Avi looked at her with cold hard eyes. He knew his part was coming up but he had forgotten to count the beats or listen to the other voices and the melody to come in at the right time. Kevin shifted his eyes towards him, giving him a warning because he wasn't supposed to be looking at anyone. The people in this video were supposed to be looking forward. Scott had given the suggestion of the setting of the video and they were supposed to be taking a family picture. Avi remembered being told that his part was very relatable and that it might be painful.
"Act the part out Mr. Kaplan. Don't do any extra acting." The director then looked up and told everyone, "We are all looking forward and looking sad as shit! Ok? Remember the saddest thing in your life and sing as if you're losing someone. We are going to begin soon." His eyes shifted to Avi and he said, "Mr. Kaplan! Please look forward. Only forward! Aaaaaand action!"
Avi looked forward, clearly in pain. Kirstie was the girl he wanted to be with and he couldn't. The reason was simple; band mates cannot go out. If a problem arises, the whole group would suffer. They both knew this. Avi wanted to be with her and she wanted to be with him but the forbidden love could not be explored for three reasons. Their names were Mitch, Scott, and Kevin. Avi didn't kow how long he had been pondering the same thing but he knew he was in pain. His heart throbbed and ached but he could not cry. This was the job and the job was to do as the director said. The director pointed at Avi and had three fingers up, showing him that he was up in 3, 2, 1...
"And I. Will swallow my pride. You're the one that I love. And I'm saying goodbye..."
Those were the words that affected him the most. Everyone wondered why he looked so sad but the answer was there for everyone to see. He was a transparent sheet of emotion. Kirstie was the one that he loved and he needed to say goodbye. This wasn't just a song. This was his life at this moment. Avi knew the guy she was going out with and he never had an opinion on the him. To think that some other person would have his dirty hands and lips on the love of his life. It was a painful thought. Almost too painful to bare.
One moment, he was singing his part and looking at Kirstie, and the next moment, the director was in his face.
"Mr. Kaplan. May I see you in the other room please?"
The place they were headed to was known by everyone as the timeout room. This was where the director brought those who didn't listen. He would give whoever he was in there with a pep talk and a warning. It was easy enough to understand. They either did as they were paid to do, or he would charge them for taking up time.
"Mr. Kaplan... screw it. Avi. I understand what is happening here. You're going to have to bite your tongue because we have a few more takes and I need you to take it like a champ. Time is money big boy. Don't mess with people and their money; they get crazy."
The director patted him on the shoulder and opened the door. This was the end of the meeting and it was clear to him. He couldn't mess up anymore. He went back to his seat and looked at Kirstie but she was looking down with her eyes closed. He looked at Scott and Mitch but they were too lost in each other's eyes and he looked at Kevin. Kevin smiled at him but he couldn't smile back. The pain he felt at this moment was too much. He sat down and they started again from the very beginning for the sixth time.
* * * * *
The recording was over and Avi headed right for his car. He opened the door and let it close behind him, not waiting for anyone. He heard someone call his name but he ignored the person and continued walking. The door opened behind him and he knew who it was. The person calling him had a distinct voice and he knew this voice very well. Kevin was catching his breath and he put his hand on Avi's shoulder.
"Hey man! Why in such a rush? Where you headed? We were all gonna go to a karaoke bar and have some sushi and a few drinks. Why don't you join us?"
Avi smiled at Kevin and shook his head slowly.
"Kev, bro. I can't tonight. I had things planned for today but maybe some other time?"
Kevin shrugged and nodded.
"You can't hide from me Avi. Call me when you're finished with your 'things you had to do'. I'll call later anyway to make sure everything is ok."
Avi nodded and didn't say anything again. He saw Kevin walk away and he sighed in relief. He got to his car and was about to get in when he felt a soft touch on his shoulder. He turned to look at the beautiful face he had fallen for. Kirstie stood before Avi and her face was still twisted with pain. Avi smiled big and held his arms out and hugged her.
"Hey pretty lady. How are you?"
Kirstie smiled because his charisma always made her smile.
"Hi. I heard you weren't going to karaoke. Is every thing ok?"
Kirstie looked at Avi and held his face with one hand. Avi closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of her hand on his cheek. He opened his eyes and said, "No. I have things to do. Go have fun. I'll ruin it."
Kirstie didn't let Avi react or say anythig. She simply cupped his face and brought it down to hers and kissed him. Avi couldn't react. His heart stopped and his whole body froze. These lips were the lips he had kissed a few times before. Every time he kissed her, he could go to another world. He would imagine another life where he would end up with her. When Kirstie pulled away, he shook his head and smiled again. His face was red and he wanted to keep calm. Kirstie stepped forward and hugged him. He hugged her back and rested his chin on her shoulder. His hands were around her waist and her face was buried in his shoulder. He wanted to stay like this forever but the longer this took, the worse it would be.
Kirstie lifted her face and whispered something in his ear.
"I love you."
Avi stood back, clearly shocked. He was silent and his mouth was wide open. His eyes began to water and his heart began to ache. Kirstie waited and looked at him with tear filled eyes as well. Avi wanted to say something but the only thing that came out was water that leaked through his eyes. He wanted to react and hug her but he couldn't. She was to be wed with someone else and he could not mess this up for her. If one of them could be happy, he would make sure she was the happy one. Avi had been invited to the wedding and he couldn't say no. He needed to be strong for as long as he needed to be strong for.
Kirstie looked at Avi pleading him to say something with her eyes but he stayed quiet and his eyes continued to leak with pain.
"Say something... Please..."
Avi closed his mouth and closed his eyes. He was trembling.
Avi shook his head and wiped the tears from his face.
"I don't. Go and enjoy the celebration. I have to go."
Kirstie put her hands on her eyes and wiped tears away but they wouldn't stop. She shook her head, turned around, and ran for the doors she came out from. Avi opened his door and sat down. He put his head on the steering wheel and cried silently. The pains of love had just begun.