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Lydia Davis

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Fiction

An Incident on the Train

I’m on the train, traveling alone, with two seats to myself. I have to use the restroom. Without thinking about it carefully, I ask a couple across the aisle if they would please watch my things for me for a moment. Then I take a closer look at them and have second thoughts: they are young, for one thing. Also, they seem very nervous, the guy’s eyes are bloodshot, and the girl has a lot of tattoos. Still, it’s done now. I get up and start moving back. But, as a precaution, I ask a man sitting a few seats back from mine, who is dressed in a suit and looks like a businessman, to please keep an eye on that young couple for me, because I have had to leave my seat for a moment and all my things are on it. I could just go back and retrieve my bag, giving an excuse. In fact, this is suggested by the man, who objects to being put in this position, the position of having to stop what he is doing and watch a young couple who have done nothing wrong, so far, anyway. But I feel it is too awkward to go and get my bag, and even if I went and got my bag, I would still be leaving on my seat a valuable coat.

The Left Hand

The left hand prides itself on being more refined than the right hand. Yes, it is in fact a little slimmer, the knuckles are not as knobbly, and the skin is even a little smoother. But, says the right hand calmly, think of all the work I’ve done that you haven’t, over the years. Well, says the left, I’ve been there alongside you all the way, helping. But think of all the things you can’t do that I can, says the right. Think of all the skills I’ve developed.

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