Alice is four years old.
It was 1:30pm. I knew because I had seen it on the clock in the restaurant just before we walked out the door. Father had taught me how to tell time. But I guess he didn't think it would work because he looked so surprised the first time I did it. Mother looked kind of alarmed at first, but I don't think she minds anymore. It was such a lovely summer day that Mother decided we would walk to a restaurant for lunch. The walk was not very long, so I didn't mind. And we got to go past the flower shop. Mother is glad that I take an interest in the flower shop; she says that a cultured woman appreciates flowers and she is glad I'm developing this so young. I just like all the bright colors, but I don't tell her this.
We stopped at the edge of a busy street. Mother glanced around briefly and held my hand as we waited for a carriage to pass. When it did she tugged on my hand so we could cross, but suddenly I was afraid. I pulled against her.
"Wait Mother." I knew she would want a reason, but I did not have one.
"What is the trouble Mary Alice?"
"Please wait." With one hand I grabbed onto an old hitching post, in case she tried to drag me with her, and with the other I held onto her skirt, in case she tried to leave without me. She did neither. Mother never caused a scene if she could help it. A pigeon landed on the curb, pecking for crumbs. It wandered into the street. I heard a roar. A black automobile tore down the street, as fast as a running horse. He was not supposed to drive so fast. He was supposed to stop at the corner. But he didn't. I watched the pigeon flatten under the tires and I felt a fleck of blood land on my cheek. Mother was startled. For a moment I thought she had forgotten that I had stopped her. But she didn't. She kneeled down so that her head was close to mine and asked in a soft voice:
"Mary Alice, why can't we go?"
"We can go now."
"Why not before?"
"We would have been the pigeon."
A/N-I must first address the title of this story, since it is not entirely mine to claim. It comes from a book by Lauren Slater called Skinner's Box- Great Psychological Experiments of the 20th Century. One of the chapters is entitled the same as this story, and tells of an experiment in which a psychologist and a few of his friends got themselves accepted to various asylums all by claiming to here a voice in there head saying "thud".
The date I'm using is based off the lexicons date of 1901 for Alice's birth. There is a question mark next to it on the page, so I don't know how accurate it is.
Also, though I'm not usually one to preemptively defend myself, I feel the need to mention that this first chapter is being narrated by a four year old and the style's simplicity is indicative of that fact. The rest takes place when Alice is older, and therefore will be more sophisticated.
As one last reassurance, this is a prologue; the following chapters will be longer, the second one is already nearly done.