“Sitting in front of me, it was a man who ate sardines in a box”

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Dear Diary:

Two summers ago I was driving a bus in downtown Manhattan. After I sat down, I started to look around. I always like to familiarize myself with my surroundings.

Sitting across from me was a man eating sardines from a tin can. He noticed that I was staring at him.

“If only I had crackers to go with it,” he said.

At that moment, a woman sitting nearby opened her wallet, turned around and, without saying a word, handed her a bundle of saltines.

– Annabelle Alston


Dear Diary:

She let me go. Suggested
I go.
Solo.
It would never have occurred to me.

Ignore the scammers. Wait on the steps of the metro, not on the platform. Walk with purpose.
Advice gratefully received.

Through the train window, the woods pass at full speed,
turn into houses,
rising in tall buildings.
Seventeen magazine describes hair removal options.
Thirty, sixty, ninety minutes, I count.

FWOPP! We broke into the tunnel
ears are clicking as we
wobbling, wobbling under Manhattan.

At Penn Station, the doors yawn, ejecting us.
We mix and agglomerate, disperse and weave,
bump and

Bounce,
In the sensory symphony
Screaming taxis, a slap of bitter cold,
air infused with bitter chestnut.

I hold mum’s hand drawn card,
a grid on lined loose sheets.

I’m here.
Alone.
Independent.
Invincible.

– Carole Studier


Dear Diary:

A few years ago my daughter rented her first apartment in Manhattan. She asked me to come from Queens to wait for a furniture delivery so that she wouldn’t have to take time off from her new job.

The delivery arrived very early, leaving the rest of the day to myself. I walked down Third Avenue window shopping and watching people go by.

After a few blocks, I came to a movie theater that was showing a Swedish movie that I had planned to see when it came to my neighborhood. Perfect!

I bought a ticket, went in and chose a seat in the middle of the theater.

As the lights went out, a woman entered and took the aisle seat I was in. After the movie ended, she approached me.

“Can we talk a bit about the film?” she asked.

We did this for several minutes. Then she thanked me and left.

– Louise Duc


Dear Diary:

I was on the M4, reading my book and only aware that I had not yet reached my destination, when I felt a light touch on my wrist.

I looked down and saw a praying mantis, adult and maybe four inches long. It was an incredible creature, almost from another world, with a huge head at the top of its body and six legs like thin sticks.

He hesitantly walked over my hand and over my book. His movements were as strange and wild as his form.

Was I going to shake this beautiful insect on the floor of the bus to continue its journey into town? This path only led to concrete, traffic, more people and probable death.

As the mantis slowly and gently walked over my hands, over the book and then back over my wrist and arm, I stood up slowly. The look on the face of the woman in front of me was horrified. How could she consider this harmless creature dangerous?

As the bus continued I saw a green garden but no bus stop nearby. As I approached the driver, I asked if he would let me out.

“This guy really needs to get some green grass and plants,” I said, holding up the mantis so the driver could see it.

He winced and shuddered.

“Whoa,” he said, stopping the bus and opening the door by the little triangular garden.

I carried the mantis, still wandering on my hands and my book, to the edge of the plantations. He seemed reluctant to leave me, but I soon pushed him onto the first available sheet.

– Tom Hurwitz


Dear Diary:

It was in the spring of 1982, and I had recently moved to the Upper West Side. I had brought my beloved clock radio, a gift from my mother in 1968, with me.

After unpacking, I found out that unfortunately it no longer worked. I took it to a repair shop a few blocks away.

The man over there examined her carefully, adjusting his knobs. After a while, he announced with regret that he couldn’t fix it.

“But I’ll tell you what you can do,” he said.

I waited impatiently for my instructions.

“Get out of the store,” he said. “Go to the corner and turn left. When you get to the end of the block you will see a trash can. Drop it.

-Jessica Lauria

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Illustrations by Agnès Lee




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