entering Wonderland again
|Write about the sudden appearance of a strange door guarded by a Footman. To get through the door, you must deal with the Footman who will not let you in. (<1000 words)
The smile of a cat lingered in Alice's eyes as she awoke. That much was fairly normal. She'd been dreaming of a cat's grin since she was a little girl, although the dreams had become less frequent in the past four years. Fia had changed a lot of things.
She didn't remember this dream, but she knew from experience that she wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. They made her restless and troubled. Sometimes she wondered if she should have never told Mr. Carroll about her dream adventures. Surely if she had never spoken them aloud, they would have faded like any other dream. Instead, here she was, all grown up and a mother, and she was still obsessing over something that should have remained in her childhood.
She sat up in bed. From the other side of the bed, John stirred. That wouldn't do. He needed his rest. She lit the candle she kept by the bed (carefully shielding it from shining on his face) and set out to make the rounds of her little cottage.
The front door was latched. The shutters were barred. Nothing stirred in the kitchen or the front room. She climbed the steep stair to the attic where Fia slept and opened the door. Nothing was stirring, although there was a lump in the cot. Fia was such a restless sleeper. Alice smiled and walked over to straighten the coverlet.
But closer to the cot, she froze with a gasp. Holding the candle high, she rushed over to her child's bed. “Fia?” she whispered, not wanting to believe that the cot was actually empty. But it was. She looked around the attic room. The beams made strange shadows, but Fia was a careful child. Her toys were away. Her room was clean, and there was no where else she could have been but her little bed.
That didn't stop Alice from rushing over to peer under the cot, in every cupboard, lighting every shadow. Where could she be. “Fia?” she said, not quite shouting. The attic room wasn't large. Even as she opened and closed all the drawers, including the tiny one at the top of the bureau which didn't have enough room for an atlas, let alone a four year old, she knew that her daughter wasn't there.
“Fia!” Her heart was loud in her ears but she could feel the strain on her throat as she yelled out her daughter's name. She turned again, looking for the smallest gap. Behind the rocking horse. Inside the doll's house. Under the chair. A hand came down heavily in her shoulder. She turned into John's arms.
“I can't find her,” Alice said. He snatched the candle from her hand and made his own desperate search of the room as she sank to the floor. Where could Fia be? She heard John clatter downstairs, opening and shutting everything.
The room was dark now. Shadows were gathering on the edges of the moonlight from the gable window. Alice twisted around, searching every shadow, but no longer really expecting that she would see her daughter. Suddenly she froze. She stood, making slow quiet movements. There, in the mirror, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a door with a lizard in formal livery holding a spear in front of it.
The door wasn't there. She knew it wasn't. The corner between Fia's cot and toy chest was empty. So, why was there a lizard there acting like a footman. She kept her eye on the door in the mirror and backed toward it. When she felt the cot against her legs, she reached behind her and picked up the lizard by his cravat and brought him around to face her.
“Where is my daughter?”
The lizard dropped his spear and clutched her hands in fright. “Don't know nothing about no daughter. I'm here to guard the door. No admittance by order of the Queen.”
She lifted him higher and looked him straight in his eye (this involved turning him to the side—lizard eyes being positioned on either side of the head). “This is my daughter's room, Bill. She's gone. You're here. She obviously went through the door.” She brought him closer and hissed in his ear (or where the equivalent orifice is on a lizard head). “You are not going to stand between me and my daughter, are you?”
The lizard squeaked. “How do you know my name?” Without waiting for an answer, the lizard fainted.
That was a question. How did she know his name. She could hear John climbing the stairs. Alice backed up until she could feel the door handle in her hands. She dropped Bill and opened the door, still keeping her eyes on the mirror. She couldn't be certain that it would remain in existence if she looked away.
As John entered the room, she stepped back, wondering as she did so how far she would fall this time. And if it was still a dream.
As she fell, she could see John's face by the light of the candle, open mouthed in shock and rushing toward the door.
She wondered if he would get through before it slammed shut behind her, and she was falling towards her dreams.
And toward Fia.
word count: 886