Tiny Love Stories: ‘Mommy, Why Don’t You Have a Boyfriend?’

My first semester of college, I only called my mother twice. At my house, I was usually misunderstood and judged for my weight; In school, I was finally independent. But the epidemic forced me home. I spent the first month in my room. Then, me and my mom started watching Chinese contest shows together with the contestants. Now I make sure that she is still eating when she avoids food to stay slim. We are entangled in simple Mandarin, a language that I had not bothered to learn before. When I think of leaving her, I buy her flowers and cry. – Annabelle Wang

I take a lot of photos. My house is filled with images of places I have known and people I love. I rotate photos, taking new ones, making more prints, sliding new pictures into old frames. But I have realized, six months after the sudden death of my partner, that all the pictures of John that I have are with me. So I sum up his memories – hiking in the jackals, enjoying a party, reading at the kitchen table. Love ends without fresh photos, but oh how I secretly remember him snapping. – Ellen Greenblatt

Our motion slowed as Monica’s feet began to ache in her blue velvet heel. I wore sneakers and offered to switch. I stumbled along, dropping most of my weight on her shoulders. We only made a city block before switching it back. This was not the first or last time she would pursue me because I was uncomfortable with femininity. Later she will help me change my legal name and gender marker. She still loves – and can do, heels. But the next time the night is long, I’ll probably ride piggyback. – Nut girl

From the back seat, my 5-year-old son, Jack, said: “Mummy, why don’t you have a boyfriend?” Freshly divorced and unsure how to respond, I asked why. Jack replied, “Because you’re really good. You have to be good with someone.” I realized that the problems of my previous marriage went unnoticed. Jack said that I should look like someone , Respectful and of medium height – like a grandmother. Eight years later, Jack called my husband, Greg, “Dad”. I tease Greg that it’s a good thing that he is just like my mother. – Clara Koschitzke Hoffman

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