Tiny Love Stories: ‘I Didn’t Want to Like Him’

‘Don’t Ever Lose This Rock’

Six years ago, on a humid evening at an open-air bar in Vietnam, a tipsy acquaintance gave me a rock. She stole it from a potted plant, saying, “Don’t ever lose this rock.” Her goofy gesture made me blush. When I returned to the United States, we lost touch. I also lost touch with ease and intimacy in the following years, falling into bouts of unemployment, then unrelenting depression. But I did keep the rock. Each time I hold it, I remember that humid night — the feeling of belonging and excitement — and the potential to find it once again. — Ramzi Babouder-Matta

A Blessing to Cry Again

He texts me while I lie in coronavirus isolation, struggling to breathe: “This big house feels empty and is not home without you in it.” He last saw me in the emergency room. They told him to leave. I do not have breath to cry. So I send him a picture of me in my hospital bed — in the hospital where I work as a nurse and likely got infected. I feel terrible. Covered in sweat, gasping. “I’m still here!” I text. Every day. Until I again have breath to cry. “Come take me home.” On wings, he did. — Lisa Menzie

A Sweet Reminder

We broke up all over New York City; no one block could see us through. I saw our split coming on Astor Place and on Greenpoint Avenue, too. One night we cried until our eyes were raw on the steps of an empty storefront in Williamsburg. The end was near, we knew. A few years and many failed first dates later, I noticed a frozen yogurt shop had moved into that empty storefront. Up the stairs, I crossed the threshold of our heartbreak and savored all the flavors inside. A sweet reminder of love, how one can never get enough. — Meg Christman

Not So Dull

My stepfather’s name is Dave Bright. For many years, I called him Dave Dull. I didn’t want to like him. But he taught me how to relate to my mother, which I never was able to do on my own. He buys me chocolate bunnies for Easter and chocolate cherries for Christmas. One year, Dave Dull made the best tasting sauerbraten for his own birthday party because no one else in my family knew how to make it. He served three tours of Vietnam flying rescue helicopters. He beats me at chess. I’ve come to learn, he’s pretty darn Bright. — Rhonda McCalla

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