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"I couldn't see the picture hanging on the wall."

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Dear Diary:

I was in a thrift shop on the Upper West Side and saw two framed, unsigned bird paintings.

The painting was clearly the work of the same artist. They were giant, wide-eyed, strange birds made of charcoal.

I liked one, but not the other. I liked a bird that looked like an emu looking sideways.

The other picture was a picture of two birds that looked like a dodo. They had similar facial expressions and looked forward as if they were staring at the viewer. I couldn’t see the painting hanging on the wall and looking at it every day.

Obviously it was by the same artist, so it was fun to break the set, so I didn’t.

A few days later, when I stopped by the shop again, I was surprised that the other one was gone even though there were still some paintings I liked. Someone else saw them and must have liked the paintings I didn’t and didn’t worry about breaking the set.

I bought the remaining paintings immediately.

— Michael Fishman

Dear Diary:

In 1964, when I was eight, I went out of my family’s apartment in Riverdale almost every day at my mother’s request.

As I got off the elevator and passed through the stairwell door, milk machines and cigarette machines were lurking side by side in the dark and went out through the lobby.

Right, left, 2 blocks, right Mothers bakery.

5 words and 4 coins: sliced ​​seedless rye bread. A quarter, a dime, 2 pennies.

My mother said she couldn’t send her brother because she ate half of the bread on her way home. She, with me, was missing only two heels.

— Gerri Ginsburg

Dear Diary:

While preparing for the job interview, I slowly roamed Stytown and was completely immersed in the phone.

I was so absorbed in what I was doing that I almost hit an elderly man who was out for a walk. He looked at me with a little dissatisfaction.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Tomorrow I’m interviewing for my dream job, but all I can do is prepare.”

He went on to resume a vigorous pace. Then he turned his head to his shoulder. He was smiling.

“Please leave me as a reference,” he said. “Good luck!”

— Melissa Eltle

Dear Diary:

It was disastrous as the courtesy meeting progressed. After that, I staggered down the street, feeling that everything was against me.

After giving me a lot of hints over the years, I thought the city was clearly telling me to leave only once. Maybe it was finally time to listen.

At some point, I wandered to the basketball court on West Force Street. As I watched the game, a well-dressed man with a satchel approached me.

“People take you for granted,” he said unilaterally. “You give, you give, and you get nothing in return, but you are a good person …”

I was trying so hard not to shed tears, so I don’t remember exactly the rest of what he said.

He pulled out the pad and asked me to come up with answers to some questions, such as my favorite number, wife’s name, her age, my favorite color, my nemesis’s name, etc. Don’t tell him.

Then he made a neat list of all my answers. I’m not rude when it comes to magical tricks, but this guy was a certified warlock.

He reassures me that my life is okay and I will get my dream job later in the month. Then he wrote down three numbers: the proposed donation.

I told him I don’t have such cash.

“There is an ATM nearby,” he said.

— Mark Sue

Dear Diary:

I got out of the apartment I just moved. It was raining lightly in the morning of early September.

The train was coming soon and I hadn’t got off, so I went upstairs without an umbrella and headed for the station.

I overtook the man cleaning. He had a broom in one hand and a dustpan in the other.

“Hey, miss,” he said quietly, almost inaudible. I thought he was talking to me, but I had a bad relationship with strangers on the street, so I thought it would be best to keep walking.

“Miss,” he said again.

I thought I might have dropped something. Before checking my pocket, I heard him again, this time a little louder.


I turned around. The broom in his hand was replaced by a clear plastic poncho. He wore a yellow one with his hood up. Water beads were flowing in front.

“For the rain,” he reached out and said.

— Aiza Shahid-Qureshi

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Illustration by Agnes Lee