After nearly failing his first year of university, Ari returned home to the Flats. His initial plan was to drop out of university and get a job somewhere. But to his shock, he found that his old, dilapidated house was now haunted by the ghost of Mrs. Bock.
He tried to move in with Ophelia, but soon discovered that 1. – She snored. Loudly. 2. – She liked to argue about everything. And 3. – Sex with her was really, really bad. Despite her hot appearance, Ophelia was no good in bed.
“Yes, amazing,” he said. He meant it, and wished her all the happiness in the world, but after he left, something inside him felt heavy and unsettled. He slept uncomfortably for the next few nights in a local hotel, then made an important decision. He would return to Grand Rock University. But this time, he vowed, things would be different. If he was going to succeed at becoming a real football player, then it was time to grow up and get serious.
Upon his turn to Great Rock, Ari found a part-time job at a liquor store. Then, instead of moving back into the dorms, where all his party-loving friends lived, he rented a small house off campus. Then, as the next semester got underway, Ari began to study as he had never studied before. He read until his eyes were dry and itchy. He took notes until his hand cramped. He participated in his classes, sometimes even filling in for his professors. Soon, his GPA began to soar.
His performance on the university football team also improved. Though they were now off-season, he continued to pound himself at the gym and on the field, improving his technique and endurance. Soon, he went from Bench Boy to being the team’s most valuable player.
Even though Ari was working so hard, he did not feel as tired as he had back when he was partying and drinking all night long. And now, he could use his free time, not to get over stabbing hangovers, but to relax, strum the guitar, and even teach himself how to cook. The only bad part, it seemed, was the loneliness. With no girlfriend, no dorm mates, and no parties, he spent much of his time alone. Sometimes that was okay. But sometimes, he wished he had a friend to hang out with.
Then he had an idea. He would organize a study group for his English Literature class at his house. Then he could make some friends and study at the same time. He hung up a few flyers around campus with the time and location. Then, on the first night, the doorbell rang. Ari rushed to open it, expecting strangers. But instead, standing there, looking just as surprised as Ari felt, was Marisol Milito.