Modern Love

Tiny Love Stories: ‘The Cause of My Misery’

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

A banner of six blue and white illustrations of people in the winter: drinking coffee at a table, sitting on the couch, riding a ski lift, lounging in chairs, dressed up and looking out a window.
Credit...Brian Rea

When she was pregnant with me, my mother bought yellow and blue yarn, thinking she would make me a blanket despite not being crafty. She never made it but kept the skeins thinking, “One day, maybe.” Every few years she would show them to me, proof that she loved me and had the best of intentions long before we met. I’ve kept them in a box since she died. I only recently noticed that the blue skein is called “heather yarn.” My mother could never remember what inspired my first name. Like her love, there it was, all along. — Heather McClean

My mother and me on my first birthday.

In the depths of winter, when my marriage was imploding, I arrived late to my office to find a small box tied with a pink satin ribbon on my keyboard. Inside were two tiny chocolate mice and a note from colleagues. Although they didn’t know the cause of my misery, they could see my pain and wanted to offer me some comfort. Long after the chocolate mice were gone, I kept the ribbon as a reminder of their compassion and of hope. A few years later, I wore it in my hair at my second wedding. — Anara Guard

Right after I surprised my second husband by leaping into his arms.

Sometimes I scroll through our old home’s Zillow listing to remember the life I had before my husband died. The perfectly staged photos are on display for anyone to see. They look empty — stripped of our belongings, of personality. Still, I picture us in these curated shots: loving, living, fighting, making up, making out, raising our babies. The kitchen table where we communed at the day’s end. The bed where our children and I slept for months after he died. The listing’s estimated price does not take into account how rich that house was with love. — Jessica Strange

My husband teaching our children to play chess in our old bedroom.

I watched her face lit by the candle in the chocolate torte. Her Mick Jagger lips curled in a slightly lopsided smile as she contemplated her wish. With grace and intention, she exhaled a stream of air, trying to make her hopes her destiny. At 30, she was comfortable in her transgender identity and on her path as a designer. She left her life on the streets and the man who dragged her there. As her mother, I was relieved and proud of her. — Brahna Yassky

My daughter on her 30th birthday.

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