by Oran Kell
A young woman on the brink of madness finds the escape she knew was coming all along.
|“How do you know I’m mad?”
“You must be, or you wouldn’t have come here.” --Lewis Carroll
When she saw the stone looking at her she was mostly unsurprised.
“Hello,” she said, “my name is Alice.”
It was a normal looking stone, a little grey, a little brown, about the size of a normal man’s head. It felt rather friendly on a morning many stones may not.
“Hello Alice,” it said, “who are you?”
Alice sat down on the grass next to the small gravel path. “I’m the girl that lives in that cottage over there.” She pointed toward the bushes crowding the path. One end of the gravel ran through the bushes and down to the village. The other ran up a steep hill. “Or maybe it’s over there, I’m not feeling myself today.”
“Do you know why Holly is like a children’s book?” The stone asked.
“I’m quite sure I don’t know what you mean,” said Alice.
“That’s okay,” said the stone, unconcerned. “I’m quite sure I’m not your first crazy.”
A door slammed in the distance. It sounded like an untidy beard, heavy work boots, and empty whiskey bottles.
“He’s never going to stop, you know,” said the stone. “What is an upside-down girl from over there to do? Sooo...you know, there’s a butcher knife in the kitchen.”
Alice was silent, but a tear slipped from one eye and down her face. She sniffed and wiped her eyes with her apron, then smiled. “I’ll run far away! I’ll run fast and join the Foreign Legion, or be a pirate, or a hole-digger.”
“All right, it’s settled then,” said the stone. “Before you go, can you take me to the top of the hill? I’ve always wanted to see the sea.”
“Of course,” said Alice, “but only if you promise not to tell anyone where I went.”
The breeze carried sounds from the open windows of the cottage...sounds of heavy footstep on the stairs.
Alice picked up the stone. It was very heavy, but she felt very strong. After all, didn’t she turn seventeen two months from last Wednesday? She untied her apron and wrapped up the stone, tying it tight so the weight hung from her neck as her feet staggered up the path.
“Holly! Where are you?” A deep, dark voice carried on the wind, possibly coming from the open window of an upstairs bedroom. It sounded like a door slamming on the place where she hid under the covers, surrounded by her books and crying herself happy.
“I would recommend that you run away faster,” said the stone.
Huffing and puffing her little engine reached the end of the line and stopped short on the edge of a rather tall cliff overlooking the ocean.
“Holly! Where are you, girl?” The voice sounded angry, and it was accompanied by another slamming door...the front door this time.
“I thought your name was Alice?” The stone’s voice was slightly muffled by the apron.
“Look how beautiful and still the water is today,” she said. “It’s just like a looking glass.”
Jagged stones poked through the water below her like a smile in an invisible face. Heavy footsteps crunched on gravel. The rustling said that something big and bearded was swatting its way through the bushes, up the path.
“Have you considered flying?” Asked the stone.
“You mean like a fish?” She replied. She gathered herself and put on a courageous face. “Well, it’s like my father always said: there’s nowhere you can run, nowhere you can hide.” She took one last step forward.
“I’ve always wanted to see the sea,” said the stone as they fell to safety.