She dreams of the rabbit hole sometimes. More than a young lady of her standing possibly should. There are times, however, when the world gets too be too much, in all its trivial banalities, and that is when she dreams.
Alice doesn't fall in these dreams, not as she had in her youth. Instead, she gathers her skirts and jumps in. In the darkness of the tunnel, pointless things such as gravity or responsibility do not weigh her down. Rather, it feels a bit more like she is suspended in water, sinking slowly to the bottom of a deep well. The steady decent is comforting and familiar, like the embrace of an old friend.
Just like when she was a child, there are objects and strange images all around her, suspended in midair. Voices call out of the dimness of the hole, "Alice, Alice" before she drops out of view. Figures wave at her behind glass picture frames. Shadows bow and curtsy for her in greeting. She does her best to return the kind welcome, but is unsure of how to go about it, so she smiles and nods and continues to fall.
She can always feel when she is about to come to the bottom of the rabbit hole, in her dreams. As much as she desires to land, to see what has become of her world of imagination, she is frightened that the simple act of growing up has tainted the place she used to call Wonderland. She usually wakes just before her toes touch can scrape the ground, her heart beating quickly in her chest.
This time, Alice lets herself finish the descent, bare feet stepping down onto the wooden floor as if stepping down from a ladder. A man stands before a curtain made of sheer silk, fluttering like a butterfly in a light breeze. She knows this man with the Timeless face and ghost smile from many years ago. A hat sits precariously on his head, the card displaying its price still stuck into the band around the crown frayed at the edges, but still readable.
The Hatter holds out an ungloved hand to her and she marvels at how warm and soft it is under hers. He bends low and kisses the air above her skin. "Welcome back, Alice."
She smiles at him and when he pulls back the curtain, doesn't hesitate to follow him. When she finally steps through, it feels like home.
A/N: This work has been rewritten as of February 27th, 2014. See author's profile for standing disclaimer.