On Safely Feeding My Family in the Wake of the 1919 Botulism Outbreak

by Lisa Fox

The children played quietly, despite their hunger.

My fingers lingered on the slight dent in the can of Wilson’s Certified Beef, the smooth curvature an unprovoked sneer. I checked the bare pantry again, willing a replacement for a meal intended to last three nights.

But now?

That toxin, “botulism”, had poisoned olives retrieved from damaged cans.

Olives. An unaffordable delicacy.

Not this. Not here.

I squeezed the opener, puncturing metal. Twisted the key. Released the lid.

A briny aroma wafted from the slick, pink meat. Unblemished, without a speck of black or green.

It had to be safe.


About the author

About me: Lisa Fox is a pharmaceutical market researcher by day and fiction writer by night. She thrives in the chaos of suburbia, residing in New Jersey (USA) with her husband, two sons, and Double-Doodle puppy. Her work has been featured in Metaphorosis, New Myths, Brilliant Flash Fiction, and Flash Fiction Magazine, among other journals and anthologies. You can find Lisa and her published work via her website: lisafoxiswriting.com or on Twitter @iamlisafox10800.

About the illustration

The illustration is an antique photograph, ca. 1905. Provenance unknown.