Maria doesn't fully understand why she followed Ari Johnson up and onto the roof of the school. It was pure idiocy and it's not even as if Maria could claim that she was worried Ari might hurt herself – the roof was just high enough that somebody could walk beneath it, but nowhere near as high up as the other rooftops of their high school.
“What are you doing up here?” Maria asks Ari, who just looks to the side briefly before patting the space besides the spot where she lays as if they were in a meadow of green grass and not a dusty, dirty rooftop in the middle of Lincoln. Perhaps it was her emerald eyes that sparkled with mischief or perhaps her smile, that seemed to promise an answer to all Maria's questions, but for whatever reason Maria quickly found herself reclined on her back starring up into the sky just like Ari.
“Okay. What are we doing?” Maria asks finally, still trying desperately to work out what they were watching and still only seeing blue sky. Ari reaches out and takes Maria's hand and despite the fact that normally anybody who lured Maria onto a roof and then decided to try cuddling up (although she supposed it was only really their hands that were cuddling) would immediately earn themselves a swift scathing response, Maria supposed she didn't really mind, it just made her hand feel tingly.
“Stargazing,” Ari replies with such conviction that Maria finds herself double checking the sun just to make sure that she hasn't accidentally lost six or so hours of her life. No, it was still daylight. Maria thinks that perhaps she ought to check the other girl for concussion, and yet something made her believe that it was Maria who was looking at it wrong not Ari.
They don't know what possesses them to stay on top of that roof until the sunsets – Ari still seeing her imagined stars and Maria just enjoying the serene peace that came from this place, this roof, Ari – but they do. They stay there until the actual stars appear in the sky. They stay there until it starts to rain and then they finally head home.
Maria's mother tells her off for being out past curfew and grounds her for a week and yet Maria doesn't regret it. Maria doesn't regret it even when it becomes common knowledge around school and then becomes the running joke in every classroom (
“Sorry I'm late sir,”
“Ah, Rebecca, finally you grace us with your presence, I was just about to search the roof”).
Nobody understands exactly why the girls did it – not even the girls themselves – but every so often when Ari made her way onto the roof and Maria managed to join her, the pair feel for just the briefest moment that they might be close to understanding.
“Why do you keep coming back here?” Ari finally asks one day.
“I'm still trying to see your stars,” Maria admits feeling stupid.
“Then you're looking at it wrong,” Ari says confidently and Maria glances over just as Ari kisses her.
In that moment, Maria doesn't see the stars, she sees whole Galaxies.
“Do you see?” Ari asks, looking back up into the sky.
“I see,” Maria says breathlessly, gripping Ari's hand tightly.
When they finally head back to their classes, hands still firmly clasped, they finally have answers to all the questions. When people ask them why, Maria will tell them that whenever she looks at Ari; she sees galaxies. Whenever she takes her hand; she sees suns explode. Whenever she kisses her; she feels like she's floating off in space. They did it, because they are two planets orbiting each other, and Maria's never felt more at peace than when she's by Ari's side.
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