Story — From the September 2013 issue

The Two Davises and the Rug

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They were both named Davis, but they were not married to each other and they were not related by blood. They were neighbors, however. They were both indecisive people, or rather, they could be very decisive about some things, important things, or things to do with their work, but they could be very indecisive about smaller things, and change their minds from one day to the next, over and over, being completely decided in favor of something one day and then completely decided against the same thing the next day.

They did not know this about each other until she decided to put her rug up for sale.

It was a bright patterned wool rug, red, white, and black, with a bold design of diamonds and some black stripes. She had bought it at a little Native American store where she used to live, but now she found out it was not Native American. She had grown a little tired of it where it lay on the floor of her absent son’s room, because it was a little dirty and a little curled up at the corners, and she decided to sell it in a group sale that was being held to raise money for a good cause. But when it was much admired at the sale, more than she expected, and when the price of ten dollars that she had put on it was raised by the organizer of the sale to fifty dollars, she changed her mind and hoped that no one would buy it. As the day wore on, she did not lower the price on the rug, as others were lowering their prices around her, and though people continued to admire it, no one bought it.

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is the author of several short-story collections and the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize. Her next collection, Can’t and Won’t, will be published in April 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

More from Lydia Davis:

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