Story — From the January 2014 issue

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Tom arrived with his suitcase. Its John Kerry sticker did not even say for president, so it seemed as if John Kerry might be the owner or designer of the bag. “I have to leave,” Tom said, sitting down, scraping the chair along the pavement, setting the suitcase beneath the table.

“Before you eat?” she asked.

“No.” He looked at his watch.

“Then order. Order quickly if you have to. Or you can have my salad, if you’d like.” She indicated the watery romaine on her plate.

He scanned the menu, then put it down. “I can’t even read right now. Is there couscous? Order me the lamb couscous. I’ll be right back.” He grabbed his phone. “I’m going to the gents.” His face had a grip of worry beneath the sun-beat skin; his body was lanky and his gait lopey but brisk as he wended his way inside. The suitcase stayed at the table, like a bomb.

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is the author of six books of fiction. Her next collection, Bark: Stories, will be published in March by Alfred A. Knopf.

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  • Tim

    This is completely wonderful.

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