By JD Rockel
“Hurry up, Rosa. They’ll be here any minute.”
“I’m hurrying. How do I look?”
“That’s what you’re wearing?”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s different from what I’m wearing.”
“We don’t ALWAYS dress the same anymore. Don’t you think it’s about time we stop looking so, you know, identical?”
“NO! It’s our signature!”
“But I want John to see us as different.”
“He will see that by our personalities. Trust me, we are different.”
“Ella, I love you and always will. I have followed your lead all my life. But today I’m going to take a stand.”
“NO! NO! NO!”
“Please Ella, no fighting today. I’m already cranky in anticipation of meeting John.”
1, 2, 3, 4, 5… “OK, sis. You are right and I am being tenacious and petty. It’s been a good ride though, and you must admit, it worked on the bus.”
“Agreed, but even there, I think Jerry was dumbstruck by my face alone. Plus, we do still sound alike.”
“My desire is set aside… for now. We can discuss this on a case-by-case basis in the future.”
“I will hesitantly say OK, sis. You are something else, always have been and always will be.”
Rosa put her arms around Ella and gave her a big hug. They both laughed.
“Rosa, they’re here.”
Rosa joined Ella and her mom by the front door. “I’m ready, barely.”
“See you, Mom,” Ella said as she opened the door. “We will be careful with these rogue boys.”
“Not funny, Ella.” Rosa saw her mom’s joy seeing the girls off. Renata had just met Harold Weston a few months ago when Tony had to stop by to pay a repair bill. She followed the girls out to the car.
“Harold, I’m Renata, the girl’s mother.”
“We met briefly, didn’t we?”
“Yes, a few months ago. So, what’s the plan? I couldn’t get any details out of my girls.”
“I’m taking them to Timber Park for mini golf. They might go to the bowling alley down the street and there’s a burger-pizza place just down from there. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t know either. I’m just supposed to keep my phone with me and pick them up mid-afternoon.”
“Makes sense in a teenager sort of way. Thanks for taking responsibility on this one. I’ll be praying for you.”
Jerry and John had gotten out of the car. Ella gave Jerry a quick kiss and Rosa just stared at John.
“John, this is Ella’s sister,” Jerry said. “We call her Rosa.”
“Hello Rosa, pleased to meet you.”
“Me too. I mean, pleased to meet you. You’re taller than Jerry. A lot taller.”
“Guilty as charged.” John was indeed taller. “I’m six foot seven inches and still growing.”
Rosa couldn’t stop staring at John. Her eyes were wide, and her mouth hung open. He politely looked down at Rosa and grinned. His brown eyes matched his hair almost perfectly. Rosa felt a tingle go through her body.
“Well, guys, we can’t play mini golf in the driveway. Let’s get going.”
Ella opened the door and guided Rosa in first, then John, Jerry, and herself.
“I don’t think we can all fit back here,” Rosa said, being pushed into the door. “I certainly won’t be able to find a seat belt.”
“We’ll be fine, right Mr. Weston? It’s too tight for anyone to go flying out.”
“I’m just the chauffeur. You kids do whatever you want… within reason, of course. I am watching.”
Harold waved goodbye to Renata and backed out of the driveway.
Rosa didn’t have any place for her hands, and she found her right hand setting on John’s thigh. Being so tall, his knees were up against the seat back.
“Sorry about that, John.”
“It’s OK. I guess this is one way to get to know someone quickly,” John said with a chuckle in his voice.
Rosa awkwardly looked straight ahead. “I just don’t want you to think I’m too forward. I mean, I haven’t been out with anyone before, you know, I mean any boy, or man.”
John leaned over just a bit and whispered, “It’s OK, I know what you mean. I haven’t been out with any girl, I mean woman, you know, a lady before.” He was only half teasing and hoped it would help Rosa feel more at ease.
Rosa turned to look at him. His face was close enough to her that she brushed his nose with hers. She pulled back, her eyes went wide, and her cheeks blushed.
“Feel free to get to know one another over there,” Ella said. She saw Mr. Weston looking in the rear-view mirror. She turned and gave Jerry a kiss which made him blush bright red.
It was a short drive to the mini golf. Rosa was very relieved to get out of the car. Exiting through her own door, John followed her out. He seemed to grow and grow as he stood up straight.
“OK, you have multiple phones, and everyone has my number, right?” Harold didn’t want anything to go wrong on his watch.
“We’re good Mr. Weston,” Ella offered.
Each of the boys held up their phones.
“Me too, Mr. Weston,” Rosa offered, holding up her phone.
“Great, I’ll plan on three o’clock. Check in once or twice with me and Mrs. DeLuca, please.”
“Yes, Dad,” Jerry groaned. John just smiled and waved.
“Great, let’s go.” Ella grabbed Jerry’s hand and took off at a run to the mini golf ticket window.
Rosa and John walked behind slowly.
“You and your sister are obviously twins. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it when we first met. Have you been twins all your life?”
“What? Yes, we have.”
John had a smirk on his face. “I’m sorry. That’s just an example of my dry humor. Do you ever dress identically too?”
“We have, and it has gotten us in trouble from time to time. Lots of stories to tell someday. I deliberately chose to dress differently for today and Ella read me the riot act. But I prevailed.”
“Well, regardless, I can tell you two apart by your attitude. You are the calm one.”
“And you are definitely taller than your brother,” Rosa said looking up at John’s face. “I don’t want to presume you play basketball. Are you athletic at all?”
“Actually, I do and I am. I play on the high school basketball team.”
“I assume you are one of the taller players on your team.”
“True. I don’t expect to be so much taller than the rest as the years go by. I hope to keep playing ball into college.”
“Well, I’m starting to feel more comfortable with you, John. Having just met you, I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe Ella felt this way when she met Jerry at the dance. Were you at the back-to-school dance?”
“Me? No. I don’t dance. Someone would have to teach me how.”
“I don’t dance either. I’ve thought of taking a dance class. You know, like ballroom dance or something. But I’ve never had the courage to dance with a stranger.”
“Well, now we aren’t strangers. Maybe someday…”
“Hey… Come on guys. We don’t have all day.” Ella and Jerry had paid for the four of them and picked up balls and clubs. “OK, here are your balls, and now for the rules.”
“I think we know the rules for mini golf, Ella.” Rosa was a bit annoyed.
“I’m talking about the special rules. We are playing couples and need special rules for couples’ golf.”
“Ella, are you serious?” Rosa rolled her eyes.
Jerry and John just stood and watched as Ella and Rosa went back and forth.
“Jerry, are you OK with couples’ rules?” Ella got him into the mess.
“Sure, fine with me.” What else could he say?
“What about you, John?”
“I guess I need to hear the rules before I can say yes or no.”
Rosa looked at him with furrowed brow, though as she thought about it, it was nice he didn’t just say yes.
“OK, here are the rules. We score based on the total strokes for the couple. Whichever team has the lowest score for the hole gets to kiss and start the next hole.”
“We need to discuss this, Ella.” Rosa pulled John aside. “Having not been out before with, you know, boys, men, whatever, I haven’t kissed, like ever.”
“Not a first kiss yet? Believe it or not, you’re not alone. I haven’t either.”
“But I am really close to my sister, and I don’t want to disappoint her. Are you OK if we must kiss? I mean I’ll try not to win any holes.”
John chuckled and said, “I think we can survive if we must kiss. Maybe just once for your sister.”
Rosa turned back to Ella and Jerry. “We accept your rules. Let’s play.”
“YES! Jerry and I go first.”
Off she ran pulling Jerry along with her.
“I guess we better keep up with them to keep your sister from yelling at us again.” With a smile on his face, John took Rosa by the hand and took off running.
With John running and leading her, Rosa worked hard to keep up. His long legs covered a lot of ground with each stride. He had a firm but gentle hold of her hand. It felt quite nice.
The first few holes were easy. Rosa hadn’t played mini golf in several years and was never that good anyway. John did well and kept up with Jerry. Ella and Jerry won the first four holes and Ella claimed her prize with gusto.
Hole five had three large rocks for the ball to go between. Ella went first, as usual, and hit a rock. The ball bounced back to the tee.
“Argh, not fair.”
“But I thought they are called ‘fairways’, sis.” The rules said Ella had to wait her turn until the other three went.
Jerry aimed carefully but his ball hit a different rock. His ball stayed between rocks, bouncing back and forth like a pinball. Everyone remained quiet.
Rosa was up. She pretended to line up the ball before hitting it. The ball went between the left and middle rocks, stopping at the dog leg.
Rosa jumped up and down in delight. “Finally, I did something good, sis.”
Ella just stood there looking grumpy.
John’s turn. He carefully lined up and tapped the ball. It followed Rosa’s path and stopped just a bit past her ball.
“Not fair you two. You have been holding back.” Ella set up for her second try. She got it past the rocks this time, but it stopped short of Rosa and John’s balls.
“OK, Jerry, you need a good shot to get past them and into the hole.”
Jerry carefully hit the ball, and the rock it was near. The ball squirted towards the hole but stopped near Ella’s ball.
John was closest to the hole and went to shoot first.
“Stop, that’s not fair, it’s Rosa’s turn.”
“I’m sorry, I thought that once you were on the green, the closest ball goes first.”
“Sorry, John. Ella’s right on this one,” Rosa said. “I need to go first and try to get past you.”
This was not going to be easy. Chances were that Rosa would hit John’s ball when she tried to get past. If she aimed wide, then she would certainly miss the hole but could get close.
She decided to take the risk and aimed straight for the hole. Not too hard. A nice gentle swing. Hit the ball and follow through.
The ball rolled past John’s ball, just missing it, and headed straight for the hole. Go, go, go.
The ball dropped in the hole. “YES!”
“NO!” was Ella’s reply.
“That’s two for me. You guys already have two each.”
“Quiet. There are golfers here.” Ella didn’t look or sound happy.
It was John’s turn. He turned to Rosa and whispered, “Do I try to sink it, or do I try to miss it? I’ll let you choose.”
Rosa whispered back, “Sometimes it’s nice to best my sister. Go for it!”
John aimed for the hole and gently swung the club. The ball started straight for the hole and then curved to the right. It stopped just an inch from the hole.
“Aww!” everyone said, some with a distinctly sarcastic flair.
“Ella, I need advice.” John tried to be nice to an obviously upset Ella. “Do I wait for you guys to shoot, or do I tap in?”
“You have to wait. That’s the rule. Your ball might get hit away from the hole.”
“OK. Go ahead,” John replied.
John stepped off to the side next to a very happy Rosa. He leaned over and whispered, “Are you ready to get kissed? I mean, just in case they don’t knock my ball away.”
“I think I’m ready, John.” Rosa looked up into those beautiful brown eyes and smiled.
Jerry took his shot. The ball angled to the left and went about a foot past the hole.
“Jerry Weston, that was terrible.”
“OK, your turn. Show them how it’s done.”
Ella lined up and hit her ball hard. It too when to the left and knocked Jerry’s ball completely off the green.
“Argh!!!! Go ahead, John. Sink the ball and claim your prize.”
John easily tapped the ball into the hole, bent over and plucked it out. He turned towards Rosa and smiled. Putting the ball in his pocket and laying the club on the ground, he walked up to Rosa and gently held her face in his hands. He bent down and kissed her on the lips, just a little longer than he had to.
Rosa closed her eyes as John’s lips touched hers. Pushing up on her toes, she melted to the feeling of that first kiss and knew she would remember it forever.
“Come on you two. We concede the hole. You go first.”
John lingered looking at Rosa. When she opened her eyes and looked back into his, she felt a tingle inside from the back of her neck down to her toes. This was more than just a kiss.