Work stomped on my NaNoWriMo plans. I have the very fortunate issue of having a specialized skill set that makes me invaluable at work. It is a problem worth having. I adore this problem. But, it also means that on occasion, I have to give up on some after hours plans to pull of the big sex project at work. This time around the major project was a touch screen directory for award winners. It was lovely. I didn’t get to go to the awards show sadly as it was out of state. But, I have been told how much people loved it and that there are photos on their way to me.
So Sunderland took a bit of a back seat and I have eight or nine days to write 31,767 words. Since I don’t have the time to dedicate my every waking moment to the end of NaNoWriMo, I am going to have to admit that this year was a bust. I am going to continue to write into December. I have two straight weeks at the end where I will be able to have lounging-pajama-writing days. But for now, I am going to work on getting my Alice into Wonderland…. I am trying to figure out something else to call it. I am also considering writing the same novel, but without the Alice in Wonderland backbone. The plot is solid enough without it.
Here is what I have so far:
“Come to me.” The old woman’s voice was thin.
Alice turned away from the window looking back at her grandmother. Alice took in the sight of her grandmother. The woman’s skin pale and weather with time, sagged slightly around the edges of her features. The deep wrinkles of her face told stories of a life pursued with passion, a family trait that burned in the women of her family. Alice walked over sitting down by the hospital bed. The leather recliner provided to visitors doubled as a narrow, uncomfortable bed to family members unwilling to leave. Alice stretched her neck from left to right trying to ease the knot from last night. The woman’s thin hands rested on an open photo album. Alice glanced down noticing the image of her grandmother sitting alone in front her home.
The iconic image of her grandmother stood out against the images of birthday parties, family dinners, and play dates in the back yard. Her grandmother full of life stood proudly in front of her first home. A young girl of five years old sat on the steps next to her playing with a small train. The image of a single mother in the fifties was typically one of shame. But, her grandmother stood proud refusing to be anything other than the woman of strength that Alice knew.
“Grandma, do you want some more tea?” Alice noticed the woman’s cup.
“No dear. Thank you. I … I need to tell you a few things.” Her grandmother turned the photo album of the last page. The slip cover contained several cards attached to memories. The woman reached in front of her and took the butter-knife off the table. Wiping it clean, Alice watched her grandmother slip the blade between the lining if the leather back cover and the paper foundation. In confussion, Alice reached out to stop the woman from mutilating the book. The patterned page released with some effort and set of small images slipped onto the bed with a small note.
“Alice, I need you to just accept what I am about to say. I know you won’t. I know your mother believes me to be a bit touched, but I couldn’t tell her. She would never experience it. I had to wait for you. And, I have to tell you now, before …” The woman picked the images up then began to shuffle them into order.
“Grandma, you shouldn’t talk like that. We haven’t gotten the test results, and there isn’t a reason to have this talk. For all we know, you have something easily dealt with.” Alice knew her face showed the disapproval at the woman’s theatrics.
“Alice, your grandfather’s name was Gareth White.” Her grandmother passed a well-kept sepia photo to her. The man in the photo stood half a foot taller than her grandmother.
It was the last thing Alice expected to hear. Alice stared at the image of the man’s face. The man’s oval face looked forward determined, radiating his sense of purpose. His eyes focused on the camera man before him waiting stoically in what looked to be a military uniform. His dark features stood out against lighter skin. A well-trimmed bread and mustache giving the man a sense of age he would not have had otherwise. Alice studied the detail in the embroidered jacket under his heavier military coat. The intricate pattern seemed to hide small rooks among the lines and curves of the larger ornate pattern. His hand in his pocket the man allowed his military coat to simply rest on his shoulders.
“I don’t understand. You are telling me this man is my grandfather. Someone you have outright refused to talk about for well over fifty years. Someone you won’t tell your daughter about. But, you want me to know about him. I love you Grandma, but this is something you need to tell Mom about.” Alice looked at her grandmother with confusion and concern.
“I promise to tell your mother, but I need to tell you now.” Her grandmother took the admonishment as she did most things, with the singular focus that could not be detoured.
“Gareth White was an amazing man. He was career military in the Queen’s guard. He grew up as a legacy into his position. His family held service to the White Queen for several generations. As distant cousins their lesser house had more reason to keep the White Queen in power than anyone else. He was the third son. He wasn’t going to inherit anything. So he worked for it all. Your grandfather was a force to be reckoned with in so many ways. When I met your grandfather, he was already a member of the royal guard.” Her grandmother handed Alice a second photo. The man stood in a line of men dressed in what Alice thought was a dress uniform by the regalia on the jackets. The increasingly ornate outfits surprised her.” Her grandmother’s face was calm as she remembered a man Alice believed to be dead. She was the image of sorrow holding the old letters in her hands. The paper worn from frequent reading, Alice watched her barely trace the elegant handwriting on the paper. The weight of the silence seemed to break into her grandmother’s revelry. Looking around the woman swallowed and began again.
“When I was found by Gareth’s cousin Robert, he brought me before the White Queen. I was lost, confuse, starving, and barely surviving. It was hard living on the streets at that point. You learned skills that helped you survive. You learned to eat whatever you could find. You learned a pain of being the ignored that cannot be explained to someone who has always had a home.” The image of her grandmother living as a homeless woman about knocked Alice over. There were a few years in her grandmother’s life that nobody talked about, the missing years, as they were known as to all of the grandchildren. The fictions her grandmother told the younger generation all began the same way: Once upon a time, when grandma was a little girl, there was a handsome white knight that lived on the other side of the mirror. Until a moment ago it was just that: fiction. But, now, Alice listened to her grandmother tell another account of the same bedtime stories. The truth still blurred with fiction to help the woman deal with a traumatic event that her mind refused to recall with clarity.
But, the queen saw me and before I could say anything to me, she knew me. The first words out of her mouth were ‘I have been searching everywhere for you Alice.’ The queen stepped down from her throne and pulled me to her. The filth of my clothing stained her grand white dress. It was the first kind action anyone showed me since I fell through the mirror. I cried until I couldn’t anymore. And, she let me.
She told me about her world, his world. She ordered him to guard me. He taught me to defend myself. She told me about my grandmother, who was lost through the mirror before me. She told me about your great-great-grandmother Alice who was caught up in an ancient feud with the Red King, the House of Hart. And, she told me of how her grandmother could look forward and remember. Her grandmother, the White Queen at the time, told her stories of the Lady Alice who would help to bring down the house of cards that was the Red King’s power base. And, there I was in every detail.
“Gareth he…” Her grandmother inhaled the stared at the image in her hands. Rubbing the edges slightly her grandmother couldn’t make the tears retreat.
“Grandma, I am going to find the nurse.”
“Young lady, don’t you dare.” The command came out with the authority of a mother. “You are going to plant it and let an old woman finish. Then if you want you can find that blasted nurse with the attitude.”
“I thought you were past the age where it could happen. Actually, I think I just wished you were. I want you to have this.” Her grandmother reached up and slipped her necklace off. A thin white gold chain met on both sides of a circular pendant. Calling her forward Alice sat on the edge of the bed and let her grandmother place the necklace over her head.
“There are a few things I was told to tell you.” “What you see is a reflection of what will come, and you can only see what you look for. When he asks if you trust him, do. When she asks you to join her, don’t.”
“Now scurry away my little door mouse. Your mother will be here soon. And, I will have to explain this all to her so that she will not worry.”