“We chatted as we walked the two blocks to his apartment”

Dear Diary:

I was waiting to cross Eighth Avenue at 23rd Street when an older woman asked if I could help her cross the street.

I offered her my arm and we chatted as we walked the two blocks to her apartment. At one point we passed an older man who was using a walker.

The woman whispered to me that he lived in her building and that he was not very nice.

After dropping her off at the entrance to her building, I walked past the man with the walker. He motioned for me to stop.

“It was so nice of you to help her,” he said. “Nobody in our building likes her. She’s really mean.

— Paul Breen

Dear Diary:

Fish can’t jump
the upstream dam,
but stuck fish eggs
on the duck legs do.

And so Gen Next
generates the rest
the flow again.

Tell me, sir,
who are you
to tell me what
I can not do it?

i have two legs
and a pair of shoes,
so i’m going to run
my way ahead of you!

—Tom Furlong

Dear Diary:

My friend had gotten a promotion at work and I was taking him out to dinner to celebrate.

He picked a restaurant near Union Square where we hadn’t been before, a small place with a limited menu. The special that night, Pork Milanese, looked delicious. This is what I ordered when the waiter came to our table.

“I’m afraid I sold the last one,” he said, pointing to the table next to ours.

The woman sitting next to me shrugged sheepishly.

“Sorry!” she says. “I’ll give you a bite when it comes.”

We all laughed. The waiter suggested I order the pork off the regular menu, and I did.

When our neighbors meals arrived, I made sure not to look in their direction lest the woman think I had misunderstood her joke to be a genuine offer.

After a few minutes, I felt her nudge me.

“Come in here!” she said sliding her plate over to me so I could stab a bite. That was delicious.

When my meal arrived moments later, I asked if she wanted to try it.

“Well, that’s only fair,” she said, taking a bite and chewing thoughtfully.

“Yours is better,” I said.

My friend was horrified by the exchange.

“If you two do this with dessert,” he said, “I’m off.”

—Timothy Cerf

Dear Diary:

One Monday morning after a snowstorm, I shoveled a path from the sidewalk to the street in front of my Brooklyn home.

The path was long and there hadn’t been a good path through the snow to the street before I made it.

I was expecting a delivery: an ornately carved 1865 marble fireplace from an Eastern 1950s townhouse that was due for demolition. The fireplace was exquisite, and I thought I would enjoy looking at it in my simple front room.

As I waited I watched other people use my way to the street. It became so popular that I was afraid it would be blocked when the movers arrived.

When they did, the way was clear. There were two of them, and they carefully unloaded the chimney in four sections and walked the way very well.

Following them inside, I suddenly heard myself shouting: The biggest and last piece of the chimney had broken, almost seeming to implode.

The men staggered in a gigantic cloud of dust. They said they were sorry, it wasn’t their fault – which, of course, was true.

Soon they were gone and I was left with my dear pile of rubble. I looked at the empty wall where the beautiful old room would have gone. I removed the large pieces of broken marble. Then the small pieces and the pieces of plaster.

Finally, I swept the dust into a paper bag. Later, I knew I would have to mop the floor.

All afternoon I sat at the front window and watched my way. A woman crossed with a small dog. The passenger door of a taxi slid to a stop, exactly at the opening I had created.

A man carrying a plastic bag full of empty cans walked sideways. And a courier towing a parcel cart left tracks that widened my path a little.

—Megan Tucker Orringer

Dear Diary:

I was on the 79th street bus and I was having trouble with my iPhone. It had frozen solid. With my other hand, I tried to keep my walker from rolling away. Just one of these days.

Across from me was a young woman in a puffy jacket and furry boots.

“Can I help?” she asked.

“Yes, please,” I said, handing him the phone gratefully. “Do you think you can fix it?”

“Oh sure,” she said coldly. “I am a millennial! »

And she fixed it.

— Ephraim Lewis

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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