Monday, July 20, 2015

It Brought Us All Together, by Marissa Lingen

Strange Horizons, July 2015

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2015/20150713/together-f.shtml

At an unstated time in the near future, a fungal plague has broken out and is a major threat. It kills quickly, and it killed Andrea's parents, who were scientists studying it. She's now living with her aunts and her cousin Oswald, and attending the same high school Oswald attends. Andrea is dealing with her grief in her own way, which is much, much quieter than her aunts expect. Oswald has, so far, not told anyone at school that her parents were killed by the fungal plague.

Then one of their fellow students dies of it, and the school is filled with noisy grief.

Andrea has to cope with that noisy grief while dealing with her own, and with her cousin letting slip her very personal connection to the disease.

This was in some ways a tough story for me to read. I'm dealing with grief right now myself, and quite a few people who really care and are trying to help seem to expect me to break down. They ask me how I'm doing, and don't seem to know what to make of answers like "I'm okay," or "I'm hanging in there." But I still have to get through every day, and I was taught not to let my emotions become a problem other people have to deal with. When I do break that rule, it doesn't go well.

My sympathies are totally with Andrea, who only lets some of her own grief be known when the real friends of the dead girl need to know they're not alone.

Some will question whether this story is really "science fiction." That's fine. It's a good story, regardless of how you classify it for genre purposes.

Recommended.