My world was an echo of my imagination.
Windy prairies, gardens bursting with flowers, little cottages nestled into the corners of forests.
People. Happy people. Animals. Happy animals. Everything laughing and talking and running and playing and working where did they all go?
I went there once; I chased the White Rabbit down the hole. He came with me always, why shouldn't I go with him for once? Don't friends do that?
After visiting there, I ran home from the forest that was nearby my house.
I was eleven when I first visited Wonderland. With it's bizarre talking flowers and smoking centipedes. It was a happy visit right?
People keep telling me it will be all right, that I'm going to be fine and that nothing horrible will happen ever again. When they don't fear to speak to me, that is. Why would they fear me? I haven't done anything ... oh, yes, I have. I laugh in my mind. My shoes feel packed with bandages. I feel vague memories of the burns on my arms and legs. I feel the slippery cuts on my feet.
I feel oddly numb.
My parents were killed last year, from the fire, and I only feel numb? I vaguely remember crying at the house, when I stepped on the broken glass as I attempted to pull open the door. The door handle burned me.
I can still hear their screams.
Mom, go Alice, get out! Dad, run Alice, don't look back! Then the White Rabbit, Alice... Alice trouble is brewing, leave... the window, quick! We must save the breaking ...
They all echo in my head.
That forced me to leave the door, leave my parents, leave my stable world. Flame had licked under the door and set my room on fire. I ran, I tripped, I felt my feet bleed. Fire spread across my room, across the carpet, across me. I pushed myself up with White Rabbit and half wobbled to the window before blindly jumping through it.
My family's screams still echo.
That is why I'm here. When I sat up, I felt a shard of glass bite into my hand. I pulled it out and stared at the blood that dripped down from it onto my perfect white nightdress ...
I began to drag it up my arms. Just to watch the scarlet liquid flow and drop on my nightdress. I missed once. It ended up in the snow. Slowly, it froze.
That is how they found me. They tried to take away my glass! It was mine, mine to use, mine to break the purity! Selfish scoundrels, wanting to take away my toy. I tried to cut their purity. I injured two of them, their blood hit the snowy ground from their cut arms. The third I managed to get across the throat, he fell with a gargled scream. The fourth ran to call the police while another knocked me unconscious.
I haven't spoken a word. I'm not really here. My mind falls in and out of each realm dangerously. I'm in a carriage right now. With the jacket on. It confines my movement and makes me feel uncomfortable as well. They've set White Rabbit in the crook of my arm and told me not to squirm - he'd fall out. Losing White Rabbit would be horrible, so I heed their words.
They're moving me. I've been at Cambridge Institute for a year now ... was it a year? They said so. Not that I heard them. It feels like decades to me.
They never say where they're taking me. But I heard a whisper from White Rabbit of 'Rutledge Institute.' Another institute with gray walls and barred windows. I stare numbly out the window and see the brick building. It seems so dulled from everything else.
We've arrived at the gate. The guards pull me out of the carriage and bear me up the walk on a stretcher. I feel as if they are bearing me to my grave, myself in a coffin. A doctor is at the door watching me, eyes alert for any reactions to my surroundings.
Suddenly, I hear a yowl and feel a weight against my chest. A cat has jumped on me. My bearers yell out in surprise.
I am dropped to the ground. I feel nothing of impact, I simply see the piercing gaze of the cat. I howl in my mind. It's the Cheshire Cat with such an ominous face.
Alice, the world is in turmoil, you must help us, he says.
I laugh in my mind. I couldn't help my parents, I can't help you.
He sighs and turns around, hissing at the guards. He sinks his claws into my jacket, as if claiming me from the institute. I laugh again in my mind and return to my blank staring.
Be strong, Alice, he says before jumping away, climbing a hedge. An orderly had waved a stick at him.
I pretend not to notice the sad glance he sends me, or the dark glare he sends the doctor.
And I am taken to my room. The doctor follows, writing in a brown book. I glance at the cover.
RUTLEDGE PRIVATE CLINIC AND ASYLUM
Date Admitted: 4 November, 1864
Physician: Heironymous Q. Wilson
Heironymous? What a name. I stare at him with dead eyes as he watches me through the glass window in the door. The orderlies set me on my bed and then leave. I stare up at the ceiling.
I sleep uneasily that night. I've stared at this ceiling for hours now. The orderlies came in once to take off that confining jacket and feed me. I didn't respond, I don't care for food. It's always burnt and tastes like rotten meat.
There is a storm outside. I hear the screams of the other patients, and hysterical laughter. They all are insane. I pull White Rabbit close to me, careful of his injured eye. I'm not like them.
I've never hurt anyone! I've never plunged blades into their hearts, caved men's heads in with a shovel, or pushed babies underneath a spring to drown! I am perfectly sane, thank you.
Oh! I laugh silently. The man and the glass. The blood spilling from his throat. All right, I did that once. It was terribly exciting wasn't it? Wasn't it White Rabbit?
White Rabbit hasn't responded to my calls all night. I'm slightly worried for his health. He's never left me this long without explaining.
I turn to the window. Rain patters against the glass, leaving red streaks. The sky is bleeding. It is raining, sobbing, bleeding, all for me. The rain drips against the glass. Lightning flashes, and I see:
hElp, aliCe, heLp.
And suddenly, a silhouette of a cat is thrown against the glass. I jump and look back up at the ceiling, clinging to White Rabbit even more. I'm not frightened.
White Rabbit turns his head up to me and howls, "You must save us!"
My screams echo throughout the night, blended with the rest in the ward.
A month passes.
The doctor is perplexed with me. He mutters incoherently about serums and potions, different medicines and what to do next. He's had me tied to this chair for an hour. He put a flame in front of my eye. I didn't see or feel it. How do I know it was there? I don't. White Rabbit is in my room, he can't tell me.
I do remember the blocks though. The little hand blocks he clapped in my ears.
Clap! Look, Wonderland, once so tended and cared for, now spoiled and broken.
Clap! Hello, Dr. Wilson, are you still disappointed with my lack of progress? I'll never be healthy ...
Clap! Dear, dear Rabbit, why are you rushing so? All right, I'll hurry, but your stopwatch is broken! How do you know we're late?
Clap! Doctor! Mushrooms, glades, and trees; watch the acorns explode from the flying bumblebees.
Clap! Plummeting through the dark abyss is not frightening. The chess pieces smile in relief; the cards swirl around me, begging me to throw them; the broken pocket watch stares at me ominously.
Clap! Dr. Wilson is calling the orderly to send me back to my room. Am I in reality?
After I am set in my room with White Rabbit, I do believe. But he looks at me, and I look at him.
The world fades around me, and again we fall into the dark abyss of chess pieces, cards, and broken pocket watches.