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Wonderland: Lucy's Tale - Chapter Eight

The calm before the storm.

After that night, things were different between us for a while. Of course, her parent’s weren’t content with my promise that it wouldn’t happen again and my trip to the emergency room turned into a three day stay for observation, complete with IV drip that contained a handful of medications meant to keep me calm and help me sleep. The bottom line is I drifted in and out of reality for several days and, when I was finally discharged, I came home with some new friends in the form of pills and strict instructions of how often and how many. Also, I had been assigned my own personal shrink, a man whom I’d yet to meet. Dr. Washington was his name, or so I was informed.

It turned out that Dr. Washington was a nice enough man. At least he tried his best to help me, even though he must have seen that I was beyond help right from the start. He began by asking me why I had done what I did, and when I tried to explain that it wasn’t me I could tell that I wasn’t getting through to him. Oh, it would have made things so much easier if I could have simply introduced him, but my shades were being suspiciously quiet the whole time. In fact, I had begun to wonder if perhaps the drugs might actually be working their magic. If so, I would gladly take them for as long as needed despite the fact that I felt like I was walking around in a fog most of the time. For the first time in my life, I had relief. I could only wonder how my life would have turned out if the pills I’d taken as a child had worked this well.

I should mention that I’d talked to Alice about those at one point. We were both twelve at the time and she was curious as always. She even talked me into letting her take them for a week in my stead. They didn’t seem to affect her nor did stopping my doses seem to make a difference in my daily life. Later she showed me an article concerning placebo drugs and we began to look into exactly what it was I had been taking for the past three years.

Lies. I’d been swallowing lies in more ways then one. No wonder my visitors hadn’t seemed overly concerned. After that I simply stopped taking them, knowing it to be pointless. Not that I ever told anyone. As far as my mom and the doctor knew, I’d never caught on that I knew that I had discovered that I was incurable.

Whatever Dr. Washington had given me, however, was no placebo. Perhaps I’d been wrong. Perhaps there was an end to my madness. If I’d been capable of feeling anything I’d have been overjoyed. Alice, I should add here, was less then happy with my progress. Abstractedly, I was aware of this. Not of the reason why, however. Oh, if I’d been able to think straight, I’m clever enough to have guessed even had she not been willing to tell me. But I couldn’t. As I said, I was in a fog most of the time. School, of course, was an impossibility that I was in no shape to conquer. That drew us apart even more. Every morning she’d go off to school and leave me at home to fend for myself.

At first Mrs. Sherwood had taken time off from work to keep an eye on me, but after a while it became apparent that I didn’t care enough to do anything drastic and, since I was perfectly capable of eating when I got hungry enough and going to the toilet when I needed to, it was decided that it would be safe enough to leave me on my own. So I spent my days alone at the house while Alice spent hers feeling alone at school. This wasn’t to say that she wasn’t still popular nor that she didn’t have friends. She admitted to me later that they paled in comparison with me and that she slowly began dreading each morning when she’d have to leave me behind.

It began to show on her after a while. Perpetually bright and cheerful Alice turned to brooding. It was a slow transition, but there came a point when even I, in my semi present state began to notice it. Her parents assumed that it was partially depression at my absence, and they weren’t far off. Really, I began to feel depressed myself, realizing how much trouble I had caused them since becoming a member of their household. For the second time in my life I began to seriously consider killing myself. Had I not instinctively known that it was would devastate Alice, I might have even done it. Instead I came up with an alternative plan. I simply stopped taking my pills.

It took a while to come out of my fog. Alice was the first to notice, of course, and the last. We took great pains to make sure that everyone thought I was still on meds and merely adjusting better to them. She began bringing homework assignments home for me and I began to slowly attempt the impossible and catch up in school. The goal was for me to return to classes before spring. If I could manage that, I could take catch up courses during the summer. With my dad once more in tow, we’d approached Mr. Cartwright with the possibility, and he’d put his seal of approval upon it. I also made a stuttering, tear wracked apology to him for my behavior the last time he’d seen me and even went as far as hugging him, which he returned but only after assurance that it was okay to do so.

After that, things slowly went back to normal which, in our case, meant that we started spending afternoons after school in Alice’s bed once more, making up for lost time. Oh, we explored everything in our fevered little imaginations. Alice had taken to reading books on the arts of love and introducing them to our play with the enthusiasm that only a love struck 17 year girl could muster.

I won’t go into the details. What we learned over the next several months is between us. I will say that I became comfortable with being in love with Alice in a way I could never have imagined. Not only that, but there was a noticeable absence of nightmares and visitations in our lives. Those were wonderful times, full of joy and wonder and without doubt the best months of my young life. Having finally fully committed myself, I couldn’t get enough from her and I’m not talking in a merely physical way.

If we had shared everything before, now we found new depths to plumb, sharing every thought of every waking moment. I took up writing with a passion, and not merely odes to her beauty and love sonnets. Real, honest to goodness fiction of the sort that I hoped one day might actually be someday published. In looking back at some of it, I realize that it wasn’t as good as I thought at the time. Still, the seeds were there and I nurtured them every day in the silence of my room from the time she left for school, until she returned. That is when I wasn’t slowly catching up with the rest of my classmates, going over the notes and reading assignments that Alice had been supplying me with.

Days turned into weeks and then suddenly quarterfinals were over and I was reintroduced into my classes. At first it was nerve wracking. Alice and my teachers had prepped everyone with a simple tale of illness. After all, no one wanted the stigma of an imbalanced mind to hover above my head and drive me back into insanity once more. I dove into school. My worst fear had been having to repeat my classes, not because I was worried about failure. It all had to do with making sure I would be sitting in classes with Alice every day. I made amazing progress. Everyone commented on it and praised me for it. Not only that, but everyone noted how my mood had improved. No longer the sullen teenager, I appeared to be genuinely happy and, in truth, I was.

We almost made it to the end of the school year that way, Alice and I. And then, it began again, both the nightmares and my visitations. For the third time, I considered and discarded the possibility of suicide.

I should have known that everything had been going too well. And then Alice began noticing that I’d taken to wearing long sleeved sweaters again trying to hide the words and thoughts I’d been penning on my arms. Not that I could have hid them from her for long, seeing as at least three times a week we lay naked in each others arms. And really, I hadn’t tried. I’d been honestly unaware that I’d begun my old habit until she pointed it out after the first time, forcing me to take off my sweater for her in the privacy of my room.

She examined the flesh of my arms with a sad look, shaking her heard as he read the words out to herself, her lips moving in silence, each recitation filling her eyes with pain. I could see it, even feel it as a palpable wave radiating outward from her. What was worse, I was the cause of that pain. Loving me hurt her in ways I’d never imagined. Once again, I made a vow to get better. For her sake if not mine.

That night, I was paid a visit by the Queen. I was forewarned of her presence by the scent of roses carried upon a warm breeze, preparing myself as best I could by pulling my legs up against my chest and hugging them to me. As often happened, it was the librarian who spoke first, playing the part of her herald I suppose. Rapping my knuckles briskly to get my attention, she cleared her throat, her voice sounding as if it had gone long unused.

"Her Majesty wishes to speak with you, Lucy. Please pay attention. And quit your sulking."

And then, before I was able to prepare myself, she was there, looming over me, her shadow falling across the bed and blotting out the light.

"Child, We must speak."

And so we did, or rather, she did while I listened. She claimed to be concerned for me. Perhaps she was, although I had my doubts. She cared little for anyone beside herself. She told me all the things I didn’t want to hear. That I was sick, that I was hurting Alice. That Alice was bad for me. I tried pressing my hands over my ears to shut out her hateful voice, but she merely shook her head slowly from side to side, waiting impatiently until I stopped that foolishness before going on. Worst of all, she tried to get me to promise that I would reject Allie’s love and then claimed that, until I did, things would get worse for her. That was the most terrible part. Already a heavy load of guilt lay upon me for hurting her. By the time she was done, I was halfway convinced she was right. Then, she left, but not before reminding me, as she had before, of the right fork in the path. I’m not sure why that was so important to her, but she seemed obsessed with it as I was slowly becoming as well.

Understandably upset by all this, I slunk to my bedroom door, cracking it open just enough to listen to the sounds coming from within the house. This was a risky game we’d played before, sneaking into each other’s bedrooms while her parent’s were asleep. This time, however, it wasn’t with the intention of anything naughty. I needed to feel her arms around me, to hear her voice telling me that it would all work out. I needed her to tell me that she loved me, always and forever, no matter what happened.

She was half asleep when I slipped under the covers with her. At first she giggled, thinking that I was playing some sort of game, but the look on my face as I pulled her close sobered her quickly.

"What’s the matter, Luce?" she asked, her voice soaked with concern.

"I need you." That’s all I was willing to impart. "I just need you to hold me."

We fell asleep that way, in each others arms, her cradling me comfortingly as my mother might have done, had she still been alive.

We dreamed. This time, there was no Princess to greet us, carving her hatred into my flesh with razor sharp precision. This time there were no man-beasts to take me prisoner and rape Alice. Instead, there was only the Hatter and that, as it turned out, was worse. Much worse.

"My darling Alice!" he cried out with glee upon seeing us. "And you’ve brought your little friend. How thoughtful of you!"

I promised myself that I would never speak, let alone think about what happened that night but sometimes promises are made to be broken and this is one of those moments.

The Hatter’s eyes wandered up and down my body, making me feel naked, despite the fact that I was covered from head to toe. I’d never given it much thought before, but the way the leotard clung and conformed left little to the imagination. I felt my face heating up several degrees as his eyes lingered on my breasts and then wandered further down, settling between my thighs. If I could, I would’ve covered myself with my hands, but I was suddenly powerless to move.

"Lucy." His voice was a command, cracking like a whip in the opening amongst the trees. "Come forward."

I resisted with all my might, but in the dream I had lost control. Each step took me closer to him. His green velvet suit had taken on a hypnotic quality and as hard as I tried to look away I could not.

Finally I was before him, looking up at his leering face, his eyes glittering cruelly. His trousers bulged with lust, a lust that was mirrored in his voice as he ordered me to turn around. A brief flash of hope burned through me, quickly erased as he roughly began to undress me until I was shivering and naked before him.

From where I stood I can see Alice. She was watching, her eyes distant and her lips pressed together as if forcing herself to silence. I’m not sure what emotion played upon my face, but it was enough to make her turn her back to me, her shoulders rising as her frame was suddenly wracked with noiseless sobs that broke my heart. I thought her cries might be worse then what I was sure was about to happen. I had never been so wrong in my life.

He pushed me roughly to the table and forced me down amongst the plates and silverware, my hands clenching the table cloth as he violated me from behind. Not once, but repeatedly. He sodomized me. I screamed with pain as he brutally forced himself into me over and over. There was blood, and it stained the insides of my thighs as well as the pristine white cloth of the table. My screams became the cries of an animal, and still he continued. Alice was somewhere nearby but she might as well have been a lifetime away.

How long this went on, I have no idea. Finally, he was spent, as was I. He stepped away, leaving me bent over the table, too weak to move, too weak to cry, full of a hopelessness that I could never have imagined. Worst of all, I realized that this is what Alice had been going through each and every time she visited here. I thought I could not feel worse. In that too, I was wrong. My head turned to one side eyeing a carving knife on the table, my blurred face reflected back at me. I could ease the pain with it. Plunge it into my heart. But that would leave her alone. Then the thought of killing her first, freeing her from this horror crept into my head. I shook myself free from its grip with effort. I could never harm her. Never. And yet, in a way it would be saving her.

When I woke, her back was turned to me. I could sense she was awake, and yet instead of clinging to me in the aftermath of our nightmare, she seemed content to ignore me, or so I thought. Feeling hurt, still I snuggled up close to her, arms about her as I spooned her, unable to speak. It was she who broke the silence, shocking me with her words.

"You should have ended it, Lucy. For both of us. You might never get another chance. If you do… please, for my sake, take it."

Her voice sounded dull, as if despair had drained all emotions from her. I had nothing to say in return. I held her like that through the night, unwilling to join her as she fell back into slumbers, this time empty of dreams. Once again, I realized that I would have to begin my sleepless vigil. It was the only way to protect her.

The next few months were hard. I carefully planned out my sleeping schedule. An after school nap of exactly 2 hours and then I would settle in for another 3 hours at 9pm, making Alice promise me to wake me just before midnight so that she could go to sleep. We lived like that, me sneaking in 4 to 5 hours of sleep a day, and then catching up on weekends. It meant that there was little time for making love in the afternoon, but we managed to find time on weekends while her parents were out shopping or at a movie. And it seemed to work, at least as far as freeing her from her nightmares.

The only real downside was that during the long nights when I lay awake watching over her, my hallucinations would make themselves known. As before, it was usually one at a time, and they would join me in my vigil, sometimes encouraging me and keeping me company, and other times whispering terrible things in my ear about Alice.

"Free her, Lucy. It’s what she wants. It would be so easy."

"She doesn’t love you. She’s using you."

"Don’t trust her, Lucy. She doesn’t love you like we do."

And always, the reminder from the Queen. "Ask her about the right fork. Next time, take the right fork. It’s the only way to save yourself."

I shivered, wondering what was so special about the pathway to the right. Night after night, she badgered me about it until finally I gave in and promised her that, god forbid there would be a next time, I’d steer her down it. After all, what did I have to lose?

Finally, summer came, and with it another long break from my dementia. This summer was different from the last one. Gone were the days of idleness. Oh, I regretted my breakdown in the worst way. Alice graduated while I began summer school. All those mornings wasted in the classroom when I could have been spending them with my girl friend. Yes, that was how I had begun to refer to her, at least in the privacy of my own thoughts. And Alice made it bearable, rising earlier then she might wish to breakfast with me and then accompany me to school on her bike and then meet me at noon so we could spend the rest of our day together.

She’d taken to staying up half the night so I could sleep and then napping while I spent my mornings in the classroom. It was the ideal solution and not once were we troubled my anything other then perfectly normal dreams.

We claimed the rest of the day as our time, unwilling to share it with the rest of the world and had begun to frequent the Dairy Queen, becoming such regular customers that our order of fries and a shake was automatically placed whenever we walked through the door. Mine was always strawberry of course, and hers was chocolate. That had never changed. Slowly the few friends I had and the many she did began to drift away from us as we became more and more immersed in each other. Not that we cared nor even much noticed. She was all the mattered to me, and I believed she felt the same about me.

And we still had time to ourselves on those long, hot summer days. Sometimes we would hurry home after sating ourselves at the DQ and sate ourselves in different ways. I became quite adept at kissing and… other things. Not that we were insatiable little nymphs, mind you. More often then not we’d simply hole up in her room and chat about whatever came to mind, or listen to the radio, Alice’s new passion. Sometime during the last year she’d discovered music, in a big way. Not just listening to it, but immersing herself and her radio became her constant companion. She said that having something beautiful filling her head left little room for anything else. I knew what she meant, experiencing it myself to a degree whenever I held her in my thoughts. Those were moments that I could forget that I was sick or that I’d had thoughts of killing myself. Or that the lust and love in my heart for my dearest friend was a sin.

Of course, that kind of blissful existence couldn’t continue forever. As always, madness raised its ugly head one week before her 18 th birthday. And, unlike the other times, this time it took hold of both of us in a way it never had before.

It all started innocently enough. It was a Friday and we were looking forward to her parents leaving for the weekend on one of their retreats. Bed and breakfast and a few days in the countryside as they’d been doing for years. This year was no different. Alice and I had proven ourselves responsible enough to be left on our own. In fact, we’d gone into overtime to do it. The prospect of three whole days to ourselves made us giddy beyond imagining. We’d been making plans for weeks now on ways to celebrate this event. Romantic plotting of our own passed back and forth through covert notes and secret assignations in the bathroom that we shared, and usually accompanied by quick and messy kisses.

Friday came and, after dutifully waving good by from the front step, we hurried back into the house and set our schemes into motion by first closing all the blinds and curtains in the entire house. Scampering from window to window, giggling as only teenaged girls can do, it took us less then ten minutes to turn the house into our private den of iniquity where we could do as we pleased without witness, accidental or otherwise.

I should have known that something was going to go wrong. After all, they had finally ended their sabbatical. The Librarian was nagging me the entire time, her sour words often punctuated by the Priest for emphasis. I argued until I was red in the face with them at one point. Thankfully I was upstairs at the time and Alice was below. Had she heard our heated words she might have been concerned. Finally they let me be and she retreated into exasperated silence while he hurried off in a huff of enormous proportion. This was our day, our weekend, and I wasn’t going to let them spoil it for either of us.

By the time we met in her room, my ears were clear of unwanted voices. All but one. The Queen. Oh, she didn’t carp at me at the other’s had. Instead, she took hold of me, pushing me against a wall, the look in her eyes grim and a bit menacing.

"The right fork. This time, choose the right fork. You know what happens when the other path is trod. If you want to save your friend, remember my words, my dear child."

I don’t know if Alice sensed something in me. It might have been, seeing as how in tune she was with me. In a way we had become one, so close had we grown. She’d even begin to finish my sentences and I hers, making her parents chuckle at the talk around the dinner table some nights, claiming that it was just a long winded soliloquy. Those were good nights. Everyone had this sense of our lives being back to normal. No one, not even I, sensed the storm that brewed on the horizon.

It was an August, and the humidity had been unbearable for much of the day. We’d used the excuse that it had been too uncomfortable to be out and about it. As it turned out, it was a wise choice. By 3pm storm clouds began rolling in, turning the sky dark and ugly, eating the sun and all its radiant light. One of those rare summer storms that filled the sky with lightning from one end of the horizon to the other broke above the house creating a perfect day for laying in bed.

Alice had snuck a book out of the public library earlier during the week, saying that it wasn’t stealing since she meant to return it. It was just that she was too embarrassed to actually check it out. Besides, she worried that she might be denied, being under 18.

The Joy of Sex. This was our first chance to do more then glance and giggle our way through it. Today, Alice declared, we were going to do some research. I should mention that I did well in my catch-up classes. Alice helped me, of course, and I was determined to do well and had passed them all without any stumbles and this was my first week of freedom and we meant to take full advantage of it. This time, we looked carefully through the pages, discarding those things that seemed to require male genitalia. There was plenty, however, that we could easily apply to ourselves and soon we were enmeshed in the joys of oral sex for the first time in our young lives, delighted that we could pleasure each other simultaneously as the storm raged above us, cocooned in the safety of our love nest whle the wind rattled impotently at the bedroom window.

We wore each other out that afternoon, giggling and moaning and gasping until finally we were sated. The best part of it all, though, was afterwards. We simply lay, arms wrapped around each other, silent except for our breathing. There was no need for words. I loved her and I knew she loved me. That was all either of us needed. It would have been perfect if only we hadn’t fallen asleep…
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