‘I was on the M104, and a woman spoke very loudly on her phone’

Dear Diary:

I am using M104 and a woman is talking loudly on her phone. She is explaining to anyone she is talking to about how she flirted with a guy to make her ex jealous.

At one point, her voice turned mumbling, and the man sitting across from her interrupted.

“Excuse me, could you speak up please?” he say. “It almost crashed and we couldn’t hear what happened.”

The other passengers clapped their hands.

– Ivy Mansky

Dear Diary:

It was 1950. My grandmother picked me up after school on Seventh Street near B Avenue and took me out for ice cream and cookies or some other treat.

On this particular day, she said we were going to Second Avenue Griddle, my favorite place for jelly donuts. They are covered with a layer of crunchy sugar. You can bite them anywhere, and the raspberry jam will really melt on your fingertips.

I could hardly contain my excitement as we walked three long blocks to Second Avenue. We walked into the store, and the salesman handed me a wax paper donut. I bit into it and immediately had jelly all over my face. I was in donut heaven.

The counter clerk motioned for me to go behind the counter. He points to a tray of freshly baked donuts and hands me a clean, white, ankle-length apron. Then he handed me a wax paper donut and showed me how to glide it into the spout of the jelly maker.

With my other hand, I pushed the handle of the machine down slowly so the jelly would flow into the donut without splattering the other side. I became proficient enough to move things around and before long all the donuts were filled.

I wash my hands and give back my apron when I’m done. My grandmother and I went back to the countryside.

“Your Uncle Lenny must really love you,” she said as we went for a walk. “If the shop owner walks in, he will be in a lot of trouble.”

– Sandy Snyder

Dear Diary:

I was on train 6. Opposite me was an elderly man in full corporate uniform: suit, tie, shiny shoes reflected in the mirror.

In his hand was a paper gift bag, covered in the glitter and bold colors of the pharmacy. 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, then smiled.

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

Either way, 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 looked after my father and looked after my children. I’m so busy that I hardly get a chance to cry.

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

After seeing an exhibition on nude photography, I walked straight into an exhibit documenting the life and death of the artist’s mother.

Last month’s weight and unexpected connection to the artist hit me hard. I sat down in the nearly empty museum and sobbed.

I tried to stay quiet and discreet there in the dark room, but soon a man approached me and asked if I was okay.

I told him my mom passed away recently and I just missed her so much.

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

I asked his name.

Owen, he said.

He asked me.

Suzie, I replied.

And my mother?


He said he would hug us and he asked if I needed a hug.

I did. Even on tiptoe, I tiptoe to hug a complete stranger and sob into his shoulder. I thanked him with every fiber of my being.

I skipped the last show and ran to see 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 City, filling our suitcases with all the clothes and toiletries we thought we’d need for our stay.

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