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Fiction: 2020s

Fiction of the Day

Good Boy

By Eloghosa Osunde

I’ve always had a problem with introductions. To me, they don’t matter. It’s either you know me or you don’t—you get? If you don’t, the main thing you need to know is that I am a hustler through and through. I’m that guy that gets shit done. Simple. Kick me out of the house at fifteen—a barged-in-on secret behind me, a heartbreak falling into my shin as I walk—and watch me grow some real useful muscles. Watch me learn how to play all the necessary games, good and ungood; watch me learn how to notice red eyes, how to figure out when to squat and bite the road’s shoulder with all my might. Watch me learn why a good knife (and not just any type of good, but the moral-less kind, the fatherlike kind) is necessary when you’re sleeping under a bridge. Just a week after that, watch me swear on my own destiny and insist to the God who made me that I’m bigger than that lesson now; then watch my ori align.

The Left Hand

By Lydia Davis

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.

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.

Slant Six

By Thomas McGuane

Nineteen miles west of town, Drew’s client Mike and his wife Carol summered in a neighborhood of attractive homes along the meandering Bluebird Creek, formerly Bog Creek. The development was known locally as Snob Hollow. While the occupants were not all snobs, there was little time in the accelerated northern summer for mingling with locals, what Bluebird Creekers called “fraternizing.” But the Khourys were different, self-­consciously inclusive, inviting often inappropriate local guests to their gatherings—­gun nuts, fellow Pickleballers, smiling evangelicals, conspiracy theorists, and cabinetmakers—­despite the likely awkwardness. Mike was fond of saying, “You can learn a lot by observing fish out of water” and “I admire their neolithic lifestyles and the curious pidgin with which they pour out their hearts.” So, Drew decided, he was a snob after all, though proud of his politics.