To comfort himself, Da-Wei imagined listeners he couldn’t see and never heard from, he made up letters and, day by day, embroidered their lives

I imagine you: You are on a train headed somewhere to meet some people, you have your bag with you full of your life: cards, a book you perhaps can't finish, purse or wallet, maybe a diary with things to do, calendars and lists, tickets to the theatre. Things to do, a life to live, a whole future like clay in your hands! Accidents, surprises, stray encounters: some trivial, like how you got here. Maybe you never intended to read this; yes, you were looking for Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, and somehow landed your finger on the wrong link; or you're one of the people who come here now and then.

Your eyes dart and scurry, I imagine the words I am typing reflected in the pupils of your eyes; perhaps you frown, or smile, finding something silly or comical; or you pause for a while and consider, maybe deliberate. Light from the windows casts your shadow on the floor. Outside, a world is humming by.

Perhaps what you read mingles with the thread of a thought you had just now. A ripple spreads in the quiet pool. No one can see this; surrounded by fellow commuters, your mind is a box without a lid, a shell folded into itself — I am thinking of a cave without a mouth, laden with gold by bandits who have forgotten the magic words.


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