To untwist the story—and explore an alternate timeline where this tragedy hadn’t happened—do you think Patrick and Lena would have been successful as a couple? In a world where the news is filled with stories of violence, both personal and impersonal, is there a larger message you hope readers walk away with?
I think that Patrick and Lena were supposed to be a successful couple. However, I think we’ve all had relationships that we truly felt were supposed to work out and for whatever reason they just couldn’t. In my mind, Patrick was completely devoted to Lena but I think my answer to the last question shows that I’m even a little wary of that. I hope that readers will assume that Lena was abducted, not that she voluntarily walked away with someone who did this to her. Patrick won’t even consider that as a possibility.
For readers who enjoyed this story, where else can they find more of your writing?
I have become a regular contributor here at Scribes and encourage readers to flip through looking for my stories like "Lost Contact" and "Trapped" and to keep an eye out in upcoming issues! My first children’s book (Yes, I am this twisted and wrote a children’s book. I promise you’ll be surprised!) is called Griffin in the Spring and it is available at Indigo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and lots of other great places! I’m super friendly on social media—pop by and say hi! @keepingwriting on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok!
by Melissa Marie Keeping
Patrick tore open the package to find a small box and a letter. First he unfolded the letter.
Patrick’s eyes burned. He’d been waiting for this moment since Lena disappeared a month ago. He had dreamed of passionate reunions and feared getting the call or the dreaded Dear John letter. He hadn’t even considered this.
Patrick stumbled to open the small box. Inside was the diamond ring he’d given Lena, still wrapped around her slender finger, red nail polish horribly scratched.
* * *
Melissa Marie Keeping is a writer and mom from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is the author of the children's book Griffin in the Spring and a regular contributor to Scribes*MICRO*Fiction. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok as @keepingwriting.
by Alastair Millar
Chanting fills the air, taking our fear and steadying us for the contest ahead.
I stand with my people, the painted faces and banners of my tribe swaying around me, heads throbbing, bodies running with sweat. Our anger is primal, visceral.
Our enemy's songs are strange and offensive to our ears; we scream defiance skywards as our champions stand forth.
Defeat would break our dreams, bringing unbearable shame and humiliation. But victory here will forge heroes, worshipped as gods among men while their fame spreads across the land.
A sudden, pregnant silence falls.
A whistle blows.
* * *
Alastair Millar is an archaeologist by training, a translator by trade and a nerd by nature. Married with two adult children, he lives north of Prague, Czech Republic, and enjoys good books, bad puns and travelling. Links to his previously published short fiction can be found at https://linktr.ee/alastairmillar.
by Phillip Temples
I look at the city out of the window of my eighth-floor apartment and see new splotches of gray rot turning up everywhere. Last week, the tree next door was in its fall splendor, sporting magnificent shades of red and yellow. Now it’s completely devoid of color. The same with dogs, cats, and half of the bird population. It’s like all the joy is being sucked out of the world. Scientists shrug their shoulders in resignation when asked what’s going on.
I casually wonder about my own fate: the little finger on my right hand has started to turn gray.
* * *
Phillip Temples resides in Watertown, Massachusetts. He's had five mystery-thriller novels, a novella, and two short story anthologies published in addition to over 150 short stories. Phil is a member of New England Science Fiction Association, the Mystery Writers of America and the Bagel Bards. You can learn more about him at https://temples.com.
Father of the Father
by Stuart Watson
Eight months on, she cradled paradox, hands beneath her child to come.
A potter at her wetted wheel, she had spun an egg.
In a far-off place and time before their time, the father to the father cast his seed into a tube. Taller and pleasant to see, he took his fee.
The father and his father put their girl to bed. Laid her in the mother’s lap. They pushed the plunger. Just a tool is all, poking a burr into a dream.
He took his family home. Side by side at the stove, they cooked an omelette for three.
* * *
Stuart Watson wrote for newspapers in Anchorage, Seattle and Portland. For fun and low pay, he and his wife later owned two restaurants. His writing is in more than thirty publications, including Yolk, Barzakh, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Bending Genres, Flash Boulevard, Revolution John, Montana Mouthful, Sledgehammer Lit, Five South and Pulp Modern Flash. He lives in Oregon, with his wife and their amazing dog.
by Sally Wagner
Vulnerable. He stared at the word. The word stared back at him. Luxembourgish had been declared a vulnerable language.
“Twick-ow-tweat!” His daughter’s high-pitched voice awoke him from his trance.
She was dressed in black, a smudged cobweb on her face.
“Look at you! You are a real witch!” he exclaimed and lifted her onto the counter. Trick-or-treat. The American Liichtmëssdag.
“You know what this is called?” he asked, pointing at her face.
She pressed her index finger against her cheek, smudging the paint some more.
“Cobweb,” she mumbled.
“Yes, cobweb! Or Spaweck, in Luxembourgish.”
Vulnerable. Vulnerable was not yet extinct.
* * *
Sally Wagner is a student and aspiring writer, living in Luxembourg. Her micros have been published in Microfiction Monday Magazine and 50-Word Stories.
by B.G. Smith
The homeless guy I knew as "Jersey" was gone—only blankets and a shopping cart remained. I left the hot cup of coffee and sausage biscuit on a vacant park bench and drove around town searching for him, only to hear the repeated response: "Haven't seen him in a while."
Jersey once told me he served in Afghanistan and saw “some bad shit” and “struggled with civilian life.” His wife left with his daughter a few years ago.
I knew the statistics but refused to accept them. Today, I picture Jersey pushing his little girl on a swing in a big backyard. Both are smiling from ear to ear.
* * *
B.G. Smith studied creative writing at American Military University. He enjoys writing flash fiction and drinking coffee, usually at the same time. B.G. is a married father of four boys and a lifelong fan of Philadelphia professional sports teams. His stories have appeared in Friday Flash Fiction, Microfiction Monday Magazine, The Drabble, and Scribes*MICRO*Fiction.
She doesn’t want me to write. She hates the clutter, chaos of first drafts. She wants the words to come like quarter notes in a playful melody.
I spend my hours chained to library chairs, nose to books, lungs barely exhaling beneath the quiet roar of pages turning, fingers typing, brains churning. I sit down with my silver laptop, listen to her scream, “It’s not enough. You’re not enough!” until she’s hoarse.
Finally, I cobble together a draft, wink at Perfectionism, and ask, “Isn’t that the messiest, most delicious pile of words?”
All she can do is give me the middle finger.
* * *
Bethany Jarmul is a writer and work-from-home mom. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.
by John Grey
This is never at its best
in a storm.
ponds in the road,
rivers and creeks
Drains are as useless
as a party hat at a funeral.
no Horatio defending the bridge,
folds at the first strafing.
I get soaked walking two blocks.
And my car balks
where the road’s half-drowned,
like a cowardly horse at a water-jump.
I slosh my way to my front door
to be greeted by my wife exclaiming,
"The flowers are gonna love this."
It’s just like a disaster
to be a gift to some
* * *
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves On Pages, Memory Outside The Head and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.
Inexpensive Gadget I Can Not Do Without Is
by Marlou Newkirk
a vegetable peeler six inches
the length of my hand
with one-half inch serrated blades.
Lickety-split off comes the peel,
the tough, bitter coating of a cucumber.
It makes short work of a carrot until
nothing's left but a carrot twig.
And then in a jiffy there are mounds
of zucchini noodles.
To take the skin off
or not to take the skin off
is a potato lover’s dilemma.
If decide to take off, then will be left with
clean white or sweet orange taters.
It is small, but it is mighty.
* * *
Marlou Newkirk is the recipient of five Connecticut Press Club awards. She has just had published a book of poems, This and That and an Ice Cream Sundae: Reflections in Poems from Age 86. She has a doctorate in education from Columbia University.
by Mary Keating
his lightness of being
when the sun’s too lazy
to climb very far
above the horizon
Amid the holidays’ twinkle
and sparkle, the night
wraps him into
a cyclical cocoon
where he will barely eat
his steadfast wife
whose loneliness will flow
into rivers of sorrow
dammed by hope
But even hope can’t
hold a constant deluge
When he re-emerges
with the energized sun,
he’ll have missed her
little bits of heaven--
the moments of happiness
she’ll craft from emptiness
She won’t mention
how her poetry saved
a surrogate sun
* * *
Mary Keating is a disabled writer and lawyer with a solo practice in Darien, CT. Her writing appears in New Mobility magazine, Wordgathering, and Medium.com. Mary lives with her husband, Dan and their lab, Sunshine, in Connecticut.
The Poets' Salon
If you're looking for more poetry, including a place to read your work, receive critiques, and explore poetic forms, check out The Poets' Salon. Two editors of Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, Edward Ahern and Alison McBain, run this free poetry workshop.
Meetings take place on the second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon EST via Zoom. More info, including how to sign up for the poetry workshop, can be found on The Poets' Salon website or via Meetup.