Alice's Looking Glass
By Joelle Thomas
You joked when you left yesterday that it would be bad luck for you to see me again before the wedding. At the time, I laughed, but then I went upstairs and lay awake all night, staring at the ceiling and the swirling phantoms that my mind created in the darkness above me. This morning I am no better; I cannot cry because my eyes are parched. I feel myself being stretched and torn, but it is my fault. Im holding your hand and reaching for his.
Now Im staring at the mirror and seeing the dazed eyes of a girl who thought she knew everything and is killing her own soul. I close my eyes and see the glass shatter into a thousand glaring fragments reflecting my empty eyes and yours and his. Their myriad congratulations ring in my head until I dont know what I think from what they think and the more I try the more muddled it becomes. And then you seem to be here with me but I know you are not and I feel my mind flowing with illusions until I remember that you were here yesterday and do I remember what you said?
Then everything comes in a rush and I want to explain what it means but I cant and dont we all tell lies like this anyway
It will be lovely were so excited for you dont you feel Gods hand in this?
We were always together it seems like since the first thing I remember is seeing you playing in the grass so I came over and gave you the dandelion that I picked and you laughed and tried to eat it but your mother stopped you and later we drew pictures in the dust and cried when the wind ruined them because we thought that beautiful things would last forever
Then I remember when we would play tag and you chased me until I tore my dress on the fence post and that one time when you kissed me on the lips because we were only five and we wanted to know what kissing felt like but it wasnt a big deal after all
Were so proud of you hes a fine young man wont you have a fairy-tale life now?
Then we grew up and we werent afraid of thunder anymore and we were always together and I remember when they brought him in all covered with blood and his body limp and I was five again wondering what kissing felt like
And I remember that day when the air sagged with heat and we three were soaked through with sweat and we all escaped to my house where we ate cakes and drank cold tea and lay on our backs talking about war and philosophy and everything else that we knew nothing about and I looked at you and was seventeen and I looked at him and was five
And our laughter bubbled like champagne while time went spinning around us and he was always there but its too hard to think when youre drunk and you never know that the sun youve been worshipping is burning you
And thou shalt fear not the darkness because the light is so terrible thou shalt fear not thou shalt doubt not until you suffocate under the outside wills and the million little weaknesses that make you crumble at any touch and you repeat what they tell you to until half of you believes it and the other half dies
We wish you the best they were made for each other isnt her gown pretty?
You and I would go walking alone hand in hand in the fields and my skirt would get tangled in the briars and you would talk about marriage and God how you loved to talk about marriage but it was always just assumed that wed get married because that was the best thing in the world for two stupid kids who thought they knew everything about love after one kiss
Still he was always there but I knew you and I were betrothed and had been betrothed since we played hide and seek together in the trees and we were as good as married when everyone said our names together like one unit like Romeo and Juliet like milk and honey
But he was betrothed too though I dont know how but I heard his heart beating half his and half someone elses and someone far away was drawing back near to him but your heart was not with mine because I would not let them merge and we were two separate people and you never knew this but one night he and I sat in the darkness with God watching and held hands and leaned so close I could hear his dual heart beating and afterwards I felt like a sinner although we didnt even kiss
God bless you may it last forever arent you so happy?
I love you and that makes it worse but there must be more than this and sometimes I want to be two people one to stay with you and bear your children and one to go with him because he will not stay no matter what he says because his heart is restless and he walks like a man on an eternal journey and half of me wants to be an exploding star and half of me wants to die quietly
But I dont know why I worry because they made the choice for me and even now there is white draped over my chair for the innocence I doubt and I have finished the embroidery but there is a part of me that wants to hurl it all into the fire and watch it burst into flame but I cannot do that because I have said yes and there is a diamond heavier than death on my finger
Yet his eyes are always with me and at night I dream of us in the stars but you are there too and I am crying because I have made too many mistakes and there is no release for me and in the end I will be a woman like every other I will cook our meals and raise our children and sweep the dust from our floors until I am beaten and then I will be dead but the darkness will be warm and only my shell will be shriveling in the light
Because that is how life goes first boy meets girl and there is a kiss and they put a link of the golden chain on her finger and the woman shall be with child and ye shall call his name it doesnt matter and they will die and time will efface the marks on the stone until it is just so much nonsense...
He comes into my room and smiles. Praying that my forced smile looks less quaky than it feels, I greet him. I know what he has come to talk about; his eyes speak before his tongue as he examines and compliments my dress, unaware of all that it represents to me. If only you hadnt come, I think. But I do not mean that, and I revise it to If only you had been born here. Yet this too is unsatisfactory. The part of me that loves you flashes reproofs across my mind until I am fighting tears as I try to sustain a conversation.
All this time I have been speaking stiffly to him, keeping the conversation shallow. But now he is asking deeper questions, and my thoughts have spilled into my throat before I realize that I have already said too much. I arrest my voice and try to dispel the feelings in the air that are making me tremble.
Camera equipment. I remember sending Dan for it, and I tell him that I would appreciate it if he would remind my brother to fetch it. But I dont want wedding pictures; I dont want to go forward in time and leave glossy, frozen memories behind me. I want to go back to that sweltering afternoon when we had cake on our faces and sweat on our clothing, when we lay and spoke of the world in naiveté and no one thought about marriage or death. I want to sit alone forever in the moonlight, as its been too long since Ive looked unblinking into the eye of God. But the dust has been scattered.
As he turns to leave, I feel a shiver of fear. Or is it prescience? I know that I have said too much, that I have felt my soul possess my tongue with ingenuous whispers. The air shudders as I stare through my dress and wonder at what a fool I am.
Does it matter? Should I care? I am no longer a child; my time of rebellion has passed. Already I have submitted to the promise, and I have no choice but to submit to tomorrow as well. This too shall pass; I cannot and do not want to know what lies beyond it, because I prefer the fidelity of pain to the caprice of hope. All this matters little. I do love you, and we will survive on that. And yet...
I want to sink back into the past, when my unclipped wings glistened and we could feel the starlight. But naïve warmth has turned to sophisticated chill, and I feel the dreams dying as my soul moves on.
Joelle Thomas' Fanfiction