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Tiny Love Stories: ‘It’s a Rom-Com Opening, Baby!’

Trader Joe’s, West Hollywood. “Your total is $20.69,” announces the cashier at my register. Seconds later, the cashier at the next register over says to a male customer, “Your total is $20.69.” Wait, what? The staff whoops. Someone says, “No way!” He and I grin sloppily in the sudden spotlight, paired so arbitrarily by groceries. Bystander: “It’s a rom-com opening, baby!” The other $20.69 meets my eyes, testing gently for truth in that idea. For a moment, I entertain another universe — one where I’m not gay — and smile wide. Then I say, “Good night.” — Zoe Marie Bel

We could have named our second born Patrón, after all the tequila we drank. That’s how much fun we had. Two sabbaticals, the loss of my mother and a world unexpectedly upended by the pandemic led us to Anguilla. Everything opened up there: ideas, connection, laughter and my uterus, which had long closed shop — or so we thought. Life found a way, and the universe chose us to welcome our miracle, born at home, en caul (meaning entirely encased in his amniotic sac). We named our son Vale in honor of his “veiled birth” and Anguilla’s capital: The Valley. — LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant

Stale cigarette smoke permeated our mother’s pleather purse. Among its contents, I found a coupon for French’s Crispy Fried Onions — the key ingredient in Mom’s coveted Thanksgiving green beans. She was sick when she bought the Sunday paper that day. She was sick when she saw that ad, grabbed scissors and carefully cut along four dotted lines. She was sick; she was determined. Although her lungs and life would expire before the date on that coupon, her hope lives on. — Donna Talarico

“Let’s grab fast food and drive to see the city lights!” my 14-year-old daughter said with a wild grin. It was 11:30 p.m. I was exhausted from working and chauffeuring her to events with little warning, connection or appreciation. As I looked up to say “no,” I noticed her enthusiastic eyes, hoping I would say “yes.” Chances for quality time together had become rare. So, I met her where she was: in my car, in PJs, eating churros and listening to Taylor Swift. We bonded at midnight, all for the light in her eyes. — Melissa M. Monroe

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