Climb, Walk, Ring This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     They met on a bus, you know.The tall, lanky, nerdyguy who felt playing basketball redeemed him from complete geekhood and the quietpresident of the art club who liked to draw while hidden behind her untamableItalian curls. They were introduced by a mutual high-school friend, several yearsafter they had all graduated. So this was how the pair met - the joking GeorgeAndersen and the creative Theresa DiSarcina.

This was how the twocontinued to meet: commuting to Cambridge to their respective jobs, commuting totheir respective lives that would not remain respective much longer.

Andthen came the first date.

George was sweating. This was a surprise sincehe was always seemed cold. Later in life he would take to wearing three or fourlayers even in summer. But there he was, young, on his way to Theresa's house topick her up, and he was sweating. It couldn't be a good sign. George wasn'tsupposed to be nervous. He played basketball, right? And that meant he was cool,right? Cool and calm and calm and cool and, oh, who was he kidding! He was anervous little thing.

All right, he had found the house. Whew. That wouldbe the hardest part, right? George checked the address against the paper severalmore times. Yes, yes, he was sure. This was it, okay. Okay ... he was thinkingthat maybe it was time to get out of the car. Wait, no! How did he look? Smoothedhis hair frantically in the rearview mirror, checked his teeth, his clothes, allright. Okay. He was finally ready.

He was out of the car. He was walkingto the house. George was trying to look confident. He was trying to calm himself.Don't worry. Each step spelled out a syllable: Don't. Wor. Ry. Don't. Wor. Ry.Don't, don't don't - but he was so nervous! What if this was one-sided? What ifhe was wrong? What if - oh, s--t. He reached the steps. Okay. If he was wrongabout this, he would find out tonight and everything would be fine. He would beable to figure out soon enough if she liked him as much as he liked her. And withknowing would come freedom from pit stains. But he had to climb the porch steps,walk to the door and ring the doorbell to know. Climb the steps, walk to thedoor, ring the bell. Climb, walk, ring. Steps, door, bell.

George wasthinking he could do this. Maybe.

All right. He was up the steps, he wason the porch. All he had to do next was ring that one doorbell. The doorbell. Thedoorbell.

Why were there two doorbells? Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, oh! Itwas a two-family house. Of course, it was a two-family house! George could seethat the moment he drove up. A two-family house with one porch and two doors andtwo doorbells.

Why were the doorbells not labeled?

George was amess. Any of his earlier composure was lost. What was he going to do? He waschecking the paper, he was checking the address, he was checking, checking. Butno! All that was there was a dark smudge, his sweaty hands had worried the paperand blurred even the original address.

Why didn't he notice this crucialbit of information before his sweat glands kicked in?

He was going to haveto guess. It wasn't that bad. His odds, that is. He had a 50-50 chance. Georgeknew from his time spent at the track that those were odds better than you wouldever get on a horse. One out of two. And if he was wrong the first time, he wouldjust ring the second doorbell, right? This really wasn't so bad.

Then whywas he so nervous? Why did he want this to be so perfect?

Oh, damn, he wasgoing to have to pick a doorbell to ring soon if he didn't want to be late. Twodoors, two identical doors, both with hallway lights that glowed quietly frombehind them. Which one?

George took a deep breath, closed his eyes andrang the doorbell that his finger blindly chose.

A moment ofsilence.

Maybe no one was home! Or the neighbors were out visiting familyand George would be saved from embarrassment. Maybe ... maybe thefootsteps he was hearing belonged to Theresa's father! Maybe he had chosen theright door and he was on time and everything would be perfect!

Or maybenot.

The door was opening. It was opening slowly, like an eye openingafter sleep. And it was opening to reveal, not the shrimpy, middle-aged Italianman George was expecting, but a man almost his exact opposite. Upon seeing thetall African-American man who had opened the door, George was startled. Hisheight was truly intimidating. In fact, George was standing eye-to-neck with him,making him one of the tallest people he had ever seen. The man filled the entiredoorway and made George, a tall guy himself (he played basketball, remember?),feel extremely small. He also felt ridiculous thinking of what he was about toask. But one could never be sure and, if there was one thing George's mother hadtaught him, it was manners, and he didn't want to be rude now. Besides, theneighbors of your girlfriend can often be useful in putting in a good word aboutyou.

Deep breath, nervous smile.

"Uh, is Theresa DiSarcinahome?"

The man looked George over. He inspected his nervous postureand sweating hands and then smiled while he shook his head. And as the door wasclosing just as lethargically as it opened, the words seemed to come from thewooden frame itself.

"Next door."

Well then. That hadn'tbeen nearly as embarrassing as he thought it would be. George prepared himself toring the doorbell for now it was unique and specific, there was only one: it wasthe doorbell, the right doorbell. George was confident about this.

But, ohno. Which one did he just ring? Was he sure? And how did his hair look?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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