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Fiction: D-F

Fiction of the Day

The Tale of the Unknown Island

By José Saramago

A man went to knock at the king’s door and said, Give me a boat. The king’s house had many other doors, but this was the door for petitions. Since the king spent all his time sitting at the door for favors (favors being offered to the king, you understand)

An Incident on the Train

By Lydia Davis

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.