“Melinoë” Microfiction by Maria Balbi

Hours after the accident, the campfire’s lights give my kindergarten class hazy features.

“Bedtime Story!” Maggie wipes ashes from her face.

“Mother of Ghosts!” Tommy rubs his eyes.

In my feverish state, I repeat, to keep the kids calm, the collector of souls’ local legend.

Silent flashlights twinkle among the trees.

Is it the search party?

A slight puff of smoke emanates from Tommy’s arm.

Crude barking approaches.

Dense mist engulfs the kids.

“She is here.” Maggie coughs.

An ethereal veiled woman opens her arms as they join her entourage of unburied.

Our corpses are still burning inside the bus.


Maria Balbi (She/Her) is an Argentinean Psychologist living in Buenos Aires with a grumpy cat named Benito and a tendency to abuse Dulce de Leche. Her works were published in HellHound Magazine and Friday Flash Fiction.  @alejandrabalbi9


Interview with Marcelo Medone

Marcelo Medone

Marcelo Medone (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1961) is a medical doctor, lyric tenor singer, painter, journalist, fiction writer, poet and screenwriter. His fiction and poetry has received awards and has been published in reviews and editions in various languages in more than 20 countries, in Latin America, USA, Canada, Spain, France, Nigeria, India and Australia. He currently lives in San Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.


Bio:

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1961 and was raised in nearby Montevideo,
Uruguay, where I resided till I was 27, when I moved back to Buenos Aires. (I have dual
citizenship: Argentinian and Uruguayan.) I started writing and became a journalist in
Montevideo, working for newspapers and magazines and also on radio. I studied and
became a Medical Doctor in Uruguay and I specialized in Pediatrics in Argentina. I
married, had three children and got divorced. I started singing as a tenor in choirs, studied
cinematography and became a screenwriter, then I dedicated myself to painting. Now I
continue singing, painting, writing and cherishing my children. I currently live in San
Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

In 2009 I earned my first international writing prize with my book “Nada menos que
Juan” (“Nothing Less than Juan”), that was published in Spanish in most of Latin
America, and in Portuguese for the Brazilian market. Since then, I have been published
more than a hundred times in 27 countries, in various languages, thanks to the fact that I
write in English, Portuguese and French in addition to Spanish. The list of places include
Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Spain, France, England, Nigeria, India
and Australia, as well as California, Texas, Illinois and now Arizona in the United States.
Most of these publications are flash fiction and short stories, but my poetry has been
published in 10 countries, so far.

Why do you write?

It is the same urgency that I have with singing or painting. I want to express myself and
produce something that I presume beautiful out of nothing. I read a lot (mostly books in
Spanish and English) and I also watch a lot of movies. And very often I find masterpieces
that inspire me or, on the other hand, good ideas badly executed that trigger my own
writings, in short fiction, poetry or even screenwriting.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks,
traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something
before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I try to write every day, even when I’m on call at the hospital or in my private office,
making annotations in medical prescription pads. I devote three days a week to my
medical profession and four days to writing. Sometimes a story or a poem comes right
away, but most often I read it and revise it many times until I know that it is good
enough, even along many weeks or months. I write in my notebook and keep many of the
intermediate or alternate versions of my writings. Sometimes a short story has two or
three different endings. Sometimes I take a short screen script I have written long ago and transform it in a story or a chapter of a novel. There are some editors that help me but
only when I am sending material to be published with them. In the last two decades, I
participated in many literary workshops as a member. Since 2019, I take part in the
literary workshop coordinated by a great writer, editor and friend of mine named Sergio
Gaut vel Hartman (you can Google him). I upload some of the stories to his workshop
and we discuss them, which often results in better versions.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish
them?

I live alone and, besides the literary workshop, I rarely ask for a second opinion. When I
send a story or a poem to a magazine or to an editor and it is eventually rejected, I revise
it and try to find a reason for the rejection. Sometimes I rewrite it for better. Other times,
I find a most situable destination for it.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

So far, I have written four novels that remain unpublished, the last, a thriller titled
“Wolves and Rabbits”. And I am now writing what I am sure it will be my best novel,
titled “Open Ties”, in which each chapter may function as a separate story, but all
together they constitute a coherent whole, in the style of the great collection of stories
“The Burning Plain” by Mexican Juan Rulfo, one of my favorite authors, alongside Jorge
Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Levrero and Ernest
Hemingway. And I have finished my last feature film script titled “After the Tremor”, in
which a low intensity earthquake shakes a great city and as a consequence a series of
stories intermingle in unexpected ways. Its tagline is “Do you need an earthquake to get
your life shaken?” I have registered the script and I am actively looking for producers.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being
published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or
talks?

I’ve been interviewed many times in the past, for literary and cultural magazines,
newspapers, and radio programs, and participated in various speeches in book fairs or
most recently in teleconferences by Zoom or Google Meet. I have more than fifty works
awaiting verdict in contests around the world and a dozen waiting to be published in the
next months.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I hope to find an original way of telling the same old stories, the same old themes that
have always moved human beings: love, hatred, power, blood ties and the desire to
transcend death. I always have new projects in mind and I believe that my best work is
yet to be written.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

I’ve always had good reviews. Or maybe I was lucky enough for not finding the bad
ones.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Read a lot and varied. Read books with good and bad reviews, but always with a critical
eye. Write every day, even half an hour. And read out loud what you write, whenever it is
possible. You learn to write by writing, revising and correcting what you have written.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

If you are smart enough, you can decode the process of writing of the best well-known
writers in your language or in good translations and find a way to assimilate it to your
writing. This, as for the form. Then, you must observe everything around you as if you’ve
never seen it before and register the little details that may inspire you and give credibility
to your ideas. And use your imagination.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (web sites, social
media, etc.)

My short fiction, stories and poems are scattered among a large number of anthologies
and magazines around the world, mostly in Spanish. “101 Words”, in Berkeley, has
published me twice so far. Besides, you can find some more by visiting me on social
media: Facebook: Marcelo Medone / Instagram: @marcelomedone


“Curious Tears” Micro Fiction by Marcelo Medone


Lisa was a girl full of vitality, enthusiastic and restless. Innocently, she went to see a fortune teller, who announced that she would inevitably die soon.

She returned home with a shattered soul.

Regretful, Lisa berated herself for her damn curiosity.

Heartbroken, she cried endlessly throughout the night.

In the morning, they found her dry corpse wrapped in tears.


“Imaginary Justice” Flash Fiction by Marcelo Medone

“Thanks to you, Benny, I am now in penance.”

Benny stood still, saying nothing.

“I’ve already explained everything to Mom, but she doesn’t believe me. She keeps telling me that I was the one who damaged the keyboard. She told me that you couldn’t be the one who spilled the milk on the computer.”

“Your mom is right, Harrison.” There are many things I can do, like come into your room, talk to you, dance, sing and walk around the house. But I can’t move things. You have been the clumsy one. You still don’t manage your body well. You’re going to have to learn how to do it, just like you learned to handle your fears and invented me. I am your invention, but I am free.”

“I thought you were my friend! Friends are there to help each other.”

“Your mother can’t see me and she can’t hear me either. The only one who can see me is you.”

“I was chasing you and you got into Daddy’s desk. It was your fault!”

“And what are you going to do? Are you going to put me in penance? I am not afraid of you. But I can stay and keep you company until your mom lets you out of the room.”

Harrison thought for a while. He shook his head disapproving of his friend’s idea.

“No, that’s not enough. It’s not fair that they punish me alone.”

“I apologize. It will not happen again. Friends back? Shall we high five?”

Harrison’s face lit up.

“Sure! I’m going to lock you up.”

Benny sneered at Harrison.

“I go in and out wherever I want. Because I am your imaginary friend.”

“Really? You’ll see!”

Harrison went to the bedroom closet, followed by Benny, and opened the doors wide. Crouched inside was a three-headed reptilian monster, with drooling jaws full of massive teeth and paws razor-sharp claws. Benny stepped back and froze with terror.

Without giving him time to react, the monster pounced on him, grabbed him, and shoved him into the closet. Harrison closed the doors and listened to Benny’s desperate screams, which lasted only a few moments. Then, only the noise of the monster devouring its victim with enthusiasm was heard.

Harrison smiled and told himself that it was great to have an imaginary monster in the closet. The only bad thing was that he was going to have to make up another friend to replace Benny.


Marcelo Medone (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1961) is a medical doctor, lyric tenor singer, painter, journalist, fiction writer, poet and screenwriter. His fiction and poetry has received awards and has been published in reviews and editions in various languages in more than 20 countries, in Latin America, USA, Canada, Spain, France, Nigeria, India and Australia. He currently lives in San Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

“The Exact Same Words” Micro Fiction by Marcelo Medone

“It’s been a long time since you came to visit me,” my mother said, in her best victim voice.

I didn’t want to explain her that my relationship with Alice wasn’t going well and the same thing happened to me at work. I looked helplessly at the bouquet of flowers in my hand.

“You never failed visiting me before” she insisted. “If your father lived, he wouldn’t allow it.”

“Precisely, Dad is dead.”

“Because of you!”

I threw the flowers at my feet, disgusted.

“Death solves all problems,” I said, ending the conversation.

The exact same words I told Alice before hammering her head. And that I told the boss when I showed up at the factory with my AR-15 rifle.

“Bye, Mom,” I muttered.

I walked away from her grave without looking back.


Marcelo Medone (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1961) is a medical doctor, lyric tenor singer, painter, journalist, fiction writer, poet and screenwriter. His fiction and poetry has received awards and has been published in reviews and editions in various languages in more than 20 countries, in Latin America, USA, Canada, Spain, France, Nigeria, India and Australia. He currently lives in San Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

“A New Vision” Micro Fiction by Marcelo Medone

I never liked flies. Perhaps because I associated them with death and illness, with corpses and worms, with the filthiest of the zoological scale.

So, when my Buddhist teacher told me that there was this possibility of reincarnating into a lower being, I panicked.

I changed my lifestyle and I set out to climb the steps of the ladder towards the enlightenment of Nirvana.

I got rid of my belongings and relied on charity.

I meditated fervently.

Even in my last agony, I followed the teachings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead to the letter.

Now, in my new life, I see everything differently with my multifaceted eyes.


Marcelo Medone (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1961) is a medical doctor, lyric tenor singer, painter, journalist, fiction writer, poet and screenwriter. His fiction and poetry has received awards and has been published in reviews and editions in various languages in more than 20 countries, in Latin America, USA, Canada, Spain, France, Nigeria, India and Australia. He currently lives in San Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.