By Natalie Schriefer

Emilia, from HR, calls at noon. They’re closing the magazine. Print costs are too high, particularly since four of Riverside Connect’s advertisers declined to renew their contracts. Though my efforts to connect with new clients are both noted and appreciated, the company doesn’t foresee any sales, not with the closures and stay-at-home orders.

“I’m sorry,” Emilia says, “but these are unprecedented times.”

I’ve recited the same thing to every business voicemail north of Main Street these past two weeks: Keep your business relevant in these unprecedented times—advertise with Riverside Connect. No one has called me back. “I understand,” I say, like this call is just another sale gone wrong. “Thank you for your time.”

Emilia hangs up. My office is quiet—no phone, no keyboard—and I can hear the hum of a car as it passes by the front of the house, its engine rumbling into silence. In the stillness that follows I feel the heartbeat of something new—something unscripted, something all me.


Natalie Schriefer received her MFA from Southern Connecticut State University. Her short-shorts have appeared in 50-Word Stories, Nanoism, Cuento Magazine, and others. She works as a freelance writer and editor. Home base:

5 thoughts on “Relief”

  1. Wow. This hit close to home for me…actually, not just close to, but IN my home.

    “I feel the heartbeat of something new—something unscripted…”

    Beautiful words. Encouraging words. Yes, “RELIEF” often comes in ways we don’t expect. Because there is hope in the new and unknown and the starting over!

    1. Thank you 🙂 This year has been all sorts of unpredictable, but even in that unknown there is always a hope for something better. Fingers crossed that the second half of 2020 is better for everyone!

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