Early in the pandemic, the university locked its doors and switched to online learning. Then our entire city locked down.

Within days, most of the students living in tiny apartments in our glorified rooming house returned to their family homes. A Belarusian student on a temporary visa and I were soon rattling around an almost deserted house. With self-isolation, we seldom saw each other.

After writing my exams, I focused on my twin passions: computer game development and climate change. I developed a strategy game where the hero challenges the opponents of climate change action.

In July, I reached the beta testing stage, but the prototype only worked on my computer. I sanitized everything, obtained facemasks, established two-metre distancing, and invited the one remaining student to test my game.

An hour later, she removed the virtual reality headset and turned toward me.

“Did you win?” I asked.

“I battled endless enemies while vanquishing none. I survived, and somehow, I made your life quality index better than it was when I started.” She glanced at her phone. “Six thirty, and I’m famished. Can we go somewhere for dinner?”

“Out? I thought the pandemic closed everything.”

She laughed. “You’re so out of touch.”

“Gone nowhere for months.”

“Things have eased up, and I know a vegetarian restaurant—quiet, outdoor patio, small tables, well-spaced, safe.”

“Why didn’t you go home after the university went online?” she asked as we strolled toward the restaurant.

“Alone, estranged from my family,” I said before pointing at our apartment house. “That’s as close as I get to a home. What about you?”

“Can’t leave. One more term, and I’ll have my degree. If I go home now, and travel restrictions prevent my return in September, I’ll lose everything.”

I felt this strange urge to put my arms around her. “Been hard, hasn’t it?”

She wiped away a tear. “Yeah, like really. I’m not a loner like you. I need family and companionship.”

To hell with social distancing, I thought as I grabbed her hand and pulled her into an embrace.

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

In a time when everything seems to be on hold, your story moves us on. Yes we all adapt as in your story. Well done.

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson (@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

Naughty, after all that quarantine, or maybe they had both really self-isolated. One of our soaps has been putting invisible sheets of glass between people who they want to embrace on screen. Everything does move on like your protagonist’s life.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

This is a lovely story, Alan. It really highlights how different personalities cope in their own way during periods of isolation. It must be so much more difficult for those with outgoing personalities who need to be with others to flourish. Great story, beautifully told.

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musing mind
musing mind (@musing-mind)
1 year ago

Very touching story and many international students stuck abroad can relate to your story. I hope everyone gets warm embrace in this time of crisis.

Eden Pela
Eden Pela (@eden-pela)
1 year ago

Lovely story. It kind of relates to my current academic state. I was supposed to graduate high-school this June. However, the world took a wrong turn and I’m currently writing my main exams. Unfortunately, I have to stay one year till I get into Hunter University next year. Well done!

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Jay Vaananen
Jay Vaananen (@jay-vaananen)
1 year ago

Great story. Brings to life what social animals we humans are and when it comes to affairs of the heart, there’s really nothing that can stop us from acting upon those feelings. Also a wonderful choice of picture for the story.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

Love story. I felt the emotion. You catch my heart. Well done.

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi (@katy-bizi)
1 year ago

Such a sweet story! We really need those moments of happiness and love during these tough times.

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