Featured Fiction: “The Visitor” by Lydia Davis
Thank you to everyone who submitted to our first ever Flash Fiction Contest. Today, we are honored to bring you an original piece from one of the masters of the short short form: Lydia Davis. We have been loyal fans of Lydia Davis’s short and potent stories for ages, and we cannot even tell you what a thrill it is to publish a tale of hers on the blog today. We are pleased to present “The Visitor.”
Sometime in the early summer, a stranger will come and take up residence in our house. Although we have not met him, we know he will be bald, incontinent, speechless, and nearly completely unable to help himself. We don’t know exactly how long he will stay, relying entirely on us for food, clothing, and shelter.
Our situation reminds me that a leathery-skinned old Indian gentleman once spent several months with my sister in London. At first he slept in a tent in her back yard. Then he moved into the house. Here he made it his project to rearrange the many books in the house, which were in no particular order. He decided upon categories—mystery, history, fiction—and surrounded himself with clouds of smoke from his cigarettes as he worked. He explained his system in correct but halting English to anyone who came into the room. Several years later he died suddenly and painfully in a London hospital. For religious reasons, he had refused all treatment.