Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.
The Holiday Inn clerk smirked when we checked in early without luggage. He had no clue that after 14 years of marriage and two children, we were in crisis: My wife stating, “I’m not getting my needs met”; our dramatic loss of income; my unwelcome dreams of living separately. No, this was not a tryst but 12 hours of conversation, a conjugal encounter centered on what we wanted and didn’t want from our union. Sure, we made love; conversation is great foreplay. We discovered that the more we communicated, the better the lovemaking. We’ve been married now for more than 50 years. — Tom Willging
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about those big white paws, the fur I’d find everywhere, even in my fridge. I gave up my dog six months ago, and I still struggle to tell people the truth about it. I had fallen ill and become burdened by large medical bills; I knew he deserved better than my small New York City studio and my overworked Black body struggling to make ends meet. Struggling to remain alive. I still see him on my daybed, watching me meet with clients. Playing with a bone. Holding my heart. — Sabrina C. Sarro
At 46, I felt suddenly attracted to women. At 47, my first date with a woman was a socially distanced picnic on a cold December night. She booked a campsite. I arrived to a fire, twinkle lights and soup. We celebrated Valentine’s Day by Zoom, making paella in our separate kitchens, both with ingredients she’d provided. In March I watched her photograph stars by Lake Superior. Vaccines allowed for regular dates. Our relationship ended this August. With heartbreak comes new knowledge of what is possible. Under a full moon, I think of her and am grateful. — Anne Schmiege
“Oh, you’re Charlie’s sister?” “No, Charlie’s my brother.” For as long as I can remember, this has been a recurring conversation starter among my peers. I’m only 20 months older than Charlie, so we run in similar social circles. He is joyous, untroubled and effortlessly good with people. I am none of those things. “Charlie’s sister” used to remind me of the qualities I lacked, until Charlie enrolled in boarding school. Missing him, I realized: How lucky am I to be the sister of the most likable person I know? — Lily Bernstein
Good chemotherapy gifts are hard to find. After 20 years of friendship, Nancy nailed it. Glossy travel magazines arrived in the mail featuring pristine beaches and faraway cities. A Post-it instructed: “Hang in. We’re going one day.” Chemo ended. Surgery healed. Incurable lymphoma lingers. “Enough,” she said over the phone. “I’m planning Paris.” I’d never been. Nancy, fluent in French, whirled us through cobbled streets, toasting our friendship and life atop the Arc de Triomphe. Now isolated, with re-treatment looming, I travel nightly in my mind to the River Seine, Rodin’s gardens, Monet’s water lilies. Nancy’s gift lingers. — Lisa J. Wise
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