Logo, MacQueen's Quinterly
Listed at Duotrope
MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Microfiction: 328 words
By Daryl Scroggins

On Hold in El Paso


The frail boy stepped back when Lupe Cordero opened her storm door. “What happened to your lip?” she asked. He looked away.

“You must be here for the number,” Lupe said. Romero looked up at her.

“Yes. But they told me it works better on your green phone.”

Lupe opened the door wider. “Adelante,” she said. One more of so many, she thought. Arriving to appeal to the Virgin. When the pay phones in town had been removed—not even a dangling receiver left in the stripped quioscos—an expensive statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe had appeared one day in an empty booth near Stanton Street, between a boxing gym and a tattoo parlor. Nobody daring to take it. The phone there had been the one she used before she got her own phone, to call her mother in Mexico. She would call the hotel and hang up while someone went for her mother, and she would wait there for her to call back at the number she had given. The number for that phone still on her refrigerator.

Lupe and Romero sat at the oilcloth-covered table in her kitchen, the push-button phone between them. “It looks like a toy,” Romero said.

Lupe laughed. “Everything old looks like a toy now,” she said. She gestured for him to try it, and he picked up the receiver. Held it to his ear.

Lupe sometimes asked visitors what they heard. Some would say—nothing—and abruptly leave. Others would appear to listen closely for a while. And then there were the ones who didn’t wait to hear anything as they whispered prayers.

Romero was a listener. A patient listener. Finally, Lupe asked, “¿Qué escuchas?

“It’s like a seashell,” the boy said. “Or wind.”

“So,” Lupe said, half smiling. “It’s like you are on hold.”

“No,” Romero said, never taking the receiver from his ear. “No, it’s not like that. It’s more like—being held.”

Daryl Scroggins
Issue 23 (April 2024)

has taught creative writing and literature at The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of North Texas, and the Writer’s Garret, in Dallas. He now lives in Marfa, Texas. He is the author of This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press), Winter Investments: Stories (Trilobite Press), and Prairie Shapes: A Flash Novel (winner of the 2004 Robert J. DeMott Prose Contest). His poems, short stories, and creative nonfictions have appeared in magazines and anthologies across the country, including Blink Ink, Cutbank, Eastern Iowa Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Star 82 Review, and Third Wednesday, among others.

Copyright © 2019-2024 by MacQueen’s Quinterly and by those whose works appear here.
Logo and website designed and built by Clare MacQueen; copyrighted © 2019-2024.
⚡   Please report broken links to: MacQuinterly [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡

At MacQ, we take your privacy seriously. We do not collect, sell, rent, or exchange your name and email address, or any other information about you, to third parties for marketing purposes. When you contact us, we will use your name and email address only in order to respond to your questions, comments, etc.