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Tiny Love Stories: Oh, August!

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Tiny Love Stories: Oh, August!

August in a West Virginia sunflower field; it’s early morning but already hot. Charlie’s blue helmet bobs through brilliant yellow flowers. He smiles as I eye other infants between the sunflower stalks. I envy their round heads, symmetrical faces, bare scalps. Suddenly, I miss Charlie’s smell, so I duck beneath his helmet to peck his cheek. “Why can’t I have a helmet like Charlie?” my older son moans, tugging at my shorts. A seed of jealousy planted in him, the root of my own problems, too: to believe our gifts are burdens, the inability to recognize our own bloom. — Anna Rollins

Each of us had come to the lake with our hearts cracked open and picked clean. I waited tables at the resort where city dwellers came for lobster and loon song. He washed the dishes I passed him across the kitchen’s steel table. He reached out to me with his quiet, gloved hands. I offered him shells and husks, my hopeful smile. After work, we met by the water. If we were patient, across the lake’s untroubled sheen came the voice of the loon, the peace we had traveled far to find, a flash of fireflies as his eyes met mine. — Nicola Waldron


“Nana” means maternal grandfather in Hindi and Urdu. Though you speak both, we spend the sweltering Delhi summers keeping silent company. We start each day with the crossword and end it playing cards. We dry mangoes for pickling, feed cows leftover roti and make model airplanes. When we do talk, I ask you about serving in the Indian Air Force, about migrating from Lahore to Amritsar during Partition. Every July on my birthday, I ask what my mother was like at my age. I tell you you’re the best Nana, and you just smile gently and hold my hand. — Anisha Chadha

Black ink streaked Renny’s soggy poster, blurring the letters in “Black Lives Matter.” After a period of distance, we had reunited in his condo, making posters on top of the bed we used to share. It was raining that day in Toronto. Hundreds of feet sloshed in the puddles on Yonge Street. People chanted, “No justice, no peace.” Renny chanted with me. He will never understand what it is like to live in my skin. But that day, for that protest, he marched next to me. He marched for me. — Daniel Reale-Chin


My childhood summers were measured in splinters. Gnarled docks and jagged playgrounds — true hallmarks of an adventurous day — were just some of the culprits. Despite their frequency, I treated each splinter as a novelty, crying fresh at the wound. Recovery came in the form of my great-uncle’s patience. I sat cross-legged beside his koi pond as Uncle Freddie fished out the wood slivers. His process was simple: pluck, bandage, smile. My cooperation came at a price. A successful extraction earned me a single maraschino cherry, straight from the jar. As a child, healing was so sweet. — Haley Kachmar

I didn’t think I was grieving when my ex-husband died this summer, but my body told a different story. I slept poorly, overate and mistakenly drove toward our long-ago home, not my present one. Friends wrote sympathy notes, saying they hoped I would “treasure the good times.” It surprised me that I could. In the old photos our adult children asked for, I can see the pleasure we were having. I can see that my ex and I were nuts about each other. This may be another gift of aging: Without dismissing the awful times, it’s still possible to hold the joys. — Wendy Lichtman


I met Katie at the peak of Louisiana summer. On our first date, we shared beers at the park and swatted mosquitoes. On our second, it rained and I watched Katie’s hair grow three times bigger in the humidity, like mine. The pandemic meant meeting outside. Outside meant heat, and heat meant the dissolution of any pretense. Now, a year later, we drive with windows down and take walks at noon. We often say our bodies melt together like chocolate. Most in Louisiana dread this weather, but we spend our days in love and in sun, melting closer together. — Sneha Yadlapati

One recent summer evening, my husband and I were sitting by the fire pit at our home north of Chicago, watching the flames dance, feeling tired but content. If someone had been watching us, they may have thought, Now there’s a couple with nothing to talk about. But, after 38 years of marriage — and a day biking and working in the backyard — I thought, Who else could I do this with? Who else would I want to do this with? Hours later, we checked the embers, covered the pit and headed wordlessly up to bed. — Ellen Blum Barish

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