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“Hello?” Erin had her phone wedged between her shoulder and her ear. It’s an uncomfortable angle, but it frees up both her hands to write. Since her final exams ended, she’s been taking every opportunity to write, letting herself stay up late to work on short stories and screenplays, she barely had time to write for herself anymore.

She took a job with The Independent newspaper in Dublin following the summer and was mainly working on filler sports articles with a team of graduate students, it wasn’t very interesting work, but she loved it nevertheless and knew it would be a stepping stone to covering more rewarding pieces eventually.  

There's a groan from the other end of the phone. “Erin babe, it’s three in the morning”  

“Oh,” she says, finally looking up from the notebook to see the digital clock. “Huh, so it is.” She grinned mischievously.

“Do I get an apology then or?” James asks.  

“I’ll consider it,” Erin says now closing the notebook. She moves from her desk and settles on the couch at a more comfortable angle and properly holds the heavy phone.  

“I thought you were going to try and not let work control your entire life,” James asked amusedly.  

“I’m trying, and this actually wasn’t work stuff, it's a short story, which is actually now turning into a longer one,” Erin says defensively. “And if it all works out love you could be a kept man someday!”  

“That doesn’t really interest me, Erin, I really want you to be successful, but I like what I do too,” James says defensively.  

“Fine, we can both be successful” Erin compromises. “Big today tomorrow,”  

“Big day today love, it’s three in the morning, we’re graduating in a few hours.” James pointed out. 

“It’s not today until I wake up and I haven’t even slept yet,”  

“Are you nervous about it?” James asked.  

“Well, sure, a bit,” Erin says downplaying it. She’s actually really nervous, James by some horrible coincidence was graduating on the same day from the school of Maths and Business at Queens University Belfast so she would have to graduate without him present. Claire and Orla, who had both completed wildly different degrees, would be graduating the following day in Queens.  

Erin was attending her own graduation in Trinity the following morning; her parents, Granda, Orla and Aunt Sarah would be in attendance while Michelle and Claire decided to go to James’ so he wouldn’t be alone. “Are you nervous?” she asked biting her nails.  

“Nah, I honestly couldn’t care less, I just can’t wait for Claire and Orla’s and for us all to be together and go out for it,” he paused “I can’t wait just to see you if I'm honest”  

Erin smiled, she always imagined them together on graduation day, she wanted pictures with him in her cap and gown, pretty pictures to show their kids one day and laugh over but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. 

It was the perfect day to graduate. Not too cold and not too warm, Erin had opted for a very simple white minidress which could barely be seen under the long black robes and white sash, which Mary had fixed a hundred times. “Ma, it’s not going to fall off, you safety pinned it sure!” Erin groaned but Mary continued fixing her. “Ach love, it’s not every day your daughter graduates from university, you have to be perfect” Her mother was very proud of her. “No pressure then Erin, eh? Just be perfect!” Her father interjected with a kind grin on his face. “By God, every minute it gets more obvious the wain got those brains o’ hers from our side of the family, doesn’t it Mary?” Granda Joe quipped.  

Christ this was going to be a long day without James.  

The Trinity atrium was filled with parents, family members and students coming to support the graduating class of 2002. Erin walked in with Orla at her side.  

“I still think you should have decorated your hat Erin, that would have been cracker” Orla complained.  

“They won’t let me, Trinity guidelines apparently,” Erin squeezed her cousin's hand. “Right, I've to head over here with my class, but you know where to go, right?”  

“Actually I take a left,” Erin smiled at her cousin, it seemed like only yesterday they had their graduation mass when leaving Mary Immaculate College in Derry and now look at them, Erin graduating from Trinity and Orla graduating from Queens the following day, who would’ve thought it.  

The ceremony itself was long and quite boring, they began with a Latin service and then the actual conferring, unfortunately with the last name like Quinn it took until the very end before she finally received the scroll in her hands conferring her as an English Literature graduate from Trinity College. Her parents, aunt and cousin clapped and cheered while Joe was simply beaming, Pride radiating from him for his eldest Granddaughter.  

After the ceremony, Mary insisted they go to the large arch in the front courtyard for pictures, nothing could have prepared her for the sight in front of the arch.  

James in his own black graduation robes with a red and blue sash, Michelle and Claire laughing with him. Was she dreaming? Or were they really here? Was he really standing in front of her?  

It was like a crash of bells in her head all at once, the emotions brought on by seeing him overwhelmed her in the best possible way, he looked up and their eyes met, he spun around and posed in his robes laughing, She couldn’t help but laugh at him and run towards him in her heels, he lifted her straight up into his arms and twirled her around, Claire snapped a quick picture with James’ camera. 

“Am I actually awake or are you really here?” she asked through happy tears.  

"Eh, Are me and Claire gone invisible or something?" Michelle queried.

“You hardly thought I’d miss my girlfriend's graduation?” He let her down and wrapped an arm around her shoulder; she leaned into him for comfort and then squeezed Michelle's hand. 

"I can't believe you're all actually here," She thought out loud looking at the three of them. Then it finally hit her.

“But Belfast? Your own graduation James? Your friends?” She furrowed her brows as she thought about everything he was giving up by being in Dublin with her.  

“The ceremony was at 10 this morning, I left straight after getting pictures with my class and we drove down that’s why I missed your ceremony, most people are waiting until tomorrow to go out anyway since it’s the last day of conferring. I really didn’t want to miss this,”  

“Your wain will never forgive you” Orla interrupted.  

“What wain?!” her mother paled.  

Joe rounded on Gerry “That English bastard has gone and gotten our girl in trouble, this is all your fault!” 

“How for Jesus's sake could this be my fault?” Gerry had turned bright red. 

“Orla what the hell!? I’m not pregnant” Erin finally interrupted.  

“But you said in your diary that you wished James was here for you to take pictures to show your wains?” Orla pointed it out innocently.  

Claire grinned and even Michelle smiled.  

“I want to have pictures to show my hypothetical wains someday Orla,” Erin blushed and felt James squeeze her shoulder and press a soft kiss to the side of her forehead.  

“That bloody diary giving me heart failure” Mary finally calmed and let herself smile at the thought of having Erin be a mother someday in the distant future.  

“Right, let’s get these pictures,” Gerry took the camera from Claire as the five of them lined up for the standard Derry Girls group shot, they had to get at every event.  

James blushed thinking of Erin and her diary, she never failed to make him excited for their future, even now as they began graduate jobs in cities which were hours apart, she thought of their future as he did, a shared future. He could wait. He would always wait for her