[short story] hiraeth

There’s this mostly unknown writer who is found in a cafe with a former lover of his. From the way he talks, he seems to be made of words and sadness and little else. A suffering face, clothes a bit out of style. Legs crossed. He listens to her talk about what was what while she was no longer his.

It’s June. The streets are lined with cars, with people and cats and dogs, all of them drenched in the afternoon sun. 

She makes a witty remark, he smiles nonchalantly at her. He does not know what to do with his hands. He never did.

He thinks of her, not as she is, but as she was.

Ever since she closed the door behind her, he’s been carrying her around like this. A ghost from a dream that once belonged to a different life. Saudade. The love that remains when nothing can be done anymore.

And it’s not that he just can’t help himself, it’s not that he could never find someone else. It’s just that he’s so stubborn that he does not want to let her go. He does not want to look himself in the mirror and whisper words of defeat.  

They are now seated across from each other, they talk like this. Hours pass by like minutes, yet each second seems to hover in the golden glare of the sun for much, much longer than a moment. He thinks of something, he talks of something else. He’d like to know what’s on her mind. 

He uses words to conceal what’s in his heart. Sometimes he has to look away unless he wants her to find out.

A great longing, a terrible thirst, a desire to be loved by her.

The afternoon light gleams on her face.

He’s always been drawn to women who could easily destroy him with a single word.


Words are meager things, and they fail to describe her properly. Maybe it is so because it is something in her nature; she has a certain je ne sais quoi about her. Her eyes change color. Or do they? Her eyes are set in a fair face, oval, like a teardrop. Her easy smile can stop a man’s heart. Makes his skip a few beats now and then. No matter where she stands, that’s the center of the room, of the world, of everything ever imagined into existence by God. The world seems to spin around her. All else fades away. 

Do not misunderstand. She is not loud. No. She’s like fire. She does not burn bright like one, but it’s never the light that makes a man lean close to a fire. What draws you to a fire is the warmth you feel when you come near it. 

In other words, she feels like home. Like the innocent pleasure of sleep in a bed you have known for years and years.

She says her phone will soon run out of battery. It does not matter. Her mother will call her, and if she doesn’t answer, she’ll worry. It does not matter. The night pours over them. It does not matter.

Suddenly, she says it’s time to go. He does not want to, but he complies. They walk out of the coffee shop. It’s dark and lonely on the streets.

They walk close to one another. Incredibly close. Yet, they do not touch. They keep talking all the way to the bus stop. It’s cold. He tells her to give him a hug. To help him keep warm. She trembles underneath the weight of them touching, or maybe it’s all in his head.

She feels like home.

He thinks of her, again. Not as she is, but as she was when she was the one reason he had to come home.

He’d like to kiss her lips, and maybe he could, but he’s too afraid to do so. It is better to suffer with her almost his than it is to suffer all by himself.

They say their goodbyes, she climbs on the next bus. He stands there for a few minutes, smoking a cigarette, shivering in the dark coldness of the night.


  1. Brilliantly written as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Michael!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pulling my heartstrings today, Cristian. Hauntingly sad; I so want to hope for them both.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So beautiful and poignant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “He’s always been drawn to women who could easily destroy him with a single word.”

      Like moths to a fire, we show inclination at times to be drawn to that very thing which may be our undoing.

      Engaging, evocative read!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful pictures with your words.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful story Cristian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Caroline!


  6. I liked your quote “I’m an acquired taste. Don’t like me? Acquire some taste.” made me smile. I loved reading your story. Very talented

    Liked by 1 person

  7. c l barton says:

    thank you for teaching me this new word

    Liked by 1 person

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