One hundred words doesn’t give an author a lot of wiggle room, but allows a brief snapshot into a character’s story. If given more space, where would you see this story developing?
I’d like to see the protagonist leaving that hotel holding her head up, with more confidence than she started with. Something in the way she’s handled the breakup has improved her image of herself.
For readers enjoying this story, what work of yours would you recommend for them to read next?
Another, longer, story—on a similar theme, I now realize—is entitled Monster, and appears in the anthology Imagining Monsters (2019). Not all monsters are fictional.
by Gabi Coatsworth
Paris, November. My married lover booked a room at the posh hotel and arrived before me. In the lobby, I blinked. Too much gilt.
I knew the Chanel and Dior-dressed Frenchwomen were all assessing my off-the-peg clothes as I crossed the marble floor to the front desk.
With a supercilious stare, the clerk dialed the room number for me.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m here.”
“I will descend, cherie.”
To my level.
By a potted palm, I tried to make myself invisible. The scent of L’Interdit and cigars reminded me I was out of my league. I would never fit in. Too much guilt.
* * *
Gabi Coatsworth is an award-winning British-born writer and blogger. She’s active in the Connecticut writing community and runs several groups for writers. Her essays, short fiction, and poetry have been published in anthologies and literary journals, both in print and online. Her long fiction is represented by Joelle Delburgo Associates.
by Robert Tomaino
Pebbles crunched under Jonathan Connery’s boots as he walked up to his parents’ front door. He hated returning home for the holidays. The classic suburban ranch reminded him of a life now foreign. The child who had grown up here, a different person.
He raised a fist to knock, but hesitated. It had been so long. Conner brought his hand down.
“Conner? I thought my name was Connery?”
The writer paused, frowning. “Just a typo. Keep going.”
“Whatever,” Connery said. Or was it Conner? He sighed.
He didn’t know who he was anymore.
* * *
Robert Tomaino is a writer, editor, and consultant. He provides editorial support, guidance, and strategic consultation to nonprofit patient advocacy organizations and pharmaceutical companies. His fiction writing covers a much broader range, from the fantastical to the commonplace. His first novel, New Madrid, is due out in October from Woodhall Press.
by Jason Herrington
Hundreds of suns taken from hundreds of worlds, distilled down to gleaming palm-sized spheres—glowing orbs destined to adorn mantles and bookshelves and tabletops and headboards. This was the crux of Caelen’s gift, and his curse. A compulsion that sent him on endless journeys across light years of space and time to snatch away the life force of distant worlds and reduce them to globed graveyards devoid of life, populated with lost dreams. Why? Because suns not only nourished life, they were life; beams of beauty, radiating, animating. Caelen had to have them for himself, no matter how selfish it was. Everyone needed a hobby.
* * *
Jason Herrington is a recent transplant to Colorado who discovered a passion for writing after years of blogging. He now spends his time writing pieces of photo-inspired fiction for Instagram and working on novels. You can find his social media pages and a handful of creepy short stories at jmherrington.com.
by Marc Littman
Before the last skyrockets burst, Tim gathered all of the mini Fourth of July flags a realtor had stuck on his neighbors’ lawns.
“Saving those for next year?” Old Man Wilson quizzed the little boy.
“I’m on a secret mission,” Tim evaded the inquisition. Loaded with blazing color, Tim disappeared into his backyard. There, he reverently planted the flags before seeking more.
After the yard erupted in patriotic fervor, Tim slipped inside the back bedroom and hoisted his paralyzed brother, a war veteran, in his bed so he could experience America’s birthday. The brother smiled, raised a palsied hand, and saluted.
* * *
Marc Littman's short stories have been widely published in online magazines and anthologies from 50-Word Stories to The Saturday Evening Post. He also writes novels and plays.
by Melissa Marie Keeping
“Are you sure I don’t have any visitors today, Nurse Annie?” Gerard asked as Annie cleaned up his meal.
“Not today, Gerard.”
“That’s very strange. I didn’t have any visitors yesterday either.”
Annie explained that no one could have visitors, as she had every day for the past year.
Gerard looked crestfallen. “I’m awfully lonely.”
“Can we eat dinner together in the dining room tonight?”
“I’m afraid not.” The mask over Annie’s mouth hid her sad expression.
Gerard looked down at his wrinkled hands. It was the aliens who were keeping everyone from him. He’d seen the parietal eyes above Annie’s mask.
* * *
Melissa Marie Keeping is a writer and mom of four from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her children's book, Griffin in the Spring, is now available.
by Nick Hahn
My name is Yesterday. A funny name, don’t ya think? I’m second born in a family of nine. I guess I should be happy ’bout that, my siblings have numbers. I’m number two but Mama called me Yesterday. I guess she thought I was something special?
We, none of us, knew who our Daddy was or even if it was the same Daddy. In bayou country, Daddies came and Daddies went. Ain’t many of them with a last name, that’s why the numbering system caught on.
Yesterday ain’t so bad for a name except it makes me think of leftovers.
* * *
Nick Hahn is a published author. Under The Skin is his first novel. He studied creative writing at Notre Dame and Yale and trained as an audiobook narrator with Johnny Heller, award-winning voice actor, in his NY studio. Nick has 20 titles published on Audible and his novel on Amazon.
When You Wish Upon a Star
by Ann Christine Tabaka
It was a beautiful night. Jan leaned out her window to look at the stars. She noticed a falling star and made a wish. Then she saw another, and another. Panic ensued as, one by one, all the stars started falling from the sky like rain. People everywhere ran out into the streets, screaming and running to their places of worship, but it was too late.
The moon started growing larger while turning dark red. It started to drip blood as it spun around to face the earth. His grinning, demonic face appeared as the night filled with evil laughter.
* * *
Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in poetry. Winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, has been internationally published. Her bio is featured in the “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020,” published by Sweetycat Press. She is the author of 13 poetry books. She has micro-fiction in several anthologies, and published flash fiction.
Strangers at a Funeral
by V.P. Morris
They opted for a closed casket. But I keep my eyes down anyway.
I must look like I’m mourning when I’m actually celebrating. Crying when I’m actually laughing. Anguished when I’m actually thankful.
Thankful car accidents are common. Thankful she liked to bend her red convertible a little too fast around corners. Thankful no one saw me that morning.
I sit down next to him and glide something small and tubular into his palm: a severed section of brake line.
“What are you doing? Someone will see!” he hisses.
“Relax,” I reply. “As far anyone can tell, we’re just strangers at a funeral.”
* * *
V.P. Morris is an award-winning thriller and horror writer and podcast host. Her interest in true crime and criminal psychology inspired her debut novel, ShadowCast. When she isn’t writing, she is enjoying her time with her husband, son, and their rescue dog, Oscar.
Oh no, I thought, please don’t bring me chocolates. You always buy the kind you like and not the kind I like. I have to look pleased and pretend. We’re always pretending. We both hate Valentine’s Day, yet we celebrate it. Why? Why not forget cards, candy, and the rest. What if St. Valentine, chocolates, red hearts, and Hallmark cards disappeared?
Remember grade school? It became a contest. If you only got one card, or none, so sad, so sad. Such an awful day. Can we forget it this year?
I love you. You love me. Let’s have hot dogs.
* * *
Rosemary Williams, a former banker and financial planner, is Founder and Executive Director of Women’s Perspective. She creates and conducts workshops, classes, and retreats and has designed transformational travel programs to Haiti, Bosnia, and Kenya. Her book, A Woman's Book of Money and Spiritual Vision is available on Amazon.
Machine Learning VII
by Gary Beck
Cameras are getting brains
that were once like eyes
disconnected from intelligence,
just taking pictures.
As long as it’s not connected to the internet
it probably won’t spy for Big Brother.
But what about other spying?
It’s one thing to monitor your kids
to keep them out of trouble,
but you don’t want a nosey lens
poking into your private business,
monitoring the upstairs bathroom.
You certainly don’t want an A.I. camera
observing your neighbors
deciding what to record,
leaving us concerned
the only safe cameras
will be dumb cameras.
* * *
Gary Beck spent his life as a theater director. He has had published 33 poetry collections, 13 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 3 books of plays. He lives in NYC.
A Valentine's Day Poem to my Best Self
by Jennifer A. Minotti
You have a gorgeous smile
people tell you and after all these years
you finally believe them--
You have a great ass
especially in jeans
although you lament that it is too big
to which your husband always disagrees--
You appreciate your face
and it has served you well
even the new scars to remove skin cancer--
Your hair is beautiful
although you wear it up
because you don’t like the added attention--
You love others with great abandon
even though you have been burned
too many times to count.
* * *
Jennifer A. Minotti is currently a Writer-in-Residence at the Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University and a PhD student at Lesley University. She graduated from Boston University (B.S.) and Columbia University (M.A., M.Ed) and is the Founder of the Journal of Expressive Writing. She lives with her family in Cambridge, MA.
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 ScribesMICRO, 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.