An introduction to the reader. This is something I have been working on for a while. It was actually written quite quickly (in the space of 30 days) and then put aside to be polished, a process that has gone much more slowly. I think it needed a home before I was ready to finish it, and this site feels like that home. Funny, but a week ago, before I knew of the existence of Stories Space I had a sudden urge to finish this and now…
A few notes…
Of all the stories I have written this means the most to me. That said, I WELCOME harsh criticism. I want it to be perfect, and I know that it has that potential. I’m breaking it up into bite sized readable pieces here, seeing as it’s actually quite massive and if anyone has any comments or suggestions good or bad, I’d love to hear from you, be it in the comments sections, messages, what have you.
I have decided to place it in the EC category. At heart this is a love story. That said, there will be several graphic scenes that are core to the story that people should be aware of as the story unfold and yes, I will tag them with warnings. This is actually two stories, or rather one, but told from two different perspectives, the first being Lucy’s. Her story will unfold from start to finish, and then, I will tell Alice’s. At present, I have completed Lucy’s tale from beginning to end, and Alice’s is about 1/3 complete.
Thank you for letting me indulge.
“My life is complicated,” I’d said. It might have been the biggest understatement ever uttered by anyone since the day that Jesus first hooked up with Mary Magdalene. Thankfully, at that moment the visual of them laying upon a straw pallet, limbs entwined and covered with the sheen of perspiration in the soft glow of oil lamps hadn’t even occurred to me. As it was, I was already nervous about the state of my soul as the ugly head of sin and guilt began whispering in my ear. At 16, sex was something I wasn’t supposed to be thinking about and certainly not with other girls. Not that I was considering it, but suddenly I was aware of the possibility as we lay snuggled against each other after she’d just made her desire known. I was so distraught I almost missed her next words.
“We’ll work it all out. The two of us, together. I promise.”
I’d answered with a smile and an uncertain shake of the head, thinking how sweet her naiveté was and how I only adored her more for it at that moment. She was wrong, of course. And I should have told her right then and there, but I thought that maybe she was right. After all, she often was, even when I was dead certain it was the one time when I would be right and not her. Oh, to regain that innocence once more, I’d give everything.
“I mean, I get that you’re not normal. It’s part of what I love about you, Lucy,” she continued and I was balanced on a precipice between total and utter meltdown and all consuming joy.
Looking back on that moment, perhaps they were really just one emotion. Of course, hindsight is said to be 20/20 and my eyesight is skewed at the best of times. Partly it’s genetics, but I think it was as much do to with the constant hallucinations, something I’ve lived with since I can remember, possibly even before then.
I guess I should start at the beginning of the story, rather then the moment after Alice told me she loved me. The real deal, that is, not just the fond ‘hey, I love you’ that had fallen from my lips about one thousand and one times. Usually it was a reward for going out of her way to get me a strawberry milkshake when I had a craving or for reaching down and picking up my pen moments after it had rolled off my desk and onto the classroom floor. But sometimes it was just for her steadfast friendship, something that had been wrapped around me like cotton candy since the first time we’d met at the tender age of 9.
It had been her birthday, just days after my family had moved into the house with the old oak in the back yard and both an attic and a basement, something which I’d never even imagined before, having grown up in California where such things didn’t exist. I’d spent the first 2 days just exploring every inch of the old house, imagining it to be filled with all sorts of secrets and hiding places. I remember my parents telling me that I would be better served by going out on the front lawn and meeting the other kids on the street, who seemed to spend most of their time riding up and down the sidewalk on bikes or chasing each other nosily in games of tag.
I remember wondering why I should bother? After all, I already had plenty of friends. In fact, I recall thinking that I wouldn’t mind having a few less, seeing as how there were times so many of them were talking over the top of each other that I couldn’t hear myself speak and sleeping sometimes was impossible. Still, they had insisted.
So it was that in month four of the Davenport’s ‘Big Move’ I found myself outside on the front grass staring as a parade of kids my age went up the walk to the modest blue and white house next door, mostly accompanied by parents and mostly bearing gifts wrapped with colorful paper and festooned with ribbons or bows. Certainly, I was aware enough to recognize what was going on. Still, it was a curious sight and one that drew somewhat painful memories, seeing as how my last birthday party was poorly attended and ended abruptly when the cake had began taunting me and I’d been forced to stab it repeatedly with a fork until it was silenced.
That hadn’t been the first ‘incident’ but it was certainly the one that broke the camel’s spine. Soon after, there was a ‘for sale’ sign planted like a tombstone in front of our house and months later we were light years away, exiles from the madness that had taken root in my head.
Of course I’d been taken to behaviorists of all kinds, but no one had been able to come up with an explanation other then ‘hopefully she’ll grow out of it and, in the meantime, give her these pills.’
Dutifully, I’d taken every pill they’d asked me to and had stopped talking about friends and events that didn’t exist. Not that they went away. I just learned not to speak of them anymore. It was better that way. Better for me, better for my parents, better for everyone. Breathing sighs of silent relief and believing that the move and the drugs had combined in curing me, my mother and father got on with their life while I got on with mine. For four whole months. And then, As I said, I met Alice.
Alice was everything that I wasn’t. Well liked, pretty, popular… sane. It really wasn’t fair, not that it ever bothered me. How could it? I loved Alice, even before I understood what love was. I remember staring as the last of the girls had rung the doorbell and been admitted, watching the screen door close behind her, catching sight of a pretty blonde haired girl. She was about my age and she wore a neat dress the color of forget-me-nots, snow white stockings, and sapphire ribbon over one ear that looked like it had slid from it’s place atop her head and was bound to eventually end up upon her shoulder.
That was my first glimpse of the girl who had one day, taken both my hands in hers and declared her undying love to me. My first view of her smile as her eyes surveyed the front yard as if she were queen and all before was her kingdom. It was of a certainty that she would notice me at any moment and the thought that I should hide did cross my mind. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case might be, before I could act upon that impulse I was ensnared by her gaze. Hypnotized, I watched the screen swing open as she emerged from her castle, her voice carrying across the fields of her domain like the clarion of a trumpet.
“Why don’t you come over and have cake and ice cream?” The hook was set and she reeled me in without a fight. As promised there were sweets and games and prizes and even though I obviously didn’t belong, anytime someone made a move to point that out she simply declared that it was her party and that I was a special guest. I even started believing that after a while. That I was special, I mean. She kept me at her side, not as a jester, but as a maid in waiting, and I found myself enjoying my position.
Later, when the party had broken up and everyone began to trickle out the front door, she hugged me and told me that the next day I was to come visit her. In my defense, I did try to warn her that I wasn’t fit company for her. ‘Imperfect and strange’ I think were the words I’d used. She brushed them aside so readily, making me promise not to disappoint her. She was, I soon discovered, used to getting her own way. Not with me, as it turned out, but with everyone else and this one time, as I did so many other times after, I gave in simply because I too felt as she did, that we were destined to be friends.
The next day, I showed up on her doorstep, ringing the bell promptly at 9:30am. It was summertime and the day was already warm, promising even more heat as it advanced. Mom had been so happy that I’d made a new friend that she’d spent the morning making sure I was as presentable as I could possibly be. Khaki shorts, white sneakers, and a long sleeved cotton shirt the color of the lawn. Back in those days, no matter how warm out, I was made to wear long sleeved shirts to hide that chaos of madness taking the form of words that covered my forearms, carefully penned in permanent marker. Once upon a time, she’d actually spent time scrubbing them off every night before bed, but after a while my skin had become so red and raw from her ministrations, that she’d relented as long as I promised not to go out of the house in short sleeves.
Of course, at the age of 9, my markings were rather benign in comparison to later years, something she should have been thankful for. Having your daughter sport ‘Pretty blue stars burn’ upon her flesh might be unsettling and yet, how much more so were lines like ‘your cum leaks from my sockets like molten fire’. Really, had she known how much worse it was going to get she might not have waited until I was 16 to kill herself. Sometimes I wonder if it might have been better for everyone if she’d suspected.
None of that, however, was on my mind at that moment. Only a giddy nervousness as I waited for Alice to answer the doorbell. When finally her face, still slightly chubby with youth, appeared before me I felt a strange pull as my own seemed to turn inside out in a smile. I’d smiled before, of course, but this one was born out of unconfined joy and I somehow sensed it was to be the first of many. She seemed to sense the same thing as well, her face a mirror of mine, her blue eyes sparkling with innocent mischief at the sight of me.
“I’m so glad you came, Lucy. I missed you. Come in.”
It was as simple as that and, from that moment on, we were inseparable. That day was spent playing games in her room, dressing up dolls, me looking through her books while she quizzed me on what it had been like to live in California and on every detail of my short life. I answered as best I could, carefully omitting the things I had been carefully drilled by my parents into hiding. Oh, but for the first time, I didn’t want to. I wanted to tell her everything, how sometimes I felt as if I didn’t belong in my own body, of how strange beings and creatures and things would sometimes speak to me, even play with me while I was in my room. In fact, since we’d moved they’d accompanied me all over the house as well, especially enjoying the attic and basement even more so then I did.
Of course, mom thought they’d been left behind, but only because I’d been careful not to mention them. And that’s when I pulled yet another book from her bookcase and lay it upon her desk, opening it curiously.
“Alice in Wonderland,” she’d told me, looking over my shoulder. “Just like me. I’m Alice. It’s my favorite book ever. Do you want to hear a secret?”
Had she simply asked, I would have shrugged and told her sure, not putting much credence to the tale that followed. But she hadn’t. The question had been whispered, and when I replied with a whisper of my own, she went to her door, checked the hall beyond, and then closed it quietly.
“Sometimes I have dreams, Lucy.” Her voice, her expression, her eyes all so serious, as if she’d suddenly aged a decade. I felt a shiver and nodded for her to go on, not trusting my voice with words.
“I really am Alice. The Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts? They are all real. In my dreams, I mean. And…” She stopped, looking a little frightened. I wasn’t sure if she was remembering her dreams or if she’d simply realized that once she’d reveal her secret, she could never take it back.
Oh, the courage of that moment. I loved her suddenly and fiercely for it right then. How it would change my life and hers. Not for the better, I am afraid, but certainly not for the worse. Everything from that moment on would be different. Had I realized I it, I might have covered my ears with my hands and fled. Or I might not. I have asked myself countless times if I could change that moment, would I, and I have never found an answer that satisfies.
“Sometimes, I think they might be real outside of my dreams.”
There were very few times in our lifetime together that Alice had appeared less then sure of herself. Certainly, never in front of anyone beside myself. But at that moment, she looked so lost that I couldn’t think of anything to do except sit beside her on the bed and give her a childish hug and whisper conspiratorially to her.
“I have friends who no one else can see.”
“Imaginary friends?” she asked, her voice solemn and quiet.
I simply shook my head. How could I explain that they were real, that they existed, even if no one could see them? Years later, I realized that the seed of love were planted that day in me.
“They’re real. Only no one else believes me.”
“I believe you, Lucy.” I lifted my eyes to hers and I knew that she did. I wasn’t alone any longer.
Summer wore on and it soon became known that I was Alice’s best friend. We became so inseparable that our parents began to jokingly refer to us as ‘the twins’. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. We were opposites in so many ways. She was so many things that I was not. And not just the obvious things. Oh, she was prettier then I was, and smarter, certainly more popular. Some of that changed as time went on. Being with her, I began to be drawn out and I made other friends, become more confident. The following year at school, my grades rose, I became accepted, I began to flower. I took up drawing and creative writing, finding my voice and excelling at both. Alice fed my spirit and sent it soaring.
I was still mad. Or at least, had anyone besides her known of my companions, they would have labeled me so. They still were part of my life, constant reminders of how different I was. And yet, Alice accepted their presence, even having never met any of them and they accepted hers. Gone were the outbursts of unexplained behavior and the mumbled nonsensical ravings. Yes, I still used my flesh for a canvas for my words, but Alice had also provided me with journals, making the trek to the stationary store once a month and using her allowance to purchase them for me. In these, when not pressed to immediately spew the thoughts that tore through my head at times, I had a place to record them and in doing so, quell them for a short while.
Yes, there were times when I failed. Sometimes they ended up defacing my bedroom wall, my skin, my mirror, even my best friend, but sometimes I could contain them long enough. These were the golden years, not that I knew it at the time, but now, looking back I feel like God gave them to me as a gift, perhaps an apology for what He would eventually put me through.