“Alice! What took you so long? I’ve been waiting years for you.” The man bellows, his eyes full of comfort, reassuring me I am safe. His neck looks injured, his clothes stained.
“Dad, it hasn’t been that long. It’s been approximately seven hours.” Laughing, I walk beside him down the sort of path you tend to see in fairy tale picture books.
“Oh my! It seems like forever.”
“You said that last night, too…” My smile fades.
It wasn’t just last night. It was the night before, and before that, too. And so on, what seems to be like forever.
“Alice, I just missed you.” As he speaks, his gaze faces the kingdom ahead, unfocused on me. Like every night.
“So why did you do it then?” I sigh. It was the same every time, because every time, there was a spur of an answer.
“Alice…”He finally look towards me but his face is a blur. “Alice…I-” His eyes swirl into teal clouds. His lips reshape and became coral birds, flying across the pastel sky. And as always, he reforms and didn’t answer my question.
“Alice!” He calls out. That didn’t happen before. “Alice! Alice! Alice!” The land, as far as I can see, begins to shake. Like an earthquake, the ground trembles and the buildings crumble.
“Alice!” Within seconds, a young woman, with rosy cheeks, stands before my vision, her arm on my shoulder, shaking me. “Don’t sleep in my lesson, Alice. Stop drifting off into your little wonderland.” It was Ms Lory, my English teacher.
“It’s better than here.” I mumble, under my breath, making sure she can't offend my imagination any further.
“Anywhere is.” The boy next to me interjects, quietly, as he grins at me. He had crooked teeth and dark circles, surrounding his eyes. His scruffy, greasy ginger hair glistens in the light and he has patches of red around his plump face. He isn’t the most attractive person, but he is, certainly, the most nicest.
I smile back, recalling his name. Dom. He has an identical twin, Des, and the only way I can tell them apart was because Des had a small scar, slightly above his right eyebrow. And Des had a higher voice.
“Especially Wonderland.” I respond to his previous comment, smiling down at my book.
“Alice, can I ask you a question? What is Wonderland?” Staring, studying his face, I remain silent. “I mean, you use it a lot in your writing. In your stories and stuff.”
“Wonderland is…imagine a place with all the people you love, living happily, and all the people you hate are locked up away in the darkest dungeons you could ever find. The skies are always clear of storm, the clouds full of dream and colour.” Beaming, I explain what my mind can hold, amongst my dreams.
“And rivers gushing with chocolate?” Dom gleams, like a five year old, excited.
“Even that. Whatever you can imagine!” His eyes twinkle with amazement and inspiration, then stares off into the world I had implanted in his head.
“What? Are you ten?” A girl snorts, in front of me, shattering the moment. Kate.
Kate is somebody you wouldn’t want to talk to. She isn’t popular nor is she a loner but she is packed with insults, which could shut you down, and wish you never existed, in her presence. She has one friend, called Cat, from what I had heard. Although, I've never once witnessed her with her ‘friend’. She is neither gorgeous nor ugly, too, but undoubtedly is she big headed. She has a button nose, like me, and pretty almond, ocean blue eyes. But she wears thick layers of make-up and has spider like eyelashes and neon pink lipstick, which is the first thing you set eyes upon. And her eyebrows…clearly drawn on from all that obsessive plucking.
I didn’t reply to her comment but she continues to try and wind me up.
“Your little wonderland is fake, Alice. Just like your ‘my life is terrible’ act.”
You don’t even know half the story.
“Shut up, Kate!” Dom commands her, with as much confidence as he can conjure, before the disgusted look she gave him shrivels him up into a ball inside.
“Aww, Alice. Your boyfriend is trying to defend you. How sweet.” It's probably the first time I've seen her with an expression of wander, even if it's for sarcastic purposes.
“I’m not her boyfriend!” Dom snaps, blushing at the same time.
“Oh, but you wish.” Kate snickers, turning away as she did. I don’t know whether to be insulted or complimented by her response, but either way, she got what she wanted: to wind us up.
“What a-” Dom begins before I cut him off.
“Just ignore her. Bitches shouldn’t deserve to be spoken to or given attention to.” Dom giggles, even though he can sense I am being dead serious.
“Maybe that’s why no one talks to you!” Kate whips her head around, glaring. She's obviously raging with anger but, as she raises her eyebrows, she is also impressed with her retort.
“You’ll find yourself in the darkest of dungeons, you could ever find, if you don’t shut your mouth.” Dom tries to reply, as cunningly as Kate. It only leads to me face-palming and blushing with embarrassment. Nobody should make me feel this way about Wonderland. Kate does though.
People like her just don’t understand because they’re too caught up with their obnoxious, meaningless lives. Too absorbed in feeling so great about themselves and putting down others. Too arrogant to stop and care.
Too of the same.