Fifteen years of this madness...I've always wanted to get the hell out of this place, to see the world beyond. I never had the chance before I realized I should have taken action right then and there. Now...I finally got around to it.
I've always read in those fascinating books, that to go into another, unknown world, you must fall for a very long time. Disappointingly, my trip to a strange new land consisted of a nauseating flight of sorts, rising up, up, up...and it lasted no more than three seconds, I can assure you.
Oh, well. At the very least, I'm finally where I've always yearned to be.
At long last, away from THERE.
There, which happens to be, as they call it, Wonderland.
This morning could easily be christened one of the most uncomfortable mornings of my entire life. My alarm clock, when I had first received it, had sounded the most pleasant wake up call imaginable, but now, it had transformed into the most odious nonliving creature I have ever crossed paths with, spitting and hissing its fiery rage at me in an incessant, irritating order to get off my lazy ass.
Not that my ass is, nor has it ever been, lazy. On a regular basis, I get up at 6:00 in the morning to help dress Lotti and check up on Rolf. Andy has his customary rant of the day, usually about something pointless and non-sequitur. Blotto usually barges in after everything else has been settled and we have tea.
Usually. Often. On most occasions.
Rolf's not even here. Where did he go?
Not today of all days. Damn.
Just another reason for me to kill to stay here.
Oh, no, Andy has to come in first, and I cannot handle him before Lotti and I talk shoes. As he barges into the door, his hat is flipped off his head because it cannot fit under the door frame as he walks in. That nutty, passionate look on his face means he is in prime rant mode.
"Dude! Typos! You type too fast, you get dozens of mistakes! How could any author deal with such torture? There must be a thousand writing careers dashed by overly sloppy typewriting!"
"Andy..." I sigh, "You don't type."
He shoots me a look as if I must be speaking Jabberwock. "But that's not the point! The point is-"
"Exactly! They don't use pencils! Good one, Gilly!" He slaps me a high five before storming over to his place at the tea table. Once there, he cant help but eat a tea bag whole, herbs, paper and all.
"Gill, promise me next time you'll get the jasmine. It goes down easier."
Before I can slap my palm into my forehead at my best friend's utter stupidity, Blotto and Lotti walk in, arm in arm, just like the old days.
You see, before they both graduated, Blotto and Lotti were two JubJub birds of a feather. Despite being opposite genders, they dressed alike everywhere they went, found interest in the same things, and would even wake up from the same dreams. But once the Toy Twins had completed their education, it was as if they had never been fraternal twins in their lives. Blotto became a carpenter, whittling away the sunny days on the Wonderland coast, and Lotti had found no acceptable work. She took in rent with me, and we split the cottage right down the middle so she could paint/write/doodle/daydream/throw large objects at the ceiling without any chance of me disturbing her "concentration". Both had developed completely different senses of style, and both now claimed to never be caught dead doing whatever the other was doing. It was heartbreaking how they had grown apart, but at least at White Cottage, Lotti's and my abode, they could be together freely without dispute. They still had the occasionally annoying habit of completing one another's thoughts, but I suppose it grows on you.
But today, after a regular diet of apart-ed-ness, I was not mentally prepared for this.
Still, it was pretty adorable.
"Um, Lotti, you didn't need help with your...scarves, or something today?" I ask, almost afraid for the answer. Lotti's closet scares me. It seems bigger every time I look at it. Which could be on account of the Looking Glass color scheme in her dressing room. Apparently reflective paint is all the rage in Wonderland interior design now. I won't have it. I prefer my warm, comforting beiges to images of myself casted back at me day after day. This is why Lotti and I buy our own paint for our respective sides.
"Oh...no, actually, Gillian, but thanks for the thought. I actually have somewhere special to go today, so I set out today's outfit ahead of time, last night." She executes a perfect three hundred sixty spin to display her flawless ensemble.
Blotto leans back in his chair, scarfing back a crumpet like it's been his only food for days. His eyes gleam wickedly as he eyes his sister's fashion choices.
Even after college, Lotti has a hard time using her words, so the only reasonable response for her to make is to run straight at Blotto, fists flying in circular motions, tears squeezing out the corners of her giant baby blue eyes. Andy and I run straight to her, holding her back before she breaks a nose. Not that she could gain enough momentum to do so in high heels.
"Let go of me, Andy! I'm gonna give him what's coming to him! He's been asking for it for years!"
Andy wears an uncharacteristically calm face while addressing Lotti, "But Lotti, darling, don't you see he's too uncultured to know that feathers and polka dots are the newest trend? Leave him be, the poor boy doesn't know enough about haute couture to know what fashionable enlightenment he is lacking in his unglamorous life!"
Blotto grimaces at Mad Andy as he puts on his melodramatic show.
Lotti falls for the bait, hook, line and sinker, like a Bandersnatch with a slab of meat. "You...you really think orange and purple-green polka dots go together?"
"But of course! Only you out of all of us here could pull off such an avant-guard, stylish, impaccable-"
"Shut up loser, I know you're lying through your teeth at me."
And with that venomous comment, Lotti clamps her hands to her mouth.
This is nothing new. All her life, Lotti has been a talking dress-up doll brought to life, and she can't help blurting out her inner thoughts at the most inopportune and embarrassing times. She is a Toy, after all, and obviously, so is her brother, although his misfortune is quite to opposite. Born a bean bag, Blotto hasn't been able to talk his entire existence. Instead, we are left to read his facial expressions and body movements, which he has developed over the years to convey his emotions and opinions as clearly as possible to all of us.
Unfortunately, today, it seems we were too successful in reading his face. Lotti resumes her tears, and flees to her dressing room, shrieking, "I'll never do anything of value in Wonderland! Never!"
After a blunt pause, Andy returns to his tea. This entire time, Blotto was still noshing on his crumpet. Must be too big for him. He IS still in Play mode.
As far back as when Wonderland was first conveyed, the Toys were a poor, yet crucial group of the Club House, one of the four Suits serving underneath Wonderland's monarchy. I, Gillian B. Maxwell, and the rest my friends, are a part of the Clubs along with the Toys.
The Toys are just that, a family of what used to be a band of gypsy toymakers before they had settled here in Wonderland. Once "born", a Toy is an inanimate creature, who must be taken in by whoever wishes to be the new child's parents. Expert Toy merchants, they clean, fix, and fine-tune the new Toy into their optimal form. Once the baby is fixed up to work like a real Toy, the Toy Elder performs the ritual necessary to awaken the baby's spirit. It is then that the child will grow and develop through childhood in what is casually known as Play mode.
Reaching Heart mode is what all Toys strive for. It's essentially like most other Wonderlanders experience as puberty, but the only difference is, not every Toy reaches Heart mode. A Toy may only achieve Heart Mode if they are wanted and loved by someone else. It doesn't have to be a full-fledged romantic relationship, in fact, most Toys frown upon it, as they like to keep their Toys purebred and not Broken, as they refer to any half-breeds.
If anyone in contact with a Toy enjoys the time they spend with it as a friend, colleague, or rarely, partner, the Toy begins to essentially grow a Wonderlandian heart. I've heard from Lotti that it's a long, slow, overbearingly painful process that occurs in only an instant. When Lotti had suddenly ducked under the tea table two years back and coughed up a stream of what appeared to be liquid light, even Blotto was in awe.
It hasn't been all roses and chocolate though, much as I'd like to attempt to get it that way. Since her
entrance of Heart mode, she's obviously, in a word, grown.
What once stood in my doorway as a sweet, adorable kid who liked to dress up in Lolita Princess outfits has added two and half feet to her initial 4'0" height, three inches of curve on top and four on bottom, and lost all sense of modesty when she still tries to dress up in her old outfits. When she wears then now, the hemline comes up to her hips, and her neckline to the armpits. Thank Wonderland she wears shoulder straps for support or I'd go senseless if I was left alone in the cottage with her.
Blotto can't imagine how he's still in Play mode. I look back on this morning's warfare and can't imagine how he's still alive. Lotti is a scary person to provoke, but if you really want a show, you should see Andy when he's mad, if ever.
Andy and I have been pals forever and a day. I fell on top of him while Jabberwock-back riding (I hadn't quite mastered the nose-dive yet), and in a typical improvisation of his, he snorted and whinnied just like the real thing. He even carried me back to when I had left my steed, but the Jabberwock wasn't particularly happy to see me, so like a bonehead Andy threw a rock at it and threw us both off the cliff. I would have died if his hat wasn't big enough to hold a parachute.
Mad Andy's hat can hold anything and everything. And it does. Whenever I've needed something, Andy's been there to yank it out of his hat and hand it to me. And it's not like I don't return the favor. I invite him to the White Cottage for tea everyday, which of course he loves, and I take him with me on every trip I go on. Last year, we walked all the way to Diamond Gorge to watch the croquet tournament because we didn't have enogh money for a carriage. The tournament was a real nail-biter until Jackson Diamond hit his hedgehog through the final two wickets to score the trophy.
I'll never forget the moments we've shared together through the years. I'll never be able to lose the image of that insane grin on his face.
Which makes my desire to leave all the worse.
But I have to go.
I have to.
After tea, Andy stays around to play chess for a while, although he claimed he wanted to make sure Lotti was okay. I assured him that she'd be out of the house with even more feathers that before, possible blue this time, and there she came, waltzing out, fresh as a newly-awakened dormouse and fluffier than ever.
"Nice anticipation, Gilly, "Andy chuckled as soon as Lotti left, "But the feathers were green this time."
Nervous, I stare at my pawns all in a row before me. I can't put it off any longer. "Andy...if I had to...leave...would you be alright, alone? You could still have tea with the twins, you know."
Andy looks up, bewildered, but then calmly returns to setting up his bishops and knights. "Well, if this is hypothetically speaking, which, of course it must be, since you've never gone anywhere without ME," He points almost self-consciously at himself and a rose tinge colors his pale, thin cheeks, "I-I'd come after you. Honestly, You know I could hunt you down." The blush is gone and his maniacal smirk is back. He walks over to my seat and ruffles my hair. Flustered, I set it back in place.
"So don't go running away from me, you little bastard. "Kay?"
I look up at the handsome face of what has to be the finest friend anyone could ever dream of. Intensely loyal, naturally funny to a fault, and eager to lend a hand when I need him most, I almost can't bear to leave him.
But I still have to.
Please understand, Andy... I silently pray, Please, just this once, let me be selfish...
I've never been...OUTSIDE.
Of course, neither has anyone else.
But I intend to be the first.
As soon as Lotti returns from another fruitless day of job-hunting, I slip out the back door. Behind the garden near White Cottage is a pond where if you can see yourself clearly in it...
I get excited just thinking about it. So excited I'm dancing and hopping involuntarily, which crushes the poor flowers, so they order me to stop.
Slowly, I peek over the edge of the meadow where it drops off into the water's surface, anxious to see my face, yet also worried it won't show up.
Tension is building as my palms sweat, my forehead aches, and my heart begins to accelerate and pound progressively louder and louder...
I'm in there. Although I cannot appreciate Lotti's taste for reflective paint on her side of the cottage, the sight of my reflection in this pond is the most wonderfl sight I've ever seen, mostly because of what awaits me beyond it.
Platinum blond, almost to the point of white, my hair cascades every haphazard angle, but in an organized fashion, or at least, my best attempts at organization. My nose, pert, small, almost a little kid's nose, if it weren't for the adolescent sign of a strong bridge. My mouth, small, upturned in a pleasant smile at the sight I see. My eyes, what Andy calls "prismatic" due to their cycling of azure, rose, and turquoise depending on the time of day or my mood, are a happy mint green at my pleasure of being able to escape. Fianlly, my pure white ears, soft pink on the inside, towering above most other ears in Wonderland, literally. While there are some like me, some with feline ears, others with hare-like attributes, I am the only White Rabbit.
And at this very moment, I'm late for dinner theatre with Andy.
How gives a damn? I'm getting the heck out of Wonderland.