Chapter 1: We All Must Grow Up
Alice rested her chin upon her hand as she stared absentmindedly out the window with her immense, blue eyes. Her fair-hair fell softly against her shoulders, resting along the lavender dress she wore. Snowflakes were lightly drifting past for a brief “hello” before they calmly went to sleep upon the ground with their other brothers and sisters. Alice sighed as she wondered if it ever snowed in Wonderland. How she would love to play in the snow with her friends only to return indoors a few minutes later for a nice warm cup of tea.
“Alice, pay attention!” Alice’s sister, Lorina, chastised. As though a spell had been recanted, Alice drew her attention away from the window and towards her sister, her hands now at her side. Lorina frowned down upon her sister as her hands rested against an open book that lay in her lap. Alice smiled sheepishly. The cold, stern look would not lift from Lorina’s face.
“Oh but this lesson is rather boring!” Alice finally exclaimed, feeling as though she simply must defend her actions. Her excuse, however, failed to alter the expression that was still upon her sister’s face.
“Boring or not, you still must learn this,” Lorina replied as coolly as possible, closing her eyes for a brief moment to hide her blue eyes only to have them reappear shortly after. Her hands lightly traced the rim of her deep red dress only to come into contact with the book that was still open to page one hundred thirty-five.
“I do not see Edith having to learn this rubbish,” Alice promptly retorted.
“It is difficult enough to teach one child at a time especially after the Governess’...departure,” Lorina remarked, faltering slightly as she attempted to find a proper euphemism for the situation.
“I do believe the better term is ‘quit’ dear sister,” Alice corrected, smiling innocently. However, Lorina quickly uncovered the devilish grin that lay hidden behind Alice’s smile.
“No. The best way to put it is ‘after you scared the Governess away with your ridiculous childish fantasies’!” Lorina could not help but to snap back at her sister. The smile immediately faded from Alice’s face as she looked rather guiltily down at her lap.
“I merely told her stories of Wonderland...” Alice’s voice trailed off as she attempted to sincerely explain herself. Of course, she never really was able to understand what had been the problem with conversing about Wonderland in the first place. Lorina bit her lip as she pushed a loose piece of her light brown hair back behind her ear while the rest lay nestled up in a bun as she stared down at her sister: a slight pang of guilt consuming her.
“And that type of behavior is perfectly acceptable for a seven-year-old. Not a young lady of fifteen,” Lorina replied gently. It was a worrisome subject; one that had caused the family a good deal of stress. For what sort of sane woman still believed in such stories of a mythical land of wonder? Why, Alice was fortunate no one had mentioned Warneford with all tales she spoke of.
“Well, I cannot help it if I still visit the good people of Wonderland.”
“Alice...” Lorina began as she attempted to approach the matter of Wonderland delicately. Of course, Alice was much too naive to think of her talk as clinically insane (or naive for that matter).
“Why just the other day I was having a rather interesting conversation with Hatter. I was explaining to him how I broke the sole of my shoe and he replied ‘why what on Earth was your soul doing down there?’” Alice began to travel along a tangent as she recalled the memory, laughing as she remembered the Hatter’s confusion. “He then spent the rest of the time inquiring as to why I was still alive if my soul was broken. Imagine that.”
“Imagine that,” Lorina repeated as she herself began to smile, laughing at the story. Upon realizing that she was being sucked into Alice’s game, she quickly composed herself. “Oh Alice!” she responded in frustration. “You silly thing!”
“I’m merely telling you what happened,” Alice replied, rather confused, shrugging her shoulders.
“That is quite enough,” Lorina stated sternly. Upon seeing Alice’s still confused expression, Lorina sighed. “Oh Alice, I really wish you would grow up soon.”
“Oh but I am grown up,” Alice responded promptly. Lorina smiled slightly at her sister’s naivety.
“Adults do not prattle about stories of a mad hatter, white rabbit and a caterpillar.”
“Oh but he isn’t---”
“It is all nonsense Alice,” Lorina interjected sternly before Alice had another word about her imaginary world that was freely roaming around her mind. “...have you ever thought that perhaps the reason why you have so few friends is due to the nonsensical stories you create for your amusement?” It pained Lorina to bring up such a subject but she was at the end of her rope with convincing this poor child the difference between reality and fantasy.
“Why is it that no one believes me about Wonderland?” Alice inquired, a slight irritation filling her voice as she recalled moments in which she attempted to speak of Wonderland in front of other children her age. At first, they had all rather enjoyed the little adventures of Wonderland, even claiming that they themselves had been there on occasions. However, as age began to prowl upon them, slowly they began to no longer believe in the magic of Wonderland and found Alice a rather nuisance whenever she brought it up. “It was merely a child’s game we used to play Alice: it isn’t real,” they would say or something of that nature: leaving Alice alone in her childish dreams.
“Because Wonderland does not exist,” Lorina answered more gently. Alice frowned at this reply, once more resting her chin in the palm of her hand as she stared gloomily out the window. She never liked it very much when the conversation of Wonderland reached this stage for she knew Wonderland existed. There was not a doubt in her mind: though it was rather strange that no one would take the time to believe her on such things. Once again she focused her attention out the window in hopes of allowing her mind to travel away from the pessimistic thoughts that were beginning to consume her. While Alice’s day dreams drifted to a Wonderland covered in snow, Lorina sighed as she attempted to conjure a different method of approach to Alice’s predicament with facing reality. Lorina mentally referred to the psychology books she had been reading lately (all due to solving the crisis Alice’s mythical world had caused) in hopes that something may be useful. It was then that the thought occurred to her that followed the frequent phrase “if you cannot beat them, join them”. “You know Alice, the reason why your friends may no longer believe you about Wonderland is because they’ve left it behind.”
“What do you mean?” Alice inquired, her attention once again focusing on her sister, terminating another beautiful Wonderland in winter.
“Well perhaps they have all decided to leave Wonderland behind permanently,” Lorina offered.
“Why on Earth would anyone want to leave Wonderland?” Alice wondered aloud.
“They may have done so because their parents have taught them to let go of Wonderland as a part of growing up. If you mention that you still visit there often, it may upset them as they recall their own little adventures in Wonderland. So they simply deny ever being there. Do you understand Alice?”
“I believe so...” Alice trailed off as she attempted to understand the situation her sister was proposing, completely forgetting the previous conversation. If she were forced to leave Wonderland forever, she certainly would not want other children prancing about with their own stories of Wonderland. Surely, she would miss it too much! And to think she had done this on numerous occasions to her dear friends. How dreadful! No wonder her friends never enjoyed Alice’s talk of Wonderland.
“You know, Alice, everyone at one point must leave Wonderland. It isn’t just your friends that have had to leave it behind,” Lorina added as gently as possible.
“When?” Alice immediately queried, slightly alarmed. She certainly was not ready to leave such a magnificent place as Wonderland. Lorina was about to give a reasonable date in which perhaps Alice would finally be rid of Wonderland. However, the fearful look present in her sister’s eyes provided Lorina with a rather sudden change of heart. After all, was it really so terrible to wish to remain in a childhood dream for as long as possible? Lorina pondered this for a moment as her own fantasy worlds resurfaced: places she had not visited for a very long time.
“When you’re ready,” Lorina finally stated. “When you’re ready to grow up.” Alice gave a puzzling expression. Had she not just told her sister that she was grown up? Before she began to protest the matter her sister ended the conversation with, “Well, it appears our lesson for the day has been concluded. Perhaps you may play with Edith for a while before afternoon tea.”
However, while the two were parting their separate ways, Alice was deciding not to play with little Edith today. She was much too grown up for such silly games. If there was anything that still remained from her childhood days, it was her ability to quickly allow dismissive comments to fill her head.
“Why, can you imagine, Dinah?” Alice said aloud as her cat came into view as if to greet her. She had no knowledge as to where Snowdrop or Kitty was and it was most likely Dinah no longer cared either. Dinah was a rather old cat compared to the playfully little thing she used to be, spending most of her days sleeping in various places of the house. Alice’s cat looked upon her master, as though clearly listening to Alice’s chatter. “In order to become an adult, I must leave Wonderland! Of all the preposterous things! Well, if that is the case, then I shall never grow up,” Alice continued as Lorina’s words quickly twisted. Alice scooped Dinah in her arms, simply not caring that this would cover her dress with cat hair. She stroked the top of Dinah’s head as she continued down the hall.
The dark sky gleamed through a nearby window with snow continuing to fall down gracefully. Alice placed Dinah lightly on the soft rug below her feet before seating herself on the deep red pouffe that lay by the window. She stared for a brief moment out the window, sighing.
“Of course...I would like to grow up with everyone else my age,” Alice remarked quietly. Dinah slowly rolled along the carpet, allowing her belly to become exposed. A small noise that was not exactly a meow rustled through her throat, indicating she wished for Alice’s attention. Looking down, Alice smiled and moved from the pouffe to the rug where she lightly rubbed her cat’s belly. A low purr began to stir within Dinah’s throat.
As she pet Dinah lightly, Alice’s eyes traveled along the walls of the hall. Various portraits hung about, most of which she had completely forgotten ever existed. A photograph of her dressed up as a beggar-maid hung not too far from her current position. She was most likely around the age of six or seven when this photograph had been taken. The little Alice in the photograph looked so much different than the one who was now sitting on the rug.
“Perhaps...I should grow up,” Alice thought to herself as she stared intently at the photograph. After all, she would enjoy having her old friends once more though she positively distasted the idea of leaving Wonderland behind forever. Still, the longer she remained tied to such a place, the more difficult it would be to leave. The idea of never growing up, Alice concluded, was a silly one: of course she must grow up and she might as well do it now and be done with the matter.
Of course, these types of thoughts were perfectly normal for Alice. Her thoughts constantly changed as the day progressed. One moment she could be thinking of the loveliest of thoughts involving flowers and sweets only to quickly transfer to bitter thoughts containing parasites and dust bunnies. These dust bunnies would no doubt become interesting creatures within another few minutes mind you. However, what was strange was Alice’s thoughts remained on the same issue for quite some time. Throughout the rest of afternoon (and very well into evening) she constantly switched back and forth as to whether or not it truly was time to grow up.
“But of course it is, dear Alice! Why, how strange to think you shall stay in Wonderland forever!” she would reprimand herself only to be suppressed by thoughts of never being able to visit Hatter or the March Hare or the Cheshire Cat or even the Queen of Hearts. She had made so many wonderful friends, it would be rather sad for her to leave them behind forever. “Well, if I do decide to grow up, I shall have to find a way to leave Wonderland so I shan’t be able to return. Otherwise, I will no doubt attempt to visit them again,” she reasoned.
Alice was now in her nightgown, still pondering whether or not to follow through with the little scheme she had conjured. She delicately lifted the covers of her bed before lying down to sleep and dream the most unusual dreams. Resting her head on the pillow, Alice kept her eyes open as she stared forward. There were still a few dolls arranged neatly around her room including a stuffed rabbit with button eyes. It stared blankly at her, not offering any sort of hint as to what she should do. Her breathing was becoming softer as she continued to stare at the little friend. Who had given her that rabbit anyway? If she simply could not remember its significance then was there even a point of keeping it? She wondered if grownups ever kept such childish toys out of sentimental value. Then again, that particular rabbit may not even hold any such value whatsoever. If only she could remember who had given it to her. Alice’s eyes gradually began to fall as she attempted to remember where she had attained the rabbit in the first place.
Eyes only closed for a brief moment, Alice’s room came into view once more. Without even thinking, Alice removed the covers that were now keeping her warm from the winter air. Swiftly, she placed her bare feet on the floor and it felt as though ice had just attacked her poor feet. Alice fiddled for slippers with her feet as they frantically searched for warmth. Once they had accomplished their mission, Alice rose from her bed and walked over to her little rabbit friend. Gracefully, she picked the creature up with the upmost care. She stared into its eyes one last time.
“Don’t you see little rabbit? If I don’t leave Wonderland now...I’ll never be able to,” she said softly. Although she was tired, Alice still knew deep down that she had grown much too attached to the Wonderland she loved. It was best to leave it behind now before she and Wonderland would become inseparable in which case she had no hope of growing up and growing older was something she wanted very much.
Quietly, Alice tip toed down the halls of her home with the stuffed rabbit cradled in one arm as she held a candle with her other hand. It was rather dark though this was to be expected due to the season. She only hoped no one would see her small light that guided the way towards her gateway to Wonderland. Although she had a candle, it was still rather difficult to see and, to her great disappointment, this meant she would be unable to enjoy some of the decorations that filled the house. At the same time, she hoped she did not trip on something to cause a ruckus that would wake everyone.
At last, Alice reached the door she had been looking for. She held her breath as she pulled the handle as gently as possible. It creaked ever so slightly, causing Alice to jump a bit for fear of waking anyone. She paused for a moment, straining her ears as she listened to see if anyone had heard the door open. After a moment of silence, Alice quietly stepped inside the room. She could vaguely witness the silhouettes of the furniture that filled the room. Alice avoided a chair and small table as she made her way to what she had come in there for: the looking glass.
Alice placed her light source upon a nearby ledge. For a moment, she stared at her own reflection in the looking glass, already beginning to regret her decision. However, she found herself quickly shaking her head at these thoughts. She then looked down at the small rabbit she had brought with her.
“Come friend, let’s go to Wonderland...one last time,” Alice said to the little rabbit as she smiled weakly. Without hesitation, Alice placed a hand through the looking glass in order to make sure the portal was working properly (for it would be most dreadful if she attempted to place her entire body through the glass only to smash against it). Once she knew it was possible to travel through the looking glass safely, Alice placed her entire body through it as she began her adventure in Wonderland for the very last time.