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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. Paul was a former Hollywood producer and had a flair to make grand gestures. We were two middle-aged Asian Americans who loved travel and art. 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 the apartment door and handed me a coffee cup. “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 received for donating money at a prominent L.G.B.T.Q. organization. My father never told me, but I finally understood. He knew I was proud of him. — Lori Horvitz

Over the past 20-years, I have occasionally woken up to a sarcastic glare from my spouse. “What’s wrong?” I’d ask. “It was Stella again!” she’d respond, clearly hurt. Strangely, her fantasies of infidelity included Stella, the woman 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 from work and mentioned Stella, his new love interest. Dream solved: Stella was following the man my wife loves, 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 great-grandmother shared the original plant with her when she fled Lithuania to America in 1920. She gave her family cuttings of the plant. 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 me reunited to celebrate. Our branch of the family tree will grow again. — Melanie Chartoff

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