88 comments

Fiction Romance

“It’s gonna be the best thing ever!” I say, smiling at Leo.

“I’m sure it is, Ami. You’re making it. Also, love that little black number you’re wearing,” he winks as I smooth my hands over the little black dress, stepping back from the phone so he can see all of me in the FaceTime window. Propped against the mantle so that he can see what I’m doing, my phone shows Leo even as far away as he is. Technology I tell you. I pull out some mats, placing two of them opposite each other.

“So, how’s Afghanistan treating you?” I ask, pulling out two plates.

“Well, it has its ups and downs. Ups, I don’t have to listen to you snoring. Downs, I can’t stay up all night listening to you snoring.” He says, scratching his head. I snort at that, placing the two plates on the mats.

“You liar. It was me, staying awake listening to you snore.” I retort, and I’m rewarded with the sound of his laugh. Granted, coming in from over 7,000 miles away, it wasn’t the same, but I would take what I could get.

“So, what’s that delicious smell coming in from the oven?” Leo says, grinning at me. He’s in his tent, feet propped on his cot and phone propped on…well, I didn’t know what it was propped on. I stick my tongue out at him.

“How’d you guess the oven was on?” I say, picking up the phone and walking into the kitchen. Truthfully, I had put something in the oven.

“Well, because you looked stressed, and whenever you’re stressed we end up eating orange chicken marinated with that…mmmm I can practically taste it from here…that BBQ sauce that isn’t quite BBQ sauce, but I can’t tell the difference.” He says, and I see him licking his lips.

“I look stressed?” I say, raising my eyebrows at him. I prop the phone onto the counter, but it slips on the marble, “Shit,” I swear, fumbling for the phone with my oven mitts on. It takes me several tries to pick the phone up until I get the bright idea to take the damn mitts off, and I can hear Leo laughing hysterically all the while. Finally, with a huff, I pick the phone up and prop it carefully onto the counter. Leo’s doubled over laughing, and I shoot him a mock glare. “No, but seriously, do I look stressed?” I ask him again. It takes a few seconds for the question to register, he’s still laughing like a fool. I grab my mitts and pull the chicken out from the oven, the smell making me momentarily pause and inhale that goodness.

“Your hair is in a bun, you’re wearing the dress that you wore on our first date, and there’s fluff on your butt.” He says, and I twist around. Sure enough, there’s a fluffball on my butt. I laugh, plucking it off and putting it on the counter, “Mm, I can smell that from here. God, I wish I was there right now.” He says, his mood sobering up with that last sentence. I force a smile through the lump in my throat.

“Well, that’s why I’m doing this, Mr.,” I say, “just because you’re halfway around the world, doesn’t mean you get to miss your wedding anniversary.” He smiles, and puts his hands behind his head, watching me prepare the chicken.

“Hey fellah, Leo-Oh heya Ami!” I hear over the phone, and look over to see Leo’s best friend, Jonathan, come into the frame. I smile and pick up the phone, grinning at the man.

“How are you doing, Jonny?” I ask, and his grin lights up.

“Aah’m fixing’ to git Leo, here, owah orders. Whatcha cookin’ there, ma’am?” He says, in his thick southern drawl, catching a look at the tray for the chicken.

“Oh, just our favorite dinner for our anniversary,” I say, grinning wickedly at the stark hunger on the guys’ faces, “marinated orange chicken, brown rice, and red wine.”

“Dayam, sugah.” He says, whistling appreciatively, “Well, aah gotta go, nice seein’ yah again, Ami.” He says, and I wave at him as he leaves the frame. Leo turns and fixes me with a starving look.

“Ami, must you tease me like that? The closest thing we got to marinated orange chicken over here is Sloppy Joe with mystery meat.” He says, shuddering at the appalling thought. I snicker.

“Well, it’s what you get. When you come home in a year, you get all this and more.” I say, letting the chicken cool and starting to make the bread, “Oh, you got wine, or whisky, or beer over there?” I say, putting down the strainer and running to the fridge.

“Yeah, gimme a sec.” I hear Leo say as I rummage around in the fridge. Triumphantly I pull out a bottle of Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon, half-full. I pull out a wine glass from the clean dishwasher, and uncork the bottle, filling up my glass about halfway. I sniff appreciatively and see Leo holding up a cold beer. “What are we toasting to, Ami?” He asks, pressing the cold bottle to his lightly scruffed cheek. I rest my hip on the counter and ponder.

“Um, how about we toast to you coming home? To our anniversary? To love? To war? I mean there are so many options.” I say, looking at him through FaceTime. His warm brown hair is cropped short, and although I prefer it longer, I still love it that way. He’s sporting a five o’clock shadow, although it’s nine o’clock here, and eight o’clock in the morning there. But we took whatever time we could, together, and made it work.

It had been two years since Leo had gotten his orders and shipped out on tour, and he was scheduled to come back later next year. I was very excited about it and repeatedly told him so on our phone calls.

High-school sweethearts, we knew each other was the one after being paired together for the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and had stuck by each other’s side ever since. Now I was twenty-eight and he was thirty, and we both loved each other, possibly even more, than when I looked down at him on stage and said the iconic lines ‘Romeo, oh Romeo. Wherefore art thou, Romeo’, or something like that.

“How about, to us,” Leo says, holding his beer up in a salute. I smile.

“To us.” We both clink our respective drinks to our phones, and I almost giggle and inhale wine when Leo pitches his voice high and said ‘clink’.

"I love you, Ami." He says softly, and my heart throbs at the unfathomable distance between us.

"I love you too, Leo," I whisper back.

"Always and forever?" He says, and I smile at him.

"Always and forever," I say. We both sip our drinks for a moment, staring at the other as if we would paint a picture right away.

“So, any plans for the week?” Leo says after we both drank and set our glasses down. I shake my head, straining the remainder of the brown rice and putting it in a bowl.

“Nothing much, just work and more work,” I say. Leo leans forward, and I can see the desperation written on his face.

“Tell me about it, I wanna know.” I smile, knowing he craves these little bits about life back home. As I finish up preparing dinner, I regal Leo with all the gossip about the current drama at my office, how the intern was caught with the assistant desk clerk, and how the CEO didn’t give anyone a holiday bonus. All the good stuff, really.

Finally, once everything is ready, I carry the phone into the dining room and then go back to the kitchen for the chicken and rice. I set them both on the table, then realize I’d forgotten the candles.

“I’ll be right back,” I yell, already halfway up the stairs. I hunt through my closet and find the box of candles, running back down. I place them in the mason jars already set up and light them each in turn. We’re both silent as I work and I can hear the faint sounds of the army doing its stuff around him.

I sit down, and cup my head in my hands, smiling at him.

“Well, happy eleventh anniversary, Leo,” I say, and he smiles.

“Happy eleventh anniver-…am… I…am….er…..ie.” My smile fades as the phone glitches.

“Le-Leo, you’re cutting out. I can barely hear you.” I say frantically into the phone.

“Am…..ull…er….uth……ar….ow….” He says, everything coming out garbled over the phone.

“Leo, can you hear me?” I ask, forgetting all about the damn dinner and trying to hear his voice over the static that’s coming over the line.

“Un…l….ooe….hu……ae……low….” He says, everything freezing and coming back simultaneously. I shake my head.

“I can’t understand what you’re saying,” I say. His picture freezes, so all I can see is his handsome face looking down desperately at the phone. “I love you,” I whispered, right before the call cuts, and I’m staring at a black screen. I close my eyes, feeling the sting of tears. The smell of chicken cuts through to my brain and my eyes fly open, landing on a picture of our wedding day, sitting on the mantle across from the table. It’s my favorite picture in the house, me on piggy-back, laughing like a fool, and Leo, holding me up, grinning into the camera.

I stand up and walk over to the frame, picking it up and running a finger down the picture. I press a kiss to Leo’s face, forever immortalized on print. Setting it down, I go back to the table to retrieve my attempts at a romantic dinner across seas, hoping to drown my sadness in marinated orange chicken and red wine. 

February 15, 2021 23:41

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88 comments

00:44 Feb 16, 2021

Ooh that ending hit HARD. Ami kissing Leo's picture, the "I love you", and the FaceTime call getting glitchy and ending at JUST THE WRONG TIME. #relatable Really liked this one. Great job!

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Nainika Gupta
00:46 Feb 16, 2021

I know legit ahahah thanks so much!!!

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00:46 Feb 16, 2021

np!! :)

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Nainika Gupta
00:47 Feb 16, 2021

:)))

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01:21 Feb 16, 2021

😁😁

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Siobhan Mulalley
19:11 Feb 23, 2021

Such a heartwarming story, and it really brings home the difficulties of military families. For a brief moment I was worried that the base was being attacked and she was going to be looking at a wedding photo at the wake. So glad it didn’t take that turn. You have really captured the characters well, and got the emotions spot on. Really great story.

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Nainika Gupta
19:15 Feb 23, 2021

Thanks so much, Siobhan. Really appreciate it :)

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Helen Weng
00:07 Oct 06, 2021

Not me balling my eyes out, its just the onions that the ninjas were cutting.´༎ຶ ͜ʖ ༎ຶ `

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Nainika Gupta
12:54 Oct 06, 2021

i see :)

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NAINIKAAAAAAA

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Eva Bhalla
16:09 Feb 25, 2021

God-this made my heart melt. The emotion in there is amazing. I was confused a little when you kept saying frame so I thought it was a picture not a phone. Maybe say next time the "edge" or something like that. Other than that is was great!

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Nainika Gupta
16:09 Feb 25, 2021

Aw, thanks so much Eva!

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Eva Bhalla
16:22 Feb 25, 2021

Course! Look forward seeing your next story! :)

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Nainika Gupta
16:31 Feb 25, 2021

:) thanks so much!

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Eva Bhalla
17:56 Feb 25, 2021

:)

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Zoey Hailey
20:19 Feb 24, 2021

🦁

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Nainika Gupta
20:23 Feb 24, 2021

thanks!

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21:52 Feb 18, 2021

I love this story!

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Nainika Gupta
00:41 Feb 19, 2021

thanks so much! really appreciate it :)

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11:37 Feb 19, 2021

:) It's really good, I thought I'd leave a nice comment.

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Nainika Gupta
16:15 Feb 22, 2021

:) means a lot

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16:11 Feb 24, 2021

Yes.

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Nainika Gupta
16:22 Feb 24, 2021

:)

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E. D. Rosamund
21:43 Feb 17, 2021

This was so good and so beautifulllll you write some fantastic stories!! When she said, "no but seriously, do I look stressed?" I really felt that XD (is your emoji movie Zootopia?)

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Nainika Gupta
21:44 Feb 17, 2021

Ahah thanks E!! Really appreciate that :) XD Yep!!

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H L Mc Quaid
14:56 Feb 17, 2021

Hi Nainika, This is a sweet story, with endearing characters, and you told it in such a way that the readers can picture what the main characters are doing. I have a few suggestions on how to tighten the prose (word choice and sentence structure type stuff), so let me know if that's of interest. I enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing!

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Nainika Gupta
14:57 Feb 17, 2021

Hi Heather!! Thanks so much, I really appreciate that. ANd ohmahgolly I would LOVE some suggestions!! No problem, glad you liked it!

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H L Mc Quaid
15:47 Feb 17, 2021

Cool. Overall, you do a good job of showing what's happening, rather than telling. And your writing got tighter after the first few paragraphs (this is what happens to me as well, because it takes a little while to get in the flow). An overall suggestion would be to review the first few paragraphs to make sure they're as good as the last few. :) On Reesdy, the first two paragraphs are especially important, as that's what shows when people see the snippet of story (before they click through to the full story). You have to capture their atte...

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Nainika Gupta
15:56 Feb 17, 2021

Omylord thanks so much, Heather!! I'll edit those right away and let you know so you can re-read it!!

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H L Mc Quaid
15:59 Feb 17, 2021

My pleasure. And of course, those were just some quick suggestions, I'm sure you could do better and make it more your style. Like if my suggestions were a spice, you decide how much you'd want to use, and combine with other spices to get your unique flavour. Yum. Now I'm hungry. haha.

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Nainika Gupta
16:03 Feb 17, 2021

yummoo XD thanks so much again! :))

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Nainika Gupta
15:59 Feb 17, 2021

Hi heather! Its edited, tell me if its better :)

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H L Mc Quaid
16:08 Feb 17, 2021

Yeah, it's getting there. You probs don't need to mention Facetime twice tho and maybe clarify that 'it's' refers to the phone... “I’m sure it is, Ami. You’re making it. .....stepping back from the phone so he can see all of me in the FaceTime window. I've propped the phone on the mantle, so that he can see what I'm doing. l pull out some mats, placing two of them opposite each other."

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Nainika Gupta
16:11 Feb 17, 2021

ooh gotcha :)

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I know I've already commented, I just have to say I always love your stories. They are so well versed. As someone earlier mentioned, you must be a time traveler. But I see you do your homework and do the necessary investigating. Please don't ever stop writing...

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Nainika Gupta
00:57 Feb 17, 2021

Awwww, thanks so much Christy!! That really means a lot...and eheheh I'm a time traveler and shushhhhhhhh nobody can know hehe

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Nainika Gupta
01:12 Feb 17, 2021

ehhe :)

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Echo Sundar
16:23 Feb 16, 2021

Wow. Just wow this story was amazing!! It was so sweet and the end was so heartbreaking!! I really liked how you used the prompt.🦁 :)

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Nainika Gupta
16:24 Feb 16, 2021

Aw thanks, Rachel!! really appreciate that :) and hA thanks :)))

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Mira Caplan
13:20 Feb 16, 2021

THIS IS SO CUTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! And also kinda sad... BUT IS SO CUTE

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Nainika Gupta
13:29 Feb 16, 2021

awwwwwww thankssssss :)

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Mira Caplan
13:32 Feb 16, 2021

npppppppp!!! I have said this once and t'will say it again- YOU ARE SUCH A GOOD WRITER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Nainika Gupta
13:38 Feb 16, 2021

AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

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Mira Caplan
13:40 Feb 16, 2021

IT IS SO TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ASK ANYONE ON HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The names you come up with, the storylines, the AU's, tHe DrAmA wItH iNtErWoVeN rOmAnCe I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

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Nainika Gupta
13:42 Feb 16, 2021

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH *sobs into her computer while her dog gives her dirty looks for disturbing his sleep*

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Mira Caplan
13:40 Feb 16, 2021

IT IS SO TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ASK ANYONE ON HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The names you come up with, the storylines, the AU's, tHe DrAmA wItH iNtErWoVeN rOmAnCe I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

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As an ex-military wife, this really hits home. You totally painted a picture of the reality of what it's like to be married to someone in the military and celebrating an anniversary from overseas. This was beautifully written.

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Nainika Gupta
12:59 Feb 16, 2021

Aw, thank you so much! I didn't have any idea the truth behind this, so I'm glad I did you justice :)

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You're very welcome

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Radhika Diksha
04:34 Feb 16, 2021

Shout out writer ✨Cookie Carla https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/cookie-carla/ ✨Cherri Joanna https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/cherri-joanna/ Shout out story 🧨By Frances https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/80/submissions/54265/ These are this weeks writers and story, in you free time please check them out.

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Danny E.G.
01:21 Feb 16, 2021

AHhhhh Nainika, i swear, I'm convinced that you really are a time traveler, you come up with a new story everyday! rip, how will i catch up with part 1 and 2 of your reedsy-cast.. I love this story, the dialogue flows so well. Also, the emotion!!!!!!! lsdjflaksjflkajsldkf, im going crazy...I love it, its soo sad... also the ending, probably the best part...outdoes the rest of the story. Like seriously: I stand up and walk over to the frame, picking it up and running a finger down the picture. I press a kiss to Leo’s face, forever immortali...

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Nainika Gupta
01:47 Feb 16, 2021

ghAAA you're so niceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee hehe and awww really??!! i didn't think while writing this, i just literally wrote..... THANKS DANNYYYY

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Danny E.G.
01:49 Feb 16, 2021

lolol teach me, i wish to travel across space and time lol, well, it turned out amazing... and its my favorite part throughout the whooooooole thing :DD OF COURSE :D

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Nainika Gupta
02:56 Feb 16, 2021

ehehehe <3333333333333 loll thankssss

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Danny E.G.
02:58 Feb 16, 2021

Lol no problem :)

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Glossi Pink
13:08 Oct 18, 2021

Coming in with the glitchy phone! One thing I would like to see is maybe is a bit more background on the characters! I might be wrong but other than that, great story!

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Cole Lane
02:30 Feb 26, 2021

Wow, I was really hoping nothing had happened o Leo, geez!!! Now that I know it was just a bad connection, can I get some of that chicken?? :)

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Nainika Gupta
03:11 Feb 26, 2021

Ahah, thanks, Cole! (of course ya can XD)

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Zoey Hailey
15:57 Feb 24, 2021

I love this story so much! It's so beautiful and expresses so, so much emotion. Great job!

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Nainika Gupta
15:58 Feb 24, 2021

Thanks so much zoey! And yes of course, I would love to!

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Zoey Hailey
17:25 Feb 24, 2021

No problem, Nanika! Thanks so much!

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Nainika Gupta
17:27 Feb 24, 2021

of course! I gave you feedback!

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Zoey Hailey
17:25 Feb 24, 2021

No problem, Nanika! Thanks so much!

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Zoey Hailey
17:26 Feb 24, 2021

No problem, Nanika! Thanks so much!

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Zoey Hailey
15:58 Feb 24, 2021

Oh, if you wouldn't mind, could you please give me feedback on my own story if it's shown up yet?

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Lucy Dickens
18:58 Feb 22, 2021

Well that story hit home. Well done Nainika very heartfelt story.

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Nainika Gupta
19:09 Feb 22, 2021

thanks so much!

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Peace Nakiyemba
08:32 Feb 18, 2021

All the right feels in the right places. I enjoyed reading this one. Very well told.

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Nainika Gupta
13:36 Feb 18, 2021

Thank you so so much! Really appreciate it :)

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Sarah 🖤💖
13:36 Feb 16, 2021

Well THAT ending was depressing.

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Nainika Gupta
13:39 Feb 16, 2021

ehehe I kinda wanted it to be like that...

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