Disclaimer: I own NOTHING of Alice In Wonderland. Trust me, if I did, you'd know. The screaming, the jumping, the Futterwacking. . .

Inspirational Song: "Little Alice" - Danny Elfman

. . . . .

Alice Kingsleigh soared through the air and giggled. "Catch me!"

Her father, Charles Kingsleigh, laughed as Alice launched herself off the porch at him. He caught her easily enough, despite the slight pain in his side, and set her gently down onto the ground. Charles tapped Alice's nose with his finger and she grinned. "I take it your done with your lessons, Alice?"

The little blonde smiled mischievously at him and fiddled with the lacing of her blue dress. "I might've gotten a little. . . side-tracked."

He raised his eyebrows and gasped theatrically. "Ah, side-tracked; a very serious case! Well then, my little workaholic, you need to take a break and ease your mind, don't you?"

Alice nodded vigorously.

"Come along then. The flowers look a little lonely."

Alice giggled at the usual silliness of her father and trotted along beside him. She looked up at him with a sort of childish pride. He was a father like no other and Alice was the one to have him! He walked with her and played with her and sometimes even taught her lessons to her instead of her old, boring, wrinkly, drawling, and extremely putrid tutor.

But lately, Alice had noticed some changes within her father. Not personality changes, thanks the Saints, but physical changes. Not like hers, either: slightly taller, figure vaguely starting to slim. Her developments came along with becoming a young lady, or so she was told. But her father's skin had been turning a little sallow nowadays. He also couldn't play with her for too long anymore before having to go inside. His hair was thinning out, as well. She worried about him.

Alice tried her hardest to act as if she didn't notice anything. It killed her not to ask, but once when she had asked her mother why her father seemed weaker than usual, she had been scorned for it and told never to ask another question like the one again. . . Ever.

Alice reluctantly promised to never bring up the topic of her father's health again. . . Ever.

Her father smiled wistfully at her. "You can get so lost in your head, Alice. That's a sign of a good-thinking brain."

Alice smiled up at him.

They walked through a path of trees and roses to sit on a silver-stoned bench. The sun was streaming down and the air was crisp. Alice took a deep breath and sighed, eyes closed. She felt her father's hand pat her arm fondly.

She opened her eyes with a relaxed smile and quickly noticed her mother staring at the two of them from far away. Her smile vanished. Helen was standing by their clothesline with her arms crossed across her white-clad chest. Despite the stern posture, her eyes were soft. The maid standing next to her was chattering along though, not noticing her mother's current distraction. She hung up another blouse as Alice's mother sighed and turned her attention back to the maid. Her hands fell to her sides.

Alice couldn't shake a foreign feeling of impending sorrow. She poked her father's arm lightly to get his attention. "Father? Why is mother acting so. . . oddly?"

Charles looked down at her with a plastic smile and tight eyes. "Your mother is fine, Alice."

Alice just looked at him, eyebrows raised. "You're lying."

Charles gave a shaky laugh. "You caught me." He shrugged. "Well, she's just been. . . a bit under stress lately."

"How come?"

"Well. . . " Charles bit his lip and ran his hand through his dark hair. "You know, Alice, you always have to be prepared for everything and anything. The best and the worst. The complex and the simple. The negative and the positive. Anything could happen at any moment in time. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"

Alice's brow furrowed. "Err. . . I don't think so, actually."

"Just ponder that for a bit then." He sat back, somehow forgetting the existence of Alice's fondness of questions.

"But what does it have to do with mother?" Alice chirped.

He sat back up again, rubbing his side. "Just like you, and anyone else for that matter, your mother has to stay prepared."

"For what?"


"Anything as in what?"

"Whatever you can imagine, Alice."

"Anything as in your illness?"

Charles looked down at her in alarmed concern, his brown eyes becoming wide. Alice's lower lip quivered. If she wasn't allowed to ask her mother about her father, what would happen if she directly asked her father what was wrong with him? She supposed she was about to find out.

"Alice. . . " Charles sighed. He put a hand to his forehead and closed his eyes. "I knew you had noticed. Of course you would have, you're my darling little Alice."

She remained silent.

Charles opened his eyes and looked hard at Alice, seriousness written all over his face. He took her little hands in his. "Alice, you will grow up to be a very brave, very courageous young lady. You were raised to change the world and challenge other's opinions. You are going to be even more beautiful than you already are. But unlike a lot of other women, you will be as strong as a soldier." His hold on her tightened. "You know this, don't you?"

All she could do was nod. His fierce gaze frightened her.

He nodded back to her and his hands loosened a bit. He sighed again for what felt like the millionth time. "I'm unwell, Alice. I'm sure you've already guessed at that, though, so I'm simply confirming it for you. Doctors aren't entirely sure as to what it is I have, so it can't be treated properly."

Icy chills skimmed down Alice's back. "What will happen?" she whispered.

Her father swallowed uncomfortably, like a man who knew his emotions would soon die out. "We don't know what will happen, Alice. It's not up to us anymore."

Alice gasped and felt her eyes widen as a single tear escaped and ran down her cheek. She shook her head fiercely at the finality in her father's tone. Death was implied and Alice did not like it.

"No!" Alice fought free from her father's cold hands and launched herself at his chest, only to become more upset at the slight grunt of pain she had caused within her father. "No!" She yelled again, wrapping her arms tightly around him. "That's not right! That's not fair!"

Alice heard her father's low sob and felt her heart clench. "It'll be alright, Alice. . . It'll be alright. . . "

"No. . . No. . . " she whimpered.

He attempted to sooth her down and rubbed the back of her head while in a tight embrace. They shakily rocked back and forth on the stone bench in a sorrow-filled silence.

Time with her best friend was running out. And even while wrapped up in her father's arms, Alice had never felt so alone.

At that moment, she felt even more lonely than the flowers.

. . . . .

Insanity: . . . A bit depressing, if you ask me.

Rachel: Shush. Nobody asked you. No one ever does. Let the reader have their moment.

Insanity: And what if your literature sparked no emotion?

Rachel: Then that itself would spark a sad emotion inside of me.