“Wow, just like that. I barely get in, then I’m waiting. At least I know what I’m waiting for. Before I was clueless and miserable. Now I have hope that all this mess in my head will get straightened out.”
“Well, I guess you better get back, huh?” Katie replied.
“Yeah, I guess so. I think I remember the way out.”
Stephen walked down the hallway, not paying any attention to the people practicing to the sides. He walked into the beginners practice area and, as he walked, he looked around at the colorful stripes, getting an inkling that next week, he would be trying to focus on some crazy frequency or something, even though he didn’t see how in the world that would relate to him.
He got his bike from where someone had thoughtfully taken it out of the enclosure and put it with other bikes to the side on a rack. Then he walked over to the enclosure and as soon as he stopped moving, just like before, the platform began to rise up to the surface.
When he got to the top he became a little nervous about whether he’d be seen, but then he remembered he was in a back alley, so he relaxed. Then he got on his bike and peddled home, deep in reflection.
When he got home, he put his bike back in the shed. His mom must have seen him through the window, because she opened the back door and yelled out, “So where have YOU been? ”
“I was at the park,” Stephen attempted.
“Doing what, for all day?” his mom said. “You’ve never been gone this long before without a good reason. I have half a mind to ground you for a week!”
“I didn’t do anything wrong, Mom!”
“We were worried sick! Okay, I was worried sick.
But your father was concerned when he came home, and he wants to speak to you–now!”
Stephen knew he was in for it now. He couldn’t be grounded for a week! He would miss his training at the center. His Dad would never understand. He would have to think fast.
Stephen walked into his Dad’s office and said, “Hi, Dad. Mom said you wanted to talk to me.”
“Yes, that’s right. Have a seat.”
Stephen plopped down on the couch on the opposite side of the room from his Dad, looking down at the floor.
“Look at me, Stephen.”
Stephen looked up at his Dad, still thinking of what to say.
His Dad said, “Stephen, your Mom was very worried about you today. Can you tell me what you were up to?”
Just then, Stephen got an idea.
“I met someone–A girl.”
“Oh, really?” His Dad’s face lit up with a smile.
They had been waiting for this day. Stephen had never expressed interest in girls. They hoped in a year or two, for sure, but now was great.
“So what’s her name? Is she pretty?”
Stephen realized he found a winner, and he decided to go with it.
“Her name is Katie, and, yes, she is kind of pretty.”
Stephen’s Dad smiled again. He said, “Katie, huh? That’s a nice name. And I bet she IS pretty. Call your mother in here.”
Stephen took two steps outside the office, and yelled, “MOM!”
His Mom was in the kitchen making dinner, but when she heard Stephen yell, knowing he was with his father and in trouble, she came running.
“What is it, Stephen?”
Stephen’s father spoke up,”Come in here, Lisa.
Stephen has met a girl. Her name is Katie, and she’s pretty!”
Stephen’s Mom was mildly impressed, but she did show a change of face. “That’s great,Stephen. I’m glad you met someone.
So, is it serious? When do we get to meet her?”
Stephen had to think fast again, something he was not very good at, or so he thought.
“Well, we want to see each other every week, at least. We don’t really have a plan yet, though.”
Stephen thought this was safe enough for now.
But he had underestimated his parents, and, more importantly, he had underestimated Katie.
Sensing an opportunity for an exit, Stephen said,
“I’m kind of tired. I think I’m going to go lay down.”
Stephen thought to himself that he was going to have a lot more thinking and explaining to do before this was over.
“And the biggest explanation would go to Katie.”
Katie was Stephen’s sponsor and teammate, nothing more. She was pretty, but that was beside the point. They both had a job to do, perhaps a very serious job, and they had to stay focused.
But enough of that. How was Stephen going to explain to Katie that he had insinuated that there was some sort of love interest between them and that his parents wanted her to come over for dinner?