My Sister’s Gift

by Jeff Friedman

Jeff Friedman

We’re in the living room when my sister coughs up another fish. “Get that fish,” my mother orders, “and throw it in the ice box.” The fish flips and flops and slips out of my grasp, but eventually I trap it with a small metal wastebasket. I dump the fish in the freezer with the other fish my sister has coughed up. In the living room, my mother is reading the same book she is always reading, and my sister lies on the couch, perhaps fatigued from letting out another fish. “What’s the matter with her?” I ask. “Nothing,” my mother answers. “She just occasionally coughs up a fish.” My sister pops up with a pillow in her hand. “Mother says I’m gifted.” She giggles, proud of herself. “Don’t you think we should do something about this,” I ask my mother. She inserts her bookmark and places the book on the stand and then removes her black cat-eye glasses. “Why,” she says, “the fish are pretty good, dinner-sized and tasty. Your sister is saving us money on our grocery bill with her gift.” “What if she coughs up a fish at school,” I ask. “Everyone will ridicule her mercilessly.” My sister punches me on the arm softly. “No, they won’t. You should see some of the things they cough up.” My mother tells me to mind my own business and that it wouldn’t hurt me to contribute something to the family budget. Then I feel a tickling in my throat and a cough trying to leap out, so I keep my mouth shut for the rest of the morning.

Last updated September 19, 2022