A common theme in all these stories is characters who live in a bubble of some kind and who either make, or fail to make, a transition from their safe, insulated, or familiar world into the unfamiliar, danger-fraught territory outside the bubble.
Some of these can be read in five minutes.
"The Garden Party" by Katherine Mansfield, 1922
"Indian Camp" by Ernest Hemingway, 1924 (5-minute read)
What happens when we look at the lives of others who live outside our bubble? Are we even capable of actually seeing what's out there?
"Car Crash While Hitchhiking" by Denis Johnson, 1992 (5-minute read)
The narrator is a messed-up, helpless witness to others' suffering, who can't reach outside himself to touch them.
Here's a reflection on the story by Jeffrey Eugenides.
"The School" by Donald Barthelme, 1981 (5-minute read)
Schoolroom humor veers uncomfortably into tragedy. When hope returns, it's in the form of a giant gerbil.
"The Werewolf" by Angela Carter, 1979 (5-minute read)
For a young girl, the familiar turns unfamiliar and violent. Or is she one one who changes?
"The Imp of Perverse" by Edgar Allan Poe, 1845
“I am safe — I am safe — yes — if I do not prove fool enough to make open confession.”