It is fitting that Shelley Marlow should be the inaugural writer for Prose Republik for a number of reasons, a) she’s an outstanding writer, and, b) as we rapidly approach the twin specters of Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos, it is right and proper that this author is a witch. So here’s to all you seekers and wanderers in realms not within our philosophy. If you’d like to share a story, a poem, or a calavera here outside the bounds of this dream within a dream, please do, if not, please enjoy…
The Wind Blew Through Like a Chorus of Ghosts
by Shelley Marlow (new work in progress)
Chapter One. In Brooklyn, 2013
Pilar and Sylvie were both 55 and married to each other. A shaman friend pronounced them married one late night, and a jeweler in Ravello pronounced them one and the same. Sylvie was not female or male, had never fit into binary ideas of gender and is more what is now called, gender-nonconforming. Pilar, who was very organized, presented more clearly as female and was due for a vacation from her job.
They hadn’t been to Italy since 2009, to see Charles in Fondi, Gore on the Amalfi Coast, Simone in Roma, and Annalisa in Bologna.
Sylvie thought of their friend Wendy who had moved to England 30 years ago. Wendy was one of the sensitive, unusual people they had met in 1983 at art school. They were fond of each other. Wendy had boyfriends and Sylvie pursued feminine folk.
Wendy had sent warm letters to Sylvie about her family life in Devonshire. Sylvie never wrote back and they lost touch. Every time she thought of visiting Wendy over the years, an inexplicable wall of fear appeared in their head. Sylvie searched online for Wendy for days until they found her.
In their email exchange, Wendy asked when was Sylvie going to visit her? And to please do so soon.
Sylvie heard the wheels in their head skid loudly from the idea of travels in lovely Italy to switch tracks to travel to the UK. There were many reasons to switch: A witch exhibition in Edinburgh; Pilar has friends to visit in Fife, Scotland; take a bath in Bath; Sacred Avebury; Ease of English, ease of understanding English-English, because of Doctor Who. Sylvie understood much of Italian, but possibly because of telepathy and also because of the particularly emotional delivery.
After they bought tickets to the UK, Sylvie woke with dreams-full of fear and trepidation about the trip.
Sylvie asked a channeler friend to look into why they had so much anxiety about traveling to the UK. The channeler told Sylvie that they had a past life in the UK as a young witch, who was executed at 19, in the year, 1619.
Sylvie wept and grieved their short past life as a witch.
Thin pale blue green light bled through the early morning curtains. Sylvie woke up early, tossed covers off and quietly as to not wake Pilar, rolled out of bed. Sylvie tiptoed through the archives room, up to the front room to paint. A kestrel looked in through the front window. At their desk, the sun reflected off of the new building across the street that blocked the view of the sunrise, and broke into four smaller star globes of yellow, peach, orange, and red lights. They were thankful that the sunlight still got in. Good day sunshine.
Sylvie dipped a pointed brush in black ink then dragged the ink across a sheet of rice paper and made a perfect arced line. They stared at the line and waited to decide to what other lines were implied on the page, what another line could build. They looked around the sunny room. The aloe grew out of its pot, and reached up ecstatically, the dragon plant’s branches grew to the ceiling then curved down and looped up again, one set of fronds burst up and joined the aloe in an ecstatic prayer, and the Portulaca dipped down below it’s planter edge, and then looped up, too, in sexy praise, with tiny white blooms, each petal the size of a pin head. The basil plant was bushy, and the baby rosemary plant, stood thin and shy.
She thought, before a long trip I always fall in love with my studio, the warmth of the morning light, the plants and my pillow that I can’t take with me.
Their eyes stung in the sunlight, so she headed back into the darkened bedroom, and dove back into bed next to Pilar, under the covers. Pilar got out bed to check in remotely to her work after taking a piss.
Sylvie drifted back to sleep on their left side, their right arm framed their oval face, their nose in their armpit toward the hairs under their short sleeve.
A cell phone buzzed. They thought they’d turned off all notifications, but poked a hand out from under the covers, and looked on the phone’s bright screen. In the quiet of morning, everyone’s words in letters float loudly from the screen. Sylvie turned it off without reading a thing. The letters dissolved in silence.
Silence was welcome and broke only by a distant siren that morphed into a dog’s bark. The cheap clock tick ticked. The old refrigerator sighed. The air cleaner hissed nearby. Pilar coughed from the front room. Sylvie closed her eyes and saw 8 point stars on a Persian rug that floated in blackness.
Shelley Marlow received an Acker Award for excellence in avant-garde writing in 2017. Marlow “writes with a fluid quality that pulls the reader through… twining the workaday and the trippy together. Marlow makes a strong case for love in the face of all as the truest magic this life has to offer.” (Lambda Literary) Read about the new art edition of Two Augusts In a Row In a Row here: https://publicationstudio.biz/collections/pilot-editions/products/two-augusts-in-a-row-in-a-row-limited-artists-edition-by-shelley-marlow