Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this week’s collage prompt.
Alice was home from school. She hated boarding school, but she hadn’t had a choice. Her father had insisted his daughter have the best education a girl could have. This meant school was not merely academics as it was for boys. Her boarding school was an all girls boarding school and a great deal of focus was put into “the finishing school” aspect of education for women.
She needed to learn how to be a proper hostess and wife; those were the ideals of the Victorian woman. She needed to be the angel in the house, the moral compass of her household.
Alice spent countless classes based on the proper religion for an English girl. The God her school taught about, was an an angry God; judgemental and all powerful. He didn’t seem particularly forgiving. But she was told doing her duty as woman would make God happy.
Alice and her best friends Margaret and Prudence, often liked to cause trouble. They played tricks and sometimes skipped their more tedious classes. The girls were often punished with rulers smacking their hands soundly until they couldn’t feel them. Or writing lines of verses from The Bible until their fingers were too numb to write or days.
All in all, the school couldn’t punish Alice and her friends how the would’ve punished other girls. Her and her friends were daughters of enomoreous patrons of the girl’s school.
That being said, Alice was excited to go home for the summer. She thought fondly of her childhood, her dreams that always wandered to her childhood fantasy world Wonderland.
When the carriage dropped her off, Alice approached her home with a bit of trepidation. Her mother had been angry she had left flowers all over the headmasters office. The man had almost had a heart attack and Alice had laughed and laughed when she heard what he discovered. Bringing her suitcase with her, she opened the front door.
Suddenly, the house started to move in various directions from the front entrance. Staircases opened from every way, along with doors leading to God knows where.
Alice had a peculiar feeling, she was travelling back to her childhood world. Staircases continued to rumble and groan as they moved. Leaving her suitcase, Alice jumped onto a staircase leading to a familiar giant golden door knob with a large decorated keyhole underneath.
Suddenly, the door knob sneezed. “You again. I thought I’d seen the last of you.”
“Alice, yes? I remember. I had a cold last time you were here too; although, you’ve grown since then. Thinned out too, you were a bit fat for awhile, all that bread.”
She gasped, “Excuse me, the ideal woman these days, has a round body with childbearing hips, my teachers told me and my mother agrees. And you aren’t even real. I’m dreaming.”
“I wish the staircases would stop moving and the rest of the house weren’t so confusing. I have no idea where to go and I really was looking forward to a nap, ” Alice complained.
The giant door knob sneezed again. “No Alice, I know you and you know me. You know us all. It’s been a while and you’ve blocked us out. We tried to visit, but you convinced yourself we were all childhood dreams, despite having been to Wonderland twice.”
“You do play delightful tricks at school, I must say –you, Margaret, and Prudence. You should’ve brought them along . . . Then again, they wouldn’t believe Wonderland is real either. They don’t believe in magic, but you do. Oh, you deny it Alice but you do believe. You wouldn’t be back here if you didn’t,” the door knob lectured.
Alice stomped her foot, “You’re not real.”
“I am indeed, open me. Better yet, have some of that bread you like so much, in your left pocket first; it should do the trick.”
She gasped and frowned when she put her hand in her pocket and found the delicious bread. She nibbled on the edge. Alice hadn’t realized how hungry she was. She took a bigger bite of bread and sighed with pleasure.
“Not too much,” the door knob cautioned. She sniffed and raised her nose at him; she had shrunk in size considerably. Carefully, Alice turned the icky runny door knob nose, she needed no key. She stepped into another world; wiping her hands on her skirt, before gazing up in shock.
Alice truly was in the Wonderland of her youth. It appeared to be the same as she dreamt it to be. A path lay in front of her and she saw her body had become small. The grass and foliage around Alice was lush and towered over her.
She started to think of her old Wonderland friends when she came upon a catapillar on a large mushroom.”But you’re a butterfly now,” she said to the catapillar without thinking.
The catapiller sniffed at her and took a long drag from his hookah. “Who are you? Have you figured it out yet? Time does pass. My great-grandfather spoke of you. Time doesn’t move so fast here. He’s out flying about and I’m waiting until I can fly too. Why have you returned?”
Alice blinked rapidly. “I don’t know. I went through a doorway talked to a door knob, shrank, and now I’m here. It’s not a dream is it?”
The catapullar laughed, taking another drag. “I assure you. It’s all quite real. There’s a pathway going that way,” he pointed to his right. “You should go there. It leads somewhere important.”
“I see it’s a dock and we’re below it. It’s so large. Should I go below it in the sand? Or should I grow larger and go ontop of the dock. It’s quite big when you’re only six-inches tall.”
The catapillar laughed, inhaling his hookah promptly after . “There you go insulting those of us only six-inches tall again. Do you have bread in your pocket to grow taller?”
Alice searched in her right pocket, “No bread but I think the mushroom you are laying upon has one side which will make me larger. Alice ate of one side which made her shrink more, than climbed up the mushroom to eat off the other side. She grew until she was her normal size again.
“Curious and curiouser,” she said. “This is all too familiar. I hope there’s no seagull who thinks I’m a serphant ready to eat her young.”
“You can say that again,” the catapillar said smirking. He bowed his head as Alice walked off, having shoved a piece of mushroom in her right pocket for future use.
She walked ontop of the dock until there was nothing but a short stairwell leading to a row boat in the sea. She recalled this moment in her second journey to Wonderland. But there should be a sheep somewhere she reasoned.
On que a sheep appeared and they both rowed off into the sea, but it wasn’t really a sea. Alice thought it was more like a river. The sheep said: “Bahhh,” then smiled at Alice.”Hello Alice have you learned to feather yet?”
“Oh, that’s a rowing term. I understand now. Same with catching a crab. I was so young then, sheep. I reached for those rushes remember? They’re still look and smell lovely. You can never catch the most beautiful ones, they are free.”
The sheep bleated and sighed. “Do you ever think, Alice, that beauty is not meant to be tamed or kept?”
“It’s a curious question coming from a sheep. But I think beauty should be left to exist and shine. You’re saying I should leave the lovely smelling rushes alone?” Alice asked.
The sheep sighed again. “I’m not talking about rushes. You should pay attention Alice. That school you go to and those Victorian norms and rules of society, do you think they’re all correct? Do you believe everything you are taught without question?”
Alice wrinkled her forehead and thought. “No not really. My bestfriends don’t either. It’s why we play tricks, skip classes, it’s why I sit in class bored. I do not want to be a proper woman, a tamed or kept Victorian housewife with her brood of children. I don’t want to think God is always angry and mean; I think he’s benevolent too.”
“Ah, I didn’t think you agreed with your education. I think in the future things will be better, only wait and don’t grow-up too much. Don’t forget Wonderland –we’ll see you when you dream. We need your wildness, Alice.”The sheep bleated again and Alice instantly, woke up.
She was riding in a carriage to her house for summer vacation. She attempted to remember her dreams. Alice swore she dreamt of Wonderland vividly. But all she could remember was a sheep telling her to stay wild and untamed. She grinned thinking of the tricks she played at school. She wasn’t a tame women yet; never if she had her way.
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