September 29, 2020

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Monogamous Birds of N.Y.C.’

Pigeons arrived on our fire escape, grooming one another. A couple. Affectionate. But they weren’t pigeons. There was something un-pigeonly about them. My wife called them “generic birds.” Search: “generic, monogamous birds of N.Y.C.” We discovered: “Morning doves!” No, actually: “Mourning doves,” named after their gray feathers and melancholy song. I play a recording of their plaintive call. One cocks its head in recognition. (My wife thinks he was looking at a tree.) We sit inside. They sit outside. Bonded pairs waiting out this storm, listening to ambulance sirens mix with the sound of mourning. — Scott Illingworth

ImageThe fire escape outside our window.

I was 23, the age when she’d made the decision to carry me, then pass me on. He picked me up from the Atlanta airport in a limo with a bottle of champagne. I loved him immediately and as recklessly as he’d probably once loved her. “I always wanted you,” he said, his musician’s voice so different from that of Eugene, the Irish Catholic father who raised me. I studied my birth-father’s long hair, broad shoulders, calloused fingers and nose that dipped like mine. He isn’t perfect, I learned. But he’s the only man who’s written me a song. — Erin Carpenter


My grandparents are the nicest separated couple I know. After 28 years living under different roofs, they decided to shelter together during lockdown — much to the surprise of my family. From our video calls, I catch glimpses of their laughter and gentle teasing. I smile watching them on the same screen as they tell me about their daily walks and budding herbs in their Montreal garden. Their happy cohabitation is a silver lining, but it makes me wonder: Why didn’t they stay together all this time? — Kat Chan

Meet my new cat, Chips. He is like a suitcase carnival: He plops down his tent and turns a field into a festival. Before we left the shelter, everyone came to say goodbye. A week after his homecoming, Chips stopped eating. I brought him to the hospital and found out he has leukemia — which is to say, he is still on his way to somewhere else. The bright striped tent is always packed up a little too fast. Meet my old cat, Chips. He was only here for a bit. When he left, everyone came to say goodbye. — Mo David