Preface: this is another piece written by my 13 year old. This particular one was a descriptive short story she had to write for class. I remember her sitting in the living room with tears in her eyes freaking out because she didn’t like the first couple of sentences and had writer’s block. As usual we went through the motions of talking her off the ledge. I find that talking her through these panic attacks she has and helping her find some sort of structure in all that noise she has in her head when she is under pressure sometimes helps her. The finished product of what came from a long night of her scratching out words and crumbling up paper was this story, one which I can say is my favourite thing she’s written so far.
Lewis brushes the last of the girl’s thin blonde hair and adjusts her black headband. “You look absolutely stunning, Alice.”
The tall man smiles and walks to the other end of the long rectangular table, mint green tablecloth chasing his thin form with the wind of his sudden movements. He sits in a chair identical to Alice’s. Mahogany wood polished to a shine, carved into intricate designs that seem to dance along the sides and legs of the gothic looking seat. It is time for tea.
The peculiar pair sit in a dark unswept room, light only coming from a large panelled window to the left of the endless table. The thick red drapes are peeled back to reveal a steep hill on top of which a towering oak tree rests, and empty land as far as the eye can see, as the grand mansion sits alone. Everyone is afraid of Lewis C. Hattington and his absent daughter. The floor has a checkerboard pattern and Alice’s fingertips drag along a cold white square next to her chair. Clocks of all sizes are hung haphazardly on the walls, a ghastly reminder of how little time Lewis has with his girl. The table is the only furniture in the room.
Clink clink. Just as Lewis is about to pour the tea into his own cup after filling Alice’s, the lid on the teapot starts rattling. Clink clink clink. He hesitantly lifts the lid off of the pot, only to reveal a brown skittish rat with a long scaly tail. It releases a hiss and scurries to the other end of the table, climbing up on Alice’s shoulders and head. The girl does not react. The man chuckles and reaches over the table to shoo the pest away, knocking Alice’s hot tea over and spilling it on her lap in the process. The rat jumps down to the armrest of the chair, then the floor, and runs into the shadows lurking in each corner of the room. Alice does not react. Lewis sighs and looks to the nearest clock. The big hand is on the twelve and the smaller on the three. There is no point in continuing this tea party now. It is time to say goodbye.
“I suppose tea time is over then. Don’t fret, young one. This time I am coming with you.”
The tall man stands from his seat and trips over his own feet as he walks towards his limp daughter. He picks her up carefully and grabs the shovel leaning on the doorframe on his way out. As he slowly walks towards the back door of the mansion, Lewis observes every dust filled room, old fashioned chandelier and worn down floorboard as he passed. This is the last time he would see any of them. As he walks up to the big tree on the hill a grave comes into sight.
Alice’s bed. Lewis lays her down on her back and crosses her arms over her chest, as he has done for many months before. Every Sunday at noon, Lewis was reunited with his daughter, but today was the last time they would have tea together.
Once Alice’s coffin is buried in dirt for the last time, Lewis lets out a shaky sigh and looks up at the branch next to Alice’s grave. Swinging back and forth like a pocket watch in the hand of a late hare, there hangs a noose. The noose that will bring Lewis C. Hattington to his beautiful daughter.
“They called me crazy, Alice, for keeping you with me for so long. ‘Mad as a hatter’, they said. They were right, my dear Alice. I see that now. I am mad. But all the best people are, now aren’t they?”
written by Juhlyza Baldelomar