First Hug After Lockdown. A Journal Entry by Sorcha Trant

‘So, have you chosen yet?’ My sister, Olwyn, peers at me with the glint in her eyes that usually signifies she is about to say something roguish.
‘Chosen what?’ I ask, straightening up in the metal-framed chair opposite her.
‘Who gets your first hug after lock-down.’
Now there’s a question.
I take a deep inhale and feel a surge of longing for my best friend and former neighbour, Anne; our routine treks through the crunchy gravel that lines the rugby pitch at the end of my road before she moved outside the two-kilometre cage–before the virus–before the before; the wagging feathery-white tail of her Maltichon, “Teddy”, strutting alongside us; his licky-kiss greetings when I called over for consolatory cups of tea on days when that sort of remedy could be prescribed by close friends; flopping on Anne’s sofa with a gaggle of our single buddies watching a Rom-Com in honour of Galentine’s day—it sounded so much sweeter in her Californian accent. ‘Anne Shanahan,’ I reply on an exhale.
Olwyn beams with the warm glow of understanding.
‘What about you?’ I lean forward, curious.
She stretches her lips into a wry smile and curls her shoulders in a slow shrug. ‘Haven’t decided yet,’ she says, twirling the silver spoon around her empty breakfast bowl. ‘But I’ve told all my friends I’m open for applications.’

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