Disclaimer: Alice Cullen and all related characters are copyrighted to Stephenie Meyer.
A/N: This is my first submission in the Twilight category, but I've had this idea in my head for quite some time. I've really had a lot of fun writing it. Mainly because Alice is my favorite character and she's got an extremely fascinating history.
Just a little note to those who don't know or remember, Alice's real name is Mary Alice Brandon. In the beginning, I'll have most people refer to her as Mary or Mary Alice, but she will take on Alice in later chapters.
Installment 1 – Snatches
No matter how dark the night, somehow, the sun rises once again and all shadows are chased away.
The Mississippi sun blazed down harshly upon the crowded city—unusually warm for this early in spring—merciless to those who happened to be caught on in the stifling heat.
"Mary! Mary!" A dark haired girl, not a day past six, tugged impatiently at her sister's skirt. The petite young woman didn't so much as acknowledge her sister, quite a rude thing to do, particularly since they had stopped in the middle of the bustling streets of Biloxi and quite a bit late as it were.
However, Mary Alice Brandon kept her gaze transfixed at an unassuming patch of grass peeking out through the cracks in the sidewalk several paces ahead, although, her steely gray eyes seemed to be capturing a different image altogether. That, in fact, was exactly the case at hand. Yet the question wasn't what exactly she was seeing, but rather when.
Mary Alice caught a bird's eye view of a tidy living room, a feat only possible if she was harnessed to the ceiling. It was a room she knew quite well, from the overused sofa, to the crowded bookshelf, the simple floor lamp, the antique radio, and the balding man that fidgeted with the radio's tuning until the static was replaced by a crisp, slightly crackling voice—the evening news broadcast.
"—say the death toll has now risen to eight after yesterday's warehouse fire." The reporter announced in a dull monotone.
She shook her head quickly to rid the curious—but nonetheless mundane—scene. She must have been daydreaming again. Mary Alice had doing that all too frequently these past few months. She would get sidetracked, allow her mind to wander, and then stare into space for untold amounts of time. She wasn't sure of the cause but she suspected it was largely the result of her anxiety towards her rapidly approaching eighteenth birthday.
Normally Mary Alice enjoyed the intimate celebrations that her family threw for her on each birthday, but this one seemed almost like a death sentence. As the days drew closer, her mother would find every available opportunity to remind her eldest daughter that she was a woman. Women were expected to be married, lest unfathomable rumors began to fly. Now that many of the girls her age were beginning to adopt serious romantic relationships and even getting engaged or married, her mother's expectations had become increasingly apparent.
Mary Alice wasn't particularly interested in men—or rather none had caught her eye in a remarkable way—and they, in return, didn't seem to hold much attention for her either. She was a tad on the plain side and had a bit of a mischievous personality—unladylike according to her parents. Strange was an adequate word to describe her, and strange she was.
"Mary, come on!" The young Cynthia screwed up her face in a combination of impatience and annoyance. "Mommy will be mad if we're late for dinner again."
"Alright, I'm coming." She ruffled her sister's neatly combed hair and wove through the labyrinth of streets until they arrived at the familiar brick house. Much to their mother's irritation and despite their best efforts—they were late—their food lukewarm and inedible.
"Did you hear the new report?" Mr. Brandon asked after running out of ideas for polite dinner conversation. He didn't wait for an answer before he continued on. "That warehouse fire, you know the one, killed eight people." Mary's father devoured the news like the way housewives devoured gossip.
"What a shame." His round-faced wife agreed as she nibbled delicately at a roll.
A twinge of déjà vu tugged at the corners of Mary's mind. '—say death toll has now risen to eight after yesterday's warehouse fire.' The stories were remarkably similar. It couldn't be a coincidence. But, after all, that fire had made every headline in town. She probably had caught a glimpse of one during her foray in town and incorporated it into her daydream. Nothing unusual about that—completely logical. Right?