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Fiction: M-O

Fiction of the Day

Diary of a Country Mouse

By Jesse Ball

Thursday, 10 December.

Giles shows us the sample mice and I am, as if for the first time, overcome with joy. Perhaps when I was a child I had feelings like this—but not in many years. I look, for instance, at a small gray mouse, smaller than the others, and it is as if I am seeing (anything) for the first time. He moves among his neighbors so swiftly and yet without error—as if on a track, as if held up by threads from above that prompt him. For reasons I cannot yet fathom, the edge of the enclosure is of great interest to the mice. I suppose there are no such edges in the so-called natural world. No one, not even we, are ready for them (though they are upon us). He sniffs there at the edge and his nose moves with almost impossible articulation.

A Story for Your Daughters, a Story for Your Sons

By Rebecca Makkai

The war had closed much of the city, cut off many of the smaller towns. Unable to trace his usual routes, the hat merchant headed into the mountains to try his luck. His father, before he died, had circled a small mountain village on his map, had noted that the trading was good but the trip took two difficult days. Indeed, the snaking road narrowed fast, and the bridge was down to splinters so his horse had to wade to the knees.

Near sunset of the first day, long after the road had turned to an overgrown path, the merchant passed a plain young woman milking a cow. She asked him into her farmhouse for bread and brandy but never turned her back on him. She didn’t turn her back to cut the bread, to call for her mother, to find a glass. He imagined she’d met her share of passing soldiers who wanted more than drink.