Emma Shepherd


Irish Times Supplement 2020

















Safia stood out among the sea of dark grey’s and blacks. It was probably because of her bright pink hair and her matching pink outfit. She wore a bright pink pinafore and a white short sleeved t-shirt with a cat face on it, her stripey black and white socks came up to her knees with a white frilly lace trim. She stood outside a comic shop with her newly bought manga and Japanese snacks that she had produced from her bag her in one hand and her rainbow umbrella in the other. She was so distracted by the book that she didn’t notice the stranger staring at her from across the street. Safia stood in the same spot for what seemed like hours but was really half an hour before she looked up noticing how people were walking into each other just so that they didn’t have to touch her. This would sometimes upset her but she would distract herself so she would never think too negatively for long. She couldn’t understand why they avoided her ,seeing as she had looked just like them when she was a baby. She hadn’t even been Safia then she was plain old Anne. She had been grey up till she met them. Safia hadn’t seen them in years but she could remember what they were like as if they had only talked yesterday. She went into town remembering their conversations as if she was there. Of course she wasn’t though, and she was upset obviously but they would come for her soon. Right?

Safia walked down the streets lit up only by small chains of snowflakes because the council ‘couldn’t afford it’ yet they still had the market. The streets were filled with excited children and adults rushing to get last minute christmas presents for people they didn’t care about, christmas music playing quietly in the background so that you wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it. Safia could remember running up and down these streets her parents chasing after her before they would catch up to her and they would burst into laughter. They would walk through the market buying new hats that you couldn’t tell if it was a dog or a panda, roasted chestnuts and horrible hot chocolate that was cheap. This was before they had passed away obviously, but it felt like it hadn’t been that long ago. They would head home and make cookies, spending hours covering them with sprinkles and frosting. Safia laughed to herself remembering all those moments, then realized she couldn’t make anymore with them. She looked down at her feet almost walking into multiple people. Finally, she got to where she had been looking for, a small café barely lit up and with very few people there. She had gone here every Christmas with her parents, but she hadn’t been for at least two years. She ordered a hot chocolate with cream and unicorn sprinkles just like she had when she was a kid and a gingerbread man with a white waist coat and jelly buttons. Safia lifted the tray and carefully walked to the closest seat to her. She set down the tray and got her laptop out and started to do her essay she had been assigned a couple hours before. She didn’t realise the barista was still watching her from afar. Safia looked up thinking to herself still not seeing him. He waved at her, but she looked down before she saw. He sighed and turned back to take the next customers order. Safia too dazed in her music and words didn’t register anything that had happened. She was halfway through a sentence before she felt a sharp tap on her shoulder causing her to jump.

Safia turned to face whoever had tapped her. Standing beside her chair was a tall, skinny guy with lightly tanned skin. He had curly hair and chocolate brown eyes. He stared at her for a few moments with a blank expression before clearing his throat and gesturing towards her mug that she had discarded at the edge of the table. Safia blushed looking down at the floor and turned back to her laptop screen nodding and mumbling apologies. She shoved her headphones on and was about to turn her music back on before she heard a muffled sound that she assumed was a voice from behind her. Spinning around to face the voice she saw the same guy still standing there but his cheeks had gone slightly pink. “I-I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.” She said trying to act confident. He looked down at the floor mumbling something to himself fidgeting with his thumb as if he was trying to sum up the courage to talk to her. ‘Why would he be nervous to talk to ME? Its not like I’m special.’ Safia thought to herself. She had always thought lowly of herself just so that she would never get disappointed or led astray. “W-would you like to go to the Christmas market with me? You don’t have to obviously I just thought-” He mumbled quickly before being cut off by Safia. She chuckled to herself watching him and nodded. “I would love to. I’m Safia by the way!” she said smiling and giggling. The boy looked at her a small smile on his face completely mesmerised by her smile. Safia couldn’t help but notice the streaks of blue in his hair and how they shone in the artificial light. “I’m Adam! When do you want to go?” He said his chocolate brown eyes sparkling with joy. Safia felt completely overwhelmed by this boy she met less than ten minutes ago. She wanted to know everything about him. But what if he left just like everyone else, she knew it was inevitable, that didn’t stop her from fearing it though. “When does your shift end” She said trying to hide her sadness. Adam saw it though. How could he not after the amount of times he had seen someone close to him get hurt. He could tell something was wrong. “I finish in about five minutes. You can wait here if you want and I can get you another hot chocolate.” He said hoping it would make her happier. Safia smiled and laughed and watched him play with his hair. “Ill wait here, I need to finish up anyway and I would love another hot chocolate.” She said gesturing to her half-finished essay. God, he loved her smile, she looked so carefree and happy like nothing could stop her. “I have to go back but Ill bring your hot chocolate out with me when I’m done.” He said walking towards the counter. Safia turned back to her laptop shaking her head but still smiling. How could one boy distract her so much. She finished her sentence and put her laptop away. She looked up to see Adam walking towards her a blue disposable cup in one hand and a brown paper bag in the other. He wore a light blue top with dark navy jeans, his black jacket ended just below his hip and a brown shoulder bag. “Ready to go?” he said his hand extended waiting for her to take it.

Safia stood up putting her bag on her shoulder and took his hand. He automatically pulled her to the door both of them giggling while opening the door. Across from the shop was a completely new world. There were so many different smells and the music had been turned up and Safia could hear people, that were most likely drunk, singing along. The two crossed over hand in hand and walked into the bustling market. They did everything that she had done as a kid; they drank their hot chocolate, went on the merry go round, roasted marshmallows, churros. Adam suddenly led Safia away from all the noise towards the snow dome. “I want you to have something.” He said reaching into his bag producing a small pink box. He opened it and inside was a snowflake necklace. He took it out putting the box back in his bag and opened the clasp. “Do you want me to put it on?” He said smiling at her. Safia nodded covering her mouth with her hands. Adam laughed putting the necklace on her. “Want to get a picture in the dome?” Adam said already leading her towards the non-existent queue. Safia laughed allowing him to take her. “Sure!” She said already in the queue. They finished their pictures and stood outside the market. “Can I have your number?” Safia said taking out her phone, Adam doing the same. Safia promised herself that she would always cherish these first moments with Adam and her time with her family. As she wrote their story down, she couldn’t help but smile and laugh.

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