Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.
Outside the Chicago airport the cold creeps up my coat, stiffening my spine as I hug my husband. We haven’t been apart for over a year. I board the plane alone because Nick isn’t vaccinated. At immigration in Harare, I remove my wedding ring and check the “single” box. Love between two men is illegal in Zimbabwe. I adapt to survive. When I emerge, the balmy air relaxes my spine as I hug my mother, Bharati. We cry, mourning the togetherness we’ve lost this year. I also cry for my husband, who drove home alone. One reunion requiring another separation. — Khameer Kidia
Weekly Apartment Party
During World War II, Lucy was sent out of Germany by her family. Theo was imprisoned in a concentration camp until the end of the war. In 1959, they lived a floor below us in our Bronx apartment building. They had a piano but no children. My parents had three girls but no piano. When Lucy and Theo found out that the nuns at our Catholic school offered cheap piano lessons, they insisted that we practice in their apartment. Theo would sometimes play show tunes while we danced and sang along. Such a joyful cacophony we created! I hear our music still. — Rosemary Colangelo Stewart
My ‘Feline Social Worker’
Marjorie, my wife of 41 years, a member of our community fire department in Santa Fe, had a severe bleeding stroke. Leaving the hospital, I drove home through a raging snowstorm, fearing that I might get in an accident and be unable to help her. At home, I cried in our bed. Our cat, Bunnie, came in. Waking in the morning, I discovered that Bunnie had gathered six of her toys from around the house and placed them by my bed. After Marjorie died, my “feline social worker” looked after me until she was 20. — Bob Mizerak
Not So Naturally Gifted
My childhood memories of the Chinese New Year include the noise of my grandmother’s mahjong tiles click-clacking together. When my grandmother, Yuan, moved away from our hometown in Inner Mongolia to join my parents in the big city of Shanghai, she lost contact with her mahjong friends. My parents aren’t enthusiastic about the game, so my cousin and I offered to learn and play with our grandmother. We were naturally gifted, winning round after round. Or so I thought, until I better understood the game: My grandmother had all the tiles, but she was letting us win. — Ke Ran Huang
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