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Fiction: M-O

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)

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.