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Tiny Love Stories: ‘All Women Are Psychic’

I pull up to the neon-lit drive-through past midnight. The young cashier inside the fluorescent box calls me “honey,” as if we weren’t around the same age. “Hospital?” she asks. I blink — convinced that all women are psychic. “Your bracelet!” she says, pointing to my wrist. “Three hours to see someone for my womb,” I tell her. (With endometriosis and ovarian cysts, I feel that it is more “wound” than womb.) We talk, discovering that we both have insufficient health care, no primary doctor. “I’m tired,” I tell her. Her dark-lined eyes meet mine. “Girl,” she says, “me too.” — Britt Gillman

Balancing on a wobbly chair, I apply white paint to my parents’ bathroom ceiling. When I was younger, feeling guilty about being the reason they left Haiti, I was obsessed with accolades. I believed that my accolades would repay my parents for their sacrifices: leaving their home, learning a new language and stalling their retirement. Now, I realize that having loving parents is a gift that cannot be repaid. I focus on helping and loving them in the small ways — like stretching up to repaint their ceiling. — Sébastien Byron


How did you know he was the one, Mom? “He had nice teeth and nice nails.” That’s it? Teeth and nails? “He came from good people. Poor, but proud. Very clean.” There must be more! “We just wanted the same things — family, house, work.” My parents, both from Thessaloniki, Greece, were months shy from their 57th anniversary when Mom sneaked into the Covid wing. Dad was pulling at the tubes, sheets. My sisters and I watched from an iPad as Mom took Dad’s hand. “I’m here, I’m here,” she said. Dad relaxed, calmly, into his last breaths. — Sophia Stefanidis Ungert

At 8, I found the name I wish I’d been given in a romance novel: Charlotte, Charli for short, a bartender and rebel. As I grew up, homeless, in psych wards, a teenage sex worker, I held my name in my heart — a secret identity that fueled my will to survive. At 30, I changed my name to match my insides. At 33, three days before Christmas in an otherwise unremarkable conversation, my mother hesitantly whispered my name for the first time. I realized that if she was willing to see me, to love me, maybe I could love myself too. — Charli Hoffman


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