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Return to Wonderland
“Isn’t it odd how humans want what they cannot have and what they do have they do not want?”
“Dear, you are not making any sense. I asked if you were feeling well, you are quite pale.”
The first speaker, a girl just beginning her twelfth year of life, sat awhile and pondered her own question, completely ignoring that of the second speaker. The second speaker a maiden by the name of Lucy sat in front of the twelve year old girl for only a moment, and then gathered her skirts and rose from her chair.
In a huff she left the girl with her thoughts and only then did the young lady reply, “I feel well, Lucy, thank you for asking.”
But it was too late and Lucy had left the garden where the girl was. In this garden there were many flowers and a collection of marble benches that sat in a rather random fashion surrounding a very large rose bush with a multitude of white blossoms hanging from its prickly branches. Here the girl often spent her days, sitting alone with her thoughts, and it was also here that her sister died of fever. No one knew why the sister had come to the garden, though many suspected it was to say good-bye to the girl, but nonetheless, it was where she passed.
And now the forlorn girl pondered a new thought; why don’t animals live as long as humans? This she wondered due to the sudden passing of her dear kitten, which was actually very old, a few nights before.
This young girl, whose hair glistened of gold and whose eyes were sparkling sapphires, had seen far too much death, and her mother, who watched with a concerned eye from the sewing room, worried.
“Charles?” the mother called from the sewing room.
After a few moments and the clomping of men’s boots, there came the reply, “Yes Lydia?”
The mother, Lydia, looked into her husband’s eyes and whispered, “Have you considered what we spoke of last night?”
His face, which was once filled with such delight, now was grim, and looking to his wife he replied, “I don’t know… Do you think they could help her?”
Lydia gazed out the window and watched as her beautiful daughter rocked gently in her seat mumbling words of nonsense to herself, before sighing, “If they can’t, no one can…”
The girl, who was none the wiser to her parents’ plans, suddenly jolted from her soothing rocking and clasped one of the rose’s buds in her hands, “White? No, no, no… This isn’t right… They must be red!”
And with that she began sprinting for the red paint her parents had bought for her, shrieking, “We’re painting the roses red, we’re painting the roses red, lest the queen cut off our head, we’re painting the roses red!”
It was a short two weeks before a group of men knocked on Charles’ door, and he was none too happy about their presence. He forced himself to allow the villainous men into his home and take his beloved daughter’s things, and then he led them to his garden.
Alice, whose twelve year old mind was shattered and trying to make sense of the world, was singing a song that only she and the flowers knew when Charles and the men approached. She continued singing as he placed a fatherly hand on her shoulder and spun her around.
“Alice, my dear, these men-”
“And oh how lovely the garden is/ when the daffodils bloom…”
Charles caught his daughter’s dainty chin and held it gently, staring deep into her eyes. And to himself, he thought; blessed be the man that can remove the curtains that hide her soul… To the men standing behind him, he grunted, “Go ahead…”
Alice’s song ended when the men placed their calloused hands on her arms and shoulders, and she began shrieking, “Traitor! Traitor! Off with his head, off with his head!”
Charles stood dumbfounded a moment, allowing her words to sink into his heart and nestle there like termites in the walls. He slowly turned and sat on Alice’s bench, glaring at the rose bush with its painted red flowers…All but one, whose white petals were a beacon of hope. Hope that maybe his little girl was still within the body she wore.
As for Alice, she was soon calmed by the contents of a syringe, but it was not long before she began mumbling to herself, “There was no white rabbit Alice, you fell asleep reading with Diana. It’s all in your head and if you ever want to go home you must remember that.”
And she repeated this to herself, because as broken as she seemed, she knew that the men in white coats who strapped her to a type of bed in the back of the vehicle she rode in were taking her somewhere she would not like and she would be hurt, but she couldn’t let the men hurt her any more than she was already hurt.
“Alice? Are you Alice?”
In her focus of repeating her mantra, Alice had missed the ride to the building, whose innards were sterile white and she was still strapped to the bed, but now she was beside a doctor of sorts. Alice gave herself some more good advice; make sure to stay on this man’s good side.
“Yes sir. Alice is my name, what is yours?”
His sympathetic smile poked at something within Alice, but she decided that she would try to follow her own advice,
"My name is Dr. R. How are you Alice?”
She ground her teeth together and hissed, “Peachy. I want to go home.”
That smile again, and he chided, “Alice, it isn’t lady-like to grind your teeth. Unclench them please,” she did. “You can’t go home until you are all better! Did you know you were sick, dear Alice?”
Now, something about the way he said ‘dear’ made Alice want to scream, but she held it in, murmuring, “I know. How could I not know?”
At this he smiled even wider and answered, “Many people here don’t know that they are sick, so I am very glad I don’t have to tell you. Now, Alice, your father said that you have some very…odd…habits, and I think we should discuss them. Would you like to sit in my office?”
Alice’s frustration allowed her to only be able to nod in agreement, and the men who had taken her inside this awful building unbuckled her restraints. They then hurried her inside a nearby office, where she was strapped to a chair opposite Dr. R. The office was small and cramped, full of books with names Alice could never pronounce and smelt of must, which Alice usually enjoyed, but today it only aggravated her.
“Why would a place that is supposed to make people better filled with so many annoying things?”
Dr. R seemed a bit taken aback by this question and tried restarting his statement, but was interrupted by Alice’s repeated question. He decided it best to answer, “If you are speaking of my hospital, then I think that you are annoyed because you cannot move about and act as you do at your home.”
Now, the doctor had no clue that Alice was fairly well behaved in her home, and only suffered the occasional outburst. At the hospital, however, she seemed ready to explode. Alice knew this though, and did not think it out of line to tell him so.
“That may be true Alice, but then why would your parents send you here?”
Alice noticed that Dr. R was getting angry, and forgot her own advice with the quick retort, “Because they haven’t seen what I have! No one has! I am the only one to meet the white rabbit, March Hare, Queen of Hearts, singing flowers, tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum, and the Mad Hatter!”
Alice sucked in all the air she lost while half-shouting all of her words at the doctor, who then wrote vigorously in a folder he seemed to materialize from thin air. Alice waited a few moments and heard a small voice from within scold her for being so rude and rash. She knew she would have to pay for her actions soon, and feared the worst.
“I think we are done here, Alice. I look forward to speaking with you soon,” Dr. R rose from his chair and motioned for the men to take Alice away.
Three days passed before Alice was allowed to leave her room, and how she relished the idea of being in the yard, where she hoped to find a rose bush. However, a particular doctor stepped in front of the doors before she could reach them, and quietly asked, “Where are you going?”
“To the yard… I was told I could leave my room, and I wish to do so.”
His smile, which Alice began to identify as a sneer, plastered his face and his voice of knives stabbed Alice with the simple sentence, “You cannot go outside.”
Hurt and angry, Alice screamed for a reason, but the sneer simply sent her to her room again.
While there, she thought about how she would like to get back to her home and her rose bush with the white blooms, that is; until she heard something very peculiar.
Alice looked around her room, but there was nowhere for a pssting person to be hiding, so she peaked her head out her door. However, there wasn’t a soul in the hall, save the guard who barked at her to return to her room. This greatly confused poor Alice and she quietly sat down on her bead again. She assumed the sound must’ve been the still wind pushing the nonexistent branch against her window.
This time she sat upright and turned her gaze to the window. In the bright daylight, nothing was hidden, except her psster. That is, until his small head was framed by the barred window.
“Alice! Are you alright?”
But Alice was very much not alright. In fact, she was screaming at the top of her lungs; because who should be standing at her prison window, but the white rabbit?
It took a lot of effort, but Alice was finally calmed after an hour of Dr. R showing her the empty window and having one of the orderlies stand outside and put his own face in the frame. When she stopped screaming though, she began sprinting from one end of her tiny room to the other yelling, “I’m late! I’m late! I’m late for a very important date!”
It took four orderlies to hold Alice, who was twelve, and three more to secure her to her bed where she thrashed about for hours, screaming gibberish such as “Announcing her royal highness, the Queen of Hearts!”
The poor girl’s mind delved into old habits, and the doctor could see that she would be lost if he could not find a quick fix, and so he ordered for Alice to be heavily sedated, in the hopes that she could recover through her dreams.
But her nightmares of card soldiers and mad tea parties prohibited any such success; if anything, it simply showed Alice that she was not insane and should be released to find the rabbit hole. Which she desperately tried to convince Dr. R of.
“Sir, I must return to Wonderland!”
She barged into the office unannounced and frightened the doctor, who was writing in his journals. However, after a moment of processing what she said, he seemed to forget his fear and his need to scold the rude child, “Where?”
“Wonderland. I don’t belong here with your kind; I need to be with others who have traveled to Wonderland, not with those who have never seen its beauty.”
The doctor sat silently for a moment, mulling over a thought or two in his head, and then he stood and motioned for Alice to follow him, which she eagerly did. Alice, thinking he would head for the cafeteria, began to settle on her order, but was pleasantly surprised when he opened the door to the yard and beckoned she follow.
“I get to go out? Does that mean I can find my rabbit hole?”
The cryptic man just smiled and led Alice to a small greenhouse. Through the glass she could see a jungle’s worth of plants and when he opened the door she let the smells fill her nose. Inside, there were flowers and plants beyond Alice’s dreams and most curious of all, a sign reading: Wonderland.
“I’m not sure how you saw this, maybe you heard one of the other patients mention it, but I am so pleased that we now have a physical place that we can go to explore this deeply rooted delusion.
Alice’s face fell and she no longer saw beautiful flowers, but thorns and vines that would poke and strangle her. The sweet aroma of flowers was replaced by the smell of rot and pesticides and the suffocating heat clung to her skin, so she fled from the house of horrors, this not-Wonderland. She didn’t stop running until she was safely under her bead, her own private cave. She enjoyed the quiet solitude; it gave her time to think.
She realized that the doctor would not help her in any way to get out of the hospital, and she would need to do it alone. Or so she thought.
Alice’s face lifted and she ran to her window searching for white fur; and there it was: a white rabbit wearing a lovely vest, whose dark brown humanoid eyes begged for her to not scream again.
“My white rabbit! You have returned,” she carefully reached through the bars and grabbed the scruff of his neck, pulling him through the window, which was hard due to his round belly.
When he was safely seated on her bed and her door was shut, the white rabbit spoke, “Alice, are you alright? I saw them drag you away almost a week ago, and I have been trying to speak with you! Though, screaming when you saw me wasn’t making my job any easier…”
Alice couldn’t help herself, she giggled and whispered, “I apologize; I’ve been trying to convince myself that Wonderland doesn’t exist, but that hasn’t worked. It has simply made me go a little mad-”
“Speaking of which,” the rabbit interrupted, looking over his shoulder to the window which had no glass.
The pear shaped mammal hopped to the edge of the cot-like bed and brought his chin to his chest, much like a human looking down, with his back to Alice. There he stood for three long seconds, which Alice counted very carefully, before he finally turned to look at her.
However, the dear, broken girl could not bear to wait for him to speak, for all it took was three second for Alice to remember her pain and her sadness. She pierced the silence with a tearful whisper, “Why?”
To this, the rabbit cocked his head first to the left, then the right, before responding, “Why what?”
Her pink, blotchy face came within inches of his, as rivers flowed from her twilight eyes and her rose petal lips quivered in the oncoming storm; her hair of golden sun rays was scattered and knotted; and the only thing that remained of pre-Wonderland Alice was the dwindling flame of curiosity that could be caught if one stared into her eyes.
Alice’s choked words escaped her lips, “Why did all of you forget me? Why didn’t you try to make me stay? Why did you let me leave? Why didn’t you come get me? Why did you all abandon me?”
The White Rabbit, whose name was Michael, looked down in shame and shook his head. His reply was spoken so softly, Alice wasn’t sure she heard it, “We didn’t.”