We recently published Paul Thompson’s elegant “Group Hug.”

Here, we ask him two questions about his story:

1) I love how this piece starts small and then grows so large — that first meeting again, after such a long time, the momentary awkwardness, and then: an embrace. How long do you think this couple had been waiting for this moment to come?
Long enough for it to mean something. The story is loosely based on the pandemic so a year at least. I find it interesting how the benchmark for normality is when can we hug our loved ones? as opposed to any scientific data. People value and miss the human things, so I took this pent up emotion and escalated it as far as I could.

2) That last line! “…like the ghosts we once were.” It is so beautiful! Now that this couple (and the rest) has experienced this kind of closeness, this creation of a new form, do you think they could really become like ghosts ever again?
Not really. Everything changes and continues to do so. Ghosts of our former selves are everywhere, and how we handle them defines us going forward. It’s been a difficult time for everyone, and with no ‘normal’ to return back to, there is only a new future ahead of us. In many ways that is going to be just as overwhelming as anything that came before it.