It had been five years since I’d last seen Clara when I ran into her on the streets of London. It was an afternoon with a strange feeling to it, something of unfinished business, with a twinge of nostalgia stepping in to sadden it. 

It had snowed the day before, and despite the fact that it had turned to a brown icy mush underfoot, white powder still clung to the roofs of buildings. 

“Clara!” I had exclaimed, after a woman had stopped me on the street just outside Kings Cross. I paused briefly, and asked, “What are the chances?” Although I think it would be naïve to deny that some part of me had been hoping that our paths would cross, ever since Chloe had accidentally let it slip that Clara was in London.

She looked different, and yet the same all at the same time. Those gentle eyes now mixed kindness with maturity, and I noticed that the hand wrapped around my wrist had begun to show the barest hints of wrinkles.  

“Sam, what are you doing here?” Her face was shrouded in confusion, but underneath lay a touch of curiosity and perhaps, hopefully, a sort of longing. 

With a laugh and a smile, I explained. 

“Studying,” I told her. “Well…” a small shrug and wry smile, “not here, but in Cambridge.” I paused, taking a second to take in her face, cheeks flushed red from the cold, her black coat collar struggling to remain popped up as the navy scarf underneath threatened to push it back down flat. “What about you?” I asked. “What are you doing now?”

“Oh, ya know, working I guess,” she answered. Eyes flitting down to her phone, her eyebrows crinkled slightly, like they used to when something was wrong. “Sorry, I’ve got to run,” she gestured to her phone. “Last minute deal before Christmas.” She catches me in the eye for just a second, before looking away just as quickly. “We could meet up later though?” she says, as her voice hesitates. “Maybe, if you’d like that?”

My voice softens, almost to a whisper, and I find myself suddenly also unable to look at her face. “Yeah, Clara, that’d be great.”

“Ah, okay, cool. I’ll message you – I think I still follow you on Instagram or Facebook?”

Unable to look up from the pavement, I nod, “Yeah Instagram definitely, free all evening, so just let me know.”

“Cool,” she repeats and turns away, leaving me there. After a brief moment of stunned silence, I pull out my phone, open up google maps and trudge the rest of the way to my sister’s apartment. 


It’s less than thirty minutes after I arrive at my sister’s when my phone vibrates in my pocket. Clara’s message is simple, a link to a pub accompanied by ‘7pm?’

Unsure of how to respond, I simply thumbs-up react, and go back to setting down my stuff in my sister’s spare room, and return to the kitchen to engage in small talk (and a cocktail or two) with her nice, but undeniably boring, fiancé before its time to leave to meet Clara. 

Clara hasn’t changed from her earlier outfit when she finally arrives fifteen minutes late. 

“Sorry,” she pants, “Went longer than expected. I’m all yours now.”. The words, innocuous as they are, bring back a rush of memories, of moments past, to my mind, and, judging by the way she pauses too, to her as well. Tension creeping in, Clara coughed nervously. 

“Shall we, uh, shall we go in?”. She gestured to the front door. Finding myself unable to speak, I simply nodded and followed her in through the doors. 


“I thought you always wanted to be a lawyer,” she says to me softly, voice barely breaking above the wash of chit chat of the pub surrounding us. 

It’s the first words she’s said since we entered into the dark, dimly lit building, and although I can’t see her face well enough to be sure, the words are weighted with accusation, a question that neither of us dare ask nor answer. 

“Perhaps someday,” I say, fingers ghosting the rim of my almost empty pint. “But for now, I’m okay with taking the long way round.”.

I can feel her eyes on me, and all at once I feel that old urge to tell her everything resurface. 

“I just, I just didn’t think I was ready to commit to one life or the other… I don’t really know how to explain it, but, I guess, I just needed more time.”.

She looks up at me, “Sam?” I nod. “Would you maybe like to come back to mine?”.

All I can do is nod. 


It is 5am when I finally leave her flat. She walks me down the steps to the street, hugs me quickly and turns to head back inside to the warmth and familiarity of her flat. Believing that’s it, I pause for a second and then begin my walk down the street, but I have barely made it ten metres, barely had a chance to mourn the goodbye, when I hear footsteps slapping the ground behind me. I stop, but don’t turn around until I feel her hand on my arm, drawing me back, pulling me into her. 

We are looking at each other now, our breath visible in the air between us. For a while, we stand here frozen, unable to pull our gaze from each other’s eyes. Everything is still between us, the sounds of the city have quietened, and there is no one in this world apart from her and me. Slowly and gently, she reaches a hand up to my face and my eyes close and her lips, ever so softly touch mine. It is a burdened kiss, weighed down by all the things left unsaid and a finality that I have never, and will never, be able to put into words. Her hand remains for some second after and I dimly feel her thumb gently brush away the tear that has escaped my eye as we stood there. 

“Goodbye, Sam”, she whispers, and once again she turns and leaves me standing there on the street. I know it is the last time, this time. I feel it all deep in my chest, let it settle there and reach out its arms. 

It is a hurt that remains, buried down inside of me, often forgotten but never quite forgotten. I have bathed my senses in her for years. I know somewhere, deep in the back of my mind that it is not Clara I want, but the idea of her. That I have taken her, a real person and turned her into art. That she has become in my mind an untouchable, unchanging idea of a person I once knew. 

I saw her last week, all dressed in white and walking down to meet her forever. I stood there and clapped loudly, grinned widely as she kissed her, the steadying presence of my own fiancée beside me, willing but not quite ready to let go of the pain of mourning her, the grief of losing her, and the thrill of loving her all these years in my mind. 

Lot's Wife Editors

The author Lot's Wife Editors

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