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Acceptance

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Brian rings the doorbell at three o’clock. He holds several envelopes under his arm. Each one has a return address from a different university: Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan are all represented in the top left-hand corner of the envelopes.

The door finally opens two minutes after three, courtesy of Brian’s friend Jake. Jake has an intense look in his eye when he asks, “Are these all of them?”

“Aside from Rider and Rutgers, which my mom got to before I got had the chance,” Brian replies, bringing the envelopes to Jake’s eye level. “Are you ready?”

Jake nods, even though he’ll never really be ready. If he was to chart his readiness, it’d be less than when Brian started looking at colleges, a little more ready than when Brian started being referred to as “senior captain Brian Scott”, and definitely less ready than he was two minutes ago.

He still lets Brian in, knowing he doesn’t need to remind him to take off his shoes, but he says it anyway. Brian doesn’t reply, but he can feel the nervous energy coming off of Jake. He kicks off his ripped up Vans and leans them against Jake’s Converse and stands in the foyer, waiting for Jake to lead him to wherever they were going to open up the letters.

“Kitchen?” Jake asks, trying to articulate each syllable in hopes of avoiding a squeak or a sign of nervousness.

“Sounds good,” Brian says, joining him.

They enter the kitchen and pull up stools across from each other on the island in the middle of the room. Brian spreads out the envelopes, piling them in any way he felt like it. Jake watches, tapping his finger on the granite, kicking his toes into the counter, doing anything to the structure aside from looking straight down on it to see the ugly envelopes.

As Brian gets off the stool to grab a drink, a privilege very few of Jake’s friends have been able to earn, Jake finally begins to wonder what life will be like without his wingman around. He tries to remember sixth grade, when Brian had to go to the middle school, leaving Jake stuck in upper elementary. Even then it wasn’t so bad. By the time Jake walked home, Brian was getting out of school and they met each other halfway between the three blocks of distance they had from each other’s houses. The best case scenario is that Brian went to Rider or Rutgers- both only an hour or so away from home. It didn’t matter when either of them got out of class, let alone if they were willing to meet each other half-way. It just wasn’t rational.

Brian brings a bottle of Gatorade over to his seat and grabs the envelope from Penn State. “It’s thick,” Brian notes, waving it around a few times like a Polaroid.

Jake nods and puts his elbows on the table to prop his head up. “Just rip it open like a Band-Aid.”

Brian tears off the top of the envelope and pulls out a thick folder with “Congratulations!” across it. Brian lays it on the table so Jake can get a look at the smiling young adults dressed in Penn State attire printed on the folder.

“I bet you they don’t even go to college,” Jake jokes.

“Hush, you,” Brian hisses, then adds, “They don’t have the best wrestling program, though.”

Jake shrugs. He supports Brian in all his endeavors, because that’s what friends do, but he definitely doesn’t know anything about wrestling, especially which schools are good at it. “Well, still, it’s nice to have choices,” Jake replies, deciding that Pennsylvania isn’t an awful place for Brian to end up. Sure, it’s not a place he can commute to, but compared to the other results, it’s definitely not the worst scenario. He can borrow his mom’s car and drive out there, spend the day surrounded by the beautiful women Brian will hopefully attract, and come home the day after.

Brian opens up the envelope from Ohio State to find out that he didn’t get in. He doesn’t think much about it. While he loved the program, something about him didn’t stack up. Jake tilts his head so his mouth is covered by his hand, concealing a slight smile. He likes that Brian, at this time, will still be in the tri-state area.

The envelope from Iowa is an acceptance, which makes Brian excited. “They’re in the top five on NCAA rankings, you know,” he tells Jake. Jake rolls his eyes. He then confuses the NCAA for the NAACP and wonders why Brian’s pale freckled body would be interested in a historically black college. He conceals his confusion nonetheless, saying, “Oh, that’s great.”

Wisconsin apparently wants Brian to be in the class of 2013 as well. He smiles wide, saying that he really likes the school on a whole. Jake tries to figure out what’s in Wisconsin that’s so appealing, aside from cow tipping. Which may or may not be fun.

Of course, the last envelope is from Michigan. Brian claims this is his top choice. Ever since he started his application he was all about the blue and gold badgers, wolverines, whatever the heck their mascot was. Jake believes him because after many conversations with Brian, even he knows everything about their statistics, their athletics, and the average SAT scores of the middle percentage of students that attend the school.

When Jake sees that the envelope is thick, he is very used to the size differences between acceptances and rejections, albeit only fifteen, twenty minutes since he learned. He looks away, pretending to be distracted by something in the window as he hears paper rip and Brian gasp. “They accepted me!” he cheers, pumping his fist. Jake turns toward him and tries to get his face to make his best smile. He gets it okay enough and says, “Congrats, Brian!” when in his head he’s already calculating how far away that is, how long a plane ride would be, and how much it would cost. As his eyes wander around he sees the calendar and how it reads that it’s March. Assuming Brian’s going to leave for school late August, Jake calculates that he has approximately five months left to have Brian nearby, meaning he’s going to have to make every day be awesome and try and do everything possible, even the ideas they thought were stupid.

“Hey, you okay?” Brian asks, leaning in toward Jake.

Jake looks over at him and brings his hand away from his face. “Sorry, I’m kind of in the process of accepting something myself.”





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jellyfishywish said...
Jun. 28, 2009 at 5:47 pm
This is a really good short story. It's well written, Keep it up girl :)
 
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