Someone said distance makes the heart grow fonder. That after gaining distance and physical separation, the feelings that came with it would only grow stronger and more urgent. However, whoever said that failed to mention was how the relationship was going in the first place. The change of perspective- the taking a few steps back to have a look at the whole situation -is a side effect of travelling across countries in pursuit of academic success and accolade. It is the distance, the separation, that creates an entirely new perspective that challenges whether the stars they danced under were ever as bright as they remembered.

Millie and Brooklyn had been dating for years. High school sweethearts utterly infatuated with each other dumbstruck by lovesick at first sight. Their first date was when they were 16 and attended the Valentine’s Ball. Everyone was in silvery blue for a Night Under the Sea. Dancing with Brooklyn, she swore she could see the stars every time she threw her head back when in his arms. Every disco and ball and night out, their dancing got better as they fell deeper in love. They had songs their friends would sneak into every house party playlist because that’s when they would perform their show-stopping Footloose number. The date ideas from Instagram and TikTok? They had those down

As soon as Millie got her driving license, she took Brook out in her parents’ truck with blankets in the back and had a movie night under the moon. He surprised Millie with a trip to Paris before her first semester at Bath started. Every time she looked at the sky she always thought of that random street in Paris. There, on a random fence, stays a bright red lock. 

None of them were in Paris now though. Brooklyn was back home. Millie was in Bath and she could feel every one of the 6000 kilometres between them. 

It was dark in the library. Snow had started to fall, thick white clouds had fallen low enough to settle on the Parade. It was only mid-afternoon and she was on hour six for a lab book. It wasn’t due for a few weeks and they hadn’t even covered all the content yet but she didn’t know what else to do. Her flatmates were nice enough but busy all the time, leaving her to try and find things to do alone. She didn’t have much money moving after halfway across the world. She spent her time getting trying to make her degree worth it. If she was going to leave everyone she knew to be lonely in a foreign country she thought it might as well be for something.

She had developed a system that ultimately revolved around waiting for her daily call with Brooklyn. When the sun still slept, she woke up in time to see the same sky in Canada. Getting to the gym before everyone else woke up, she’d then spend time in the library before lectures. For lunch it was a £1.50 chicken bake from Fountain Café then more time in the library after lectures. She was only back to cook food, smile at her flatmates, and then escape to her room.

There’s a five-hour difference between “home” and home. That worked out with Brook on his lunch break and Millie eating dinner. She’d make sure he was full screen on her iMac. Sometimes when she wiped the tears from her eyes (mostly from laughing) it would look like her virtual boyfriend was really there. There wasn’t the distance. The entire time she’d been in Bath she’d worked to pretend the distance didn’t really matter. Modern technology had made it possible to sustain a close, rewarding relationship…right?

♡❆♡❆

Millie’s lab book was sitting finished on her desk besides her computer, FaceTime open and ready for her call. Millie’s reflection was looking at her on the screen: perfectly plaited hair, glasses neatly glittering after being freshly wiped. She had applied a bit of foundation and lip stick too, but just a little bit. Cross-legged on her stool, she sat and waited.

Brooklyn was running a bit late. She’d tried calling him but he hadn’t picked up. She was sure he’d call any second, there was probably just something at work. 

♡❆♡❆

It was an hour late now. She tried sending a few texts. 

No reply. She sighed. She wanted to be up early to go over her lab book answers tomorrow. She was going to a course mates house to help them. It might be a chance at making a new friend. Getting up, she tried to think about something else but she couldn’t, her track of thought a runaway train now. They hadn’t ever missed a call and Brooklyn knew how important they were to her. There must be a good reason. 

She glanced at the time. It was past midnight when she finally got into bed, putting on her sleep mask and her Spotify Deep Sleep playlist. 

The phone vibrated. Millie whipped off her face mask. Brooklyn <3 One New Text Message.  She opened her phone. 

it vibrated again, this time with the force of an earthquake shaking Millie’s world. The wind was taken out of her. Her stomach lurched. Just one message.

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