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Wonderland - Lucy's Tale: Chapter Two

The story continues - Alert: suicide scene and the mention of sex.

The end came quickly. In looking back, the signs are obvious to my adult self. Not to the 16 year old teenager that I had become. Junior year. So many possibilities were flowering open. I’d discovered boys, at least in theory, the year before. Alice had been kissed for the first time but I was slow to follow her example. Of course she’d taken on the role of cheerleader while I was more at home with the fringe groups. Band geeks, drama geeks, writers, artists… once again I was beginning to distance myself from people, not that I saw it that way. Had it not been for my ‘twin’, I would have probably taken to going straight home after school and prowling the uppermost and lowermost rooms of our abode.

I became sullen, moody, and temperamental. In other words, a typical teenager. Only in my case, something else drove me. My friends, those who only existed to me and, in theory, to Alice, mirrored my moods. They became restless. For too long they’d been hidden away and they began to resent the freedom I had. The answer was simple, of course. The worst answers always are. Give it to them. Don’t think I took it lightly, however. I agonized over it for months, the headaches so bad that I wanted to stab my eyes out with a fork, much like I had done to my cake so long ago. Finally, when I could stand it no more, I gave in. At first we negotiated. Yes, I know this sounds mad. I never claimed otherwise, but it was my reality. I knew, of course, that my parents would think I was going crazy again, as would everyone else. Everyone but Alice.

By that time it wasn’t uncommon for one of us to spend the night at the other’s house. I chose a Tuesday night. No cheerleader practice, no games, my homework all caught up on as much as was expected of me. My grades had begun to slip once again and would soon be in the danger zone. I didn’t care.

Sleepovers were casual affairs. Sometimes they’d take place in the living room, sleeping bags laid out in front of the television, and sometimes in Alice’s room. Upstairs, her window facing mine across the expanse of our side yards, we’d sleep in her bed, big enough for two. Once, it had been plenty of room, but as we grew, her bed had remained the same and now we were forced to cuddle under or over the covers, depending on the weather. Not that we thought much of it. Well, I didn’t as least. After all, we were closer than sisters. That night, we’d chosen her room. I needed privacy for what I was about to reveal to her. Sensing that, she gave little argument as she changed into her night shirt and turned off the light, the room lit only by the amber tinged moon that hung above our small town and the night light upon the wall opposite.

Dressed in my PJs, I joined her, taking comfort from the familiar scent of her hair and the warmth of her body as it warmed the air beneath the sheets. It was early march and the nights were still crisp with winter’s lingering chill.

"You remember our secret?" I asked her, knowing full well she did but needing some way to lead up to my big reveal. It felt clumsy, but I wasn’t concerned. I was at ease, despite my tension. A strange blend, but true never the less.

"About your friends," she said, her smile serious. Not that I could see it in the dark, but I felt it just as I felt her arm around my waist as she pulled me gently to her, comforting me. She knew that, even between the two of us, it was hard for me to bring up the subject. In reply I pressed my forehead to hers, opening my mouth to say more. That was when she kissed me.

Oh, she’d kissed me before. Plenty of times. That’s what friends do, after all. Kisses of friendship, kisses of shared joy. This wasn’t one of those. It felt different and I knew her well enough to know what it felt like.

I didn’t kiss her back. Neither did I pull away. In truth, it felt good. Natural. Not that I wanted her in the way she wanted me. And she did want me like that. I could feel it in the way she pulled me against her, the way she kissed me. This was new. This was how one kissed boys, not your best friend. Maybe, things would have been simpler if I had pushed her away. Simpler, perhaps. But not better. I loved her too much to hurt her like that. So, I simply let her kiss me. It wasn’t some movie kiss that went on forever and ever. At least, I don’t think it was. It was sweet, in its way. There was desire and wanting and fear in it. It was also the first time someone had ever kissed me like that. After a moment, I realized that I liked it. Alice was, I later found out, an exceptional kisser.

When it finally ended, I found myeslf wishing that it hadn’t, not so much because I had enjoyed it so much, but because of what she then told me.

"I love you, Lucy. I’m sorry, but if we’re going to be telling secrets under the covers, it’s only fair that I should tell you mine first."

"My life is complicated," was the only thing I reply I could think to say.

It wasn’t enough, I realized, to try to explain it to her. After all, she’d only had my word for it and it was one thing to believe, but another to actually experience the truth of what I kept hidden in my head, locked inside so that no one else could see and judge. I set them free. Oh, yes, I know now that it was a mistake, but at the time it seemed right and I have to admit, in the wake of her kiss, my thoughts were all a-jumble in my head. Oh, I knew what she expected. Perhaps that I would speak in strange accents or tell bizarre stories out of Star Trek or Lord of the Rings, but that’s not what happened, not at all.

The librarian came first. Remember Alice in Wonderland, her favorite book? She would have been at home there. I felt her presence under the covers. Alice must have felt it too, for she startled. Not wanting her to be frightened, this time it was I who pulled her close, hugging her, cheek pressed to cheek.

"Don’t be scared," I told her, squeezing my eyes as tears welled up, brought on by the intensity of the moment and my teenage hormones. "I’m right here, Alice. I’m right here."

That was my voice. Even before I had finished speaking, she spoke as well. It wasn’t in my voice. I was used to that. I had, I admitted to myself, wondered when this moment had finally arrived what exactly would happen. Would my friend, the sister of my heart, simply shake her head, laugh quietly and assure me that she still believed me despite the lack of evidence to the contrary? Instead, I felt her tense in my arms, and gasp. I knew she had heard what I’d heard. The tears poured from my eyes then, and I began to sob. Quickly, they became out of control and once again, it was Alice pulling me against her, comforting me, kissing them clear of my cheeks.

"Did you hear?" I managed to ask, and she nodded, kissing my lids, squeezed shut against the darkness under which he lay.

"Yes. I heard…" she began, then stopped as the Librarian (none of the personalities had, as long as I’d been aware of them, proper names) spoke once again.

"Of course she did, you silly child."

I felt my friend swallow at that and shiver slightly. Oh, there was little doubt now in my mind. This time we comforted each other, waiting nervously to see what happened next. One by one they introduced themselves after that, each one addressing Alice as if they had just arrived at a tea party. One at a time they made an appearance, revealing themselves to someone else for the second time in my life. My mother had rejected them, something that had hurt me terribly. I felt suddenly vulnerable. Terrified, even.

"I… " Alice was lost for words. As was I. Suddenly we’d both revealed secrets that might destroy our friendship. Mine, she had always known but never experienced while hers, new to me was, frankly, less off putting than the reality of my insanity.

If I was to experience that moment again, I think that I would not change a thing about what happened next. Sure, I have doubts. Not a day goes by when I wonder how things might have turned out otherwise. As it is, though, things could have been worse had we not kissed again. This time, it was I who kissed her. Not because I felt for her what she felt for me, but because it was the only thing I could give her that was equal to what she had given my by believing in me all these years. That she hadn’t expelled me from her room, her house, her life as nine ghostly presence moved about her bedroom, examining everything with curiosity, was a miracle beyond belief and I wanted to show her now much I treasured her for it.

In the morning, when the first light of dawn broke through her window, she’d see the physical signs of their presence. The open drawers, the unshelved books, the missing trinkets, all the things that my parents had blamed on me all these years. She’d see them and simply accept them as real, telling me that it didn’t matter, that she still loved me. That was still hours off, however. First, we made love. Gentle, tentative, love. Neither of us had even slept with a boy before and certainly not a girl. Once Alice regained her composure, her natural confidence returned and she led me through it, slowly, lovingly. And, in the end, it was beautiful.

And no, I didn’t overnight turn into some lesbian creature with a hunger for girls. I was quite unchanged in the regard. It had been a wonderful thing to lose my virginity to my closest friend, one that I had no regrets over, other than the consuming fear that we were both going to Hell for our grievous sins. It didn’t scare me as much as it should, perhaps, but it was on my mind as I lay there in her arms afterwards, my breathing returned to normal, her silken hair tickling my cheek, a few strands invading my open mouth. No, that morning the world hadn’t changed so drastically. Only a little. Later, as I dressed for school, planning on stopping home only long enough to grab my books and something for breakfast, I heard the harbinger of change, the devil’s bells tolling for me. Sirens in the distance split the air, only coming to a stop when they were outside my house.

If last night had been a gift from above, it had been the gift of a cruel and jealous God. In one blow he tore our world asunder. While Alice and I had been entwined in our mockery of a lover’s embrace, He had met out justice with a finality so awful that to this day I remember with vivid clarity and horror. My mother had taken her own life.

Not that there’s a good way to commit suicide. Death is a messy business, and waking up to the sound of a gunshot to find your wife’s brains splattered all over the wall of the bathroom shower shouldn’t happen to the worst of husbands. Looking back later in the week, I realized that as Alice had kissed me after reshelving her beloved copy of Lewis Carroll’s novel, I’d heard the sound. I’d written it off to a car backfiring on the street, something that happened often enough in our quiet little neighborhood. Had I but known that I was being punished, her subsequent kiss would have turned my stomach. As it was, I simply blushed, and turned my head away when it became too intimate, giggling uncomfortably at the memory of what had happened between us.

The paramedics had tried to keep me away from her, but I was much too quick and stubborn for them and prevailed. I lost count of how many times I threw up that week. The first was at the sight of my mom, half her head sprayed against the clean white tiles. I never had imagined that one person could hold so much blood. My dad was covered in it, looking like a costumed murderer or a butcher. He looked stunned, his face sort of slack. It was a look that he never shed after that day. I’m sure that, for one brief instant, I mirrored him in disbelief. Then I threw up. There was no warning, no chance to do it with dignity. I simply turned and vomited on one of the paramedics as he tried to take my arm. I remember him being firm and yet gentle as if he didn’t mind me barfing on his pants. Maybe it happened all the time in his line of work. Something to consider if I ever decide to take up a new profession.

After that, it was all a blur. There was a coroner, some cops, neighbors, more cops, a reporter who looked kind of bored which pissed me off enough that I made my self throw up and made sure it was while he was trying to question me. I’m not too proud to say that my aim was just as good the second time as the first. It was the one time that my father came out of his stupor, refusing him use of our second bathroom or even the use of a roll of paper towels. I remember one of the cops getting a chuckle out of his complaints and suddenly felt a deep kinship with the officer, enough so that I asked him if he wanted some coffee.

I remember that he looked at me, his eyes going solemn. It felt as if he might put his arms around me and hug me and maybe, just maybe, everything would be right again with the world. Instead he just shook his head.

"Thanks, kid. You’ve got enough to worry about. Why don’t you go sit with your dad?" He said it kindly, but it wasn’t what I had wanted. I pictured my birthday party again, driving the fork into pristine vanilla icing, screaming at it to shut up over and over. I started to shake, realizing that, if I’d had a fork right now I’d have done the same thing to the cop. He must have thought I was crying about mom, cause he put his arm around my shoulder and just let me cry against his uniform. It felt so good. It was the second time I’d cried in the last 12 hours. This time, however, I didn’t stop until I fell asleep, exhausted, on the living room sofa.

When I awoke again, it was dark out. There were still voices in the house, but this time it was the voices of friends and family. Alice’s parents I recognized right off, and the Lawsons, the Jensens, and the Tripps. There was Aunt Karen and Uncle Joe and I could hear the chatter of my cousins, Todd and Shelly, in the background. Everyone in my life except the people I needed most. Mom and dad. And Alice.

I managed to sit up, blinking carefully around the room. I had supposed that I was still downstairs on the couch, but someone had moved me up to my room, and laid me down on top of the covers. My door was open, and the voices of the small crowd rose upwards like smoke to curl about my suddenly too small room and choke me. I tried to make sense out of what had happened and it came to me all too quickly. I still didn’t understand why. After all, no one had bothered to let me read the note she’d left nor had I bothered to inquire. All I knew for sure was that there was there huge gaping hole in my chest, a black hole that was sucking me into it, devouring me faster and faster. I glanced at the clock on my wall, noting that it was barely 7pm. I hazarded a guess that I had until midnight before it consumed me completely. Like Cinderella, I had little time left to spare. Unlike the Disney princess, I had nothing to look forward to. No ball, no prince, no happily ever after. I had been royally screwed.

It all turned to anger then. And not just mine. I think that the others, those I’d lived with for so long, the companions upon the ship the world called Lucy, weren’t ready to give up their berth. They realized that, if I went, they would be doomed to follow me. Not that they didn’t have sympathy for me, but it’s true that they had little love for my mother. After all, she’d tried to coerce me into pretending them into non-existence more then once. I was grieving, and in truth, it was to their advantage. They bullied me unmercifully, and I let them. The one moment of clarity, in which I might have fought them, was when I gazed across the way towards Alice’s window. Had she been here, or even there, I might have resisted. Had I known that, at that moment, she was at our front door, strawberry shake in hand, I might have fought them. Instead, I simply surrendered. When she made her way upstairs too my room, Styrofoam cup in hand, it wasn’t Lucy who greeted her. It was one of them. It was the Queen .

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