Fashion and Style

Tiny Love Stories: ‘We Hadn’t Made Love in Months’

When she was 2, my daughter pointed to an ugly witch in a book and said, “Mama.” Disfigured from a childhood dog attack, I pulled the book’s illustration up to my lopsided, scarred cheeks and let my nerve-damaged smile disguise my sorrow. “Yes,” I said. “But she’s good like me.” Golden leaves spill like pennies on the sidewalk. My daughter, now 4, points to Halloween decorations. “Are you a witch?” she asks. She’s growing up in a world that believes the false binary: Beauty means goodness — and ugliness, evil. “No, my love,” I answer. “Your Mama is a human.” — Melissa Akie Wiley

I bought her an engagement ring off Etsy. It seemed like the right thing to do. When we broke up a year later, she said, “Listen, you’re my best friend. But you’ve gotten so distant.” We hadn’t made love in months, though we held each other on the couch that night. Years later, when I told her I was gay, she said, “I had a feeling.” Confused and heavy with guilt, I asked, “You don’t feel like I tricked you?” “A lot of things I regret,” she said, “but I don’t regret meeting you.” — Byron Kimball

This isn’t about love. I wouldn’t be able to write anything on love — long or short — since I’ve never found love in the 37 autumns of my life. This is about a regular weekend night spent scrolling through reminders on my phone, preparing notes for my Monday morning biological psychology lesson on the neuron, ordering coffee for one and sipping it by the window in the company of New Delhi’s lights. This vignette isn’t about love but it’s still a happy one. — Monali Sharma

My family was going through my late grandmother’s belongings when we discovered her secret filing cabinet. Unknown to us, she had been printing out our texts and emails to her, saving our childhood art, making newspaper clippings of our marriage announcements. She even kept a notebook listing our jobs, friends and favorite movies, to remember in conversation. In my file there was a email I wrote in high school, saying how scared I was to graduate and become an “adult.” She told me I didn’t have to worry; she was 77 and still felt like a little kid most days. — Eliza Thompson

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