One Secret Thing – by DONNA DALLAS

 

One Secret Thing

 

Live in this

they said

as they placed me

neatly onto the

pink rose-budded bedspread

in the room with white

and more white

so I would be well and

release festering thoughts

that wake me in the night

sweating thick to the point of oil

shaking to some madness of hot breath

on my neck

cold hands around me

But that was one night

one time

long ago in a life

not mine but the she before I

The she that was

lovely as a lilly! they said

Death is a long haul when you wait for it

you slowly

very slowly

creep into it while no one pays attention

Shredding the malaise into parts to contain each day

it’s the rotting from the inside out

whispers just under the skin

The Screwtape demon

forming a root in the rose-budded cell

with all the girlie stuff

The beckoning is cunning

over the edge of the bedspread

it waits

I somehow love it

yet I can’t quite make out

what it is

Only death is certain

***

066

Donna Dallas studied Creative Writing and Philosophy at NYU.  She meandered about before she became a successful business woman, married and mothered 2 beautiful children.  Over The years, she has written down events from scribbles to journals.  She has documented lives growing up poor, witnessing drugs, prostitution, overdoses and death. She has bundled stories of lives that fell apart in front of her or with her.  Donna has been published Mud Fish, Nocturnal Lyric, The Café Review, The New York Quarterly and was lucky enough to study under William Packard back in the day.  She took a slight hiatus and can most recently be found in 34th Parallel, Vending Machine Press, Anti-Heroin Chic and The Opiate Magazine.

 

 

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The Inexorable Lion – by CLARK ZLOTCHEW

The Inexorable Lion

Clark Zlotchew

 

We’d  descend the steep incline

At the end of Westerly Drive,

Abandoning civilization,

For the savage realm below.

 

We’d labor through trees and brush,

My three sons,

Eyes wide with anticipation,

And I,

Tribal patriarch, chief of hunters,

Filled with manly vigor.

 

We’d ford the nameless brook

That flows to Canadaway

(a raging torrent to children’s eyes),

Infiltrate the orderly labyrinth

Of McPherson’s tangled grapevines,

(a jungle in deepest Africa)

To reach the vacant lot beyond

(The plains of Serengeti)

And hunt the mighty lion.

 

For spears we’d pluck up stalks

Of tall thick grass,

Stealthily track the dreaded prey,

Tread silent-cautiously.

We were dauntless, heroic, bold.

 

One would spot the hunted hunter,

The predator turned prey,

Fit finger to lip to signal silence,

Point his lance toward our quarry.

 

We’d steal yet closer,

 holding our breaths,

And then

I’d hurl my spear and cry “Simba, eh!”

My sons would heave their javelins,

Savagely whooping, heels churning dust.

 

We alone could see the beast.

We alone could hear his roar.

We alone could smell his stinking breath.

 

Now my sons have journeyed far,

By land and sea and air.

Now they chase their own wild beasts,

Founding  tribes  their own.

 

And I,

Diminished in strength, a wizened elder,

No longer dare invade

Those  fertile fields below,

No longer stalk the lion.

 

Yet he still lurks there,

In his lair,

Heart of darkness,

Land of snares,

Tawny mane and yellow fang,

Evil breath of carnivore.

 

And he remembers, yes,

He remembers how

we stalked him.

 

He grows stronger every year,

His hunger grows apace.

He often slinks through tall grass,

Drawing near, much too near,

Sniffs the air to catch my scent,

Notes the absence of my warriors,

Knows my throwing arm grows weak…

Then he turns to yawn and doze.

 

But he will rouse himself one day,

I know,

And he will come for me.

***

clark distgd tchg prof #2

Clark Zlotchew has published an award-winning short-story collection (2011) and has had newer short fiction published in 2016 by e-magazines. He is relatively new to poetry, but two of his poems were published in The Fictional Café in December 2016 and 5 poems appeared in Baily’s Beads, literary magazine of U. of Pittsburgh, on January 25, 2017.  His story “Man of Adventure” was one the winners in the 2017 Baily’s Beads contest and was published in the same issue of that print magazine.  Zlotchew is a recent emeritus professor of literature in Spanish language with SUNY.   He and his wife Marilyn live in rural Western N.Y. State.

 

I Still am me – by MIRELA ATHANAS

“I still am me”

 

I still am me!

 

I am, …

I still am me,

I am the little baby,

With the tiny fingers

Which I still carry,

same shape, same grip;

That later learned

a dance in piano keys,

 

I am,

I still am me,

I am the little girl,

I still have wet sand,

On my feet,

From the beach castles,

I built with my hands,

Nearby the sea;

Which then later

Got melted by the waves,

But not in my dreams,

In my dreams the castles,

Are greater than

those in fairytales.

 

I am

I still am me,

I am the teenager,

I still have stardust

On my hair,

From chasing shooting stars,

From catching butterflies,

As I would catch a dream,

Which then later,

Would teach me how to fly…

 

I am

I am still me,

I am the young lady,

I still have sparkles in my eyes

From the first time I fell in love,

From the time I danced under stars;

 

I am

I still am me,

I am the young lady,

I still have paper dust,

On my hands

From the books I read and studied,

I still have lingering melodies,

From the time I sang and danced,

I still have scents of the breeze,

Wrapped all over my being,

Of the time I ran in flowery fields,

In fields of joy and ease,

When the world was so free,

And bettering so simple it seemed!

Which then later,

Became my aroma, the scent of me,

Unforgettable, unchangeable, unique …..

 

I am

I am still me,

I am the young woman,

As it was destined to be,

I still have rain on my face,

I still have my wounds,

From places I have lived,

And roads chosen by fate;

They are strange wounds,

They heal, and then later,

One little thing touches the surface

And like that they still bleed;

But I’ve learned

That it might be my destiny,

I cover them still with my dreams.

 

I am,

I am still me,

The women I grew to be,

I still have anointed oil,

On my forehead,

From blessings I received!

I still have power on my step,

I still have gratitude to give,

From walking on a road,

I forever dreamed.

 

I am ,

I am still me,

I have smiles in my heart,

Gathered by children I have seen,

And children I was blessed to love,

I carry those smiles so dearly,

The treasure that helps me survive,

They live inside my heart,

And walk with me forever,

Which then later,

As always…..becomes eternity!

 

I am

I still am me,

I am the woman you see,

I still have strength,

On my hands, heart and soul,

From all the life I have lived,

From all the struggles I have fought,

I’m the woman, who saw the world differently,

I still have purpose in my hands,

I still have love in my heart,

I still have an eternal dream,

To be the best of me,

To be me, the one I am,

And no other, no other, in this reality

In the world we all dream to be.

 

I am,

I am still me,

I still have little fingers in my hands,

I still have my feet immersed in sand,

I still have stardust in my hair,

I still have eyes that always sparkle,

I still have lingering melodies that dance,

I still have scents of breeze wrapped around me,

I still have drops of rain on my face,

I still have blessings anointed in my forehead,

I still have power on my step,

I still have gratitude to give,

I still have smiles in my heart,

I still have strength on my soul,

So, this is how,

I am, I still am me,

 

I am,

I am still me,

You call me by name,

I respond,

That’s who I’ll always be,

That’s why I am, I am still me!

Unchangeable, unforgettable, unique!

Mirela Athanas, © July 15th 2016


***

413020_2706552257154_1657168956_o-1

Mirela Athanas is an Albanian-American professional with 25+ years of experience in finance.   She was born in Tirana,Albania, April 25,1961, and currently resides in the USA, where she lives since 1994.  She is a graduate of the University of Tirana, Albania. with a masters degree in Business & Economics.  She also received a BS degree in Business Administration from the Computer Learning Centers in Boston MA, in 1995.
Mirela lived in Albania for most of her life and moved to the USA only in 1994.  While in America, Mirela pursued a career in finance and reached at the Senior Associate level in an investment management firm in Boston.
Besides her studies in economics, Mirela has always had a passion for music and literature.  She studied professional piano playing in a professional Music School in Tirana from 1967-1977.  She plays piano professionally.
In the recent years, Mirela has seriously returned to her passion for writing.  She is a freelance writer, and writes poems in both English and Albanian.  She speaks Albanian and Italian fluently, besides English and also translates.  She has translated a few poems from English to Albanian.

Wound / Affect(ion) / Beget – by BRANDON STANWYCK

 

Wound

 

the wound he won’t

 

let heal

 

leaves me scarred.

 

i well up when

 

his eyes

 

refuse to cry.

 

the blood in his

 

boxer briefs

 

burns my dreams.

 

why do that to

 

a boy,

 

to feel…powerful?

 

now are you a

 

real man,

 

since raping him?

 

i sincerely hope you

 

feel big

 

and so strong.

 

because if you don’t,

 

my friend

 

broke for nothing.

 


 

Affect(ion)

 

i surrender so many fucks

 

because you refuse to give a single one.

 

my fucks perish trying to prove my love;

 

yours still have a price tag.

 

(do you plan on returning them?

 

i mean, it’s not like you’re gonna use ’em.)

 

all i want is to get back just

 

a shred of what i spend,

 

my whole heart for a sliver of yours.

 

i’m at a loss—i’ve:

 

begged with touch, beseeched with words

 

and ceded all of my available time.

 

every part of me is in your hands, except

 

my dick since i guess you’re so bored by it,

 

though you know better than anyone

 

that i practically worship yours. well

 

whenever you wish to bestow it upon me,

 

i have got just the spot.

 

…i’m still waiting on that fuck


 

Beget

 

to love a non-lover

 

is my heart’s worst

 

repeat offense…

 

cannibalizing itself

 

to mend broken boys

 

whom it cannot help

 

but fall in love with,

 

having oft glimpsed at

 

their tender hearts

 

with eager devotion—

 

unaware that they, while

 

affable and sweet

 

at first,

 

are in actuality aloof

 

and somewhat frosty

 

—but then it is too late,

 

and it is my heart, wrecked,

 

in need of a boy, who

 

does not exist,

 

to heal me with affection, which

 

will never be felt


***

img_1087

Brandon Stanwyck is a Cleveland-based crewman for film and television productions. Twitter: @BrandonStanwyck | Instagram: @brandoncinema

 

Young Woman’s Epiphany – by KI-ANA L. TONGE

Young Woman’s Epiphany

Ki-Ana L. Tonge

 

Did you know?

Did you know that you were the gasp of air between my every breath?

The tip-tap to my every step

Love captivating my every sense

Your heavenly scent lingered on my neck

From where lips have last been…

The notes on my five liens core

Finger stroke striking my every chord

And your lovely smile,

Sigh…

You were the single star to my empty sky.

The sun shine one my flower petals,

Allowing me to bloom

You were the wind to my howl on an eerie full moon

My path when I’m lost

My light in the dark

The blue blood that seeps from my once reddened heart

The waves in my ocean

The heat of my fire

The feathers of my wings

The energy in my wires

You.

You were the…

The leaves falling in autumn

The snowfall in winter

The drops on my window that trickles down my window pane

The clouds on a stormy day

The waters of the rain

So if I try to forget you it won’t be hard to find another thing in nature

That fails not to remind

***

img_20160803_111609

Ki-Ana L. Tonge is a humble,  outgoing, creative,  and ambitious nineteen year old from St.Croix , USVI, with a love for writing. She is on a mission to be the very best she can be,  and strives to make a difference with the tools and talents God has given her.

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.

 

 

Kaleidoscope – by JOANNE SPENCER

Kaleidoscope

 

The ground yawned and swallowed him whole.

The glossy white casket of my husband consumed

by the earth. I am alone.

 

My eardrums rupture,

my bones melt,

my lungs seize

my pulse stops.

I am a corpse on the grass,

among a landscape of stones

and yet I can…

 

See how the hues of azure, pewter and plum waltz across the sky.

A kaleidoscope of radiance brushing across a twilight canvas

as if painted by Cézanne himself

and I can…

 

See how life hovers, a portrait of brilliant, vibrant assurance.

Illuminating wisps of translucent, billowing clouds

rising to empyrean.

I am not alone.

 

My bloods warms,

my breath returns,

my bones solidify,

my ears hum.

He is here,

on the grass,

among a landscape of stones.

***
picture for sick lit

Joanne Spencer, who once had her life saved by a naked man, has had work published in Fresh! Magazine, Woman’s World  and will soon have a poem published in Mother’s Always Write. She is a published author of one novel, The Letter Keeper, and is currently working as a contributing journalist for her local publication, The Creekline,  as well as writing reviews for The Review Review. She resides in Northwest Florida where she pretends to cook, clean and do laundry all while secretly writing on a notepad she keeps in her back pocket or her bra, depending on her outfit that day.

Forgetting – by KIM BAILEY DEAL

Forgetting

 

The maze of hallways all seem

the same, nurse’s stations with sad

still faces and bent backs,

watching the clock until a light blinks

until another patient wanders past

the invisible fence of the floor.

 

My father-in-law does not remember

me, a stranger he met when his mind

was already broken,

Sometimes he smiles when I enter

his room, more often he cries

for his momma.

 

My back bends with the nurse

we hold him up to dress or bathe

while he spits curses and yells

or jokes with the cute blonde.

I am weary

I want to go home.

 

We had one good day

he told me his same old stories

we sang, The Old Rugged Cross,

I’ll cherish, burdens I lay down

the smile on his face

the light in his eyes.

 

The last week he was in his room

a house much too large for two

my husband and his mother, his brothers

none knew how to fix it, grief

was a squatter, invisible I wrung

my hands, I felt so helpless.

 

After we said goodbye to him

the light was gone from us,

wicked wounding words, stricken by fear

faithless, broken we had become

our legacy, lingering loss of trust

a last word

for a last word.

 

My husband’s eyes and hands

dimpled smile so like his father’s,

watching him sometimes frightens me.

Will he forget who I am?

Will we be strangers one day,

or were we all along?


***

img_4765

Kim Bailey Deal writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, and creative non-fiction. She’s been published in Issue #3 of Firefly Magazine, A Journal of Luminous Writing. Kim has also been a guest blogger for Robert Lee Brewer’s blog at www.writersdigest.com. She authors a weekly column and is Social Media Manager for www.five2onemagazine.com. Kim also has a creative nonfiction piece, Mexican Night, published in Pilcrow & DaggerAugust/September Issue: Giggles Galore, http://pilcrowdagger.com/issues/. Kim is mom to three sons and one daughter, Nim to her grandchildren and step-daughter. She lives with her husband, John, near Chattanooga, TN. To connect her website is: www.kimbaileydeal.net.

Footprints / On Religion – by KELLI SIMPSON

Footprints

 

I’d like to slap that apple out of her hand

and grind the old boa to grease beneath my boot.

Here’s another girl, innocent as Eve, believing herself to be a snake charmer.

But, see, she’s the one swaying and charmed –

disarmed by his handsome

slither and hiss.

 

Look, this garden is old –

old as worlds and wombs;

sweet as God’s first kiss;

unchanging as sparrows and swallows.

 

So, yes, I’d love to slap that apple right out of her hand,

but I’d just drive her closer to the tree.

I have to let it be.

After all, it’s my footprints she followed.


 

On Religion

 

Let sweat be your sacrament.

Tithe only dirt to bones.

Know the difference

between manna

and meat.

 

Be quick

to bare a breast

for suckling stars.

Wean

when the sky

cuts teeth.


***

IMG_6223

Kelli Simpson is the co-author of two poetry collections: Gemini / Scorpio / Capricornand Three Note Howl: The Wild Hunt.  Her poems have most recently appeared in Sugar Mule. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma, where she mothers, gardens, and treats herself to chocolate as often as possible. You can find her athttp://www.mamaneedsshoes.blogspot.com.

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!!!