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Part 4: A Cycle of Winter



It was a cold morning.

Colder than it had been for many previous mornings, a gentle sign from nature that Christmas was nearly upon us. Much like every year, Met Éireann was forecasting a white Christmas, in an attempt to perhaps please those of us that had come to associate Christmas with snow-covered streets.

That said, it didn’t make it any easier for me to get out of bed. After having snoozed my alarm for the fifth time, I darted for the bathroom and wasted no time jumping in the shower. Day in day out, it was the same swift routine; get out of bed, a quick rinse, dress as quickly as possible and descend to the kitchen to brew a fresh cup to start the day.


It was around that time that Nat would get up and today was no different.

With my cup in hand, I walked into the room to find the sheets thrown about. I put the cup on the side table and proceeded to make the bed.

“Morning.” groaned Nat as she stepped out of the bathroom, her toothbrush in hand and some toothpaste on her chin.

“Morning sleepyhead”

“Give me twenty?”

“That’s ambitious love.”

She huffed in protest.

“Take as long as you need, I’ll settle in with my coffee, and once we’re ready we can skedaddle off to town.”

She closed the door behind her as she stepped into the bathroom.

“Don’t leave without me!”, her voice muffled behind the door.

“I wouldn’t dare.” I chuckled.


With my coffee done, I waited patiently in the hallway for Nat to get dressed.

“I’ll be out in a minute!” she shouted out from the room.

“Take your time!” I replied.

As I waited, with my coat on and my scarf loosely hanging around my neck, my eyes scanned the photographs that ran along the wall of our hallway.

The trip through India that summer, the many hikes and adventures that we embarked upon with The Duchess, a picture of the two of us in the pouring rain with Ross Castle in the background. A picture of her 23rd Birthday, posing against a cake made entirely out of doughnuts.

Our greatest hits, our memories, all framed up like records at a label.

“Right!” she proclaimed as she stepped out into the hallway with her infamous burgundy coat and a thick scarf wrapped around her neck.

“The rug coat?”

“It is not a rug coat!” she protested. “It is very warm and comfortable.”

“I’m just messing. Good to go?”

“Let’s go. Onward!” she announced, marching out the front door.



We spent much of that afternoon shopping for Christmas presents for family, going over the grocery list, walking about an already crowded town marking items off our checklist. Wasting no time we made a swift return to the apartment to prepare for the evening. We were expecting friends over for dinner. A last hurrah of sorts to celebrate the end of the year.

Nat did much of the cooking, my only contribution to it all - taking the garlic bread out of the oven and laying it on the table. I did keep myself busy elsewhere, readjusting the fairy lights, giving the space a quick clean and setting the table.

“Nat.”

“Yeah?”

“How many are we expecting tonight?”

She stepped away from the counter and turned right towards the end of the room.

“Daithí and Jo confirmed, and I think Anna might come with them as well.”

“So that’s three there.”

“How about you? Sam and Liz?”

“They’re both confirmed and I invited Ró as well.”

“Ah great! Haven’t seen her in a while.”

“That’s still six and the two of us makes eight. We planned for nine didn’t we?” I asked

We both took a second, thinking if we’d forgotten anyone.

“James!” she exclaimed

“Ah, there we go! That’s everyone .”

Our numbers were complete and the dinner was ready with the setting sun.


We found ourselves on the couch, the fairy lights and the tree by the window adding warmth to the space.

Minutes passed.

There was nothing but silence and the audible ticking of the clock.

“I think they’ve forgotten.”

“Shush, they’ll be here,” she replied.

A few more minutes passed.

The sound of the clock and the faint festive music in the background.

“All that stuffing, the garlic bread, the wine… a stark shame,” I muttered under my breath.

“Shush.“ she replied more assertively.

“I mean…”

Just as I was starting to come up with some witty remark, the doorbell rang and Nat jumped out of the couch with excitement.

“Aha! You see!”

Before long the house was packed with all of us at the table. Liz, my friend from work and her partner Sam. Anna, a friend of Nat’s who happened to be in the same course as her, a mutual friend to both her and Jo. Jo and Daithí, busy reciting some dialogue from Simpsons. Róisin, my friend from college, and James, already getting the room cracking with his stories and jokes.

Nat joined us at the table with a mean-looking Turkey.

“Will we toast?” she said sitting down next to me.

“Let’s do it!” Daithí chimed in.

“Care to have a go?” Nat replied.

“Right…” Daihí sat upright, glass in hand.

“Raise your glasses!”

The table obliged.

“To snow, more stuffing, and another year of wine!”

“That was horrible David!” Anna replied.

“Wasn’t that bad!” he protested.

“Right, James?” Nat interjected.

James stood up, hands raised.

“To great friends, connections, and the happiness we feel around them. May we continue to grow and be better versions of ourselves with every passing day.”

“Now I’ll cheer to that!” I exclaimed

The room chimed in with excitement.

We had made our way through most of what was on offer and the conversations at the table were flowing.


“So Nat,” asked Anna, “I hear you’re thinking of moving to France?”

Nat turned to me, holding a moment of silence in that space as our eyes glanced for some semblance of an answer.

“You’re moving to France? That’s great Nat!” Ró chimed in.

“Well, its nothing certain you know, just exploring more options at work,” replied Nat somewhat nervously.

She glanced at me again, placing her hand on my thigh, checking in.

“What about you Vish, you thinking of moving as well?” asked Jo.

I placed my hand on hers.

“You know, it’s still a year away at the earliest, can’t really plan that far ahead.”

“Exactly,” interjected Nat. “For all you know we’ll be sick of each other this time next year!”

The table broke into a burst of quiet laughter.

“ Well either way,” Liz chimed in, “I hope you end up holding onto that beautiful photo wall wherever you go.”

“You like it !?” asked Nat.

“The layout and the arrangement of it all, it’s just so lovely!”

“Awww, thank you Liz” replied Nat.

“Really liked how they’re framed up as well, such a simple yet intricate addition to it all.”

I grinned and gave Nat a somewhat sly look.

“Right! Who here wants more wine?” Nat chuckled as she got up from the table.


The rest of the dinner went off without a hitch and eventually, everyone made their way out.

With the last of the Dishes done and the table tidied away, Nat and I found ourselves curled up by the tree. As we lay in each other’s arms having made our way through another year together, all I could think of was the warmth of her. How good it felt to be curled up with her, the warmth of her embrace, looking out at the world beyond the window, away from our bubble.


“Met Eireann thinks it might snow tonight?” said Nat.

“It’s some wishful thinking they do every year.”

“You’re not wrong there,” she replied.

“It’ll be sleet at best”

A few moments passed.

Not a word was spoken, the sound of music filling in the room and our breaths filling the silence between each track.

“Vishruth?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m glad we did this.”

“So am I, that was one heck of a dinner.”

“You think so?” she asked, turning around to face me; now at an arm’s length with her legs crossed beneath her.

“Oh absolutely! That stuffing was to die for!”

“I do make a mean stuffing.”

She held my hand and held it next to her face.

“I meant more so, us.”

“I know.” I just looked at her, feeling her warm face against my cold hands. “I’m glad we did this as well,” I replied.

“You know,” she spoke softly, “We do need to talk about France eventually.”

“I know.” I sighed, “Not today though alright?”

A silence hung in the air.

She let go of my hand, choosing to instead run her own through my hair as she leaned forward.

I leaned in, resting my head against hers as she continued to run her hands through my hair.

“I love you” she whispered under her breath.

“And I love you” I whispered back.


 

Spring was upon us and one could feel the world change. The longer days, the warmth thawing the frosty, the cycle of rebirth and rejuvenation starting anew. Months had passed since our Christmas dinner, that conversation and Nat had started looking for opportunities within work but also independently that could get her to France. At the time I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of my partner moving to another country, but even at the time, it seemed far enough for me to never really address my discomfort with it.

To her credit, Nat would try and talk about it, look at possible options of how this could work and I would silently nod or just altogether deny that I was uncomfortable with her moving.

I was dead scared of her moving away, concerned about how the distance could impact our relationship.

At the same time, I wanted to be supportive of her. As uncomfortable as I was with it all, for me to admit it on any level felt like I was betraying the image of an ideal partner that I had come to build for myself. So my own feelings hit the back of the pile and I marched ahead with the supportive partner narrative while never really acknowledging that I was unsure of it.


You’re probably thinking, ‘Brushing things under the carpet sounds like a recipe for disaster ‘ and in hindsight, I do think it was, but then again, there wouldn’t really be much character development if I’d been so wise already now, would it?


Somewhat around this time, our individual lives had branched away. I was pursuing storytelling somewhat more seriously along with my already fulltime job and Nat had gotten busier with her work. Our days of adventuring and spending time huddled under the sheets were far and few between.

On the rare weekend that we would both be free, we ended up seeing our friends instead of spending any quality time together.

Which, in hindsight, I do see as a red flag, but at the time it seemed trivial.

The signs were there and yet they were all masked away by the pace of our everyday lives. It was on a Friday evening, in late May, where I felt that the pieces in our relationship were out of place.


Nat was out for post-work drinks and I had sunk further into the couch as Netflix proceeded to autoplay the next episode. I’m not certain when I lost the plot and fell asleep but I did find myself curled on the couch, facing the dreaded ‘Are You Still Watching?” splash and woken up by the frantic buzzing of the front door.

I jumped out of the couch to answer the door.

I wondered who it could be.

My first thought was Nat but she had her key.

Was it the neighbours or someone else in the building who’d locked themselves out?

The third option revealed itself to me when I arrived at the buzzer and pressed the button.

“Who is this?” I muttered, still shaking off the sleep.

“Hi, this is Pedro.” a throaty voice replied.

“Pedro?”

“Yeah, I work with Nat.”

“Sorry, yes, how can I help you mate?”

“Well, it's Nat actually. I’m sorry to disturb you but she’s lost her purse and she’s not feeling too well.”

I let them in without a second thought.

“I’ll be down in a second.”

In a flash, I was out of the door, keys in my pocket and running down the flight of stairs.

When I arrived at the bottom I saw a broad-shouldered man, who I assumed was Pedro and a tall blonde woman supporting a very sick Nat.

“Really sorry to disturb you, but she lost her keys so..” spoke the woman.

The elevator announced its arrival with its recognizable *Ding!*.

“No that’s fine! I’ll get the stairs and meet you up there. It’s the 4th floor.” and with that, I raced back up.


They were helping her out of the elevator when I was up the flight of stairs. Pedro and I helped her down the hall while Jenna, who had made a swift introduction, ran down the corridor and opened the door for us.

“I… thnk ..at I mite...” mumbled Nat as she gagged.

“Nearly there, just hold it in for another second,” I said while flinging the door open to our bathroom.

I flipped the toilet seat up, held her hair behind her, and before any of us had a second to prepare anymore, Nat regurgitated the contents of her stomach.

“I got this from here guys,” I said looking back at Pedro and Jenna, “Make yourself comfortable, there’s tea in the kitchen.”

A few minutes passed.

I held her hair back and passed the glass of water that Jenna had kindly brought from the kitchen.

“How are you feeling Nat?” I inquired.

She proceeded to throw up.

“Just…” she took a sip out of the glass, “great.”

She proceeded to throw up some more while the rest of us remained rooted in our spots. Pedro in the kitchen, Jenna with the occasional check-in and I on the floor of the bathroom.

After a few minutes of silence and a couple more sips, Nat slumped against the bathtub.

“Give me a second would you? I’ll be out.”

“Sure thing,” I replied, getting up from the floor.


As I made my way out I closed the door to the bathroom behind me.

“Would you guys like some tea?” I asked the two guests.

“I’d love some,” Pedro replied.

“I’d take one as well.” Jenna chimed in.

“I’ll take one as well,” mumbled Nat, stepping out from the bathroom.

In a matter of minutes, the tea was ready and we all sat in silence around the kitchen.

“Sorry for waking you up again,” Pedro said, emerging from his tea.

Before I could reply, Nat interjected, “That’s what he’s here for.”

“Still drunk eh?” I chuckled.

“Noooope!”

The room let out a quiet laugh.

A few more minutes of silence passed, interjected by small chatter about the night, the work, all the while sipping on some tea.

“Really sorry again,” said Jenna, “I’d be super pissed if I were woken up like this.”

“Not at all” I replied, “If anything, thank you for getting her here.”

“Look at you! So polite, and nice to these two.” Nat interjected yet again.

“No honestly, and thank you for the tea.” Pedro chimed in.

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Nat, “That’s what he’s here for.”

“Hah! Someone’s had much to drink.” I said, brushing off whatever that was.

I turned to the other two, “Lads, I’m going to put this one to bed if that’s alright? Feel free to leave the cups just there and thank you again for getting her here. Really appreciate it.”

“Yeah absolutely, we’ll be out of your hair,” Jenna replied with Pedro grabbing onto his jacket as they both got up.


I helped Nat to the bedroom, getting her out of her stained clothes and into her jammies. I tucked her in bed and was about to head out of the room myself.

“Where are you going?” Nat mumbled from under the sheets.

“I’d like to sleep on the couch tonight.”

“Why!?” she protested. “I was promised cuddles!”

I breathed in somewhat heavily.

“Yes, but that was before you threw up everywhere and acted as a bit of a dick.”

“What!? That’s not... Are you mad at me!?”

“Well, I’m just going to go clean the place up and we’ll talk about this tomorrow.”

“Really?”

I nodded silently.

“I’m sorry V.” Nat mumbled, “I didn’t…”

“No worries.” I interjected, “That’s what I’m here for right?”

She did not respond, just looked at me before sinking back into the sheets in resignation.

I closed the door behind me, as gently as I had opened it.


 

It was the warmest summer in my living memory.

I was home in Dublin while Nat had just returned to Kerry after a month away in Canada.

It had been a trying period for our relationship.

This was the longest we had been away from each other and struggled to communicate at that time. Calls were rescheduled, time and again, and with extended periods of no communication beyond the short texts, frustrations were reaching a breaking point. The cracks in our house, both metaphorical and literal, were more apparent. This fear that I had held going into the summer, this notion that our relationship would be damaged beyond repair took a stronger hold.

After a few more days of moving the call around, we found ourselves on a video call that turned sour real quick.


“If we can’t communicate while we’re away for the summer, how do you ever expect us to work this out when you leave!?”, I exalted in frustration.

“When I leave!?”

“France”

“Oh my, V, I don’t even know if and when I’m leaving!”

“But you do want to!?”

“Of course I want to! Wouldn’t you want to?” She looked at me puzzled, “Experience a different culture, live in a different city, form a new connection?”

“Not if it costs me my relationship.”

“Wow. You do realize how hypocritical that is and more importantly…” she took a pause, “That it's easier for you to say that when you’re already living your big immigrant dream!”

I shook my head in disbelief.

“Really, my big immigrant dream?”

“Don’t take it like that.”

I looked away from the screen.

Silence.

“How does it feel Vishruth,” she asked, “To experience life away from the world you were raised in? To be a space where you get to be your own person, to discover a new culture, to meet people that have grown with fundamentally different experiences than you. To discover yourself?”

“Do you not get to be your own person?” I asked.

She threw up her hands in frustration, “Mate! This is all I have ever known! This small island, having barely lived beyond my own bubble! So wrapped up in my roles and expectation of what everyone wants me to be that I barely had the time to know who I was in that process!”

There was a real frustration in those words but more importantly, a very vulnerable expression of how Nat felt.

A silence hung in the air.

“Could you answer the question for me please?” she asked.

I took a moment to think.

“It’s been one of the best things that have happened to me.”

“Then why can’t you wish the same for me?”

“I do, but…”

“But you want it on your terms.”

“I never said that I want it on my terms!?”

“You don’t need to say it V. It’s obvious.”

“Oh wow! That’s obvious to you and not how fucked our relationship has been lately?”

“Of course I know it has. I’m not completely oblivious to the fact that things have been difficult and we knew they would be, but you don’t see me whining about it?”

“Whining? Really?” I shook my head in disbelief, “I hope you realize how dismissive that sounds.”

Nat exhaled.

“V, why can’t we just have a civil conversation, just talk about how we’ve been. It’s been a while since we’ve talked.”

“And who’s fault is that?” I snapped.

Nat stared at me in silence.

“Right Nat, how was your day?”

“V…” she took a deep breath.

“Well my day was going quite well until my girlfriend stood me up on a call last week after having moved it from the week before, but you know, it’s fine because I’ve to pretend to be civil now rather than deal with the matter.”

“Well, fuck you!”

“Really?”

“Because you’re picking a fight unnecessarily!”

“I’m just telling you how I’ve felt these past few weeks.”

“But you’re so pissed about it.”

“Of course I am!”

“And how is that helpful?”

“It’s not! God, it’s not and I hate it, but I can’t help feel the way that I am and right about now it feels like I’m talking to a goddamn wall!”

“I was busy, something came up and I just couldn’t. I’ve apologized. What more do you want me to do!?”

“Nat, I’m in a different time zone. I stayed up for two nights waiting for a call that was rescheduled minutes before once and another that never came.”

“I’m here now!”

“Thank you, for showing up to your relationship.”

“That’s unfair.”

“Well, at least now you know what that feels like.”

“You’re being petty.”

Silence

“Maybe it’s best if I go you know.”

“V…”

“No, it’s fine. I’ll talk to you later.”


I slammed the lid shut.


 

The days were getting shorter, the temperatures were falling and the trees in Stephen’s Green had lost much of their green, now casting an orange shade that would soon lose their colour.

I was on a bench on my own, my keep-cup in hand looking at a man feeding a flock of pigeons in the far distance.

I looked at my phone, gliding over Nat’s number as I struggled to dial.

A million thoughts raced through my hand, a dozen what-if scenarios, hesitations, optimistic visions of how we could turn things around, but a very prominent part of me knew that this call had to be made.


I put my phone to the ear and waited for her to pick up.

Ring Ring.

Patiently waiting for her to pick up.

Ring Ring.

A click followed by a voice that chimed in - “The person you’re trying to reach cannot take your call right now. please leave a message after the tone, and when you’re finished, press the hash key or hang up.”

‘A voicemail it is then.’ I thought to myself.




“Hey, hun.

I know you’d rather be with your family than entertain me or listen to any of this but just hear me out.


I’m really sorry about last week.

I know it doesn’t change how things played out, or what was said, but the reason I’m reaching out now is that there are things that I’ve been holding back.

I know you see it, in me, the way I’ve been, that there is this big wall I’ve been hiding behind and yet one that you can’t make much sense of.

I know things have been changing in our relationship for some time and it's that change that scares me.

Things aren’t the way they used to be.


Lately, I feel like we’ve been walking on eggshells around each other. Scared of triggering any part of the other that might break this illusion of a peace that we’ve built up. We keep our pretences, we go out with our friends, we host house parties, and yet when we’re there, just you and I in the confines of this house that we’ve built together, there is a gulf separating us.

I know you’re probably thinking - ‘no shit sherlock!’ - and I get that it’s not really all that inconspicuous, that there is this big elephant in the room that we’ve both been avoiding.

You’re leaving.

It terrifies me that all of this could come crashing down, that this life we’ve built, this love that we share, could all fall apart with distance. It took us ages to recover from the weeks we spent apart over Summer and I fear that the damage over months apart will/might be too hard to repair.”


I took a moment, wiping the tears that had started flowing down my cheeks. Taking a moment to quietly sniffle and catch my breath.


“Maybe I’m letting the fear of it all cloud my judgement.

Maybe it won’t be all that bad.

Maybe we’ll make the distance work.

I could visit you some weekends, and you on others and we can always figure out a way to minimize conflict.

Maybe this is all more do-able than it seems.

Maybe.


Sounds like a lot of uncertainty doesn't it?

So none of that then.”


I took a pause, a moment to gather my thoughts.


“Us meeting each other after that first night was a chance, and what a whirlwind it all was.

That first date, that kiss in the cold, the first time we cried together, the first time we bared our souls. I felt love in your presence, and acceptance, the likes of which I had only ever heard of up until that point.

And yet lately, I can’t help but think that we’ve left it behind us.

That we’re so wrapped up in this hurt that we can’t see beyond it.

We haven’t been good to each other for some time now.

We haven’t been good for each other, and we both know it.”


My lips trembled and my eyes flowed with tears.


“Our relationship always had an expiration date and maybe we’ve both been too stubborn to admit that it has run its course. There is pain, a lot of hurtful words thrown about, unprocessed traumas that we’re both just starting to learn about. There is a fork in our path, different directions that life’s taking us on and reconciling that promise of a future with the loss of what we’re leaving behind has been a lot to deal with. At a time when we should both hold that space for each other as we transition, we’ve been taking jabs at each other.

I know that things are coming out when we fight that I hate about myself.

I need help. It's terrifying to even think about what that process entails, but I know throwing my keys or my phone at the floor in frustration is not acceptable and I am truly sorry that I have made you feel unsafe.

That is my journey. Mine alone to take.

Just like you have your own journey ahead of you.”

I took a deep breath, in an attempt to hold myself, compose myself.



“I believe that if we end this now, we can, in time, continue to be a positive part of each other’s lives.

We are two good people who stopped being good to and for each other; In our relationship, through our ups and downs, You have been my hearth, my home, the keeper of my best self, my best friend. I hope I have been that same for you.

To be loved by someone as picky as you means that I’m special and I have loved you through it all, the good and the worst. I share some of my fondest memories with you my love, and I know that some of our fondest lies ahead of us, filled with love, growth, and all that is good for us.

A part of you will always stay safe with me, like a time capsule holding an essence, and I will hold it with all the love that I have for you.

I don’t want to hold you back from an adventure that will, most positively, change the very course that you’re on. An experience that I am certain will only add to the already incredible you.

I don’t want you to go.

But, I don’t want to hold you back either.


I love you and I miss you.

I’m really sorry for this knock-off version of our relationship lately, so let's see this through with love if we can.

I’ll wait, so...

Call me when you get this.”



I put my phone away.

Tears still streamed down the side of my face but the weight was lifted off my shoulders, as cliché as that may sound


 

It was cold that evening.

The coldest winter since the big snow and Met Éireann, on cue, had predicted a white Christmas.

Nat and I found ourselves in the kitchen with the last of the Dishes nearly done and the table tidied away. Our friends had just left, and our house, packed up in boxes, felt less lived in. Emptier than it had ever been.

“Have you heard, it might snow tonight.”

“Unlikely, considering its Dublin, it’ll likely be rain or sleet at best,” Nat replied.

I chuckled in response, “You’re not wrong.”

“It was good to have them over before we cleared out of this place.”


I nodded in silence.


“Do you think they know?” I asked.

“Liz does, or at least I think she does,” Nat replied.

“What makes you say that?”

“She did mention how things would be fine. That it will get better with time.”

“Could’ve meant the move?”

“I doubt it.”

“Are we that obvious?” I asked.

“I mean you do look like you’ve been hit by a truck”

We both chuckled.

“Not your best look mister, I must say.”

“It’s the packing, can really feel my age in the bones.”


The note of levity lingered on.

The silence between us was accompanied by the faint sound of music in the background and the running water from the tap as I rinsed the last of the plates.

Nat had walked over to the Christmas tree and sat down on the rug, her eyes peering into the world beyond our apartment, a life beyond what we’d come to know for these past few years.


“Looking out for the snow?” I asked.


Nothing but silence and the faint sound of the music.


“What if this is all a bad idea?” she replied.


I made my way across to her and joined her on the floor, sitting under the tree across from her, my back against the cold window.

“It feels like we’re making a big mistake.”

“I know, but we’re not.”


The silence lingered on.


“I think it’s painful to think of how different our lives will be going forward that the comfort of this moment seems too good to break away from.”

“How can you be so sure? How are you so unshaken by this?” she asked.

“I can’t be. I’m not unshaken. Trust me, I’ve thought this over every day since we talked about it. I’ve cried thinking of how much I’ll miss what we had.”


Nat started sniffling, tears breaking beyond her eyes and streaming down her face.

I reached out in response, my hands stretched across the rug as Nat’s met mine halfway, holding on tightly.

She turned to face me, both of us overwhelmed with emotion, tears now streaking down both of our faces

.

“How do we know if this is the right choice? What if we could work this out? What if there is a way to keep this going? Don’t we have something good here? Something worth fighting for?”

I held her hands tighter, running my thumb over her fingers, the warmth of them against my cold hands. I held them up to my lips and planted a soft kiss.

“Hun, we had something really good, something that really added to our lives and brought us to the people we are in this very moment. I have loved you, through every moment that I’ve held you, through our fights, our distance, the movie nights to the times you’d fall asleep halfway through me telling you my ideas for the many unfinished scripts that still lie rotting away in my closet.”

Nat sniffled and did her best to hold back a fresh wave of emotions. “You have been such an important part of my life, that I owe you so much for…”

“You owe me nothing, Nat.”

“I really love you!”

“And I really love you.”

We reached across and locked in an embrace, holding onto each other as she planted kisses on my cheeks, running her hands through my hair.

We just held each other.

For a moment, time stopped still, there were no labels, no future, no her or I at that moment.

Just two souls locked in an embrace a moment of deep care and loss.


“It is the right choice for us, for you and me. That is how I know it is the right choice.”


We stayed locked in our embrace, lost in the moment that lasted a moment too short.

“I need to breathe.” Nat moved back, taking a used tissue from her pocket and wiping away her nose.


She reached out for my hand again.


“Do you remember the first night you walked me back?”

“After Daithí’s?I do.”

“What do you remember of it?”

“I remember not wanting that walk to end. God, I genuinely never thought I’d see you again but there you were, sitting across from the table one second, on the streets walking right next to me another. A whirlwind romance, a random set of coincidences that led to that evening.”

“I couldn’t keep my eyes off you.”


We locked eyes and relived the connection that we’d felt that night.

A smile descended upon our faces as we held onto each other's hands a bit tighter.

“You were such a gentleman, walking me to my doorstep, not trying to sneak in for a drink.”

“I knew the moment I met you that I wanted more than that.”

“Do you remember what you said to me there, as you stood on the curb?”


As she said that, for a moment, I was taken back to that night, outside her door, as I stood on the curb trying to come up with words to make sense of what my racing mind was conjuring at that precise moment.

She looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to say something, to bid her adieu, perhaps a kiss goodnight.

“Hey, I’m not sure what your story is or if you’d like to…” I blurted out, “but I’d really like to see you again.”

She smiled back at me, “I’d like that.”

“I will text you then.” I waved goodbye as I stepped off the curve and took a step away from her. Halfway onto my next step I turned around swiftly and shouted back.

“Hey, Nat!”

“Yeah!?” she yelled back.

“Don’t be a stranger!”

She laughed and stepped through the door, closing it behind her.


I drifted back to reality, her hands, their warmth grounding me at the moment.

“I do.”

She guided my hands to her lips and kissed them gently, holding them even tighter.

“Vishruth.”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t be a stranger.”


As she said that, a fresh wave of emotions coursed through me, the tears that up until this point had been welling up found release and we both sat there, holding onto the last fragments of each other, holding onto the good of us, letting go of the worst, looking ahead at what would come. Yet at that moment, love held its space.


For the first time since the Big Snow, it snowed in Dublin.


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