Tiny Love Stories: ‘Her Dreams of Infidelity’


A month into dating, Paul stood on a treehouse platform and declared, “You are my penultimate girlfriend!” I asked, “What does that mean to you?” “You are my super, ultimate girlfriend,” he responded, holding his arms out to the sky. A former Hollywood producer, Paul had a flair for grand gestures. On paper, we were perfect: two middle-aged Asian Americans who loved art and travel. But I couldn’t mirror his enthusiasm. “That’s not what it means,” I said, deciding that our time together was over. Paul’s misuse of the word “penultimate” freed me from the spell of the “perfect.” — Amanda Mei Kim

My father opened his apartment door and held out a coffee mug. “It’s a beautiful cup!” he said. “You need to take it.” I wheeled my suitcase into the guest room. “Take the cup!” he said, following behind. I told him I didn’t need it. After three days of him continually offering “the cup,” which was really a mug, I accepted. It was a thank you gift he had received for donating money to a prominent L.G.B.T.Q. organization. I never came out to my father, but I finally understood: He knew and was proud of me. — Lori Horvitz

For the last 20 years, I have woken up to an occasional angry glare from my wife. “What’s wrong?” I’d ask. “It was Stella again!” she’d respond, clearly hurt. Strangely, her dreams of infidelity always included a woman named Stella, who had led me astray. I’ve always been faithful and didn’t know any Stellas but promised to run if I ever encountered one. Last week, our son returned home and mentioned the name of his new love interest, Stella. Dream mystery solved: Stella was pursuing the other man my wife loves so much, her son! — David Cooke

Fifty years ago, our mothers’ bitter estrangement divided us daughters. But after I expressed sympathy over her mother’s death, my cousin mailed me a sprig of an aloe vera plant as a peace offering. Our shared great-grandmother had carried the original plant when she fled Lithuania for America in 1920. She gave plant cuttings to her growing family. My mother’s section died. For a while, the cutting my cousin sent me seemed like it would die, too — but then, a green shoot bloomed. My cousin and I reunited to celebrate; our branch of the family tree will regenerate. — Melanie Chartoff

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