"We Aim to Please" by Karen
The croquet game had finally broken up into a more or less haphazard gathering of players wandering around the course hitting balls at random through the stranger hedgehog wickets.
Alice found herself forgotten in the ensuing confusion. Grateful to be out of the presence of the shrill-voiced and obnoxious Queen of Heart's presence, Alice wandered over to the far side of the grassy lawn to a stand of poplar trees.
She sighed and leaned up against the trunk, before she decided that she much preferred to set down at the foot of the tree and close her eyes. A voice from above said: "And how are we getting along, today?"
"Who's there," cried Alice, "I seldom speak to strangers and certainly never to strange voices carried on the wind."
"I it is I, or rather I own the voice, as you so quaintly put it, carried on the wind."
"That is not a proper response!" she said indignantly.
"It should suffice," the voice lazily replied, "After all, I too seldom speak with strangers, whether in person or no. It depends on my mood, and today I feel in in an expansive mood."
"Oh, where are you?" Alice asked, curious in spite of her initial reservations.
"Up here, in the tree branches"
"I can't see you." Alice announced as she took a few more steps closer to the trunk in which the cat perched and craned her neck upward in order to get a closer look.
"Well, of course you can't. I seldom trouble to make myself visible, and when I do it is at my own discretion and not the convenience of others." the voice trailed off into a soft low-key thrumming purr. "That is only sensible."
"I would very much like to hear more, if you would, Sir," said Alice, for your remarks are most sensible."
"Sir, is it?" the voice replied as a shifting in the air around the lowest hanging tree branches which Alice watched closely, and first an a slotted green eye, than a tufted ear, and finally a set of shiny white teeth appeared in the arch of a the trunk, before the entire creature at last emerged.
"Why, you're a cat!" exclaimed Alice happily clapping her hands in delight, thinking of cats brought to mind her own darling pet cat, Dinah. "It would so lovely to be able to speak to cats."
"Well, if you had not added that last bit," the cat replied, stretching out its back and forepaws, "I might well have taken offense, as it is, I find myself at leisure to converse with you. How was the croquet game?"
Alice pondered that a bit before replying: "Not altogether as I expected it to be." She figured it was best that she not tell the cat that she had been rather overwhelmed in the question▓s presence, and her live flamingo mallet refused to bend properly and kept eyeing her with sulky indifference. It did not matter, really, at this point.
The cat nodded. "Yes, well, they do things differently around these parts. I've found it best not to mingle with royalty, you never when they will start feeling their blood and go all royal on you."
"Please, if you will, might I inquire as to you name?"
⌠I am the Cheshire Cat," the cat purred with more than a little satisfaction at having this choice bit of information.
Alice curtsied in such a manner that both her governess and her older sister back home would have well pleased with her grace in the act. "Alice Liddell, pleased to met you."
"You have some odd ways about you as well, Alice Liddell," observed the Cheshire Cat. "That can be changed, everything changes, even me."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"I mean what I say it means," he replied. "Is that not how one speaks, or am missing something?"
"It's just that I don't understand," she said. "It is a seeming only, as I understood your words in the way in which they were employed, but the sense eludes my grasp just as if I were trying to catch kittens while wearing leather gloves."
"Indeed. Then let me say this, change is like yonder river flowing past us, the river flows in only one direction, otherwise, it would go against the natural laws." The Cat's face had taken on a bewhiskered and contemplative mien.
Alice giggled, "If you do not mind my saying so, you just like my governess going on about our lessons."
The Cheshire Cat arched its back and the fur of its body rose up in bristles. "If you please!" he hissed.
"Sorry, I did not mean to offend you!" cried Alice.
"None taken," the cat stiffly replied. "None then, change in itself is a good thing, because without change everything would remain static. However, there are those who prefer the status quo."
"Status Quo, what does that mean?" Alice asked, recognizing the word as Latin from her school lessons, but the unfamiliar accent the cat employed and the his odd way of speaking made it difficult to understand. The cat spat out its long pink tongue and began cleaning his whiskers as he thought about the question, "Status quo, well it's Latin, if you want to know, and it means, well, status quo. Or to keep things just the way they are, or have been, or will be. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Yes," Alice nodded encouragingly.
"It has been a pleasure conversing with you," the Cheshire Cat suddenly announced, but I feel night coming on, and my mood for talking diminishing along with the sun's rays, so I will bid you good evening."
And with that the Cheshire Cat vanished from her sight, first both ears, then the nose,
and the last thing to disappear entirely, was the sight the grin, white teeth gleaming in the light of oncoming twilight.