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The Short Form

“A Perfect Day for Bananafish”

J.D. Salinger

Excerpt

“Where's the lady?” Sybil said.

“The lady?” the young man brushed some sand out of his thin hair. “That's hard to say, Sybil. She may be in any one of a thousand places. At the hairdresser's. Having her hair dyed mink. Or making dolls for poor children, in her room.” Lying prone now, he made two fists, set one on top of the other, and rested his chin on the top one. “Ask me something else, Sybil,” he said. “That's a fine bathing suit you have on. If there's one thing I like, it's a blue bathing suit.”

Sybil stared at him, then looked down at her protruding stomach. “This is a yellow,” she said. “This is a yellow.”

“It is? Come a little closer.”

Sybil took a step forward.

“You're absolutely right. What a fool I am.”

We read it in Nine Stories.

Originally published in The New Yorker.