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. “Whoareyou? 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.
Alice was excited to be eighteen and have her coming-out party in society. The young girl who talked nonsense about Wonderland was gone — the adult had almost swallowed her fantastical self completely.
She participated in garden parties, having tea in different settings such as fashionable tea rooms with her mother and girl friends. Alice went out with friends on picnics and sometimes on a double-date with a girl friend, two gentlemen with potential, and of course a chaperone.
Part of Alice always had a difficult time letting go of Wonderland. She knew it as a world infinantly crazy. At the same time, it was a place where she felt at home and life even though hidden beneath words and rhymes, made the most sense out of any place she had visited.
Alice had been around the world. Her father and mother had taken her to Europe. She had seen art and buildings thousands of years-old. She studied countless kings, queens, poets, philisophers, and clergymen as she travelled with a tutor. She had even been to the Orient, stocking up on silk and tea for he friends. Something about having tea, always appealed to her. It wasn’t merely Victorian society’s obsession with the past-time.
Throughout her travels, Alice found herself thinking about her days in Wonderland. She would consider if her two grand adventures actually occurred. If the dreams she still had of people and creatures in Wonderland — new and old, throughout her life –were true?
Alice could picture her Wonderland friends drinking tea, eating cookies, and talking nonsense; it had all felt real. She missed her childhood, but at the same time thought she had indeed been bonkers. Her friends at school had quickly shown her how odd little girls were treated and mocked, until Alice ceased talking about Wonderland at all.
As she grew-up, she believed she caught glimpses of a furry white rabbit in a vest following her, keeping watch. The White Rabbit would turn his head and smile at Alice, purposefully checking his pocket watch and then waving it at her. She didn’t know what the White Rabbit wanted from her and she was never quite sure if he was real. Alice began to ignore the White Rabbit, but he was persistent, even invading her sleep. Her dreams became increasingly vivid and she felt wherever she went, traces of Wonderland and its inhabitants, grasped her with dreamy tendrils.
Since Alice had first returned from Wonderland as a small girl of six, a pair of intense green-eyes and an attractive smile, had haunted her dreams. She knew this man, knew he’d always been watching out for her in the stickiest of situations as she grew up, keeping her safe. Alice had never had the chance to meet this young man, only knew that he lingered in her presence often, and that when he she felt him, she was at peace.
Alice’s eigteenth birthday was a grand affair. Several young men and women attended with their families. Last night had been an opulent coming-out ball but tonight was a private affair for Alice and her closest girl friends. The best potential suitors for Alice and her friends were also invited.
She was sipping her tea when her eyes caught the eyes of a man she thought to be about five years her senior. His green-eyes were familiar and glinted knowingly at Alice. She stared at him enthralled; he seemed to know she was drawn to him. His smile was devastatingly familiar, but only in her dreams. Alice wasn’t sure she believedher dreams were genuine. Could magic still be real?
The young man was a strange creature to her, as strange as those creatures she’d met in Wonderland long ago. Perhaps more so, if the sins of the flesh the Abbot talked about were as terrible as he said they were. But Alice didn’t much care about the Abbot’s warnings. She was intrigued and had always been a curious girl; she peered at the green-eyed man considering him.
His suit was finely-made and he smiled at her boldly. He moved towards her, but Alice hid amongst her friends, not yet ready to meet him. Her heart fluttered when her eyes met the young man’s mysterious green-eyes again; he was laughing at her shyness.
Alice perturbed by his making fun of her, left her own party and went outside to ponder. She sat on a bench in the garden behind her house. She still tended the roses in the garden but had forgotten the unique song of all flowers, she had sung as a child. Her roses were wilting and dry. She stood up and bent to pick a lone surviving rose. Hearing odd noises she looked up.
She was unsure of where she was at first, the garden had disappeared and Alice stood on a large slippery brown rock in the middle of an ocean. A young man in a boat rowed towards her and the noises she heard was the water lapping against the stone.
“Oh, do hurry, this rock is so small and I think the water is rising,” Alice yelled to the man. She waved her arms until the boat was next to the rock and piercing green-eyes met her shocked blue ones. Strong hands gently held her steady as she stepped into the row boat.
Alice was grateful to the man, but then she recognized his face from the party. He pushed his short dark-brown waves from his forehead. His green-eyes knowingly studied Alice. She felt as a if she were a child again, under a teacher’s gaze, but the young man was not upset at her; he seemed curious and careful with her instead.
“Alice,” the young man said, “Please take a seat so I can row us to safer waters and neither one of us falls in the ocean.” Alice obeyed, sitting opposite of the man with her mouth gaping. The man gently closed her mouth, smoothing her skin with the back of his hand.
Alice’s face heated and she blushed,”Who are you? And why are you here with me in Wonderland? I didn’t think you were real, real enough to attend my party.”
The young man’s eyes twinkled cheerfully, “I’m Wren, Alice, and I’m here and yourhere because Wonderland needs us. It was time for you to return and time I met you in person — not only in your dreams.” Alice flushed red.
Wren chuckled, “You didn’t go easy on our friend the White Rabbit. He’s a bit peeved at you for ignoring him so long. He kept waving his prized watch at you. I’m surprised you weren’t curious enough to follow him, darling.”
“Wren, are you from Wonderland or did you come here as a child too, like me? You’ve been with me before a great deal. I remember your green-eyes and smile; you keep me safe, but you never say hello. I’ve never seen how you actually look before.”
“Dearest, I’ve always lived in Wonderland and you’re correct, I’ve been with you when you’ve visited and I take care you are safe in the outside world. I have a Cheshire Cat who watches you closely, along with my friend the White Rabbit. I haven’t always been able to be with you, but when I cannot you can be sure the Cheshire Cat or the White Rabbit are there.”
“Why do you keep me safe Wren and why do you call me dearest? I always thought you lived only in my dreams. It’s been so long since I visited through the looking glass; do you stand with the Red Queen or the White Queen?”
Wren smiled softly as he rowed the boat effortlessly, Alice peppering him with questions; he listened contentedly as he rowed. “I’m supported by the White Queen Alice, but my influence is greater than hers and so yourinfluence will be greater than any queen as well.”
Alice studied Wren. She had been staring her boots shyly, for far too long. It wasn’t like her to be shy, when she bubbled with questions. Yet, she could feel herself blush anytime she looked at Wren; his smile brightened when he caught Alice staring.
She brushed the blond hair out of her eyes and in her frilly white dress, balled her hands together on her lap, determined to have a long look at Wren. She was assured she’d seen him before in some form and felt his presence keeping her from harm. Wren was beautiful to Alice; he was handsome and lithely muscled beneath his clothes. He was from Wonderland so she was pleased not to have to hide nonsensicallogic from him; he already would understand what Wonderland was like.
She noticed his eyes peruse her and Alice blushed again. Wren reached for her small hand and squeezed it gently, as he stopped rowing the boat. “Alice, you’re beautiful. As a girl, I thought you a fascinating girl, defeating the Red Queen and deftly dealing with Time. You had such a tousled head of blond hair and you still do. You’ve the same inquisitive blue-eyes and you’ve grown into a stunning woman,” Wren told her squeezing her hand again. He seemed genuine and the compliments made Alice flustered.
“Your beauty is also an asset when one has been tasked to guard Wonderland as we have,” Wren continued.”Beauty can attract and fool people and often, at the same time,” Wren said, absently stroking circles on Alice’s hand. “It’s hard for me to explain. Especially since I’ve much more experience than you’ve in life. Humans ageslowly in Wonderland –most creatures here do. But as in any land, we have ourownways to protect and our own tyrants to fight. You have proven yourself twice against our foes.”
Wren held both her hands firmly, appearing serious, “We have always had two guardians at a time, for a thousand Wonderland years each pair, ensuring Wonderland’s survival. Our guardians are a couple; a couple is stronger than one being. I am one guardian, born in Wonderland and familiar with its ways,” Wren said.
“The second guardian is you, Alice, born of the outside world. You have learned and come to love Wonderland — though lately you pretend otherwise. You are the second guardian Alice and I’ve waited forever for you, my other half. You know forever can be a very long time.”
Alice blushed and then upon realizing the great responsibility she now had, her face went white, “Why me? Is this why I have never been able to forget Wonderland all these years ? Am I to marry you, a man I don’t really know?
Wren grinned at Alice tugging gently on her hands as she tried to free herself from his touch; he chuckled, playfully. Alice began to smile too and as she peered up from their joined hands, she saw the row boat resting on a beach. They stepped over the side of the boat and the vivacity and colour of Wonderland surrounded her as they walked into the forest. The flowers greeted Alice immediately, so happy she had returned.
Wren stopped walking a moment, turning to face Alice. He was heads above her and tilted her chin up to look at him. “My Alice,” he began, “Magic is a curious thing. It can find the right people and draw them together. It has always driven me to you. I have loved you since I first saw you.”
“That makes no sense.”
“But it does Alice. You believe in magic, yes?” Alice nodded.
“Then you know. If you want magical things to happen, you must believe in them. We must believe in each other. And what’s knowing? People are together fifty-years in your world and they don’t know each other. Often, they’ve forgotten the magic — the love, between them. Here the world is magic and I will not forget you or our love.”
“Wren, I’m particularly fond of you. I’ve never felt this way, except about you, ever — only in dreams when you visited, when I felt you near somehow. Is that love and is it enough? And I’m only eighteen-years-old, how can I guard Wonderland?
Wren smiled and he gently pecked Alice’s lips.”We have forever. Forever is a thousand Wonderland years. All your old friends are here. Not those girls who were cruel to you for being you at school. Wonderland needs us both and you will soon know me as I know you. We will even know each other better than most people ever know each other. What you feel for me, I’m so thankful for. And yes it is enough, it is the beginning of love.”
“I’m not sure couples should always know each other better. Sometimes secrets are better kept,” Alice said thoughtfully.
“Dearest, we cannot have secrets. We have a responsibility but we have a haven in each other and perhaps much later, a child to carry on as guardian with another girl or boy from your world, when forever comes,” Wren stated stroking Alice’s cheek.
“I can trust you, Wren? I’d rather have the truth in a nonsensical way than an outright lie,” Alice said firmly staring at Wren.
He blushed this time, “I will be truthful to you —nonsensically and sensically.”
Alice smiled and kissed Wren’s cheek before saying,”You never said Wren, who do we guard Wonderland from?”
“From reality, Alice. From those who do not believe in magic. For those who would tell people love is not real and everything has to be logical and makesense. Though our world is much nonsense, we make moresense than the real world. There are always monsters in the midst and as you know, timehimself is often one of them. So are Queens and many tyrants, there is always a badguy somewhere I’m afraid,” Wren said a bit tiredly.
Alice stared at Wren, standing on her tippy-toes, and stroking his stumbled cheeks in comfort. She felt drawn to Wren, as if she were in a pleasant fog. Gently her lips met Wren’s for a kiss. He kissed her back more intensely and she could feel what she knew was passion between them; it was Alice’s first real kiss. They lingered a while, walking and teasing each other, stealing more kisses which were more difficult for Alice to step away from each time.
A stray thought occurrred to her as they walked, “Won’t my mother miss me?” Alice asked, “How can I leave her alone?”
“She will believe you married a wealthy heir and will be pleased, as that will be the truth; we can visit her often, though she will be gone for most of your lifetime.”
Alice nodded feeling sad, but realizing her duty with Wren. She wasn’t afraid, knowing he was with her. She knew their relationship was blossoming and would flourish, perhaps, with ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ as couples had — but perhaps, better. Their connection had been built her entire life.
Taking Wren’s hand, Alice walked off into Wonderland. How curious her home would be here with Wren and his green–eyes gazing at her with love, and the White Rabbit out of no where, jumping beside them.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks/things you can think up if only you try!”
― Dr. Seuss
Alice was growing older and she hadn’t been to Wonderland in years. Yet, she had not forgotten the lessons she learned there.
She was an imaginative girl, so much so her mother could not figure out where Alice came up with her fanciful ideas.
But Alice’s mother adored her daughter so she let her creativity run free, including playing outside and having tea with her imaginary friends.
While having tea, Alice talked to the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Door Mouse, and March Hair. Often, she talked to a smoking Catipillar, whom her mother naturally disapproved of. But Alice only laughed at her mother saying:
” Why the Caterpillar needs the medicine he smokes. He’s in a great deal of pain becoming a butterfly.”
Alice’s mother had been making ice tea in a pitcher as it was summer. Alice didn’t know what to do at first, her friends enjoyed hot tea. But she determined after a while, they would have to make do with ice tea. She poured the cold tea into her prized teapot.
She brought the tea to the marigolds and dandilions in the field by her house and poured the cold tea at the base of all her flower friends. She even brought them a few cookies, which she crumbled around their stems.
Sometimes Alice liked to sit out in the field and read. She brought out a fancy white cushioned chair from the parlour to a field of grass and flowers. She sat there considering life and paging through a novel. She was wearing a hat her grandma had given her to keep the sun from her face.
Alice fell asleep outside in the chair and dreamed she was in Wonderland. She dreamt she had eaten bread to make her big and tall.
She found herself next to a curious house with the appearance of a giant 🍐 pear ; it had a small red door with steps going down to the grass below.
There was a handsome Raven sitting on the house, opposite of where Alice stood. She placed her ear against the house, trying to hear if anyone was inside.
“You won’t find anyone in there,” the Raven told Alice.
“But why wouldn’t they be at home?” Alice asked. “Its Wonderland, creatures here don’t go to work even if they’re adults. Besides, wouldn’t a mother or wife be at home?”
“I wouldn’t quite call them adults and it’s presumptuous to think all women should stay at home.”
“If they’re not adults, how come they have a house?” Alice wondered. She looked back to the Raven, “I only thought the wife or mother might be home because she could be like my mother who stays home.”
Alice sat down, reaching towards the small red doorway of the pear 🍐 house; it was locked up tight. “Why is the door locked? Who would break into their home here? My father never locks our door.”
The Raven chuckled in the weird way birds do, “I think they are avoiding unwanted guests of giant proportions.”
“Also, I think you’re forgetting everyone needs something to do in the day, work or otherwise. We all have tasks, seasons of life to experience, even in Wonderland.”
“Seasons of life?” Alice asked confused. “Well, what season am I in? I don’t feel young, but I’m certainly not old. I’m only nine. But since coming to Wonderland years ago, I think of things adults don’t even consider.”
The Raven squawked, continuing to chuckle.
“Hmmm,” Alice said, “It only occurred to me, no one ever told me why a Raven is like a writing desk?”
The Raven ignored Alice but began to whistle a discordant tune.
“That’s awful,” Alice said but he continued his song.
When he stopped he peered with little black eyes at Alice, “See everyone has a song to sing. Not everyone thinks their neighbour’s song is pretty, but it’s theirsong and so they must sing it.”
“It is the same with the creatures in this pear 🍐 house. They are off singing their life song, doing what they feel they are meant to do in life, in this season.”
“Each part of life has a song,” the Raven said. “I hear you singing your song when you’re out in the fields having tea with your Wonderland friends, using your imagination. You’re in the spring of life and your song is lovely and new.”
“But,” continued the Raven, “I am in the Winter of my life. I’ve had many children and I am old, but I sing mysong anyways. Even when we are old, we have a purpose and must sing our own song.”
Alice thought a long while about the seasons, singing, and what the Raven told her. Then she smiled, ” I understand what you mean now. But do you think you and the owners of this pear 🍐 house would mind joining my other Wonderland friends and myself for tea?”
The Raven cawed laughing at Alice. He nodded his little black head and flew away.
The next moment, Alice awoke and found herself sleeping in her mother’s plush parlour chair out in the grassy field. Her mother looked down on her gently and smoothed Alice’s hair:
“Alice there you are. Oh, my good chair. It’s white and you’ve got dirt and grass all over it,” mother said sternly.
Alice sleepily smiled and said,” I was in Wonderland and talking to a Raven about the songs we each sing in life in different seasons. I’m sorry about the chair Mama.”
Her mother shook her head sighing and ruffled Alice’s hair, “Oh you and Wonderland. Will you ever grow out if it? Little girls will be attending school again in Fall.”
Alice sighed and helped her mother bring the chair back into the house to be cleaned. She decided to visit the roses in the backyard later.
Aluce had told her mother many strange stories about red roses. So much so, Alice’s mother gave her the job of watering and caring for the roses in the garden; she babied her roses. She didn’t want anyone to think she’d been painting her roses and that they weren’t truly red — that always led to problems.
She wondered about what season of life the roses and all the flowers in the field were in? What was their purpose except to be beautiful? Alice began to hum the particular song of the flowers, watering her roses and caring for them.
Suddenly, she remembered it was her birthday in a week. She would be ten-years-old; how could she forget? She must go inside the house and remind her mother she needed more bowls to match her tea set.
For a moment Alice sighed thinking about school beginning soon. Children at school didn’t understand her much. Often, they knew less about things than many adults. Girls at school sang their own songs and Alice as usual, sang a unique tune.
The Alouette, created by Jan Turner, consists of two or more stanzas of 6 lines each, with the following set rules:
Meter: 5, 5, 7, 5, 5, 7
Rhyme Scheme: a, a, b, c, c, b
The form name is a French word meaning ‘skylark’ or larks that fly high, the association to the lark’s song being appropriate for the musical quality of this form. The word ‘alouette’ can also mean a children’s song (usually sung in a group), and although this poetry form is not necessarily for children’s poetry (but can be applied that way), it is reminiscent of that style of short lines. Preference for the meter accent is on the third syllable of each line (please see examples below).