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‘I Ran Home to Grab a Measuring Tape and Then Returned’

Dear Diary:

I live in Astoria. One day, while I was out walking and talking on the phone with my mom, I saw a porter put a beautiful corner cabinet next to a pile of trash outside the church a few doors down from my building.

It was a quality piece that I knew would look great in my apartment, so I ran home to grab a measuring tape and then returned to see whether it was the right size.

As I was measuring, I heard a gentle voice from behind me.

“Will it fit?”

I turned around to see a young man standing there.

I said goodbye to my mom and turned back to the young man.

“I think so,” I said.

“I will carry it for you, if you’d like,” he said.

How could I refuse?

Without saying a word, he lifted the cabinet up easily and hoisted it over his shoulder. We set off down the street and then up the stairs when we got to my building.

Once we had gotten inside and the cabinet was in place, I wasn’t sure how to thank him.

He noticed my piano.

“Will you play me a song?”

— Katie Coleman


Dear Diary:

I hopped into a cab that was stopped at a red light on Park Avenue. The taxi was immaculate, and the driver was, as my parents would say, a true gentleman.

Suddenly, halfway to where I was going, he asked: As we are at a red light, may I feed the birds?

Yes, I nodded.

He hopped out of the cab clutching a large bag of seed and began to spread it among a sizable group of pigeons that were loitering on the mall.

Do you do this often? I asked when he returned.

It’s hard to find a meal in winter, especially for smaller birds, he said.

Then he burrowed into another bag to throw a large bread crumb or two to an expectant sparrow.

— Marcia D.B. Levy


Dear Diary:

My husband returned from lunch quite forlorn. One of his earbuds had popped out on the way home, bounced off a pile of leaves and fallen through a sewer grate.

Looking down, he could see it resting on some leaves below. Thinking he might be able to fish it out, he wrapped a long cord to a penlight with a magnetic handle. He was able to lift it as high as the sewer grate, which was too narrow to get it through.

He had to get to a meeting, so he was forced to give up. I decided to give it a try before the sun set.

Armed with a small but powerful magnet tied to a long cord, I looked through the grate, spied the earbud and tried my luck. I, too, managed to get it on the magnet, but I couldn’t get it through the grate either, and it fell back down.

“Fishing for something?” I heard a man say.

I turned around to find two construction workers standing there. I told them what I was fishing for. One of them removed the grate, asked for the magnet and pulled the earbud up effortlessly. Then he put the grate back on, and they walked away.

— Miriam K. Tierney


Dear Diary:

i was on a roof in Brooklyn looking down
and had a camera packed, pulled it out
and loaded my last black & white roll of film.
patiently holding still.

saw an empty bird’s nest on a window sill.
guess they all learned to fly, wish ’em well.

saw a well-dressed woman put mail in her purse
and a tricycle with a missing wheel in the dirt.

for what it’s worth:
a photograph’s the only path to time travel in reverse.

across the street,
what looked like a castle at first
was really just the back of the church.

if I got to the rooftop earlier,
would’ve had more time before the moon turning up.

so it wasn’t that long till i put the lens cap back on
and I walked downstairs — fast forward:

back on the block onto the train platform
and the doors were open,
what more could I ask for?

— Leo Coltrane


Dear Diary:

I was crossing Madison Avenue on a very hot August day. Traffic was mostly frozen as a Cadillac edged past a truck and stopped for the light.

The driver of the truck got out and started yelling at the driver of the Cadillac, whose windows were rolled up.

“What are you stupid or something?” he yelled.

The Cadillac’s window rolled down slowly.

“Stupid?” the man behind it said. “Who’s driving the truck and who’s driving the Cadillac?”

— Alan H. Zwiebel

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee


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