By now you may have seen or heard the second season of the TV series “Modern Love” on Prime Video.
Seven of the eight episodes in this anthology series are inspired by a Modern Love essay, and one, “Strangers on a (Dublin) Train,” starring Kit Harington and Lucy Boynton, on a 99-word Tiny Love Story.
To celebrate our Tiny Love Stories, the 100-word or less pieces we consider “Modern Love in Miniature,” we’ve rounded up 10 of the most poignant, funny, and poetic published entries.
If you’re looking for even more, we also have a book.
Strangers on the train
We met on a train from Paris to Barcelona. We sat next to each other and argued about who could use the outlet. “Désolé, je crois que c’est a moi.” (“Sorry, I think it’s mine.”) Instant crush. A perfect, flirty, six o’clock. The beginning of our love story? We agreed to meet again in Paris: on March 19, I was waiting for his train at the Gare de Lyon train station. We didn’t know that the coronavirus would lock us up in different countries. Trusting in the power of the universe, we hadn’t exchanged mobile numbers. Sometimes a romantic plan isn’t enough. — Cecilia Pesao (originally published April 28, 2020)
Our love tripod
On the eve of the new millennium, I fell in love with Andrew, a rambunctious English advertising executive. Clumsily, I didn’t fall in love with Scott, an American architectural photographer and my longtime partner. Our dilemma resulted in an unexpected and lasting romance: a V-shaped love triangle without vows and offspring. Born English, now a naturalized American, I am the linchpin of our harmonious household of three: I sleep with both men, they each sleep with me alone. Everything else we share: home, finances, friends, vacations, life-threatening emergencies. As Scott says, our tripod is more stable than a bipod. — Kate Holt (originally published October 17, 2018)
Not so naturally gifted
My childhood memories of the Chinese New Year include the sound of my grandmother’s mahjong tiles clicking together. When my grandmother, Yuan, moved from our hometown in Inner Mongolia to join my parents in the big city of Shanghai, she lost touch with her mahjong friends. My parents aren’t keen on the game, so my cousin and I offered to learn and play with our grandmother. We were naturally gifted and won round after round. At least that’s what I thought, until I understood the game better: My grandmother had all the tiles, but she let us win. — Ke Ran Huang (originally published February 23, 2021)
Still cooking side by side
I bake chicken parmigiana schnitzels, counting: in my 53 years I have baked thousands. My mother taught me. When I was 7, we fried chicken side by side, with her hip touching mine. “Cover yourself,” she would say. “You’ll get hurt and get that shirt dirty.” As a teenager, I snapped, “Mom, I hate it when you use ‘dirty’ as a verb.” But regardless of age, I’d listen and grab an apron. More math: It’s been more than two decades without her. Yet she magically reminds me to separate the cutlets and away from the flame. — Kathy Curto (originally published May 4, 2021)
A little hand in mine
In the beginning, she was the little face I saw in pictures when her mom and I started dating. When the time came, she was the little body that stood tentatively in the corner of the living room—wondering, waiting. Before long she was the little hand in mine as we crossed the street, the smile to prove she’d brushed her teeth and the curious voice that whispered until we fell asleep. It started to feel like she was mine. Now, six months after breaking up with her mother, I realize she wasn’t mine. But I loved her. — Nicole DeMouth (originally published on February 5, 2019)
Music from Myanmar
I was teaching English in Myanmar when we met two years ago. Music connected us – strumming a cheap guitar in the afternoon as we tried to harmonize. I was learning Burmese. He covered our apartment with post-it notes with the Burmese name of each item. In January I returned to Australia because my mother was ill. In February, when the military staged a coup in Myanmar, he said, “They stole our future.” I felt his frustration and pain. But every night when we FaceTime, he smiles and joins his neighbors as they bang on kitchen utensils in protest. A hopeful harmony. — Audric Co (originally published March 9, 2021)
hello old friend
Grief was that relative I heard stories about. I knew her as I knew Uncle Gerald, someone I never met, but learned so much about. Then my husband died, and there was Sorrow, shaking my hand. I offered her the spare room, scrambling to make it comfortable, but not too comfortable because I didn’t want her to stay long. Instead of the guest room, she marched straight into my bedroom and dropped her heavy bags. Years later she is still with me, now an old friend, someone to drink a martini with and remember. — Barbara Phillips (originally published March 30, 2021)
Netflix, Cake and SNL
For ten years I have watched my former classmates get used to the conventional domestic pattern: husband, wife, baby, house. They look grown up now. They look like their parents. However, I remain single at 34, pull out all night and eat cake for dinner. I drive an hour for good ramen. I’m skipping town for the weekend. I watch Netflix with impunity. No one is mad about the dishes. Marriage sent my classmates on a more stable path, one that rarely crosses my itinerant course. I miss them. For me, saying “Congratulations on your engagement” is too often another way of saying “goodbye.” — Adam Chandler (originally published October 23, 2018)
Yes, rabbis play pool
My friend wanted to set us up. I said the age difference of 17 years was too big, and besides, I would never date a rabbi. She brought him to our weekly pub trivia game, “just like a friend, no pressure.” Up close I saw wrinkles in the eyes of a lifetime of laughter, his booming laugh. Later I saw him walking home in the rain. He accepted my ride offer. Our first date was playing pool in a bar. My non-Jewish friends were incredulous: “Do rabbis do that?” Yes they do. Rabbis shoot billiards in dive bars, caulk your bathtub, hold your gaze and win your heart. — Tova Tenenbaum (originally published July 9, 2019)
Storming into kindergarten
It was the first of many first days of school. I took small steps to the classroom, my parents stepping beside me. I was eager to take kindergarten by storm and reminded myself to make friends. I sat down next to a girl as small as me, with my favorite subject in mind. I said, “Do you know my grandma Alba?” My potential new boyfriend’s eyes opened wide with curiosity. My parents laughed at the door. I think when you love someone that much, you assume the rest of the world does too. — Maria Paula Serrano (originally published June 4, 2019)