The Case of the Empty Inbox

The Vast Unknown In December, I submitted five short stories to small literary presses and journals for potential publication. One sent me a rejection within a week, but the rest took their time. Four months later, I had received one new rejection, leaving three still looking over my work or letting it rust in a fat stack of emails from countless other writers.

Curious about the long wait, I looked up each remaining journal to check the reading periods, see if they posted information about a delay, or (I vainly hoped) had published my work and simply forgot to tell me. I remembered that one journal had not sent a confirmation email, and I discovered that it was no longer active, and indeed no longer available. Their links on databases for writers only took me to empty Could Not Be Found pages. Information about it existed on other sites, blogs, and five-year-old lists of calls for submissions, but the journal itself was simply gone. I know it was up and running in December when I sat at a cold kitchen table adjusting my cover letter and drinking Christmas-gift coffee. It’s not surprising that small online journals struggle, even stop publishing, but what would prompt it to vanish from the face of the Internet?

Somewhere in the foggy bays of the web sits an email containing a short story, a cover letter, and my name at the bottom. Is it still drifting along in the electronic waves, lost forever? Did it find itself to the inbox before the editors abandoned their little island? Did anybody bother to unpack the document in its cargo? Did other emails not make it in time and drift away into the darkness? I once read a sample of short stories and poems from this journal, not only defunct but scuttled and drowned, without proof that anybody once perused its archives, and it’s a bit spooky. I will probably never know why the little journal disappeared. The mystery may go unsolved forever.


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