Ari loved living with Marisol. But at the same time, it was like being tortured. As he saw her from day to day – her messy hair in the mornings, the way she sucked on her pinky finger when she was concentrating, and the way she danced around the kitchen when she was cooking – he slid deeper and deeper into a well of feelings he could not shake. Every night as he lay in bed, he thought about how she was sleeping so close – separated by only a few feet, and he wondered if she lay on her back, or maybe her side. Did she snore? Talk in her sleep? Curl into a ball? Did she ever lie there, thinking about him, too?
The months slid past, and Ari kept his feelings to himself. Even when Marisol broke up with Leonard and went out for dates with other guys, Ari only smiled and pretended to be happy for her, though his insides were in turmoil. He loved Marisol so much, but he did not want to mess up the great friendship that had developed between them. They had the best times together, going out bowling, studying, and sometimes hanging out at home, watching television or playing video games.
Ari supported Marisol’s goal to become an artist (even though secretly, he thought that her art was only mediocre, at best). He admired how dedicated she was to her art. Sometimes, however, her dedication got her into trouble, like when the campus police arrested her for painting a mural on the wall of the coffee shop without permission. And sometimes, her art led her to do crazy things, like when she asked Ari to pose naked so that she could paint his nude portrait.
Later, Ari could not believe that he had done it. But he was so head-over-heels, that he would probably do anything for Marisol.
Then one afternoon, everything changed between them. They were hanging out in the attic. Ari was reading across the room, and Marisol was singing some 80’s song on a dusty old karaoke machine.
Though I’ve tried to resist, being last on your list
But no other man’s gonna do
So I’m saving all my love for you…
Ari put down his book and watched her. To his amazement, Marisol was looking directly at him. During the entire song, her brown eyes never pulled away from his. Ari felt as though his heart had stopped beating. She was singing the song to him!
“Come and sing with me, Ari.” Marisol beckoned to him when the next song began, Keep On Lovin’ You by REO Speedwagon. Ari tried to resist. He was not a very good singer. But Marisol was like a magnet, drawing him toward her. Next thing he knew, he and Marisol were singing together, belting out old pop songs into the microphone, not caring if they sang them well or not. Sometimes, their hands wrapped around the microphone together, their fingers caressing as they leaned in toward each other, crooning romantic lyrics.
Afterward, Ari played a few songs on the guitar for Marisol. “Wait her for just a moment,” said Marisol. She disappeared downstairs, then returned a few minutes later, lugging her bass. “I haven’t played in ages,” she said, running her fingers over the smooth wood and gazing at the bass like it was an old lover.
“Let’s play together,” said Ari. And they did, filling the little attic with their own music. Sometimes, Ari stopped playing just to listen to Marisol. The music that poured from her was so beautiful. “Why aren’t you studying to become a musician?” he finally asked, puzzled. “You are very talented.”
Marisol frowned. “I don’t know. I always thought I knew what I wanted. But now, everything is so…different.” She stared at Ari while she spoke, her eyes clouded with confusion. “But maybe you’re right, Ari. Maybe it’s time to try something new, and to see what can come of it.” She leaned forward and kissed Ari gently on the cheek. Then she picked up her instrument and left him there in the attic.