First Contact

on of my favorite flash fiction writer friends is sharing his amazing work in honor of his 40th birth-year. lots of marvelous pieces for all of you flash-fiction lovers!

MY 40

When the aliens arrived, we asked the scientists to figure out what they had come for first.

We asked the science fiction writers next.

We should have asked the poets sooner. They came for love.

“First Contact” was originally published in 2018 by Cuento Magazine, which has retweeted it as one of eight stories from its first eight years as part of its anniversary celebration.

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Review: Kindra M. Austin’s For You, Rowena, by Mariah Voutilainen

i’m back with a new review! please take a look at this intriguing novella by Kindra M. Austin. you won’t be disappointed!

INDIE BLU(E)

Kindra Austin’s For You, Rowena uncovers a mystery about love and relationships, and how loss can come back to haunt you.

By Mariah Voutilainen

Given a choice of literary genres, mystery is never my first to pick up.  Perhaps it is the constant and nagging question in the back of my mind: “How did the author create such a puzzle that I can’t immediately solve?”  The details, perfectly interlocking, lead to an ending that is usually satisfying, but leaves me somehow disappointed with my own inability to catch the culprit before the final chapter, or worse, obsessing about tiny clues in an attempt to solve the crime.  For You, Rowena was a different type of mystery for me:  I didn’t wonder so much at the intricacies of how a crime was planned or carried out; Kindra Austin set the scene and created characters so fascinating and sympathetic that the only…

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no. 106

preserved

today you brought me written words instead of flowers

each syllable a precious petal, pearly

i would not let them wither,

rather than putting them in a heart-shaped vase

cut crystal emotions amplifying their blooming declarations

i took those words, cut them from their papery confines

with delicate embroidery scissors, exquisite in their sharpness

and with the caution of a philatelist, used miniature tongs

to affix them in a most secret of stores

a diary in which i documented all your acts

 

(which some say should speak louder)

 

words, simple yet somehow convoluted

but yours instead of mine

i pressed them like single windblown wildflowers

preserved, stamp-like, between pages

they are more valuable to me

than bouquets

(written 11 september 2018)

flash fiction: another mystery to continue?

hello dear readers,

here’s the beginning of another short mystery…truthfully, i’m not really sure where it’s going to go, but i thought i would throw it out here and see if that motivates me to continue writing.  i don’t even know if this snippet is enough to begin…the Inspector in this story is the very same as in “A strange morning in the neighborhood“.

 

A shock in the parlor

Jones was always too little, too late.  Never could remember or settle upon a time in which inadequacy was not a defining theme of his life.

Except when it came to Dr. Missus Jones.  Yes, his polar opposite, Dr. Missus.  A shining example of humanity.

Her love for him was not without gentle judgement; she kept him in his place, grounded, but with a tether long enough to allow him to indulge in his own shortcomings.  The daydreaming, tardiness, absentminded qualities of his existence.

And so, when Jones walked into the living room, mouth already halfway around an excuse, it took a full minute to register the scene before him.

His mouth dropped open mid-syllable, then widened into a grimace.

A low moan, like something out of a walruses’ maw, escaped.

No.  The word sucked the air from his lungs.  There was Dr. Missus, sprawled on the floor, cooked-noodle limbs at odd angles.

One satin slipper languishing near the tapestried settee, the painted toenails of its foot seemed to indict Jones for his late arrival.

Jones crawled along the edge of the rug, attempting to assess the state of his wife without actually touching her body.  It was then that he noticed the blood and realized that even emergency medicine could not save her, for she had been neatly dispatched by a garrote.  The offending tool had been thrown haphazardly to the floor just shy of the rug’s tassels.

Jones felt nauseous and managed to scramble on all fours to the kitchen, where he promptly vomited on the parquet flooring.  Without amending his position, he reached for his cellular phone, dialing the police.

Suffice it to say that the paramedics and police arrived quickly and an immediate investigation began with Jones.

What time did you arrive home?

Where were you before you arrived?

How long was your commute?

Can any one verify your whereabouts?

Did your wife have any enemies or outstanding debts?

Is there anyone you know who would want to kill your wife?

Jones just stood there, monotone answers occasionally punctuated by the walrus moan, which caused the interrogators to eye him with concern.  Soon the duty officers departed, suggesting he contact loved ones and consider staying somewhere else for the evening.

And just as they were leaving, the Inspector walked in.  She met the eyes of the officer speaking to Jones with her cool stare, and he stumbled over his words.  After a pause, he deferred to his superior,

The inspector will speak with you now, Mr. Jones.  Our deepest condolences.  He beat a hasty retreat toward the wide open front door to make room for the Inspector.

Did you love your wife, Mr. Jones? The Inspector’s question caught him unawares.  He looked down at his work-worn hands before he faced the Inspector,

Of course I did. She was my safe haven. He groaned again, tears escaping the corners of his eyes.

I’ll take a look around, if you don’t mind.  The Inspector did not wait for the affirmative response.

When the Inspector left the premises about an hour later, there was a small huddle of officers waiting for her.  They looked at her expectantly, murmuring to each other

The old gal’s looking quite confident there, isn’t she?

She’s got it all tied up in a neat package now, for sure!
Wonder when she’ll make her report, mebbe tomorrow?

The Inspector ignored all the talk and made her way past the subordinates.  Her pace quickened as she exited the front gate and moments later, she was cocooned in the smells of automobile leather and artificial lavender air freshener.  Of course it would start to drizzle now, but at least she was dry.  She took a deep but shaky breath and reviewed her handwritten notes.  Perhaps it would take a few days, but she was certain she could solve this crime, and she was certain the guilty party was not far off.

no. 105

friendship

when the universe was building its frame

knotting its warp, choosing its weft

amongst the threads i imagine

there were two, side by side

it split them apart, chuckling

these ones are too similar for the same path

and so they were placed in different piles

 

but somehow

while the universe was busy weaving

fate entered with its whimsy

the two threads were so long, variegated

these are compatible,  said fate, and twined them

foiling the universe’s plans to keep them parallel

they twisted and turned, and finally crossed

 

the universe did not notice

so that silken weave remained uninterrupted

even as the meeting of those errant threads charged an explosion

which rendered the cloth more intricately, infinitely beautiful

the stealthy secret that fate planted came to fruition

when we met on that preordained day and time

and became friends forever

(written 11 june 2018)

Mariah Voutilainen reviews Christine Ray’s Composition of a Woman

if you haven’t already, please take a look at my review of Christine Ray’s Composition of a Woman. her book of poetry is a must-read!

INDIE BLU(E)

Christine E. Ray’s Composition of a Woman invites readers to see what a woman is truly made of

By: Mariah Voutilainen

“Betrayal is an inside job” writes poet Christine E. Ray in her debut Composition of a Woman, which will be released July 31st by Sudden Denouement Press.   Ray, who unabashedly displays her “inner badass” on her blog Brave & Reckless, is no new-comer to the indie writing scene.  Careful contemplation went into the organization and creation of this volume, and as such, it speaks to Ray’s decades of experience in writing, years spent editing in the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, and curating in the writer collectives she helped to found, Go Dog Go Café and Indie Blu(e).  In poems strung together like delicate bones, Ray has crafted a personal story that sometimes hinges on the idea of betrayal, but also on the inner strength…

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no. 104

i miss you already

it’s cliché, but i miss you already, even though I’ve not yet left

your eyes, blue skies, with their cloudy cataracts of nostalgia

the music of your voice, its alveolar trill and sibilance render me bereft

i have begun, preemptively, to pull away, embrace melancholia

 

the deep lakes of emotion that reside within your border

they fill my heart with longing though i may still bathe in their waves

i cannot escape this sadness hemming me inside of your wild order

the birches and tar pines of your arms afford me the embrace i crave

 

please console me, tell me i do not have to go so far away

that i mustn’t strip you from my soul in order to survive the pain of leaving

tell me you’ll always be here, unchanged, so that someday

i can return to your forests, your lakes, your streets, without grieving

 

but i know this is not possible and that is why my cheeks are wet

you’ll change and grow, you’ll move beyond me as you do

and so i’ll gaze upon your face glad i must not leave just yet

when i return i know my face will be unfamiliar to you too

 

more than 1000 nights i have slept in your cocoon

does that mean that you’ve become a part of my very essence

a scent that never leaves my skin

or will you slowly drift away, slip like silk from my memory

fade in the sunlight and misty rain of my new abode?

(written 3 june 2018)