A waiter led us into a private room at the back of the restaurant, where the man was already seated at a table too large for three, sipping a garish red cocktail. For some reason I had assumed he would be accompanied by a secretary or bodyguard, but he was alone.
A chandelier hung from the ceiling and flowers had been arranged around the room. The silverware gleamed, the tablecloth was blindingly white.
They barely greeted each other, exchanging little more than vague, meaningless grunts. She sat down without introducing me, and I realized the moment for such formalities had already passed.
--From "Fruit Juice," a short story by Yoko Ogawa, published in her collection of interconnected stories, Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Picador, 1998).
Darek Fidyka, who is forty-one years old, . . . was born and raised in Pradzew, a small farming town in central Poland, not far from Lodz. At 3 A.M. on July 27, 2010, Fidyka and his girlfriend, Justyna, woke to the sound of someone smashing Fidyka's Volkswagen outside their house, a few miles from Pradzew. They got out of bed, rushed out the door, and found her ex-husband, Jaroslaw, battering the car with a cinder block.
--From "One Small Step: A paraplegic undergoes pioneering surgery," an essay by D. T. Max, The New Yorker (January 25, 2016), pp. 48-57.
beside myself in Texas the doctors asking my beloved
to give his pain a number one to ten his answer is always
two I tell them eight the holly bush in the yard is putting out new leaves...
--From "Chameleon," a poem by Ellen Bryant Voigt, The New Yorker (May 7, 2012), p. 34.
Weird Pig told the mule to send him email. Send the real kind, he said. All right?
The mule was at a loss. He had heard of email and mail, but mules were prohibited by law from sending or receiving either one. He wasn't sure exactly what they were.
Weird Pig didn't know what email was either, but he had overheard Farmer Dan talking about it with one of the chickens. He thought he should let on to someone that he knew what it was. It might improve his status on the farm.
--From "Real Mail," a short story by Robert Long Foreman, The Collapsar (January 15, 2016).
Boy 2 rescued you on the playground. There was a kid who always showed up dressed like a cowboy, who one day climbed the ladder just behind you, put his lasso around your neck, and pushed you down the slide. Boy 2 ran over to see if you were hurt--you weren't, just shocked by the sudden viciousness of it--and to shout at the other boy, "Leave her alone!" He stood over you while you loosened the rope and helped you pull the noose off over your head.
--From "An Inventory," a short story by Joan Wickersham, One Story, Volume 12, Number 8 (October 27, 2014).