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Little Love Stories: Summer Love


A very drunk man keeps talking to me about trains. Cape Town summer is hot, night sticky, my drink hot. This gay bar is sure to sink, given the number of bodies shoving inside. I nod at the train driver, planning an escape, and you show up. Your accent is cute, your beard is cuter, and you tell the guy on the train that we’re here together. Suddenly, we are here together. It’s not a lie; it’s a prophecy, and a good one at that. Ten years, three countries, five cities, four dogs, and two little kids later, we’re still here, together. — Michael McClelland

Jenny plays music from her MP3 player. Carols in July. Operatic voices fill the forest as robins flutter around her. Jenny stops moving and stares. Robins sing. No words are spoken. Complete satisfaction in nature. She turns to me and plants an awkward, determined kiss on my lips. Only now, in her teens, can she tolerate touch. I hold my autistic daughter close to my chest and feel her love. — armstrong


Recently, I stood over the stove to caramelize onions. Suddenly the smell reminded me of that summer we spent holed up in our small, dark apartment. Hide away from the heat during the day and caramelize onions at night. Thrilled by the scent, our feet pressed to the linoleum, we came to life as the sun went down, our stomachs growling for a taste. I had forgotten that caramelized onions were all we ate for weeks, because that was all we could afford. My memories of that time are sweet, sticky and happy. Almost buried by layers of time. — Megan Bolanos

Nervous, I decided to study abroad the summer after my first year of college. Four years recovered from my fight against anorexia. My body had healed but my mind was still at war. I loved Italy like a lover I didn’t expect to find. Rome courted me on cobblestone streets. Capri caressed me with her sea. Florence spoon-fed me ice cream. In a faraway country, my body finally started to feel like home. He had saved my life, but Italy taught me to savor it. — Stephanie Kennedy


My ex left me with two small children and a rundown house. He couldn’t face my children’s searching eyes and endless questions, but he could call an electrician. Juan showed up the next day. Sharing a stairwell, we struggled to mount a ceiling fan in the fading light of a summer afternoon. It was then, John said, seeing my belly sticking out of my shirt, that he fell in love with me, our shadows dancing on the walls. Apparently the whole house had to be rewired. John made the right connections, and 18 years later, the light remains. — april silva

When I was growing up, my mom, Cherry, and I would sing Barbra Streisand duets in the car, each taking turns singing Barbra’s parts. During the summer, when the Indianapolis neighborhood kids were playing basketball, I joined my mom for aerobics in the living room. We spend countless afternoons watching our favorite soap opera, “Guiding Light.” In college, I told him I was gay. “Oh thank God!” she said. “I didn’t think this day would ever come. I’ve known since you were 4 years old. She loved having a gay son and she waited nearly two decades for me to love that about myself too. — Brett Krutzsch


Before the Johnson City, Tennessee, town pool was emptied at the end of the summer, dogs could swim for five dollars. Donning his green life jacket, Barney jumped as if he weren’t tired, deaf, toothless. We stayed until no one else was left. It is a small thing in life, a dog, but small is relative. I packed cookies for our last trip to the vet. I sat on the floor in the hall, feeding Barney cookies one by one, and for a moment it seemed possible that we might never run out. — Shuly Xochitl Cawood



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