My mother, Wilma, adored Lifetime movies. Sick days away from school meant sleeping in, waking to the hum of television. Sporting an oversized T-shirt and fever, I would inch into the hall, listening for those sentimental melodramas. I’d creep to the living room couch and burrow against my mother. Though I wasn’t normally allowed to watch these films, my illness acted as a skeleton key. My mother stroked my forehead, covered my eyes from the wet, on-screen kisses. I listened to her laughs and gasps, learning when to laugh and gasp myself. I was her flu-ridden impersonator, her couch-bound copycat. — Ashley Jeffalone

We met in an emergency department north of Paris. After separate horse-riding accidents, we found ourselves there sporting ripped, muddy jodhpurs and fractured collarbones. The wait meant we could speak at length and realize that we agreed on nothing: politics, religion, philosophy, literature, equestrian ideology. We even clashed on the level of pain a broken collarbone caused. But we shared a fervent French belief in freedom of expression. Have our differences have softened over the years? No. Against the odds, we live, love, feud and laugh in rural France, surrounded by the horses that brought us together. — Fiona McGeachie Gallot


When my friends ask me over FaceTime how I’m doing, I tell them that I spend a lot of time crying. It’s easier than admitting that I can’t seem to get out of bed before 2 p.m. Or wash the dishes that are stinking up my sink. Or get done any work that I normally love doing. But it’s more honest than “good.” Sometimes they laugh and say “same,” and sometimes they look down and don’t know what to say. The rest of the conversation limps along. I apologize for being a stranger. They call me every week anyway. — Jemma Dooreleyers

We met during a bomb threat. I exited the D.C. metro to see yellow tape blocking my street. She asked me if I knew what happened. I said no. She asked me to dinner. With time to kill before I could enter my building, I said yes. She was blonde, Christian and a Red Sox fan: a Holy Trinity of forbidden fruit for me, son of New York’s Upper West Side. (We also understood each other’s jokes too late.) We weren’t right for one another. But, after a previous breakup, she got me back out there. Bombs away.— Jay Rappaport