Damsel

Alice cannot escape the Best. She is trapped in a demented fairy tale with no happy ending. But when she mets someone who changes her world and teaches her to see life in a different light, can Alice learn to fly?

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2. Chapter 2

Creak. I physically wince as the squeaky stair creaks underneath my weight. I can't let him know I'm going out; he won't let me. I creep across the floor and grab my backpack. I'm going to a writing class in downtown Manhattan. I'd seen the flyer in the school cafeteria and grabbed it instantly. I'd known I'd wanted to be a writer since I was five years old. Only my father had really understood that, and he was the only person who'd read any of my work. Since his death, no one had read my stories.

If the Beast had known my ambition, he would have laughed in my face. To him, I was slave, forced to stay with him for all eternity. I had no plans, no dreams, no life. That's the way serfdom works, correct?

I silently sneak out the door and close it silently behind me. I have exactly three hours before he wakes up. The Beast works like a clock; he gets drunk every night, stays in bed all morning to sleep it off, and then strolls into work at noon. His job is an executive at some big company. I have no idea how he landed that position, but, as he puts it, "It pays the bills."

I hail a taxi and hop in, breathing a sigh of relief. I tell the driver the address of the class and lean back into my seat to watch the passing city. New York always manages to raise my spirits. The constant bustle, the sounds, it makes me happy in a weird way. Fifteen minutes later, I'm at the Recreation Centre in Brooklyn. I wander around the halls until I find my class. Slipping into the back of the room, I sit down, getting out my notebook. A few people glance back at me, but I don't meet their gaze. Eye contact is getting harder and harder for me as the weeks pass.

The writing instructor surprises me. I expected some wise, old professor who would lecture and drone on about the proper use of adverbs, passive voice, etc. But this guy couldn't have been more than twenty. He wore faded jeans, a plain black t-shirt and ratty old Converse. His hair is a messy mop of brown above sparkling green eyes.

He must notice me watching him, because he cups both hands to his mouth and calls,

"I see we have somebody new. What's your name, sweetheart?"

"Alice." I murmur.

"Speak up, dearie. I'm an ancient twenty-year-old, i can't hear you."

I blush and repeat my name louder.

"Well, Alice. you've come on a good day. We're discussing fairy tales and the themes they hold."

I smile and he does too.

"I'm Peter, by the way."

I blurt out before I can stop myself.

"Like Peter Pan."

I feel like a complete idiot and look down. But Peter's face splits into a wide grin and he says,

"Yes, exactly like that. And you're Alice in Wonderland."

His harmless reference to my childhood nickname makes me want to cry. But I somehow hold it in and thankfully Peter continues,

"Okay, what are you guys waiting for! Get out your notebooks!"

The next two hours are bliss. I could completely forget out by issues and just write. It was like a dream, and I don't want it to end. But of course it does. Peter comes up behind me and says quietly,

"It's time to go."

I jump and hurriedly clutch my notebook. He can't see it. He'd think I was insane.

"Sorry," I stammer, scrambling for my stuff.

"I lost track of time."

He smiles and holds up my bag for me.

"You're like the White Rabbit now, always worried about being late. But, it can happen. Especially while writing. You just go into the Zone."

"Exactly." I say with obvious relief.

Peter helps me up and zips my backpack closed.

"I hope to see you back next week."

"You- you bet." I say shakily.

"Goodbye, Alice in Wonderland."

I nod and he turns to go. As he walks away, I whisper,

"Goodbye, Peter Pan."

The dream quickly turns into a nightmare. As I walk into the apartment, I find the Beast sitting at the kitchen table, arms folded. I stop short and just stare at him. It's only eleven in the morning. I still had another half hour.

"Where were you?" he asks silkily.

"I-I was-uh-"

He slams his fist down on the table, causing the milk container to toppled over.

"Don't you dare lie to me!" he snarls.

I brace myself for his hit, but it still brings immeasurable agony. A blast of pain explodes across my cheek and I fall to the ground.

"You little weakling!" he yells.

I kicks me in the ribs and I groan. The Beast gives one final whack. and storms out. I just lay there, moaning, praying for an end. Unconsciousness. Death. anything but this pain. Eventually, everything goes fuzzy and I drop off into merciful blackness.
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