As it turned out, she did get a chance soon to get to know him better. Heinz had made a decision. Every day since he had met Ilse, Heinz would stand on the corner of the street, waiting for her to pass on her way to school. She would leave her apartment and walk down Stiftgasse, and then take a left onto Mariahilfestrasse. He would wait on the corner across the street, where his own street, Theobaldgasse, met with Mariahilfestrasse. Only twice before had he had enough nerve to go over and talk to her. He wasn't sure if she ever saw him standing on the other side, but he hoped not. But today he would.
He stood across the street from his usual waiting
place. He was very nervous, and kept smoothing his curly hair
back. Then he saw her coming. His stomach sank to his toes, and
he almost simply crossed the street again, but it was too late.
Ilse had seen him. He cleared his throat.
"Hi", he said to her. "On your way to school?" What kind of questions was that, he though angrily. What else would she be doing this time of morning on a weekday!
"Yes, I am. And you?"
"Me too." There was a silence. Oh, how he wished he could just say things like his mother!
"I was wondering," Heinz finally got out, "if you would like to come to the Burgtheater tonight with me to see a play?" He cringed inwardly in anticipation.
"Why, of course I would. That sounds wonderful. And it's perfect, because today is my mother's birthday. She will want to go to dinner with my father. She will be very happy."
Heinz felt as if he would float away into the sky.
He rushed straight to the Burgtheater after
school. There were many people standing in different lines. Impatiently,
Heinz joined a line and stood anxiously, hoping that all the tickets
would not be sold out. Ilse deserved the best of the best. He
was nearly at the head of the line, when he suddenly realized
that he had joined the wrong one.
He felt his stomach sink to the very bottom of his feet. How could
he be so stupid? Annoyed and angry, he moved to the end of the
correct line. This one seemed to take forever. Heinz stood on
one foot, and then the other. He looked at his watch. He imagined
all the seats being given away. It was more than he could stand
to imagine some other couple sitting in his seats. Finally he
got to the front of the line.
"Two for tonight, please. The very best you have". The man behind the desk took out two tickets and handed them over to Heinz through the little glass window.
"This is all we have left, sir. You should have come earlier." Heinz felt numb. The seats were all the way in the back! Oh how would they ever be able to see anything from back there? He sighed, mentally kicked himself for being such a fool, and bought the tickets. As he was walking home, he felt like a failure. What a way for a gentleman to treat a girl, he thought. What a disaster.
He decided that he would have to tell her.
She deserved to be warned. He walked in to her apartment building
pushed the button that had the number of her apartment on it.
"I'll be right down!" came her voice through the intercom.
Soon she came bouncing down the steps, full of energy as always.
She was lovely. Heinz stood up to greet her.
"Shall we go?" she asked him.
"Yes", he replied. "No, wait, I want to tell you something first. This afternoon I went early to the Burgtheater to get the best seats I could, but I stood on the wrong line, and I had to go to the back of the other line, and by the time I got to the front, these were the only ones left. I really wanted better ones. It was such a disaster. I'm sorry." Ilse was touched. He was so anxious and eager to please her that she fell in love with him then and there.
The play was a blur to both of them. They were
both very aware of each other. Heinz was worried the whole time
about the seats, even though it turned out not to be so far back
after all. Ilse was in love. She didn't know how to act all of
a sudden. She was glad it was dark and that she could just sit
quietly and think. She wouldn't know what to say to Heinz had
she had to talk.
After the play, as they stood on a street corner near Ilse's apartment building. Heinz looked at her.
"Did you enjoy it?" he asked.
"Very much", she replied.
"Thank you so much for coming." He shifted his feet. Ilse felt suddenly very awkward. She couldn't think of what to say to let him know how much she had enjoyed the evening.
"I love you!" she suddenly blurted out. Oh, how embarrassing! Heinz turned red and smiled, and walked away. Ilse was relieved. She turned and ran to her apartment and up the stairs. Maybe he will forget, she hoped.
Heinz walked home as if in a dream. Did she really say that or did I just imagine it, he asked himself. Neither of them could sleep that night.