I want you to listen to the music, and the sound of my voice. Just relax, and imagine a place where you can feel safe, and tranquil. Where is this place, Alice?
I'm on Esme Island.
Very good. Imagine the sound of the ocean, the waves gently lapping at the sand, the wind bringing the scent of the flowers from the center of the island. Relax, and let each part of your body fall into a deep, rest. First your head... all the thoughts pour out of your mind and leave you empty as a shell on the beach. Your eyes are too heavy to open, and your head is one with the pillow...
Tell me about yourself Alice.
There's a book out called The Five Languages of Love or something like that. It sounds so great, I picked it up in a bookstore one time and thumbed through the contents of it. There they were, listed like some secret forbidden code, all the things that really get to people—the way different people show love and want to be loved in return. Of course I didn't make it past the language I speak with native fluency—gifts. I'm sure if I'd have taken the time to read the book instead of just glancing at it and imagining how nice it would look on the coffee table at home, I might have learned the reason behind my preferences. But I've always been this way, and getting into the details could only make me feel bad about something I usually feel pretty good about.
I am a material girl. But it's not that I value things over people; it's actually quite the opposite. It's just that things: toys, clothes, cars, jewelry, and other little baubles, are my chosen tools. I love them. I love what they say about the one who gives and the one who receives. I love to gauge the importance different people place on their stuff, as in what is hands on and what's hands off. And because I've got the kind of wealth that doesn't look at price tags, I never have to worry about coming off as spoiled or selfish—at least I hope not.
For example, even though I could easily buy my own yellow Porsche, it meant so much more that I was able to beguile one out of Edward. It wasn't that I needed the car, but that I needed him to say I was worthy of the car. I wanted to know that the joy I felt over the car was something he wanted to give me. And if I'm honest, I needed to know that he wasn't going to promise me something and then not deliver.
You sound like you've experienced broken promises before. Tell me about your family and your childhood.
I don't remember my family—well not beyond little snippets and fragments anyway: A pair of hands helping me to tie my shoes. A scolding for getting mud on my new clothes. And shouts of Happy Birthday—those were the best because they were always accompanied by presents! I had a dolly, and I remember her because I could tell her my secrets, my dreams, and my wishes. She had dark hair like mine, and it was long like mine had been. I remember the things I told her, thinking that she would keep my secrets—but she hadn't.
It took me a lot of years to realize that my doll couldn't have told my secrets, but that my child's voice carried to other ears. The things I whispered were usually simple, like what I wanted for Christmas, what my favorite dessert was, and how I felt about the neighbor girl—she was mean to me. I told my dolly I wanted to marry Daddy when I grew up.
Sometimes I told her secrets that scared me—secrets about blood, and biting, and monsters. There was the secret of being hunted and chased, and the one that scared me most, about being left alone in a strange place where Mommy and Daddy didn't love me. There was also a secret I didn't even dare tell my dolly.
Is the secret the reason they sent you to the sanitarium?
I still don't know why they sent me there. I mean it was only a few times that my predictions and dreams really came true. I had a dream about where Daddy had lost his cufflinks, and when I found them in the pocket of his suit, everyone was happy with me.
I also remember that I told Mommy's sister Mary, whom I'm named after, that she shouldn't go pick apples, because she would fall off the ladder and get hurt. Mommy was very scared when Mary ended up in the hospital for a week when she fell. I tried to warn her, didn't I? I took a big bouquet of flowers from the garden and went to visit her, but she didn't want to see me. It was then that Mommy stopped calling me Mary Alice and just called me Alice.
I wish I could remember for sure what my parents looked like. I don't even remember if I had brothers or sisters. I wonder why that is? I wonder if they sent me away because of what happened to the neighbor girl.. I told my doll how mean she was to me, but that she wouldn't be mean anymore because she was going away. I admitted that I was glad she wasn't coming back. I can't remember what the girl looked like, or even her name, only that she had yellow hair. I do remember what happened to her. She was kidnapped and murdered. I didn't know what the word meant, but I heard them say she was raped too. I was only trying to help when I told them they would find her in the creek behind her house.
Is this when your life changed Alice? Were you put away for your visions?
For days they ignored me and when a policeman asked me questions about her I told him that someone had whispered it in my ear. I asked him if they found her underwear yet, because she was very upset when they were taken. Daddy stopped hugging me, and Mommy looked at me like she was afraid of me. When it was my birthday a week later, they said I couldn't have a party because of the mean old dead girl. I didn't even get one present. They said I was selfish to want presents when the other girl was never coming home.
I told my doll I was glad she wasn't coming home. I didn't like her and Daddy could keep her stupid old underwear anyway! I knew he hid them in a special place, and he had five other girls' underwear, and they all had ugly brownish stuff on them.
When they took me to the bad people place, I cried and held on to Mommy. When she pried herself away from me, I screamed and fell on the floor. When they walked away someone else was holding me, and I screamed the secret I had never dared to tell. Daddy's next girl, Sarah, wasn't going to love him either. "Sarah's daddy will kill you both!" I screamed as they left.
What was it like at the sanitarium? How old were you then?
They locked me in a room with nothing in it but a bed. It was three days after my eleventh birthday and I was alone, not even a dolly to talk to. I heard noises all the time, screaming and crying and scratching sounds on the walls. I was cold and dirty, and when they fed me I was so hungry I ate whatever they gave me. My hair became a nest and I got lice, and there were fleas in my bed.
I don't know how long I was in the room before the dreams came. I had horrible dreams of the girl Sarah. Sarah had blond hair, the kind my daddy liked. It wasn't dark brown like mine. Sarah screamed and cried when Daddy hugged her and held her on his lap. I woke up from the dream screaming. I told them. I told the people who brought the food. I told the people who changed the sheets. I told the people who pushed the carts. I told them Daddy made Sarah scream.
Do you understand what your father did, Alice?
They gave me pills and said they would make me feel better. But I didn't feel better, I just slept. In my sleep I saw her ghost. Sarah with blond hair and blue eyes, and brown blood stains in her underwear. Sarah's ghost cried to me and begged me to help her. I slept so long that when I woke up I was very hungry and thirsty. I told the nurse about Sarah and that she was in the well behind my house. I told her Daddy put her there with bricks tied around her neck.
You do know you did a good thing, right Alice? No other little girls would be hurt. It's not your fault your mother was killed.
I was moved out of the little room and into a bigger room with more beds. I was ignored, and even in a group of people I was alone. There were people with empty eyes and hollow faces. No one came to visit and I forgot about everyone. It was then I found out about the monsters.
I didn't know the names of the hollow people, but I knew the numbers and the patterns. One girl rocking in the bed by the door. Two men painting in the big room. Two old ladies curled together in a corner whispering. One man shouting at anything that moved. Three in their beds asleep with their eyes open. One who wandered scuffing slippers on the floor. One with hands always in his pants. Three staring out the window at the cement courtyard. One always taking her clothes off. Four who sometimes talked to me like real people and sometimes stared through me.
Did you see vampires there?
He was not hollow and not a person. He was a monster and I knew it when I first saw him. He took her. He just picked her up like she was nothing, and the rocking girl by the door was gone. Her bed was empty for a few days and then a new one came in, an old man who pulled at his hair.
I saw the monster again a month later, gliding silently through the hollow people like he was choosing which fruit was ripe. Our eyes met and he smiled, white teeth and terrible dark red eyes. One of the window watchers was gone. Later a new woman came to screech at an invisible child who always seemed to be misbehaving horribly.
Another month drifted by. I dreamed of him—red eyes, white teeth, and terrible grace. He was nameless but not ageless. He was five hundred and seventy-three. I opened my eyes and saw him staring at me, maybe choosing me. "Five hundred and seventy-three," I whispered. He blinked and backed up. The wanderer in slippers disappeared.
Did the vampire come back? How often did you see him?
I existed and forgot him. The monster was gone for a long time, but the womanly things came. I would bleed, leaving my own brown stains in my underwear. I grew breasts, and a new hollow man arrived. It was a man who stared, and would touch my woman parts if I got too close. I know I missed many birthdays. There were never any presents, or visitors, or kindness. I didn't even get to go to school.
But I had dreams. Many were scary, but there were some of kindness. I saw two young men with red eyes and blond hair. One wanted to kill me, and the other would love me. I wrote on the floor the letter J. J for the one who would kill me, and J for the one who would love me. I wrote with chalk. I wrote with food. I wrote with my own blood. Then I saw the A in another dream, and I wrote JA! I wanted more letters, but the dreams didn't tell me.
When the monster came back I had stopped writing. I dreamed I would die. I dreamed we all would die and I laid awake and waited for him, dark red eyes, white teeth, terrible grace, and five hundred and seventy-nine. His name was David. But it was pronounced Dah-veed. It was three nights without sleep when they came. I saw Dah-veed first, gliding with whisper quiet steps, and my eyes followed him as he moved like a dragon fly, hovering and flitting away. He met my eyes and smiled. He came up to me and I whispered to him, "five hundred and seventy-nine, Dah-veed."
Was he the one who turned you, Alice?
He smiled and patted my cheek with cold fingers. "Alice, you are special." He knew my name. He hovered over one of the eyes open sleepers. He wanted me to watch as he tore open the man's throat and drank from him, with his eyes watching me as he fed. The hollow one was completely empty and Dah-veed closed the eyes. He came to me and picked me up. I tried to struggle but he was strong and I was inconsequential.
I saw him then—the monster from my dream—with blond hair and bright red eyes. He wanted me. He wanted me with a ferocious hunger, even though he'd just fed. He shouted from the entrance to the wing, "David, she's mine!"
I was held tighter and I could smell him, like home, and comfort, and cuddling under warm quilts. I wrapped my arms around him and looked at the other one in terror.
"James wants to kill me." I whispered what was in my head. I knew it was true, and I knew Dah-veed was the only one who could stop him.
He bit me—my neck and then my wrist—before he dropped me to fend off James, who screamed and attacked. They fought, James and Dah-veed. It was fierce, and terrible, and destructive, and I crawled away in agony. I was bleeding, and I was suffering and dying. I didn't understand. James was the one who would kill me, not Dah-veed. I felt the burning of my body, like I was being filled with kerosene and set on fire. I burned until I was a glowing shell. My heart was floating in liquid fire, struggling to keep beating as it was cooked inside me. I heard Dah-veed's screams above my own as my heart gave out.
What happened then Alice?
I was the monster. I was David's chosen replacement. He was gone. James had taken his parts to the furnace room—I could hear him down there! I was thirsting and I could smell all the wonderful smells of food around me. I took the bad toucher—the one who scared me because he reminded me of Daddy. He was sleeping, and his blood was so warm, and rich! He woke up for just a moment as I drank and I let him touch me one last time before he died.
I could hear James coming back and I ran. I was faster and I was stronger, but he could follow me like he was a part of me. I tried to relax, and the dreams—the visions—let me know he was close. I ran again. For weeks I ran, and when I needed to feed I only needed to step out at night and the predators would try to take me. I was small and looked helpless—but I was not.
I got further from James and I started to dream about the one who would love me. I needed to find him—we needed each other. I knew where we would meet and I waited for him there. I had finally lost James. I had left nothing to give him a clue to where I'd go or where to find me.
I didn't know how long I would have to wait, but I also had dreams of a family. They were visions where I knew love, kindness, and happiness. I knew they were like me, but they didn't kill people. I knew I needed to change, and so I hunted only animals. It was easier because I saw how in my dreams.
When I saw him I knew he was the one who would love me. His eyes were red and his hair was blond and he was my Jasper. I didn't give him a chance to question that we belonged together, I took his hand and we went to find our new family.
He needed me to help him learn to trust again, and I needed his strength. I'd dreamed about him for years, and I loved him immediately. Jasper was beautiful, but even if he had looked horrible I loved the way he calmed me, and soothed me, and took the sting out of all the bad that had happened in my life. There has never been anyone else for me.
So, how did your experiences shape you?
I missed a lot of my life. I missed being sweet sixteen, I missed going to school, I missed Christmas's and birthdays, and exchanging valentines, and going to dances. But I also missed being civilized. I missed having clean skin and hair. I missed having real clothes and shoes. I missed learning to put on make-up and how to attract the right kind of attention.
I really did miss it! I can't help but feel like I have so much to make up for, and I want to do everything I missed. I want to celebrate every day like it's a holiday. I want to put on fancy clothes and dance and give presents, and laugh at life!
People think I'm shallow for being interested in fashion and trends, but it delights me! It's so easy to change what people see on the outside and make it a reflection of who you are inside. Inside I'm the birthday girl. I'm the princess and I'm the one who will never get tired of giving and receiving presents and throwing parties and celebrating the events that mark the calendars. I know what my life was like before, and I don't ever want to go back there!
I like being the pixie—the one with a pocket full of magic dust to turn Cinderella into the belle of the ball. I think people expect that of me now. The few times I have bad visions or dreams are usually when Jasper's away. I have fragments of memories that are dark, and they frighten me. I know they're there waiting to tear my heart out and take me back to the place where my own hollow self would exist. I will fight it with every party within me. I will resist with designer clothes and shoes, and I will throw presents at it until that door finally slams shut!
Are you ready to start remembering, Alice?
No, not yet Carlisle. Maybe we'll try again in another year or ten. I've got Nessie to shop for and her time in school; dances, birthdays, holidays, graduation, and wedding. You should see what I've got planned for her wedding! It's going to take them a while to sew all the crystals onto the dress and train. It's a good thing she's so strong; a normal woman wouldn't be able to walk in it. Jasper and I also have a big anniversary coming up, and I have an idea what he's getting me—I'll either need to make room in my jewelry box or the garage; he still hasn't decided.
Okay Alice, I'm going to count backward from ten and when I get to one, I want you to open your eyes. You'll feel refreshed and rested, but you won't have any more bad visions or memories. ….3, 2, 1.
Did it work? See, I told you I can't be hypnotized. I did have a nice rest though, almost like spending time alone with Jasper. Funny now that I've relaxed a bit I don't even remember what my nightmare vision was about. I'm sure I'll feel better once Jasper gets back from his hunting trip. And don't forget I'm taking Esme and all the girls shopping this weekend while you guys watch the game. Our stocks are going up again!
a/n: I really like this idea about what's behind Alice's seemingly shallow lifestyle. Let me know what you think. I've corrected it a few times, thanks to observations by reviewers.