Mistress Mickle is the name given to the villainess of a children’s TV show, acted by Jenny Early, the primary character in Elizabeth McCracken‘s short story, “Mistress Mickle All at Sea.” The acting job seems a good gig, but fashion designer Kate Spade had a good gig too and she committed suicide in 2018.

While sailing from Rotterdam back to her home in England, Mistress Mickle thinks of killing herself. She has only former lovers and no husband and no children, albeit life has offered her sex and privacy. There has been some deprivation in her privacy. A more or less pleasant ending occurs in this splendid success of a story, which is also about people’s separation from belief and God. In Rotterdam, for example, Mistress Mickle visits her stepbrother—a miserable f**kup. “It was as though fucking up were his religion,” McCracken writes, “and he was always looking for a more authentic experience of it.” How’s that for a separation from God?