I wanna be in the Wonderland
I wanna get down in the sand
She's got that magic touch
I don't need to imagine much
Bayne frowned at Alice as they sat together in the rowboat; he was paddling her around the Ascot's personal lake on the sunny summer's day. Alice was telling him all about her dreams in the other world as they glided through the water through little stories she was making up. She doubted that any of them were true but she enjoyed making some use of the creatures that dwelled in her mind. Bayne seemed to find a few of the stories amusing but the majority of them caused his eyebrows to cross together.
Alice was finishing up a tale about a little mouse that she always saw in her mind and how it was always sleeping in tea cups. Bayne paused mid stroke and set the oars down rather sharply. She looked up in confusion to find him shaking his head.
"What's wrong, Bay? Are you feeling alright?" She asked with a shake of her head and the man shook his.
"Alice, you are twenty one years old, do you not think it is time to give up these little fantasies?" He leaned forward to kiss her. Her lips remained unmoving as he kissed her and he looked into her eyes then down as he pulled away.
"They aren't fantasies, they are stories, Bayne!" She swirled her pointer finger in the water and looked at him.
"Oh, I am sorry dearest Alice. It's hard to tell the difference when you smile at them wider then you smile after I kiss you." He grunted. Alice frowned at him and pulled her hand from the water.
"I don't mean for you to think that I don't appreciate you, Bayne. I do very much! It's just I have all these stories and people floating around my head-"
"Are they the ones that are in your nightmares?" He interrupted impatiently and she nodded her head. "I don't want to hear of them."
"Bayne, I don't know if they will ever go away and if you are going to marry me you are going to have to hear about them!" She said with anger in her voice. Bayne shook his head.
"Alice, please act like a lady! Those stories can be for our children as they struggle to sleep at night but they aren't for the world of adult talk. I thought you would surely know this. You usually have such clever things to discuss and ponder; I fell in love with that on the boat! You kept my moving mind working at its highest potential. You brought a wonder to me that no other girl ever has before." He said and reached forward, taking both her hands in his. "Alice, I feel like there is always something keeping me from you, are they the dreams?" He said and she shook her head.
"What is it then? Alice, you said yes when I proposed to you but I have never heard 'I love you' uttered from your lips." Alice froze. She didn't want to admit things that weren't true to him, she didn't love him. She was marrying him because she needed to survive. She wasn't ever going to live, she admitted to herself, and so she would at least try to leave a mark of some kind in this dull and dreary world.
Her dreams were so much better. Perhaps she should give up the idea of running a business with her husband who would never treat her like an equal and write a book. A book for children that contained all the characters of her whacky dreams. She smiled at the idea and reached down to trail her finger in the water again. She felt blissful in this moment, pondering the beginnings of her book, when Bayne broke her silence again.
"Alice, I really am sorry. I don't mean to get upset with you. You just put me off my head when you talk about a place that doesn't exist. It makes me worry about the state of yours."
"I am fine, Bayne. Truly I am. You shouldn't worry about me so much."
"Most people don't have nightmares about strange places and strange…things…they have never seen before. Yet you are telling me not to worry?"
"It's just my overactive imagination." Alice said to him and looked down at her reflection in the water. "My father said I had a very wild one. I am certain the people I have seen in my dreams exist somewhere; just not to the garish extremes I see them in my mind. They are probably just people I've passed on the street." She looked up at him with a smile. "And I just liked the way their faces were."
"Alice," He said and took her hand. "I really would love if you tried to give up that imagination. Books without words are much more helpful to us now then books with the most gay hearted pictures." He said gently.
"Bayne, I need my imagination, it keeps me living and breathing."
"Then perhaps, Alice, we need to see a doctor." He placed a hand on her cheek and gave her a worried look. "Alice let me be the only reason you live and breathe." Alice looked down at the water again and remained silent.
She didn't want to get into an argument with him, in fact a strong part of her began to believe that maybe he could even be right. She was no longer a child. She was a strong part of a successful merchant business. She was getting married to a man she had met in this business. She wasn't a child any longer. She had already began to make diplomatic decisions about who she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with! She looked down into the lake fully and saw a woman, who dark blonde hair was pulled back in an intricate pattern and whose eyes were dark and puffy from not getting enough sleep at night. She was indeed a grown woman but her mind still seemed to rebel against this concept.
But another part of Alice argued that if she lost her sense of imagination she would soon lose her sense of conquering the impossible…something that made her even stronger in business. She knew how her fiancé felt but she was still trying to decide herself. She saw Bayne's reflection looking at her in the water and she looked up with a casual smile. He looked at her and smiled even wider. "Please, Alice, tell me a story. I love the way your voice sounds and it seems you've been so awfully quiet around me lately."
"I just have a lot on my mind." She confessed and smiled at him. "Where was I?"
"Some sort of tea party?" He answered her, taking the oars in hand again. An image of a man with intense green eyes and a top hat popped into her head.
"No, that can't be right…" She said and he shook his head.
"You certainly were and you were telling me how this person did something to time?"
"Oh, he killed it I think. He was ludicrous you know." She said gently, a playful smile dancing across her lips.
"He was now? Whatever did he do for his living?"
"He made all types of hats, including the giant top hat that sat upon his head, and he had tea parties all the time. Time you see was angry with him so he always made it 3 o clock so that it was always tea time." She laughed.
"A mad milliner who drinks tea?" He said with a shake of his head. "Only you, Alice, only you." He dipped his oars into the water and gave a strong pull. They floated across the water with ease while Alice told her fiancé of the nonsensical tea party and he listened, trying to hide his worry for her sanity as he rowed the boat.
She got everything on a string
And everything else in between
It don't matter which way or how
Gonna have to get there somehow
Alice sat at her desk, ink quill in hand again. But she wasn't writing out intricately detailed wedding invitations. Margaret had taken that task away from her as her excited sister was less than happy that Alice wasn't. Alice was writing her strange book. She wasn't sure what to call it but surely the name would involve something with her nightmares. She had started now because she had just had another one.
It woke her again and she sat for a little bit holding herself in the large empty bed she slept in. She would never be able to survive these terrors with Bayne at her side because she could never bear hearing his disappointment at the continuation of her nightmare. Alice was in the middle of telling a story about a hookah smoking blue caterpillar that was the wisest in all of the land. She wasn't sure what to call him yet so she left a large line where she could insert his name later on in the story when she went back over it. If indeed she did succeed in ever finishing it and she ever did get the courage to send it to a publisher.
A small knock came on her door and Alice was surprised that another being was up at this hour. She got up, pulling her silk black robe closer around her body, and padded over softly to the door. She opened it hesitantly and saw her mother's face. She smiled at Alice and the daughter noticed that her mother was carrying a silver tray with a pot of tea upon it. Alice looked down at it with a smile; she couldn't wait to write the chapter about the mad tea party.
"I thought I could hear the little gears of your brain spinning round my love." She said and winked at Alice. Alice let the door open and her mother came in, setting the tea tray down on her desk. She looked down at the pages that Alice had been penning for the past couple hours. She had started when she got home from her outing with Bayne. "What have you here, Alice?" Her mother said and sat down in the chair absentmindedly, her fingers looking through the papers. Alice's cheeks burned red with embarrassment and she ran to her mother's side. She desperately wanted to take them from her hands but she knew it was no use. Her mother would certainly think she was up to something.
"I am still having nightmares and so I decided I would make a little story about all the impossible things I see in my dreams." She said and turned to her bed. She climbed into the large comforter and sat down. Alice's mother smiled at her and put the pages down. She grabbed a cup of tea for Alice and prepared it for her.
"Sugar?" She asked and Alice shook her head. Her mother placed two cubed lumps in her own tea and took a tea spoon, stirring it slowly. "You know what I think?" She said and childishly licked the tea spoon.
"I know Bayne doesn't approve so I suppose your opinion couldn't do me much worse." Alice admitted and took the black tea her mother offered to her. She took it in her hands, enjoying the warmth that seeped through the china cup. She took a sip and cringed as the water was extremely hot, scalding her tongue a bit. Her mother shook her head then sipped her own tea.
"I think it's positively brilliant. Maybe it can help you think through them and make you forget." She said with a smile. "And then you will be able to get some sleep. You look positively awful these days my love. You appear to be exhausted all the time." She leaned forward and caressed her daughter's cheek slightly. Alice sheepishly looked at her mother and frowned.
"I am tired all the time I just don't know what I am to do about it." She admitted the fatigue was causing her bones to ache now. "But every time I close my eyes, mother, I see that place over and over again. I've always called it Wonderland because it certainly has wonders a plenty."
"Oh, Alice. I wish I knew what to do." Her mother tucked a lock of Alice's hair behind her daughter's ear.
"Bayne thinks I should go to a doctor."
"Whatever for, are you ill?"
"I think he believes me to be in the head." She answered, watching her mother's reaction. Her mother only shook her head and laughed.
"The only thing you are ill with is your father's imagination and ambition." She responded and laughed at Alice. "He had quite the overactive imagination and sometimes it got him into trouble as well." She said with a wink and placed her index finger on Alice's nose.
"I feel absolutely horrid, Mother." She responded and her mother shook her head.
"Oh Alice, why?" She took a sip of her tea and prepared for Alice to answer.
"Mother," Alice looked around herself with slight paranoia before speaking. "I keep seeing a man in my dreams. He has bright green eyes that never seem to fully rest on anything and he had this top hat that he always wears. I think he makes them, hats I mean. A mad milliner. His top hat rests upon wild hair which I believe to be red but I never remember!"
"Why would you feel horrid about seeing a man in your dreams? He's fully clothed isn't he? Or does he walk around in his birthday suit with a hat on?" Her mother smiled at her daughter and sipped her tea. Alice's face turned red and she sipped her tea before she began again. Her jaw wanted to drop but she felt that she would certainly be scolded for having it do so.
"Of course not, Mother! My mind does have modesty." She answered quickly after swallowing her tea. "I feel guilty because there is something about him, in my dreams I mean, that draws me to him. Romantically." She confessed to her mother who shook her head with a laugh.
"Alice, it's only a dream. He doesn't exist."
"I wish he did. Because it doesn't matter how impractical it would be, I would have to get to him some way or another." Alice sipped her tea and refused to look at her mother again. She was so embarrassed for having admitted what she did so far. Alice's mother leaned forward and took one of Alice's hands.
"Your father and I had hoped that you and Margaret would be completely content with the men that you married. Margaret is content but her husband is a…a lack of gentleman. And you, Alice are you marrying merely because you need to?"
"I don't want to be a burden, Mother. And I know that marrying Bayne is a good thing. He is quite successful in the business and he is good looking. I know that I am going to be running out of time soon enough. I don't want to end up like Aunt Imogene." Alice stumbled over her words as they shot out. Her mother's hand went to her face as she reached up to her slightly elevated youngest daughter.
"Alice, you will never be a burden to me. I love you so dearly, you and Margaret both. I just want to see you live the very best life that is possible." Her hand went back to her tea cup and she looked at Alice with a disapproving smile. "But you are also twenty one now and you are making decisions for yourself, I understand that." Her mother returned the tea cup to her tea tray and stood, giving Alice a firm kiss on the crown of her head. "Keep writing your story, my dreamer." She said and faced away to take the tea tray. She went out the door and turned to look at Alice before she left. "I love you, Alice." She said and Alice smiled at her mother.
"I love you as well." Alice responded and her mother shut the door. Alice took a large gulp of her tea, finishing the remaining tea. She placed the cup on her desk and thought about going back to bed. But her impulse to write and her fear of the nightmare had her up and back at the desk, writing more of tale about a world called Wonderland.
Oh, oh she's got every little thing hanging from a string
Oh she's got every little thing hanging from a string
Oh she's got every little thing hanging from a string
Oh she's got every little thing hanging from a string
Alice sat in the garden at a table that lay underneath a large canopy. She was writing more of her story which was growing to great lengths and she had been at it for quite the amount of time. Her mind was moving quickly as she took all the characters of her dream world and played them out. She gave them names. There was Ratatin the sleepy mouse. The Red Queen, Elizabath, who ordered everyone killed at the refusal of her simplest whim. She swam in her lake of blood. Then there was Isabella the White Queen who was good but always teetered on the brink of a breakdown. Alice smiled to herself; maybe this story was too intense for little ones. Then there was the matter of the Hatter (Have I made a rhyme? She thought to herself). He was still nameless and she failed miserably in describing anything other than his intense green eyes and his signature top hat. She sat now, mulling over the character and the perfect thing to call him.
"Alice," A masculine voice called out to her and it caused Alice to look up. Hamish and Bayne were walking along the path of the garden to see her. Bayne walked a few strides ahead and he had called her name. She frowned because she wanted nothing to do with him now. In all reality she just wanted to write her story and be left alone. But Bayne wasn't going to let her have that. She forced a gentle smile upon her lips and acted surprised to see him, which she wasn't. He would annoy her to no end about how she was doing miserably with planning the wedding.
"Bayne, dear heart, why are you here?" She asked and her husband to be chuckled at her.
"I have come to help you choose colors for the wedding; we have been planning this for over a week." He answered and she looked at him wide eyed. Deuces he is right! She cried out in her mind and opened her mouth to apologize. Before she could he took the pages from her hands and she scrambled retrieve them back. He pushed her back with his strong hand and she landed hap hazardously on the metal chair. He began to read the pages, bringing a frown upon his face.
"Alice, what is this?" He demanded and shoved the papers into Alice's hands.
"Your story, Alice, this isn't a game. I thought you were surely pulling my britches when you were spouting nonsense about a book. Proper women don't write books, they read them to become better women." He said and looked at her with the nod of her head.
"A book, Alice?" Hamish said and picked up the pages.
"Well, I am going to write a book and get it published."
"Impossible, Alice!" Her fiancé laughed and crossed his arms. Alice looked at him in horror and her delicate eyebrows knit as she stood up.
"You are right it is impossible! But I am going to do it because it is so! I am going to be Alice Kingsleigh, story teller extraordinaire."
"No, you are going to be Alice Johnson; loving wife, kind mother, proper lady, sensible woman. Give up these tales." Bayne scolded. "I have put up enough with this juvenile attitude for far too long, Alice! Enough!"
"Alice, this is really quite wonderful." Hamish responded and began reading more intently. "This fine milliner here has no name though."
"Milliner? The Mad One?" Bayne said and looked at Alice. She nodded her head and he sighed. "Alice, I will take this from you. We shall then make sure you won't be writing anymore silly tales about impossible places such as Wonderland."
"My father believed in the impossibl-"
"YOU ARE NOT YOUR FATHER!" Bayne yelled and his face turned a very bright red. "You are no longer going to be a Kingsleigh. You are not going to waste your time and your youth on this stupid notion of a story. You are going to plan a wedding. If only Jesus Christ himself can help you concentrate I will drag him down from Heaven to do so. We are going to get married, Alice. MARRIED. You should be ecstatic. Instead you sit here dreaming of other worlds." He shoved the papers into his side bag and looked at her. "If anything is impossible, Alice, it is you. Grow up." He responded and took her wrist roughly, pulling her to her feet. Hamish shot Alice a sad look as she followed her fiancé down the path. They were heading up to the house to pick out colors for this bloody wedding! She would need to pretend that everything is alright because she was certain she would hear about it plenty later.
Could you lend a hand,
Cause people don't understand
She lives on her own
Down in Wonderland
Fell down a hole
To another town
Looking for that sound
Alice sat in the drawing room, reading a book about making a proper pair of pants. It caused her to sigh; she was never going to be any good at making anything. She would be the worst wife in all of England's history and she would have to convert to proper living. She sat uncomfortably in a tight corset that Bayne made sure she wore faithfully and her legs were sweating in her stockings. She sat looking at the fire that was burning and casting a warm glow over the pages in the dreary book. She itched to be writing her story but Bayne had taken all her ideas and what she had worked so hard to form. She didn't want to start afresh, the notion of it made her utterly exhausted. The door to the room opened and she turned to see Bayne as he stood, holding a stack of papers.
"Alice, I am sorry for the way I scolded you earlier." He apologized as he entered the room. Alice watched as he came and sat down next to her. He placed the pages on a table then his head turned to face her. "They are extremely disturbing, Alice, I am not going to sugarcoat anything for you. The imagination you have is terrifying and absurd. I will never know where it comes from and can only hope you don't pass it on to our future little ones. A daughter at the age of twenty one who has yet to grow up would make me turn in my grave." His dark eyes looked at her intently as she felt tears prickling the backs of her green ones.
"My father loved my imagination."
"Oh, my dearest pet, I love it too when it is in the proper form and not on a bunch of pages." He answered motioning the books. "I don't tell you this to upset you or make you into a horrible person. I tell you this because I love you and I don't want to see you rejected from society because you are still acting like a little girl. Alice, give it up, please. I want to see you remain successful and I want to see you become the perfect example of a woman. I know you will inspire thousands of women everywhere with the way you live." He stood and kissed her forehead. "I have business to attend to. I will see you tomorrow at the Ascot's annual summer ball." He said and placed the hat she realized he held in his hands upon his dark hair.
"Oh and Alice," He paused at the door and looked at her. "That Milliner character makes me uncomfortable. The idea of your romantic writing of him makes me utterly ill. I best not hear of him again. He's your imagination, my pet. Don't let yourself be hoodwinked by it." He tipped his hat to her and left.
Alice stood in anger and threw the book she read into the fire in rage. She watched it crinkle and burn, smoke rising from the ashes. She went over to her story and looked at it. She ran a hand over it lovingly and thought of the Hatter she had made up in her refuge. Bayne was right. It was all a trick of her imagination. This thing with a top hat that she couldn't describe anyways was merely green eyes and his head covering. She took the book in her hands, flipping through the pages one more time.
"Grow up? I will grow up, Bayne." She said to herself and turned to the fire. She let loose a primal growl and thrust the pages into the fire. She wouldn't allow herself to think of her Underland again. It kept her from people understanding who she truly was and it kept her living alone. It would continue to do so unless she purged it from her life. Alice stood watching the pages being eaten slowly by the fire, the growing flame lightening her face as she watched her bridge burn.