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    One great short story to read today: Rebecca Curtis’s “Fish Rot.”

    Janet Manley

    May 9, 2023, 10:00am

    According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, the Literary Hub staff will be recommending a single short story, free to read online, every (work) day of the month. Why not read along with us? Today, we recommend:

    “Fish Rot” by Rebecca Curtis

    Is this the most important piece of sicklit? Maybe. Rebecca Curtis gives us a narrator whose cunty bitch sister has Fish Rot, a disease a bit like Lyme that some doctors say isn’t real and others will sell $30,000-a-month IV courses to cure. Her mother is God-fearing and loves President Hubs, while her father is afflicted with incestual tendencies that the family treat as they would a cat, spraying him with a water bottle when he places hands on his nieces, and hissing “bad! Bad!” None of it seems to work.

    What is the sickness at root in America, beyond the economic pyramid schemes and job insecurity and, well, all the Fish Rot? It is everywhere and nowhere, and Curtis comes closer than JAMA to putting a finger on it.

    The story begins:

    It was at the Cerebus Center, which had become like home to me, that I met him, and I knew after five minutes of hearing him talk that he could be the one to make me happy again, even though he was talking to another girl, not me, and even though everyone at the Cerebus Center, me too, had Fish Rot. Needless to say, I hadn’t had sex in a long time. Definitely the last time it happened George Hubs Junior was President, or maybe George Hubs Senior was President. I’d stopped hoping, and decided my sister’s “prophetic dream” was wrong. I won’t have a baby and carry it wrapped in a blue shawl through my sister’s hallway, I thought.

    “You were newly recovered from a long illness,” my sister had told me excitedly when describing her prophetic dream. “You were very happy,” she said. “You were walking down my hallway carrying a baby in your arms. It was wrapped in a blue shawl!”

    Why was I at her house if I’d just had a baby? I asked. Where was my husband? She didn’t know, my sister said sadly.

    I didn’t care about having a baby but liked the thought that I’d recover. I was 39. I never considered meeting a man at a detox joint where nearly every denizen had Fish Rot.

    Read it here.

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