Alison C. Liddell
Multiple circles of various rainbow colors danced across the countertop as pale fingertips delicately twisted and moved a small glass teacup
in the sunlight. The chocolate brown eyes viewing the reflective colors were seemingly glossed over as if not even noticing the beauty just in front of them but that their owner was somewhere completely far away in her mind. Alison's thoughts swirled around everything that had happened this week and even before that time. She wanted to desperately believe that this place was just a dream induced by a comma and another side of her was overjoyed to be shoved into this strange land....no, this Wonderland. She would have never thought that the last trip to her grandmother's house would end up how it did. All that could be heard from the cracked bedroom door was the shuffling of cardboard before the distinct sound of packing tape dispensing as a new box was created. A silence fell in the room once more as the wavy-haired blonde inside sat unmoving in the middle of the cherry wood floor with personal objects of her grandmother scattered around her in a circle. She didn't know how long she had sat in her knelt position but if the twinge of pain in her knees or the muscles in her legs that seemed to be begging for a position change was anything to go by then she probably didn't want to know. Alison was finally down to the last box and somehow she couldn't quite bring herself to pack it up. Every time she managed to pick up an object to start was the moment her hands began to shake, tears would build in her eyes, and the breath caught in her throat as her heart felt heavy. It was like she was losing her grandmother all over again and that Alison herself was the one throwing her grandmother's memory under the rug. Of course, that notion was ridiculous but she could not help but feel that way just a tiny bit.
She shook her head lightly, tossing the thoughts from her mind and brushing her hand under her eyes to rid herself of any stray tears. Grandmother Alice would want her to stay strong and happy, not to drown in grief so that is exactly what she would do. Alison steeled her resolve and actually looked at what she had left to pack. Most of it was clothes but she still had a range of photos, nicknacks, and the small amount of jewelry that her grandma had treasured above others around her as well.
Alison went to pick up one of Alice's rings, wanting to have a look at some of the ones she had never seen before, only to clumsily have it spill from her fingertips and clink on to the floor. She groaned in frustration as she watched it happily sail under the bed which regrettably caused her to have to slowly move from her seated position. Stretching out, she quickly bit back a wince as her legs complained loudly now about the previous torture. She carefully pushed herself up, waiting for a few seconds to regain her footing and curling the toes on her bare feet to work the blood flow back in before maneuvering around everything. Once she made it to the side of the bed, she slid to the wooden floor and glanced around until she spotted the small item she was seeking. Alison slithered her way under the bed as much as she could and reached her arm out to brush and pat around in the area of the ring until suddenly a floorboard gave way under one of her firmer pats.
Alison tilted her head, noticing the popped up board in confusion. She pulled her arm back, quickly shimming out from under the bed frame and snapping upright. She crawled over the bed to the other side before leaned down to grab the bed frame and giving it a firm yank. It was a slow process by herself, especially with the calls from downstairs about the noise but after reassuring her family that it was nothing to worry about before she set to work eagerly. Once the bed was cleared of the area, she curiously moved to the loose board and gently pried it open to find many hidden objects. "Curiouser and curiouser, why did you go through such trouble to hide these?"
She pulled out some notebooks, one even having a dried flower as a bookmark but it looked nothing Alison had ever seen before. There was a something wrapped up in an unnaturally glittery fabric that had bells attached the edges as well as other unlikely objects inside. Alison carefully started to pull out the items one by one so she could examen them closely as she did, treating each piece as if it were glass that would break at any moment.
She started with taking out the larger items from the hidden cubby or at least they were larger than some of the others and ended up with a dagger in her hand. Why would her grandma need this? It was beautiful, gold with turquoise gems embedded in certain places and worked in for the overall intricate design. The twists, turns, and colors made it almost seem festive instead of dangerous.
Alison set it aside with the journals and gently pulled out the next trinket. It wasn't as extravagant as some of the others but the leather pouch was simplistically sweet with a pull string that had colorful beads at the ends. It wasn't empty from the weight she could feel resting on her palm and opened it for what was probably the first time in a while. Inside the small pouch were a couple of coins, from who knows where but she didn't touch them as it seemed like they weren't meant to be and with that she sealed it back up so it could be placed with the others.
Alison turned her attention back to the other trinkets still nestled in the fabric, her attention instantly caught by a puzzle box. The wood was a dazzling deep purple and gold with etched designs that she didn't understand but wished she did. What secrets did it hold if any? She yearned to know what the puzzle itself would look like completely open. It was building her curiosity and would most likely be her new obsession to try and solve a little more each day till she finally figured it out.
She quickly moved on to the next few items, knowing if she dug into the puzzle box that time might run away from her and she did not want a single item missed in this new discovery. Alison pulled out three necklaces that had become hopelessly tangled and would need some delicate love and attention to undo but was not impossible. The first one was very similar to another but also completely different as it felt softer in style with the gentle fully bloomed white rose that elegantly rested on the front of the key while the other one was bold, the top a twist of brass and the neck of the key filled with keyholes as if the key didn't even know what it was too. The charm attached showed a simple lock with a heart cut out of it which could be a symbol for many things. The last necklace, however, was set apart from the other two unless you said that the heart shape was a theme from the other. It was a jeweled red heart, a crown placed on top though as if a queen among hearts and connected to the others by a simple silver chain.
After the necklaces were carefully placed on top of the puzzle box, she moved on to see what else was hidden away. Alison smiled softly as she gazed upon a spangled bobbin littered with red butterflies. This reminded her of so many memories, happy ones and the lost times she would no longer share. She gripped the small item to her chest for just a moment before closing her eyes to hold back the tears while she abruptly placed it away to look onward. A bunched up piece of black lace was tucked in the corner which was curious causing her to take this item next but when she did, a sweet smell reached her nose and she realized it was from the material she now held in her hands. It turned out that once unfolded it happened to be a mask but what was surprising is that there a deep purplish black object that at first glance almost seemed like a guitar pick but the idea was instantly thrown out the second she touched it. It was almost a shell-like quality to it and had a metal shaped spade dangling in front of it. It didn't seem to be the only small bobble hidden inside the lace as a pair of cufflinks with the suits pressed into the golden metal.
She couldn't possibly see how any more items could be inside but sure enough, yet another item remained. It was near the bottom, a brassy gold pocket watch. Alison clicked the button, letting the top layer spring open to reveal the inside which caused a sad frown to appear on her lips as the arms were moving in all kinds of directions and even the ticking noises seemed to be off. It was sad to see something so beautiful and precious broken with time, probably because it had been at the bottom or that was her assumption anyway. She closed the top gently, placing it with the rest.
Nothing else but the fabric seemed to be left so she carefully moved it out, trying her best not to snag anything. Only the tinkling of the bells around the edges could be heard, that is until something clanked out of the fabric. It hadn't been loud, it wasn't big but it still worried her and panic set in that something else might have broken. She placed the jingling material off to the side and gazed over the area to see what was out of place. There next to the hole was a lone collar with a silver bell. The collar itself was black with what she could only describe as an astronomer tracking view on the stars in the night sky. She wondered if this use to be Dinah's when the cat had been a kitten. It was the only logical reason why it would be here and would keep the cat's memory alive.
"Wonder what these meant to you exactly...."Alison spoke softly, brushing her fingers over the hidden trinkets lovingly and feeling like she had learned a part of Alice's life that she had never shared. Alison couldn't even know if most of her guesses and thoughts had been close to correct. No, she couldn't pack these ones away. They were special.
Alison stood up, running over to the backpack she had left by her shoes and began to empty it out of all her papers and junk. She shoved the things she would need back in before moving back over to the hidden items. She took one of her grandmother's old pale blue dresses and wrapped the smaller items into it before setting it in the bag. She was gentle with all the books and larger trinkets, placing them in only after she placed whatever was wrapped in jingling fabric. Once those were tucked away she gazed over the other things she had yet to pack. Alison moved some of the jewelry into her bag, more specifically a locket before zipping it up and setting aside.
She needed to get back to the task at hand after all. It killed her, a knife to the heart with each item she placed into that box but this has to be done and she would be strong.
The sound of the tape sliding over the last box was so final. It was hard to believe that she would never be in this house again after today. Alison slung the discarded bag carefully over her shoulder before picking up the box awkwardly as she tried to get a good grip on it. She should have known better than to try to carry two items at once since as she tried to adjust the box, the bag on her shoulder started to slip which she quickly grabbed which meant holding a heavy box with one hand. This caused the box to almost tumble which meant she tried to catch it and of course it lead to her clumsy self slipping.
Alison's eyes snapped shut, waiting for the sound of the crashing box, to feel the slam of her skull against the full-length mirror leaning against the wall, and to smell the iron tang of her blood in the air once the glass fell around her but none of these things happened. She didn't hear a box crashing but instead heard the twittering of birds singing songs only they understood. She didn't feel the slam of her skull but instead almost a floating feeling before a sensation of wet grass slowly seeping into her clothes. Alison surely didn't smell her own blood for it could not smell as wonderfully candied sweet as it did now.
Her eyes fluttered opened and she laid there for a moment, unmoving and slightly stunned as her toes and fingers curled into the grass below. She jolted up, glancing around with one thought on her mind.
'Am I dreaming? Did I hit my head so hard that I passed out?'
She was no doubt confused but she was also in breathless awe at the garden around her. Everything so vibrantly beautiful and smelled like anything sweet you had ever craved or maybe never knew you had craved. If this was a dream, then it was one of the most amazing she had ever experienced.
She slowly pushed herself up to a standing position and turned in a circle, taking it all in until she noticed the bag next to her feet as her ankle brushed against it. She picked it up, placing it on both her shoulders this time. Alison had planned to blindly pick a direction to go in when she spotted something familiar. She reached out her hand to touch one of the flowers since it look similar if not the exact identical to the dried one she has seen in the notebook when she was grabbed by a thorny vine.
She yanked her arm back as an instinctive reaction and gasped in pain. This garden suddenly didn't seem so peaceful and beautiful as even the flowers themselves look agitated and threatening.
"Let go of me!"Alison yelled bravely, wishing she had some shears right about now as she moved her free hand to try and pry the plant from her arm since the thorns were painfully digging at her skin, not even noticing anything else that could be a danger, like say, the other plants she wasn't focused on.
Alison readjusted her head that had been resting on her arm, gliding her gaze down the arm and to the hand that was still tilting the teacup playfully. A dark bruise wove up to her elbow, fading scratches accompanying the marks as they were starting to heal. It had been lucky for her that the doctor, Alistair, had a balm of Bandersnatch's saliva mixed together with aloes, mint, and beeswax. It was so pleasant to the smell and had helped greatly in a speedy recovery but as with everything, it would still take time. She sighed, shaking her head and pushed back gently from the counter, stretching lightly as her thoughts turned to the people she had met. Each of them were friendly, if not exuberant in their own way but something told her that their behavior was not the only ones to be offered here. Alison had heard mention of the Red King and the Queen of Hearts, the worry definitely showing more in others but it was there. It made her curious if there was more to Wonderland than first meets the eye. It was just like the garden in her view, beautiful but maybe more dangerous than it really appeared. She didn't feel like it was right to ask Eugene or even the White Queen for more details.'Maybe I should visit the twins and get a little bite to eat at the Bistro. Those twos antics have been able to keep my mind off things and make me smile.'