Gather Around, Guys. You Might Want to Read This One Sitting Down. SLM is Closing. – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

Loss, Life, and the Aftermath

I’m hopelessly transparent in all of my editor’s letters. I owe it to you guys; the ones who are putting your hearts and souls into your submissions. You’re baring everything to me on the blank page and in the bodies of your emails.

My husband is more of a private person than I am. He doesn’t quite understand the fact that I need to share my pain, my loss, and my grief in order to truly heal.

Back in June I suffered a miscarriage.

I am currently suffering from another miscarriage.

Two losses this close together are two too many. I can’t even begin to explain to you the myriad of emotions and hormonal fluctuations I’m going through – there are times when I flat-out feel like I’m losing my mind. That, coupled with the workload of SLM, the fact that it’s grown into something that’s beyond me is something that I can no longer control.

Honestly, as I combed through submissions and saw that about 90% of them were addressed to Nicole, I slammed my laptop shut and I think I even went so far as to scream into a pillow. Here I was working my tail off, yet again, trying to revive the magazine, working all alone, and I couldn’t even get any submissions that were addressed to me. I make no money doing this, guys. Nicole didn’t make any money. Melissa didn’t make any money. This was absolutely a passion project; and if I don’t even recognize the magazine I worked so hard to create, then it’s no longer fun. It hasn’t been fun for a long time. The accessibility aspect that I strove so hard to uphold; the fact that I wanted that open line of communication between the writer and the editor somehow made me into everyone’s favorite doormat. That’s not who I am. That’s not why I created SLM. I could go on and on and on and on, but the point of this letter is to convey to all of you that I’m officially closing up shop. 

To those of you who have been with me from the beginning: Kate Jones, C. C. O’Hanlon, Gene Farmer, Chris Iacono, Tom Gumbert, Nicole Ford Thomas, Scott Thomas Outlar, Melissa Libbey, Jayne Martin, Steve Carr, Dee Lean, Mickie Bolling-Burke, Katie Lewington, Steve Cooper, Sebnem Sanders, Don Tassone, David Cook, Jamie Andrews, and so many, many more of you that I know I forgot to name because I’m literally thinking off the top of my head at the moment: Thank you. You were my biggest cheerleaders. You all believed in what I did and wanted to be that change on the literary horizon with SLM.

And to those of you whom I wrote an acceptance letter to: I’m truly sorry. This is a ship that is simply not navigable by one person. I thought I could start things back up and it would be just like riding a bike, that everything would click and I’d get back into a groove. But that wasn’t the case. Those acceptances I sent meant that I saw brilliance in your work and I still see brilliance in it and potential in you. I’m just so sorry that I can’t be the one to display your work. 

After a long talk with Nicole, we named all the things that were going on in my life that were out of my control, that were stressing me and pushing me to my boiling point. Having two (almost) back-to-back miscarriages has done a number on my body and my mind and it has been the most god-awful, harrowing experience I’ve ever gone through.

I’m remarried to a wonderful, wonderful man who loves me and my children and would do anything for me.

But it doesn’t erase the horrible year I’ve had. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get a pang deep inside my chest of sadness every time I have to hand my kids over to my ex-husband. NO mother wants to see their own children only 50% of the time. That part will never get easier, I’m afraid.

There are still many aspects from the divorce that I’m bitter about and I’m angry about. I might always be bitter when it comes up. Who knows? A lot of wrong was done to me. I was stepped on a lot. And then there were those of you who either stayed with me during that time or who left as the world as I’d known it crumbled around me. That speaks louder than any words you might muster up as an excuse.

I’m not just a caveat for your limelight and a bullet point for your resume or a passionate letter-writer when you need a recommendation. I’m a real person who has real, devastating, life-altering issues going on at the moment. I’m a writer, too. I had a book published about a year ago.

To those of you who are regular readers and contributors, who know me well, and who care: I’m sorry. I truly am. You are the ones I was doing this for. Even the new contributors who have taken the time to comb through this site and find out what I’m really about and wrote about it in their emails: I was doing this for you, too. And I’m sorry.

I’ve poured my heart, my passion, my creativity into this web site and devoted countless hours to this project. It includes so much work that it’s laughable how simple some people think it is. I created this web site. I bought its domain name. I go through every submission and read it and contact that writer myself. After that, I have to go into the web site, format that writer’s work, ensure (maybe this is the fifth or sixth time) that there are no typos or grammatical or punctuation errors, insert their author photo and bio, put a category with it, choose a cover photo, and then I can schedule it for publishing. I also have to send the writer an email letting them know the date and the time that their work will show up on the web site. It’s work. It’s a lot of damn work. And it’s too much to be doing alone. At the moment there are over a hundred unanswered emails in the submissions inbox and it makes me CRAZY. I can’t do it anymore. And I certainly can’t do it alone.

I need to close this down and do something for myself for a while.

Nicole and I are very good friends. She no longer works for the magazine in an editorial capacity and hasn’t in a long time. So I meant  no disrespect toward her as I told you that when I saw all the submissions were addressed to her, that I sort of lost my shit. We talk frequently – and we also can’t ever seem to get off the phone with one another – because we’re essentially the same person. Our friendship and working relationship mean a great deal to me and whenever I start up something in the future, you might see her there with me.

But as of right now I need to do right by myself and take this albatross off of my shoulders and remove it from the string it’s attached to around my neck.

I need to do some work on myself and stop trying to distract myself away from my feelings.

More than likely, I will keep the same web site, but the URL will change. I’m a writer. I need to get back to my roots and I need to do so in order to stay sane.

Feel free to leave any and all comments, concerns, and questions below. I invite your input. Please. This is the one time you should speak freely.

Again, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we couldn’t make it work. I’ve failed a lot in 2017 – but that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. It means that I dared to take a leap of faith. I dared to do what no one else was willing to do and I failed. But if success isn’t a destination, then neither is failure. It doesn’t mean that you won’t see me again in another capacity. It means that this isn’t the creative outlet that I set out for it to be any more.

Thank all of you for your support.

Signing off,

Over and out,

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

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Feel Like Starting Over? Come Explore Our “New Beginnings” Theme – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

It’s….September!

And that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It might mean back-to-school (either as a student yourself, a teacher, parent, or all three), meaning unchecked road rage in the form of crowded, bitchy carpool lanes; it could bring either a markedly busier or slower work pace for you, and September always serves as a lead-in to the holiday season and the harried, frantic conclusion to the year 2017.

*Side note about unchecked road rage- what in the name of Sam Hill is going on?! Not to sound like a disgruntled older woman, but I’m seriously alarmed at the amount of people just absolutely LOSING IT while in their cars. I saw some of the most God awful road rage, of all places, at the drive thru lane at Chik-Fil-A last week. One car cut another one off; sure, they shouldn’t have done that, but the reaction from the woman who was cut off was straight up disturbing. Her blood pressure had to have been close to heart attack level. It is NOT WORTH IT to engage ANYONE like that unless they’ve literally just snatched your newborn baby out of your vehicle. End of rant. *

Whether this year has been one of strife and struggle for you or one of success and triumph, time waits for no one. And the only direction it moves is forward.

Last night, my husband and I watched the movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. Its humor has more of a subdued, subtle dryness to it, giving it the perfect opportunity to be in the background and serve as the perfect backdrop to a realistically funny look at what the world might look like right before it ended. Dean (my husband) kept trying to figure this movie out; he was determined to break it down and find its hidden meaning and intent. He kept guessing that the ending would take a drastic turn and the world wouldn’t end at all – that the asteroid might narrowly miss earth, giving the movie “meaning.”

“No, no, no,” was my rebuttal. “The point is that it doesn’t matter how much time we have here or what we think we’re supposed to be doing. If it takes the end of the world for you to ‘find your purpose’ or if you think you need to go backpacking across Brazil in order to find yourself, then you very well could be missing out on the greatness that’s already in your life. In the end, we’ve all got what we need right in front of us. We’ve had the right tools all along, we just didn’t know how to use them. Changing your scenery won’t change your problems and it won’t change you. Being with those who love you and loving yourself are the keys to fulfillment.” (Now, don’t throw that back at me when I’m super stressed out and complain about the annoyances of day-to-day life. Ha!)

All of that being said, each day is an opportunity for us to begin again, to try harder, to live our lives a little better and be a little kinder to one another. Just because you’ve messed up, fallen down, cried in front of your boss, reacted in situations with cowardice or malice as opposed to bravery and kindness, doesn’t mean that you have to live tomorrow that way. Messing up is part of the journey, guys. You’re supposed to do that. You are supposed to bump your head – a lot – in order to find your way. And you’ll keep messing up until the day you die. That’s just what life is. It’s about realizing who and what you are, knowing your shortcomings and your strengths, and using this knowledge to not only better yourself, but hopefully those around you.

That brings me to the reason why I’ve chosen the themes I have for this fall: All of these themes hit close to home for the vast majority of us. If you don’t have one instance where you have faced adversity, wanted to start over, or actually did start over, or witnessed or experienced a good versus evil battle, then maybe you need to get out of your comfort zone.

I’ve received a lot of wonderful submissions. If I don’t get back with you five minutes after you’ve sent me an email, remember that I’m only one person. And chill out.

Here is the official theme schedule:

September: New Beginnings

October: Good VS Evil

November: Strength in the Face of Adversity

Okay, guys, now do your thing and I’ll do mine. Until next time…..

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Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Or, hell, go ahead. 

Cheers, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk 

 

 

Pop Culture Got You Down? Politics? Let’s Party Like it’s 2005. Also, Your Favorite Editor is Checking in ;) – Kelly Fitzharris, Editor-in-Chief

Here’s to New Beginnings!

 

 

A lot of you have emailed recently, asking me how I’ve been doing and checking in on me. Please know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed and/or unappreciated. 

Switching gears just for a moment (bear with me, I have a point to make):

Ever spend an hour scrolling through your Facebook-Twitter-insert-social-media-app-slash-web-site feed only to feel like an empty, hollow, lifeless loser? And then regretted that hour so much that you vowed never to tell anyone you just actually wasted an hour (or more…) scrolling through Facebook? Have you ever stopped to question the content that you are allowing to play on a loop from your phone, PC, laptop, iPad, other device, etc.?

Well…if you answered no…Question it!

I can tell you: spending all of your time on Facebook reading what everyone else is doing can make you feel depressed. Also, spending time on Facebook playing negative videos over and over and over again will also dampen your spirits. Doing both for a solid day or so is nothing short of insanity-inducing.

As human beings, we aren’t meant to be cooped up with an electronic device for hours on end, hunched over, reading canned and regurgitated garbage that may or may not come from a kernel of truth, letting that fill up all of our free time.

The same can be said for trolling a person on the web as opposed to taking the time to get to know them in person. Reading everything that, let’s say, I’ve written or tweeted or even a few of my published works (including an article I co-authored with Dr. Jeffrey Toney, PhD on The Hill, Congress Blog) is no way to get an idea of my character, my current life situation, nor is it an appropriate way to wrongly judge a person.

Here’s the thing about judgment: it’s a lot like assuming. And you know what they say about assuming.

I was raised by two, good, God-fearing parents who, yes, raised me Catholic, and simultaneously raised me to be open-minded, open-hearted, loving and forgiving. And I was also raised never, ever to judge a book by its cover. My father is a graduate of USAFA (US Air Force Academy), won a Guggenheim fellowship scholarship (with which he used to procure his Master’s in engineering from Columbia University in New York City), before he started out his first assignment as a fighter pilot at Langley Air Force Base when I was only 2 years old. He served as an officer in the US Air Force for 22 years before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel and Senior National Represent for the United States. My mother has been a licensed LVN (nurse) most of her life, practicing in both Florida and Texas over the years.

While it’s true that I’ve been through my own personal brand of hell this year and last year, I’ve also recently been absent from this site because, SURPRISE, I’ve been happy for the first time in a long time. I’ve met someone who loves me, loves my children, and who supports me endlessly.

After our first date, about a couple of weeks later, my dog got out of my fence. I called him flustered, driving around shouting the dog’s name with my two kiddos in the backseat. He came over that day with tools, wearing a white shirt and jeans, and met my children. My son went out and pretended to help him fix the fence, carrying his own “tool kit.” It was that day that I knew; I knew it in my heart that this was it. He was the real thing. And he has been ever since.

We’re engaged to be married in August of 2017.

Here’s the thing: you can’t schedule falling in love. If you try and micromanage it and interrupt nature’s way of doing things, that’s a surefire way to ruin it. To kill it. Instead of living in the past and waking up daily with hate and anger in your heart, why not celebrate the present and look forward to the future and hold happiness in your heart for your family?

Life is too short not to.

I recently got back from a trip to see my best friend from high school. I went to visit so I could help her while her mother was in the hospital. Unfortunately…sadly…her mom passed away while I was visiting. As devastatingly sorrowful as that visit was, it has given me a different perspective on life; on family; on, well, everything. My friend’s mom was the same age that my mom is going to be in August.

If there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s to shelve the judgments and relish the fleeting happiness that can sometimes bury itself beneath the monotony of our day-to-day grind that most often leaves us feeling empty inside. Acknowledge your own suffering; acknowledge and learn from your own failures before you point outward to project it onto someone else. Someone who might, just might, be a decent person.

***

The future of the magazine is still up in the air. As I’m sure you can probably imagine, my life is filled to the brim with activity, which includes getting married and getting my children registered for school and getting settled back into a routine.

I can promise you that once the dust has settled, I will be in touch.

 

Cheers,

Kelly Fitzharris

Editor-in-Chief

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Moving on – Kelly Fitzharris, Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes we start out the New Year hungover, covered in glitter, in our own beds (somehow) having fallen asleep in party clothing.

 

Others, we abstain from that lifestyle altogether and don’t drink; so waking up on January the 1st  is like any other day for us, except for possible unspoken or unaddressed marital discontent.

 

It’s never an easy time.

 

Especially when you, yourself, are the recipient of said marital discontent that you were previously unaware of or not quite privy to, and also have two malleable children to take care of and comfort throughout this ordeal.

 

In short, a little over a week ago, my husband let me know that he wanted a divorce.

 

Please, please try and abstain from saying negative things about him or towards him at the time being. Just because one person is initiating the split doesn’t mean that they’re the ‘bad guy,’ so to speak. Although there’s a lot of pain and misunderstanding to go around during a time like this, negativity that is more-than-contagious, we are trying to keep everything as amicable and pleasant as we can.

 

Heartbreak is a crazy thing; it makes people go insane! It’s what makes one person throw their spouse’s clothes out on the lawn, find themselves feeling hostility that can manifest itself into unchecked rage, and can make a parent unwittingly pit their children against their mother or father. And much, much worse.

 

Or…on the other side of the coin, we can take a breath. We can step back and remember who we really are; that we pride ourselves on our humility, resilience, and are way stronger than anyone has ever given us credit for being. That there are people in our corner who not only like us, but love us, and believe in us.

 

So. All of that being said, I am here. I have a magazine to run. We have a T-shirt contest that I have to get out here on the site and let all of you vote on–hell, the entire graphic design department of Kean University in New Jersey has students who worked their TAILS off creating graphics for T-shirts for this web site, their competitive spirits helping them create the best designs they could, their professors spurring their creativity with encouragement and empowerment.

 

Although I’m not doing great at the moment, I won’t let this magazine die.

 

I may be slow-going for a while…for a long while…but, I am actively working on putting the T-shirt designs in a post for you to vote on, while making ALL of the designs available to purchase.

As the late and great David Bowie sang, “The planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do…” in the song Space Oddity. In other words, he’s saying that things happen that are out of our control.

Can you hear me, Major Tom? 

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Announcements, Themes, T-shirt contests and More! – Kelly Fitzharris Coody

I know I’ve been posting a lot of editorial notes here lately, but it’s been a nice place to be able to vent.

That being said, I’ve been meaning to post announcements about the previous theme schedule and what’s to come at SLM.

SO, here’s what I’ve decided for now: Melissa is busting her butt, and unfortunately won’t be able to devote as much time to the magazine until after the holidays.

Everything will still happen, guys, just PLEASE bear with me while we go through somewhat of a transition. We will pick up on JANUARY 9th with the themes, picking up with Paul Beckman’s It Began in an Elevator, and go from there.

If we have sent you an email telling you we’ve accepted your work, then we’ve accepted your work. Once I schedule it for publication, you’ll get a personal email from me telling you the exact date and time of publication. I apologize for the delay in getting this information out to all of you, but I woke up with the nastiest cold-slash-flu-thing-virus-that’s-making-its-rounds-in-my-house this morning and have been buried under a mountain of stress on top of that.

Melissa and I were both due a sabbatical – they just so happened to coincide with one another. When I get the finalists from Kean University’s graphic design department for our t-shirt contest, I will post them and you guys will be able to cast votes for your favorites.

There are still good things in store, guys. Just hang in there.

Kelly

 

Drum Roll Please…SICK LIT MAGAZINE’S 2017 PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEES ARE…..

This is the final, official, carved-in-wood, list of Sick Lit Magazine’s 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominees

**Precursor: if you were on this list previously and are now not, I apologize. Works from 2015 are not eligible for entry – and one person has been disqualified for plagiarism.**

The very mention of the two words, Pushcart Prize, makes most literary buffs, writers and readers alike, beam with pride and happiness, while others whisper on in the background. It’s an honor to be nominated – and we, here, at Sick Lit Magazine, are honored to have you as our writers and audience. To be candid, I wish we were allotted more than SIX total nominees per year. It seems like an awfully small amount compared to how many amazing pieces of writing cross my path all year long.

**One more precursor: those that I’ve promised a Pushcart nomination who have continued to send in groundbreaking work to us are being nominated for the prize, but for a different piece of writing. A piece from 2016 – the current calendar year.**

So, take a deep breath.

Exhale.

Sick Lit Magazine’s Official and Final List of Pushcart Prize Nominees for the Current Calendar Year (in Pushcart years, that’s 2017-) are as Follows: 

1. The Tale of the Cabbage Patch – by STEVE CARR

2. Shrink – by DAVID COOK

3. Sexism Doesn’t Exist / Unburying / “That’s so like a girl!” – by PRERNA BAKSHI

4. Atavistic Lipstick / Silversword / Counting / The Chase – (a 100-word story collection) by JEFFREY H TONEY , PhD

5. The Bus / Yellow Dinghy / Muesli / He Buys Me Flowers / Impersonator / The Sea (A Collection of Flash Fiction) – by KATE JONES

6. The Blind Policeman – by TESS WALSH

If  you get a chance, congratulate each and every one of our six nominees for the 2016 / 2017 Pushcart Prize season! This year, I haven’t had the chance to contact each nominee individually before this announcement, so if you’ve contributed to us, I hope you’re reading this.

 

 

SLM Meets Oasis – Part 3 – Liam, Noel, Kate, Jamie, Gee, Melissa Libbey!, and me.

The Writers and the Gallaghers visit….1973?!

“Aaahh!!! Wait! Am I the ginger girl?!” asked Jamie.

“Are you daft? Or have you gone completely mad?”  I answered.

Silence. Crickets.

“Jamie, what has gotten into you?” asked Kate.

“I just really, really hate Blockbuster. You’ve no idea.  Those stores give me chills – and nightmares. I can’t take it! We have to get back to 2016! And not to Texas again! No offense, Kell, nice digs, but I’ve got a lot of shit to do,” he pleaded.

I shot a puzzled look to Kate, who patted Jamie on the back solidly before turning to Gee. “What year is it, love? Would you be a dear and grab frazzled Jamie’s phone and take a gander?”

She fumbled around with it for a moment. “Not really sure…”

“Oh no!”

“We can’t have…?”

“Where are we?”

“Shag carpets!!!”

“We’re back in the Gallagher house – see?” Kate reasoned, pointing to the layout. Then she glanced to the refrigerator calendar. “1973?! Oh, this is bad. Bad, bad, bad…”

“We’re back home – thank fuck!” shouted Noel.

“Bloody hell; that’s right,” Liam agreed.

Giggling and the thwacking sound of bare feet on tile and linoleum sounded in the background.

“Sh,” Gee said, “Listen. What is that?”

“Oh no! It’s them – Liam and Noel –as kids! We’ve got to get out of here now or we’ll break the space-time continuum! All of us! Now Go!” I shouted.

“What’s she say?” asked Liam.

“Dunno. House looks the same to me,” said Noel.

“Did you see the date on the fridge, mates?” asked Jamie. Noel furrowed his pronounced brow at Jamie in reply.

“I don’t like you very much, Jaaamie,” he said, drawing out the first syllable of his name and standing close to his face.

“I don’t like you very much either!” Jamie huffed back as we all pushed and shoved our way out of the Gallagher house.

Brothers Gallagher in tow (begrudgingly), we walked over to my house. It was vacant in the ‘70s, but owned by my great aunt Lacey. I thought we would try and put things together again once we got to a safe place.

“Who are you lot, really?” asked Liam.

“We’re writers,” answered Kate.

“Writers? A band of time-traveling writers? Now that is right funny. Write for the papers? Books? Poets? Come on then, what?” Asked Noel, eyeing each one of us skeptically.

I scratched my head. Gee, Kate, and Jamie all mimicked the motion. “Well, uh, see, I own a magazine and, um, Gee, Kate, and Jamie write for it.”

“Magazine, you say? Hmph. What’s it called? How do you print your copies?”

I bit my lip and stared over to my friends who were now a puzzled trio, shrugging up their shoulders and mouthing, I don’t know!!

Damn it.

“Uhh—it’s called ‘Fifteen’ and it’s for young ladies. These are my…columnists! We print monthly.” I gulped.

Noel and Liam nodded.

Jamie and Gee glared at me.

“Why don’t you try and explain to them what ‘onine’ means and give them the definition of the internet, eh?” I whispered to them angrily.

“Oh, fuck—if we’re stuck here, we are going to be so bloody old when it really is 2016 again,” Kate groaned.

“Don’t remind me,” I groaned back. “Let’s go to my – er – my aunt Lacey’s house – and try to figure out what to do.”

“Oh my god! Liam and Noel – you’re from 1990, right?” asked Gee.

They looked at each other before looking back at Gee in silence.

“Yes, you are. Right. The point is, you have British pounds!! Because all we’ve got are Euros and those won’t do a bloody thing! We are going to need food and whatnot.”

“Haven’t got any on us, but what the fuck are you talking about? Euros?”

“Listen, Lacey’s got about a million nooks and crannies stuffed full of money – she was a major pill and booze hound, too, from what I remember.”

A roar of approval erupted behind me as we walked on. They cheered, high-fived, and I think I saw Jamie and Liam hug one another? Pills and booze make people THAT happy? I shook my head.

We walked on, scattered conversation making its way through our awkward gaggle, before I looked around me and saw that everything had begun to look the same. And it was getting dark.

“Shit. Must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere…” I said, furrowing my brow, hands on my hips. “Not going to lie – we are lost…we’re officially lost.”

“Anyone’s phone working? Let’s get google maps up and running!” Jamie shouted. “Ohhhh, riiiight, it’s fucking 1973 and none of that shit works. Amazing! Let’s all of us city folk spend a night out here, with these two fuck heads – ” he glanced to Liam and Noel respectively, “and catch amoebic dysentery. Sound about right to the lot of you?”

“Yeah, basically.”

“We’re fucked.”

“Totally and utterly fucked.”

“Quick! It’s an emergency! Has anyone got a flask?” I asked.

“Kell, again, this is your story. Who’s the most likely among us to have a flask?” Jamie asked me.

“Hmm…Liam!”

“Yea, I got one. Yer not gonna like it though, Ginger…” he muttered, handing it over to me reluctantly.

I took more than a generous swig from it before saying, “Don’t call me ginger.” I handed it back to him. “Now I have to pee. Excuse me.”

*

An Hour and a Half Later

*

“Swear I’ve just seen C.C. O’Hanlon back there, swear on my life,” Jamie sputtered as he joined us around our tiny makeshift campfire.

“What—really? Did you ask him for help? Is he coming?!” I asked, hope gleaming in my eyes.

“Fuck no. I’m not daft, even though you called me that earlier today, Kell. He didn’t look too happy, either. Didn’t want to talk to the man while I was takin a piss – y’get?”

“Jamie….” Kate began, sitting close to the fire, warming her hands and rubbing them together while sharing Liam’s flask with the rest of the group. “You’ve got no pants on, am I going insane or is that right?”

“Got to find a blanket somewhere. Need a nap.”

“Bloody great – Jamie’s in his underwear, sleeping under the crotch of his pants – rolling around in the leaves and shit, and I can’t get drunk no matter how much of this shit I drink,” Gee said, pointing to Jamie’s inane behavior, rolling himself over and over again, covering himself in leaves, underwear nearly glowing in the moonlight.

Just as I was about to yell at everyone, a shadowy figure emerged from the brush, holding a flashlight.

“It’s a miracle!” Noel yelled.

“Mum?” asked Liam.

As the shadowy figure moved in closer, murmurs arose from the group.

First, Kate, “Wait, oh my god! It can’t be! Is it…?”

Then, Jamie, “Melissa…? No!”

Then, Gee, “Libbey?! Impossible!”

Then, me, “Melissa Libbey?! Is it you?! Melissa Libbey!”

“Kell, I dunno if it’s her – be careful!” Kate said as I stood up to greet this shadowy person.

The shadow stepped into the glow of the campfire, and then splashed the light from her own flashlight so that it bathed her facial features in light.

“Um, yeah, hey guys. I am here. Hey!” said Melissa, her voice chipper and even. “You guys look like hell.”

“Oh, sweet Jesus! How the bloody ‘ell did you travel back in time with us?!” Jamie asked, his voice coming from underneath his pants. He still hadn’t bothered to move.

“I dunno. It’s Kelly’s story.” She scratched her head. “I think maybe I’m supposed to have been following you or watching out for you this whole time? Maybe? Ask Kelly. She knows.”

“Melissa – I’ve got so much on my bloody mind right now! I can’t think!” I shouted.

“Why…why are you speaking in that god-awful fake British accent?” she asked, crinkling up her nose.

“Shit. Well, I couldn’t go back in time to meet the Gallagher brothers unless the story was set in Manchester, Mel,” I reasoned.

“God, you all look like hell. Except for you two – the young men – the rest of you look like you’ve been in some sort of natural disaster and then bathed in dirt! Gross! They don’t have showers in the 1970s in England?” she asked.

“Kell, you can still be in Manchester for the story to happen – but you don’t have to write yourself as being British, you know.”

“English,” I corrected. She didn’t respond so I continued, “And you can’t critique my own story while you’re in it!”

She rolled her eyes, her enviably clean, curled, shiny blonde locks falling into perfect ringlets around her collarbone.

“Okay – I’ll drop the accent, but my aunt Lacey’s house is still closeby—you coming to help us get there?”

“What the hell else am I doing in Manchester in 1973? Plus, I love Oasis. And I’ve been working six days a week – I need a fucking break!! I’m exhausted!”

“Why’s everyone keep saying the word oasis like it means something?” asked Noel.

“Oh, Noel – we’ve got a lot to talk about,” Melissa said, patting him on the shoulder.

“How are we going to get there?” asked Kate, chin in hands, face placid, words calm.

“I brought a compass. And a map,” Melissa said matter-of-factly.

“Shit, she is good,” Jamie said, “I dunno how you ran SLM without her, really.”

“What’s SLM?” asked Liam.

“Fuck. Nothing, nothing,” I said, shaking my head, glaring in Jamie’s general direction.

“Oh, and I didn’t forget about all of you – I brought a flashlight for each one of you.”

“Aww!”

“So sweet!”

“Melissa’s bloody amazing!”

“I like this one.”

“Hell yeah!”

Grumble.

The group had now grown to the seven of us, walking along, Melissa and Gee leading the way, talking shop about compasses and maps and lines and such and how we had just missed the proper turn a mile or so back.

“Knew the ginger was an American,” Liam muttered, taking another swig from his flask.

“I can hear you!” I shouted from the back.

“Don’t ca-are!” he shouted back at me.

“See? Told you. Pricks. Not even bloody famous yet and, still, they somehow manage to be absolute pricks.”

“Jamie! Shut up!” Melissa shouted back into the crowd.

“Really hope Kell was right about Lacey’s house having loads of booze and whatever else…” Kate said.

“Shit. Me too,” Noel said.

After what felt like minutes, the house was visible, finally, and only by our flashlights, as we made our way downhill.

“Nice digs!” Kate said to me, giving me a wink. “Good to be back.”

“Kate’s hair looks amazing,” Jamie whispered.

“I know—it always does,” Melissa whispered back. “Kell—one question—are there enough bedrooms, bathrooms, that sort of thing here?”

“8 total. Two living rooms. Lots of bathrooms. That good enough?”

“Yeah….can we say bitchy?” she sing-song-ed to Jamie, who let out a snort of a laugh in response.

“Worried you and Liam might have to share a bed, now?” Gee asked, evil grin on her face.

“Ugh, no! I’ve got a boyfriend, thank you.”

But she was flushing bright red.

“Okay…Lacey always had a peculiar hiding place for things. Had a bit of a knack for it…Especially with keys…hmm…” I said as I poked about the shriveling garden. I turned over stones like a madwoman, to no avail. Sweaty,  breathless and tired, I sat on the crunchy grass.

It was then that I saw it. The evil garden gnome.

“Aha!” I emerged triumphant, keys in hand.

“That garden elf looks like Gary Busey,” Gee said, giving it the stink eye.

“Christ, you’re right! It really does!” I laughed, before making the move to unlock the door and step into the known—that was now the unknown.

The door creaked.

We all clung to one another in a seven-person-hug, squinted our eyes, praying for an empty, safe house.

“’Ello?”Gee asked gently and weakly into the house.

Liam stepped to the front of the group, flashlight in each hand, and yelled, “Hey, motherfuckers!”

He turned around to us and smiled a sweet, boyish grin. “See? All clear.”

Then we all began to file in and turn on the lights.

“Nice,” Melissa mused, milling about.

“Not total crap,” said Jamie, heading straight for the kitchen in search of alcohol. “Wine! Ladies and gentlemen – er – Gallaghers, we have like a hundred fuckin bottles of wine!” He squealed.

“Whatcha into, Jamie?” asked Gee, joining him in the kitchen, all but commanding him to pour her a full glass of red.

Noel and Liam had found Lacey’s sitting room and went straight to the record player, poring over her record collection, whispering lowly and excitedly.

Melissa joined the brothers Gallagher, suggesting records here and there, turning on all of the lamps and dusting off the tabletops, placing vases where they ought to go, rearranging knick-knacks and twirling around as the Rolling stones began to play.

Meanwhile Kate and I had been able to slip away to the upstairs to freshen ourselves the hell up. We felt like death. And were also a little bit relieved to break away from the group and get a moment’s peace as we poked in around in Aunt Lacey’s knick-knacks.

I ran the hottest bath I could stand as Kate was just grateful to sit in a room filled with steam. “It’s a makeshift sauna. I’ll take it.” She sat, back flattened against the wall, closing her eyes, drifting off into the air with the steam.

Once we emerged, refreshed, from Lacey’s cozy upstairs, we found ourselves quite amused at the goings on of downstairs.

“D’ya know yer aunt Lacey was a bit of a stockpiler?” Jamie asked us as we presented ourselves, announced by us each wearing a set of Lacey’s silk pants-and-button-down pajamas. I was in pink, Kate was in blue. We were just so bloody relieved to be out of our other clothes. Filthy, time traveling, woodsy, rotten clothes.

“Lacey’s a full-on, organized hoarder, she is!” Jamie said, presenting cans upon cans of food, endless bottles of booze, and enough Quaaludes for a village.

“No shit,” I said.

“I mean, just look! I’m bloody cooking spaghetti!” Jamie said, proudly gesturing to an oversized pot full of noodles and sauce. And other things, too, probably.  I wasn’t a good cook.

“So, let’s see…” I mused. “We can have spaghetti, wine, and a couple of Quaaludes all in the same sitting?”

“Fuck yeah!” shouted Liam from the front living room.

“I quite like it here,” Gee said from the back living room, where she’d turned on the tele and was happily watching gameshows, cuddling up on the hideous velvet, flowery couch.

“I love it here!” Melissa shouted from the front, where she and Liam were doing a weird salsa-type dance to the Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter.’

“Come on then, Kell, let’s get in on this!” Kate said, shoving me into the room with the three of them.

We laughed as we spun each other around and giggled, singing our hearts out, our shadows bobbing beneath the prisms on the wall made by the chandelier. The smell of spaghetti was thick in the air and the wine flowed like it would never end.

“Hey, Ginger,” Liam said. “Can I call ya Pink Pajamas instead?”

“Any time,” I said with a wink.

“This might be, like, the perfect night,” Melissa said.

“YOU SHOULD TRY IT WITH A QUAALUDE!” Jamie said, wild-eyed, coming in from the kitchen.

“Gee! Get your arse in here!” Kate shouted, wine glass in hand, blue pajamas bringing out her eyes.

“Yeah!” Liam shouted. “Ass! Here!”

“Come dip your hand into the bucket of Quaaludes!” I shouted, giggling.

Gee ran in and plopped right there on top of all of us, spilling our spaghetti.

“Hey!”

“Damn it!”

“Gee!”

“I was only doing as I was told,” she said. “Let’s stay here forever!”

Kate banged her fork on her wine glass. “A toast – to – the writers. The song makers, the dreamers. But most of all, to us. Noel, you turn out to be a huge wanker in 2016; Liam, let’s be honest, you do too.  All of us are wonderful people in 2016 – truly, beautiful, spirited, talented people. Sorry boys. I got off track there for a moment. But we shouldn’t lose sight of what’s right in front of us – each other. And pills and booze. But, mostly, each other.”

“Here, here!”

“Y’know what sounds craaazy?” Jamie asked. “Quackludes.”

“Oh bugger. Give me one of those already!” Gee shouted, laughing.

“Me too!” Melissa yelled.

Liam and Noel just both raised their hands.

I stepped out of the room a moment just to wonder into the master bedroom and poke around while the Quaalude settled in my stomach.

I switched on a few lamps and tiptoed in; and then I saw it.

“Guys! Guys!” I shouted. “Come! Come see! Quick!”

All six of them, Gee, Jamie, Kate, Melissa, Liam, and Noel, piled up behind me.

“What’s it is, then?” asked Liam.

“What’s are YOU, then?” asked Jamie.

“Look, it’s a WARDROBE!” I squealed.

“Shall we?”  asked Gee.

“We shall.”

And just like that, we became overzealous children on Christmas morning and shoved and grunted our way into the wardrobe, elbowing one another and giggling as we walked through it. We walked past Lacey’s wedding gown, fur coats, and other such heavy things, before we were hurled outward and onto the cold, hard floor.

“What happened?”

“Ouch.”

“Ah, my head!”

“Liam, your foot is in my armpit!”

“Noel’s bloody hand is stuck up my sleeve.”

“Fuck.”

Then we all jumped with a start.

“Watch your mouths!” said my mum.

“Mum!” I shouted. “What? How? Why?”

“Will the seven of you be joining me for dinner?” she asked sweetly, batting her eyes.

“What happened? What year is it?” Gee asked.

“Don’t you worry. Everything’s right where you left it, girls. It’s October 4th, 2016. And it’s dinner time. I’ll bet we have quite a lively conversation! Oh, and hello, Liam and Noel. Good to see you again, Melissa, Kate, and Jamie. And, of course, lovely Gee. Come on now! It’ll be getting cold!”

We all followed her, dumbfounded.

“Are you still high as a kite, Jamie?” asked Kate.

“QUACKlude,” Jamie said.

Melissa and Gee let out hiccups.

“I want to go back to Lacey’s house,” Liam said.

“And what makes you think we can’t?” my mum asked, holding up her iPhone, which began flashing bright colors.

“Oh bugger. Here we go again,” said Gee.

The room spun, shook and rattled. And we all braced ourselves.

To be continued….

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Stay tuned for more installments on our wacky adventure time traveling with the brothers Gallagher!!!