The Black River Chapbook Competition Winner

The Missing Girl

Publication Date: September 2017


Winner of the Spring 2016 Black River Chapbook Competition

A driver lures a young girl into his car.
A woman recalls a not-so-innocent childhood game.
A man reveals much more than he’ll ever tell the police.
After a high school girl is murdered, everyone has an opinion.
A girl wakes beside a dumpster to find slut scrawled on her body-and that’s not the worst thing that happened last night.
A girl speaks up after a crime-but is she telling the truth? And could you blame her if she’s not?

The girls who populate Jacqueline Doyle’s The Missing Girl have vanished. Or their childhoods have gone missing. In Doyle’s collection of flash fictions, the voicelessness of the missing is palpable, the girls’ stories whispered into a vacuum or recounted from the point of view of a predator, murderer, or voyeur. Violence lurks below the surface here, haunts the back pages of newspapers, takes up residence in your dreams.

You know a missing girl.


You can see her in your mind’s eye, perky smile dimming, fear dawning in her eyes. Yes, you feel like you know this girl. Just the kind to go missing. Awkward and shy. Inexperienced and eager. Tender, playing brave. Dirt poor. You know. The kind of girl who’ll step right into your car if you call her pretty.

Him you’re not so sure of. Cowboy hat and a Silverado pickup? Baseball cap and a Mustang? Or a Tahoe maybe, black and sprayed with mud. You can’t see his face. He could be anyone, after all. But you can feel the tingle in his groin when he saw her, how his breath must have quickened. You drive this way a lot, wondering where he picked her up, where he took her, what he did, whether she liked it. Eula Johnson.

Jerrold Road is empty today. Birds gather in one of the tall, bare trees by the roadside, jabbering. Dead leaves whirl in the wake of a chilly gust of wind. Yellow grass. Gray sky. Not a car in sight. Just a girl in a gray sweatshirt, hood up against the cold, walking.

Slow way down and hit the button for the passenger window.

Go ahead, say it. “Hey pretty girl, want a lift?”


Full of sex, lies, and vivid insights into the human compulsion to do the wrong thing, these stories go down easy but hit hard. A powerful and provocative collection.

-Frances Lefkowitz, author of TO HAVE NOT

In these dark and edgy stories, Jacqueline Doyle has made a dispassionate study of the degradation of girls and the twisted hearts of those who harm them. Most chilling is the ease with which these characters fall prey to violence and how quickly depravity finds its way past the surface of ordinary situations. Prepare to be very disturbed.

-Elizabeth McKenzie, author of MACGREGOR TELLS THE WORLD and THE PORTABLE VEBLEN (2016 National Book Award Finalist)

Jacqueline Doyle knows where you live. The stories in her collection, THE MISSING GIRL, have your address and even after the first read (and you will be back, she knows that), these stories will be moving in to stay. Whatever your usual role in a culture with an undeniable instinct for violence, Doyle’s writing lures you to do more than dismiss it, more than abhor it, and yet this isn’t a welcome to merely spectate, there is nothing gratuitous here unless life itself is gratuitous. In fact, Doyle has found the thread through that menace that surrounds us and is in us and is calling you in to hold onto your bit of it, to witness. Here, Doyle choreographs the everyday dance between safety and terror, between taking the chances we need to live and not living at all. THE MISSING GIRL is a masterful work and a must read.

-Tupelo Hassman, author of girlchild

Dark, haunting, relevant, cohesive, and incredibly well conceived. I absolutely loved THE MISSING GIRL.

-Simone Muench, author of WOLF CENTOS, TRACE, and ORANGE CRUSH

About the Author

© Monica Michelle

Jacqueline Doyle

Jacqueline Doyle's flash has appeared or will soon appear in Hotel Amerika, Quarter After Eight, PANK, Monkeybicycle, Sweet, The Café Irreal, Post Road, The Pinch, and the anthology Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence. She has published short stories and essays in the Gettysburg Review, Southern Humanities Review, Catamaran Literary Reader, Superstition Review, Confrontation, South Dakota Review, Phoebe, and elsewhere. Her work has earned Pushcart nominations, Best of the Net nominations, and Notable Essay citations in Best American Essays. She lives with her husband and son in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is a professor of English at California State University, East Bay.

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