New Year’s Eve party.”

“I know it’s New Year’s, Turk,” I say to the machine.

“I won’t say I haven’t been drinking. I have. I mean, it’s New Year’s for Chrissakes, Jewel.”

“I’m aware of that. Get to the point,” I say to the inanimate object.

“Well, my best friend’s mother is here at the party. ”

Good lord.

“Jewel, my best friend’s mom is a hottie. She’s a MILF and she said she wants to do it with me tonight. You know, do IT.”  He emphasizes the words as if I might not understand his meaning.  “I really want to, but I don’t know if it’s the right thing.”

For those not familiar with the vernacular, MILF is an acronym for Mothers I’d Like to F__k. I didn’t create it and I wouldn’t admit it if I had.

“So what do you think Jewel? Should I do it with her? I trust your judgment. Tell me what to do. You always know the right thing to do.”

Turk doesn’t know me well if he can say that. Often, I don’t know the right thing to do. Besides, is there always one right thing to do? I don’t think so.

“Call me back, Professor,” Turk says. “I’m dying to go to bed with her but I’ll wait for your phone call.” He hangs up. He’ll wait for my phone call?  Try to picture that.

Since when have I become God or the arbitrator of right and wrong? I teach Communication, not Ethics. I’m Jewish. We don’t have a right or wrong that’s black and white. We argue about everything.

The answering machine gives a high-pitched bleep and Turk’s voice comes back on. “Jewel, where are you? You haven’t called back yet. Should I sleep with my best friend’s mother, or shouldn’t I? I really, really want to, but what would happen if I did? Would my friend be mad at me? Come on, Jewel. The clock’s ticking and I need an answer.”

I am not calling him back. It’s after 1:30 AM. Clearly my teacherly obligations do not extend to early morning phone calls about morality.

“You know what?” I say to the machine. “I think you already know the right thing to do because otherwise, you wouldn’t be calling your professor. In the middle of the night. On a holiday.”

The next call is more of the same from Turk. The last is my brother Mike wishing me Happy New Year. Now, the machine has stopped blinking red and shouting at me. No one has died and for that, I’m grateful. I move up the stairs to my bedroom.

At this moment, I’m struck by how much power teachers have with their students. And I feel how much it means that he has elected to call me at this moment and not someone else.

As I climb up to my attic bedroom, I’m feeling pretty good. Okay, Turk was over the top tonight. But still…

Three weeks later, I return to work. Turk has enrolled in my Interpersonal Communication class. I tease him about his New Year’s Eve calls to me, which he takes it with excellent humor.

“Turk, no one else can make ethical decisions for you.”

“I know that,” he says. “I had a bit to drink. And this woman was really tempting.”

I can feel the thought skittering around in my mind like a confused bat crashing into walls. What had he decided to do?

“But I want you to know,” Turk continues. “I thought of you at that moment and what you’d do in a circumstance like that. I did the right thing.”

I didn’t ask him what that was.

When Turk says this, my mind flashes to an image of when I was a girl. I used to dream every night that I was Superwoman soaring in the sky. I yearned to fly. Now I am.

Jewel Beth Davis


Jewel Beth Davis is a writer and theater artist who lives in Rollinsford, NH. She has performed, directed and choreographed professionally throughout the U.S. and British Isles. She earned an MFA in Writing at Vermont College of fine Arts. She is a Professor of Writing and Theater at NHTI-Concord Community College. Since 2006, her creative nonfiction and fiction has been published in the Compass Rose, SN Review, Moondance Literary Magazine, Cezanne’s Carrot, Bent Pin Literary Journal, READ THIS, The Sylvan Echo, Poetica Magazine, Lilith, Scribblers on the Roof, Spirits Literary Magazine of IU, American Diversity Report, Damselfly Press, The Smoking Poet, Bewildering Stories, Fiction Fix, Spectrum Literary Magazine of UCSD, Entelechy International, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Spittoon, and Diverse Voices Quarterly, which nominated her story for Dzanc’s Best of the Web 2011. SNReview published Jewel’s first story and has now published her twenty-fifth in February 2013.




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