By Maya Khanna
Art by Kaitlyn Anderson
These vignettes were all written based on the style of the New York Times series, “Tiny Love Stories,” which are written in response to a theme or idea, in 100 words or less. The vignettes below follow that same structure. Each describes a particular moment, memory, or realization from my experiences this winter, related to the theme of “transition.”
In the Time Before Sleep:
In the space between sleep and waking, I feel warm fingertips dancing over the soft skin below my shoulder blades. The ridges and whorls of the familiar prints cut single-track through an invisible forest of baby hairs, leaving memories behind to soak into my bones. We never speak of this ritual, its gentle, unobtrusive sensations belonging to a category of love that knows neither entreaty nor reciprocity. They are a dialect only known to the liminality of falling asleep; sensations of care that form the love language of my dreams.
I saw the maple syrup first. Lined up in leaf-shaped bottles on a red-checked tablecloth that stretched across the length of the barn, three rows deep, dusty sunlight glinting through the amber liquid. Through the window, sap lines, forming a delicate web under the dark foliage of late summer in Vermont. Beneath my feet, rough-hewed maple planks; on my hands, sticky-sweet sugar from where fingers collided with glass. The world around me, heavy once more with familiar smells of home.
Waiting for A Spring Thaw:
Caught between horizon and earth, fish in winter lie unseen beneath opaque ice. No longer privy to sun rays that reach into the clear water of summer, trout must instead resign themselves to swimming blindly in darkness; catching memories of sensation only in occasional warm currents. Catfish, on the other hand, burrow deep into the mud. They stand a breath away from death, waiting out the cold times. I listen to their cries in the air bubbles lapping at the shore, and I wonder: Between the loneliness of a trout’s hope, and the self-anaesthetization of a catfish, what would I choose?
Standing on the bridge connecting facts and thoughts, I find the world malleable beneath my fingertips. Here, in the space that intertwines beliefs and experience, I push hard against sandstone walls; only to find grains collapsing and crystalizing into individual particles seen in sharp relief. Lacking structure, the sharp and unforgiving ridges of memories leave sharp cuts on my skin. I place each gently at my feet, I hold them against one another, and understanding emerges; newly hard and unforgiving, grains of meaning indecipherable and inseparable.