Tiny Love Stories: ‘The Unspoken Question Between Us’

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The shelves we bought in August, meant to hold memories of our first year together, sat in a corner five months later, grounded by our heated arguments and growing resentment. If those shelves could talk, they would voice the unspoken question between us: Why put something up, only to take it down? After vulnerable discussions during the holidays, I came back from a New Year’s Day run to find her hanging the shelves in the soft winter light of our bedroom. All uncertainty melted away. Years later, we still have those shelves, and I have a ring on my finger. — Emily Cooke

At the Hindu shradh ceremony honoring my deceased father, my ex-husband stood next to me serving paneer to the guests. My mother’s chirpy friend asked us, “So between the two of you, who cooks and who cleans?” I froze. She had no idea that we’d been divorced for five years. The end of my marriage had brought shame to my conservative Indian parents, so they hid the truth from their community. Glancing at my devastated mother who had just lost her husband of 44 years, my ex responded, “We take turns.” Then he gave my hand a gentle squeeze. — Puloma Mukherjee

I love my maroon sweatshirt — paired with bluejeans. My wife, Melissa, loves her maroon jacket — paired with bluejeans. When we travel together, we often end up looking like we went out of our way to dress alike. It gets noticed (twice in the last month). While I haven’t taken a breath without thinking of this woman for the last half century, neither of us think it’s that cute to do the bookends thing. Our solution? I’ll carry a spare sweatshirt; she’ll carry a spare jacket. Ah, the difference! — John Garrett

Maybe it was years of undiagnosed ADHD or corporate fatigue, but I suddenly couldn’t stand the status quo. I quit my job, then bought a piano without knowing how to play. I binge read when I’m not busy praying for a purpose, spiraling away from the buttoned-up executive I used to be. No matter how far I drift, my partner, Mike, offers unconditional trust. He has more faith in me than I do. I sit with that truth while experimenting with the piano’s 88 keys. Though it feels like I’m just making noise, Mike always calls it music. — Dani DeFelice

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