Engaged couple Zakarias and Julian are convinced nothing can separate them ... until a global pandemic hits. Zakarias catches the virus with mild symptoms and isolates in the couple’s guest house.
The few meters dividing them might as well be the moon as he watches Julian, an ICU nurse, work himself to the bone, unable to support him the way he needs. Frustration and worry build as the weeks pass.
Will Zakarias be declared healthy before Julian burns out?
When we’d just bought it, we spent many long evenings making plans and discussing options. We’d share a bottle of wine and make long lists of things we wanted, things we deemed necessary in what was going to be our forever home. The lists started outrageously -- a wine cellar bigger than the actual house with an employee who turns the bottles? Really, Zakarias? -- but distilled into a few reasonable items. So Julian’s dream of the biggest bathroom in the northern hemisphere -- a Bath Palace, Zakarias, not a bathroom -- complete with a pool, a jacuzzi, a sauna, and every other imaginable luxury, turned into a more feasible sized room with a fancy walk-in shower and a separate bathtub with jets -- both of them big enough to accommodate the two of us. It also has a heated floor and double sinks. And my favorite feature; the tiny lights over the bathtub, sprinkled in the ceiling like a starry sky.
We both love the house; it’s our sanctuary. Every design element is chosen for comfort and to make it feel like a real home. Like someplace we can be ourselves. Someplace we can grow old together.
There are things left to do on the house before we’re happy with it, and we still spend evenings on the couch, sipping wine and making lists. Evenings that more often than not turn into heavy make-out sessions on the couch, with clothes being torn off and strewn about. Evenings that end with us panting in a sticky mess and blissed-out grins on our faces, but without deciding what to do with whatever room we’re considering remodeling at the time. “The discussion is half the fun,” he’ll say with sparkling eyes, and my mouth agrees, while I’m thinking the discussion is all the fun, because I could live in a tiny shack in the forest and be happy as long as he lived there with me.
But this house ... it’s not just a house, it’s a home. Our home and I miss it.
I miss coming home from work and finding Julian sprawled on the couch in only his underwear, watching some horrid reality show or other on the big screen TV. I miss waking up early on weekends and preparing luxury breakfasts for him, miss how the scent of freshly baked bread never fails to wake him and lure him out of bed. I miss the adorable sight of him stumbling into the kitchen, bleary-eyed, hair in disarray with pillow creases on his cheek and dried drool on his chin. I miss how he beelines for me like a heat-seeking missile and winds himself around me, burying his face in my neck, snaking his arms around me, and tapping three times over my heart.
His family came up with that code when he was little; his younger sister was born with a genetic developmental disorder and never learned to speak, so three taps to the heart meant “I love you.” She died when she was only five, but the family keeps her memory alive with that gesture. It was how Julian told me he loved me for the first time. I didn’t understand it at the time, but when he told me the story, I realized he’d been telling me he loved me long before the words were spoken out loud.
I straighten my spine. Shake my head at my moment of weakness before marching back to the guesthouse and pulling a sweater over my head. I pour out the cold forgotten contents of my mug and pour fresh, steaming coffee into it.
Then I sit, take a sip, and breathe.