“I was on the M104 and a woman was talking loudly on her phone”


Dear Diary:

I was on the M104, and a woman was talking loudly on her phone. She was explaining who she was talking to that she flirted with a guy to make her ex jealous.

At one point her voice became a mumble and the man sitting across from her interrupted her.

“Excuse me, can you please raise your voice?” he said. “He kind of fell and we couldn’t hear what happened.”

The other passengers cheered.

—Ivy Mansky

Dear Diary:

It was 1950. My grandmother would pick me up after school on Seventh Street near Avenue B and take me out for ice cream and a pretzel or some other treat.

That day she said we were going to Second Avenue Griddle, my favorite place for jelly beignets. They were covered in crunchy sugar. You could bite into it anywhere, and real raspberry jam would ooze onto your fingers.

I could barely contain my excitement as we walked the long three blocks to Second Avenue. We walked into the store and the clerk handed me a donut in waxed paper. I bit into it and immediately got jelly all over my face. I was in donut heaven.

The foreman motioned for me to come behind the counter. He showed a tray of freshly baked donuts and handed me a clean white apron that hung around my ankles. Then he handed me a donut in waxed paper and showed me how to slide it over the jelly maker nozzle.

With my free hand, I had to slowly push the handle of the machine down so that the jelly flowed into the donut without squirting out the other side. I became quite proficient at getting things done, and soon all the donuts were filled.

I washed my hands and returned the apron when I was done. My grandmother and I came home.

“Your Uncle Lenny must love you very much,” she said as we walked. “If the store owner had come in, he would have been in a lot of trouble.”

—Sandy Snyder

Dear Diary:

I was on train 6. Across from me was an older man wearing full company uniform: suit, tie, shoes polished to reflect in a mirror.

In her hand was a paper gift bag, covered in drugstore glitter and bright colors. He was holding a muted yellow envelope with “Herb” written on it in cursive.

He took the card out of the envelope, looked at it for a moment and smiled.

My stop has come. I got off the train and started walking home wondering: retirement? birthday?

Anyway, Herb, I’m glad something made you smile.

—Abigail Blackburn

Dear Diary:

My mother passed away earlier this year. It was sudden and unexpected. In the weeks that followed, I took care of my father in addition to my children. I was so busy I barely had a chance to cry.

After about a month, I took the day off to go to the Fotografiska museum and then to meet my husband for lunch nearby.

After seeing an exhibition of nude photographs, I walked straight into one that was a chronicle of the life and death of the artist’s mother.

The weight of the previous month and the unexpected connection with the artist hit me hard. I sat in the almost empty museum and sobbed.

I tried to be quiet and discreet in the darkened room, but soon after a man approached me and asked if I was okay.

I told her that my mother had passed away recently and that I missed her so much.

He sat down next to me, rubbed my back after politely asking for my consent, and told me he would stay with me as long as I needed.

I asked for his name.

Owen, he said.

He asked for mine.

Suzie, I replied.

And my mother’s?


He said he would hold us in his heart and he asked me if I needed a hug.

I did it. Even in heels, I stood on my tiptoes to kiss a complete stranger and sob into his shoulder. I thanked him with every fiber of my being.

I skipped the last exhibition and ran to meet my husband. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t bear to see Owen’s face in the light.

— Suzanna Publicker Mettham

Dear Diary:

We took a long-awaited vacation to New York, packing our suitcases with all the clothes and toiletries we thought we’d need for our stay.



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