Modern Love

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Sometimes a Romantic Plan Isn’t Enough’

Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.

Credit...Brian Rea

We met on a train from Paris to Barcelona. Sitting next to one another, we argued over who could use the power outlet. “Désolé, je crois que c’est a moi.” (“Sorry, I think it’s mine.”) Instant crush. A perfect, flirtatious, six hours. The beginning of our love story? We agreed to meet back in Paris: On March 19, I’d wait for his train at the Gare de Lyon railway station. We didn’t know that coronavirus would confine us in different countries. Trusting in the power of the universe, we hadn’t exchanged mobile numbers. Sometimes, a romantic plan isn’t enough. — Cecilia Pesao


“Our Sleepy Golden Storm” is what my wife, Yiseon, calls him. The night he was born in Gimhae, South Korea, a typhoon blew in from the Sea of Japan. “Am I in labor?” Yiseon asked, hunched over a beanbag chair. “I can’t tell.” We left so late, flying down the rain-slicked neon boulevards to the clinic, that there wasn’t time for an epidural, or any painkiller other than a midwife’s massage. I had peppermint oil and blood on my hands when we first heard him cry. Outside, the storm stripped ginkgos bare, burying the sidewalks under damp gold leaves. — Joshua Cornwell


My grandmother Ricka taught me flower names in her garden: snapdragon, iris, tulip. She lived in coal country, but beauty bloomed there. Her bread came from the coal stove that heated the house. Floors, even in the bedrooms, were linoleum. Each visit, I chose fabric and a pattern, and she made me a dress. One Christmas, she sent some doll clothes created from scraps of all the dresses she had made for me. I was enchanted. Her life was one of poverty, but I was unaware. To me, it was rich in love and wonder. — Donna Fowler


Amy made room for me in her bed. “Mama, read,” she said, resting her head on my shoulder. Her eyelashes brushed my collarbone. The sensation soothed me. I never skimp on Amy’s bedtime story. After a day of “Get dressed,” “Eat your waffles,” “Zip your coat” and “Tidy your toys,” there were only the words on the page. The last 15 minutes of Amy’s day were the first time I was present for her, and I seized them. Joining her in her imagination, I did the voices, made the faces. I offered her my body to lie on. — Jennifer Cinguina


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