Tiny Love Stories: ‘A Woman Who Had Only Dated Men’

Transaction complete, the little girl grips her bag of Skittles and lingers at the concession table. She looks me in the eye and says, “You’re pretty.” Stunned, because I can’t remember when I last received an unsolicited compliment, and unsure I heard her correctly over the excited chatter of the crowd, I respond, “Thanks. So are you.” I tell her to enjoy her sister’s dance recital and smile. She studies me for another moment then turns away. The next customer hands me a five. As I make change, I wonder why this child’s words brought tears to my eyes. — Beth Meleski

My mother raised an eyebrow when her name flashed across my phone screen. I was home from college for the weekend, and my classmate and I were talking a bit more than my mother could comprehend. As a woman who had only dated men, I couldn’t comprehend it either. All I knew was that the curly-haired girl with the mocha skin and fresh celery scent was in my bed a week before. All I knew was that we shared a kiss between the library’s bookshelves. All I knew is that we would likely never be together, though I loved her. — Infiniti Styles Bowie

On a class-trip in the Bronx, my best friend and I begged our teacher to let us go to the Albanian bakery nearby to buy some burek; its meat-filled flaky dough called to us. Our teacher said no. A high school senior, I’d never ditched class. For the first time, I decided to take the risk. My heart beat anxiously as my friend and I sneaked away — but, when I saw that burek, all my fear dissolved. My face filled with bliss. We ran back while devouring the burek — stuttering, laughing, forgetting all the worries of the world. — Oumou Koultoum Sow

I’d never cried over a greeting card before. My tears were as unexpected as the birthday wishes from my father — who had died three weeks earlier. Unknown to me, in March, my father had asked my husband, Gary, to help him buy, write and mail a card for my birthday in May. “What’s the hurry?” Gary asked. “You’ve got plenty of time.” But my father insisted, and Gary complied. When my birthday and my father’s posthumous card arrived, I was overwhelmed, seeing only scribbles from my father’s faltering hand. The one word I could make out was “Love.” — B.K. Jackson

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