Inspired by a review from TheSingingGirl and Twilightsoccerplayer on my other story, A thought, a feeling, a memory. They asked for more about Mary Alice's life. This was going to be a second chapter to that, but it grew and took on a life of its own. Still debating whether this is just going to be an Alice/Jasper fic or whether it will connect the whole Cullen family. If you have a preference, tell me in your review or vote on the poll on my profile.
She lay in her bed, watching the sliver of moonlight coming through the crack in her curtains, waiting and watching. In her 10 years of barely leaving this room, never mind the house, she had learnt what it was to be patient. She had also learnt to listen.
Evenings were the most interesting time, she felt. People moved around more, walked up and down the hallway. She heard her little sister head off to bed, shepherded by the nanny, and she could tell the difference in their footsteps.
She heard her sister praying in the next room. Her sister honestly believed in God, brought up very strictly by their father. Her sister's prayers were peaceful to listen to, she looked forward to them. They were... innocent. Wishes of happiness and thanks for her family. Sometimes she talked about her day, sometimes what she was planning to do. It was the innocent happiness of an eight-year-old. Innocent happiness she herself had never had.
She heard her parents finishing their dinner, heard the scrape of chairs in the dining room, and footsteps, the somehow thin footsteps of her mother and the loud stomps of her father. They also passed down the hallway, ignoring her door as if she didn't exist. Sometimes she wondered if they wished she didn't exist.
When her sister was passing her room, if the nanny wasn't there, she'd knock on the door. It was locked, she couldn't open it, but she'd giggle and twist the doorknob. Sometimes she'd speak. Once she'd even sung, and a couple of times she'd posted drawings under the door.
These drawings were very carefully hidden, laid flat under a couple of loose floorboards in the corner, next to the window. Once everyone was asleep she sometimes got them out to look at them. They always made her cry.
She had two favourites. One was the first one Cynthia had ever posted, aged about 5 or 6. It was the same day she'd asked about her sister and been slapped smartly across the face. She'd run, crying, into her room. A few hours later she'd poster the drawing under the door.
It was simple, a drawing of four stick figures, three with hair and skirts. She'd written names beneath the figures, mis-spelling father and somehow splitting mother into two words. She'd got the 'Mary' right, probably copied from the bible, but the 'Alice' was spelt 'Alis' and then the 's' was backwards. It was easy for her to imagine Cynthia sitting on her bed, screwing up her face in concentration, trying to spell names and get letters the right way round. Beneath the names was written 'My Family', and it was this that made her cry each time. Cynthia's family included her, but she could bet if her parents had drawn this picture it wouldn't have.
The second drawing was much more recent. It was a picture of the night's sky, the stars and the moon. She could only imagine the amount of time it had taken. Beneath the picture was a rhyme:
Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.
Then, beneath that was written: I wish you were happy.
After that picture, she only cried what there was no-one to awake to hear her, swearing that Cynthia would keep her happy innocence for as long as possible, and never have to listen to her cry behind a locked door again.
Cynthia posted pictures, sung, spoke and laughed just to hear her laugh back. Her parents would walk straight past the door. She was sure they didn't even look at it.
When Cynthia was near her, it was as if she was giving off feelings of love and happiness, she brightened everything. When her parents were near, they gave feelings of fear, and sometimes hatred. Fear of their child, their daughter. She could see it in their eyes.
She heard her parent's door shut, and her father kneeling down beside the bed. If she loved Cynthia's prayers, she hated her father's. They crept into her mind like poison; she could do nothing to block them out.
Her father spoke in his sermon giving voice, praying to the all-merciful Lord to save his daughter, to redeem her.
But if God was all-merciful, how come she hadn't seen the sunlight in 10 years?
When she was sure everyone, including the servants, was asleep, she crept out of the bed and opened the curtains a little bit, slipping behind them so she sat on the window sill and could look out at the sky. The endless pattern of stars, tiny specks of light, they intrigued her. They seemed to go on forever. She often stared at them all night. Looking at the stars was the only time she felt free.
She never saw sunlight, but no-one could take the stars away from her. She thought, anyway.
In the asylum, she had nothing. They provided her with a ragged grey dress, pitifully thing, grimy and torn. She didn't care; she honestly couldn't care less about what she was wearing.
She'd lost everything. Cynthia's drawings, her own sketches and the papers she'd recorded her visions on. She hoped her parents never found any of it. Cynthia would be in trouble for giving her pictures, and she didn't want her sister to get hurt. She cried for her sister, and for what she had lost.
She cried again that first night, when the sun set. The window was too high, too small and she was too short and too weak. If she stretched her fingers could just brush the window ledge, but she had no way of climbing. They had taken away the stars, the one thing she thought she'd always have.
It was then she really realised the loss of the little speck of freedom she'd had left.
With no paper, she began to write her visions in the dirt on the floor. She didn't care when they got smudged or became unreadable, it was just the act of recording them that she needed. She wrote about the man with ruby eyes and golden hair so often there was always one copy that was legible. In ten years, she'd grown up, but he hadn't changed at all. Even with ruby eyes, she was never frightened of him. She knew he'd do anything to protect her.
If she had no vision to record she concentrated on carving the simple rhyme into the soft stone beneath the window. Star light, star bright. She was going to carve them so deeply that they'd never be worn away. The one thing she had left was those 23 words. They would never take those away from her.
Once she'd finished the rhyme, she carved her name beneath it. Alice. Just Alice. She dropped the Mary because Mary was the mother of Jesus, the son of God. Mary was holy and innocent, but if she was holy and innocent God would have saved her, but He hadn't. So she didn't deserve the name Mary.
She dropped her surname because it linked her to her parents, and she thought she wanted to forget them. But when she did find herself forgetting, she was scared. So she wrote down everything she could remember on the floor, only she did care about this, and when it got smudged she cried, because she couldn't remember it to write it again. And she felt completely alone.
The only thing that kept her going was her visions. She lived completely in the future; she couldn't really remember her visions once they'd ended, and the present held no interest to her. She stopped eating for days on end, and grew painfully thin, as if she weren't thin already. If the visions didn't come for a while, she'd eat, knowing that by making a decision something would happen. She saw a vision of her own dead body so many times it lost all meaning to her. The doctor's report: dead from starvation. Her body would have been buried in the little plot outside the asylum. She already had a gravestone, saying she died on the day she was admitted to the asylum. Morbidly, she enjoyed visions of her gravestone. She could pretend the words written on it were actually meant, and for a few minutes she could be as close to happy as she could ever get.
She still saw the ruby-eyed-golden-haired man. He was so often unhappy she wanted to cry for him, but she was never sure if she actually was. The present was too painful to return to. Maybe she was crying, maybe she would be. All she knew was that she probably wouldn't remember it tomorrow.
She began to see another man, with sandy-blond hair, cropped short. She watched as he met a woman, with flaming red hair. She didn't see them regularly, so they weren't planning very far in advance, but she knew in some way they were connected to her.
One day the door opened. She didn't raise her head, didn't come out of the future. She lost track of time in visions, it was quite possible that she was getting another bowl of food already. Then someone entered. She stayed staring at the ceiling. He spoke, called her name. "Alice." He said.
This made her come back to the present. Every so often a doctor would come up with a new 'treatment' to 'cure' her. But they always called her 'Mary', or 'Mary Alice'. Never just 'Alice'. She didn't look at him, but waited for him to say something. He talked aimlessly for a while, never asking her to speak, and she was grateful. She hadn't spoken in the four years since she came here, she wasn't even sure she knew how any more. But he didn't ask her, so it didn't matter.
This new man often came. After a while she began to expect, and even look forward to his visits. They provided something in the present that would keep her there. After a while she began to sit up, she looked at him. He was middle-aged, about 40, she thought, with black hair streaked with grey, but his eyes were strange. They looked far too old for his face, and sometimes she thought they changed colour, but she never had any proof of that. Even her recent memories were blurred.
He taught her to communicate without speaking, taught her signs and symbols. Slowly and painstakingly, because she was likely to have forgotten most by the following day. They never really stuck into her brain, just a few of the basics.
One day, he read out the poem she had painstakingly carved into the stone wall below the window. She cried for the first time since her memories had begun to fade. The man was shocked, and seemed unhappy. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. She hadn't been hugged since she was four.
The visions of the ruby-eyed-golden-haired man came less frequently, and the few she saw were blurred and unfocused. Instead, she got visions of the other man, and the woman more and more often, their lives were becoming more and more entwined with time.
One of these visions hit her when the man was visiting her. He asked her what she had seen, and she told him slowly and painstakingly about the man and the woman. She knew she had seen them before, but she couldn't remember anything about it.
The man hissed softly between his teeth. 'James.' He said. 'And a woman? He must have found a mate. But what does he want with...' His voice trailed off. 'Alice,' He said. 'You must tell me if you see him again. You must!' He finished shouting at her, and she was scared of him for the first time.
She did see James again, many many times. She saw him running through forests, hiding when the sun shone. And she saw him hunting. For the first time, she realised what he was, what the ruby eyes meant. And her heart pulled when she realised the golden haired other man she'd seen for so long, the man she'd always felt would protect her... he had ruby eyes as well.
One night (and she knew it was night, because the cell dropped from a twilight grey colour to a navy blue) she heard noises outside her window, so close to her, but too far away. She heard running noises and muted conversation she couldn't catch. Then a man's voice echoed outside her window. 'Hello.'
She sat paralysed, some instinct was telling her to flee, but she was trapped in her tiny cell. 'Who are you?' The voice continued. 'Never mind, I don't need to know. Your scent...' He breathed in heavily. 'Mouth-watering.'
He began to bend the metal and remove the concrete bricks. A gap appeared, and she saw his face in reality for the first time. He held no interest to her, however. Because through the gap he'd made she could see the stars.
The woman, his mate, called him. 'James, we must leave. NOW!' He seemed about to argue, but she began to pull his arm. 'I'll see you again, little one.' He called as he left. 'Make no mistake...'
Then the other man, the one who had visited her and been so kind arrived. His eyes were black and furious as they stared after the couple. 'She knew.' He muttered. 'How could she have known. Gifted, perhaps.' Then his eyes focussed on her as she stared at the stars. 'Alice! Are you alright? You weren't hurt.' She nodded absently, still not looking at him.
'He has your scent, now. He wants it. There's... there's no other way. Alice, I'm sorry.' He looked round the cell. 'I'll make sure you have a better life next time. You deserve it.' The words didn't really sink in to her confused brain, they didn't make any sense to her, and so she ignored them.
He lifted her out of her cell then, and set about replacing the bricks and bending the metal. She should have been interested, curious about how he could do that. But she wasn't. Maybe she'd lost curiosity during her long years in the asylum. Maybe she lost it years before that.
Then the man picked her up and ran, ran unnaturally and inhumanly fast. She was afraid of him, afraid that maybe he was one of the devils or demons her father had said existed. But her father had also said she was possessed, and she had never felt more in control of herself than when she was being carried through the countryside so fast she couldn't see anything. Instinctively, she still trusted him, because he had been so kind to her, and because now she was beginning to realise the blond man and the red haired woman wanted to hurt her, kill her, and he had saved her. So she lay still and quiet as he carried her, until she realised she was so tired, and her eyes closed in the first peaceful sleep she'd had in years.
She dreamed a strange dream. She dreamt the man carried her for many miles, and would have gone further, but had to stop. She didn't know why. She dreamt he placed her on the ground, and she could here him muttering about 'James' and 'No time' and what she thought may have been a prayer. She dreamt that he leant over her, and apologised. 'I'm sorry, Alice. Believe me. You seem resourceful, you'll be fine, you'll survive. I know that I won't be there to help you, and it kills me, but it's the only way I can save you.' And she felt pressure on her arms, her neck. She dreamt she was in pain, and screamed for someone to save her, and that he took her hand and apologised again. She dreamt that the sandy-haired man and his flame-haired companion came back. And as the pain burned her from the inside out, she could here the sounds of fighting by her, and then the tearing sound of metal screeching as it was ripped. She heard the crackling of flames, and quiet voices.
Then she dreamt that the man who'd come to the asylum, who'd haunted her visions, James, came over to her. 'He was brave, that old one.' He said. 'He chose to save you, but I don't understand why. Does it matter? Not really. You may not remember any of this. I killed him for denying me you, but I have no reason to harm you.' She dreamt he carried on talking, but a new pain had struck her. The man who'd called her Alice, who'd saved her. He was dead, killed by James. She shut down, sunk into blackness and blocked out everything. And she felt at peace at last.
She had a vision. She saw the ruby-eyed-golden-haired man, but he was facing away from her, and then she saw a black haired, tiny stranger. She was skipping up to him from behind, and tapped him on the shoulder. The man turned around, and smiled. She saw his eyes, and they were no longer ruby. They were amber, orange almost. He took the strangers hand, and she smiled up at him as he smiled down at her.
She woke up. For her, it was the first time. She kept her eyes shut, terrified. She lay, tensed on the hard ground for ages, until she was sure nothing was around her. Her ears were picking up all sorts of sounds, and she couldn't name any of them. She breathed in through her nose and could smell so many things. Some of them she liked, some of them she didn't. She lay there again, until she was sure nothing was going to change. And then she opened her eyes.
Immediately she shut them again, cringing away from the light and the pain that burned her. She didn't know anything, she didn't know what to do or how to react. She felt alone.
She tried again, opening her eyes slowly, squinting. She was in a field and there was... There was sunlight. She sat up, and looked around herself in wonder. It was so beautiful, everything was bright and the colours...
She stayed where she was for ages, enjoying the light and the warmth. She watched as the shadows cast by the plants moved, and then realised the sun was sinking. Her heart broke as she watched the sun sink lower and lower, casting beautiful red and orange shades over everything. She twisted her head, to watch the plants around her, and her eye caught a glimmer of silver. Curious, she moved over to it, she was there immedieatly, as soon as she thought about moving. It confused her that she didn't know whether she was supposed to be able to do that.
The silver was a puddle, a patch of water on the ground. She leant over it, mesmerised, but jumped back as a face appeared in it. It was the stranger-girl from her vision. She moved slowly forwards again, and watched as the girl did as well. She smiled, and the girl smiled at the same time. She lifted her hand, and waved. So did the other girl. She knelt down, and reached out, but her hand went through the girl and touched earth below. Terrified, she put both hands over her mouth and leant away. But the girl was still there, below the ripples. And she had her hands on her mouth as well. She moved one hand, and so did the girl.
She was the girl. She was the stranger girl from her vision, with the man. She touched her short black hair and stared at her face, exactly the same as the vision girl's had been.
She was the vision girl, the stranger-girl. One day she would find the golden-haired man.
Alice smiled, and she sat by the pool as the sky grew ever darker. She watched the sun sink, and the moon rise. She watched the stars come out. She was free.
Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight...