Tiny Love Stories: ‘She Was on Top of Me in the 3 a.m. Darkness’

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Six Pies. One Acrylic Nail.

When I remember my mother, I think of Thanksgiving: a sweltering kitchen, flour coated counters, piercing laughter through coffee-stained teeth and pies galore. I think of one year when — after hours of work involving every fruit imaginable — my mother noticed she had lost a chipped acrylic nail. It must be in a pie, we surmised. “Should we still serve them?” I asked nervously. “We could … ” my mother said. She’s gone now, but when I remember her, I think of the woman who threw away six tasty pies and baked six more — this time, wearing gloves. — Emily Varga

Don’t Blame This on Mercury

We were sitting on his memory-foam mattress when he admitted to being a bad boyfriend. “The moon is pulling different elements of my sign,” he said. “It’s mercury in retrograde,” he said. A feeling of dread crept into my throat and held it closed. I wondered why the moon had never pulled me away from him. I looked up and saw a shiny ripped condom wrapper on his nightstand. It wasn’t ours. Was it a sign? I silently got up and left because I had my own two feet and nothing in the universe could stop me. — Laurel Kho

Giving Thanks

The day before Thanksgiving, snow was on the ground. Opening my downstairs door, I heard a painful cry. A young calico cat with a bleeding paw looked up. What to do? I’d spent my life helping stray animals. But my boyfriend would get angry if I brought her home, putting our four cats at risk. Hating myself, I closed the door and climbed the stairs. A while later, my boyfriend unlocked our door, calling out that we had a problem. He had rescued the cat I had turned away. I knew I’d chosen the right man. We named her Esmeralda. — Susan Patterson

This Is How Your Life Changes

She was on top of me in the 3 a.m. darkness. I held her in my arms. She was staring down at me. “Do you love me?” I said. “Yes.” “How much?” “Much, too much.” I looked up at her, at her burning eyes and blonde hair, wild and silhouetted against the muted whiteness of the ceiling. “Me too,” I said. Beginning an affair, I knew I was at the edge, right at the very edge. What the hell, I thought, and I let myself go across. At that moment, I knew my life would never be the same. — Richard Gross

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