Alice Had Once a Wonderland
The peonies, all creamy white and frothy pink, were laughing at a joke the snapdragons just made. The begonias, being as how begonias are wont to be, looked at the peonies askance. If you knew what to look for you would have seen them waggle, at them. As in, ‘Now, now - let’s not lose sight of whose garden we’re in.’
Down the pathway, down past the arbor and the grassy rise, the carrots reacted with giggles. ‘Cause, as you should know, carrots are the underground telegraph of this place.
The Head Carrot was all set to make a funny and turned to the row of corn besides, and just about, but not quite, blurted out,’I’d tell you but you’re all ears as it is….so you should know already.’
One of the potatoes huffed at that…..but then, potatoes are not known for their sense of humor.
Clara, a glass of frosty white wine delicately gripped between her delicate fingers…..Clara of course heard all of this nonsense. And with a frown thrown to the peonies, turned on her heel and walked back to the verandah where the gathering was now, well gathered.
‘PoofEnStuff’, she muttered. ‘Poppycock is too good for them! PoofEnStuff indeed…..we’ll see how they respond to that!’
‘Alice! Alice!’, she heard again. She hated when he called her Alice. Albeit it was the name she was saddled with at birth. But, he wasn’t her birth father and so, to her thinking, he should - he r e a l l y should respect her wish.
‘Not plural’, she thought as the ghost of a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. ’Plural would suggest, say, plentitude - as in a luxury…..No - wish would be good enough for now. Until she could get him alone in a that smooty dusty den of his….’It’s CLARA!’, she screamed inside turning the smile sour.
‘Ah…..there you are. Come….come meet these lovely people. They were just passing through and saw the notice. Decided to drop in.’
Turning to the couple beside him, he swept his arm towards her and said to them, ‘Allow me to introduce my daughter Alice…….she is the custodian and keeper of these fine gardens here.’
Clara looked at them. ‘How odd’, she thought upon looking more closely.
‘Twins! How delightful…..I might have some fun here tonight.’
‘Twins’, she exclaimed…..’But a HimTwin and a HerTWin, right?’
The couple, sleekly and stylishly dressed in country casual camouflage, glanced at one another, then looked at her father (father without a CAPITAL ‘F’) and in unison, as if they had rehearsed this 963 times, said, ‘No - we’re not twins.’
‘AS if that might explain everything’, Clara thought to herself.
‘Ahhhh - okay. Then that explains it’, she said to them with a frosty smile.
‘Tell me father’, she started. ‘How do you know these lovely echoes?
The taller one, on the right - with the flaxen ponytail, jumped in and said,
‘Now THAT’s novel! Echoes…..yes Clarissa……isn’t that such a sweet way to describe us?’
‘The name’s Clara’, Alice said. ‘Not Clarissa….’
‘Oh my!’, exclaimed the pony tail, trying desperately to not appear as a horse’s ass. ‘We’re so sorry……no, Clarissa is her name…..sorry for the confusion’, as he draped his left arm around the twin’s shoulder allowing his hand to settle, like a bird, on her breast.
‘Um……yes’, her father said trying to regain control of this ricocheting conversation. ‘Um’, he again said, but more thoughtfully this time.
The twins looked at each and in unison responded, ‘Um - indeed!’
At that moment a waiter slipped by with a tray of drinks. Amber liquid seemed plastered like hard rain to the inside curve of the tulip shaped glasses.
He offered the tray to them with heart form napkins resting between his fingers.
‘Yes…..please try one of these’, Clara said. ‘Please - you’ll quite enjoy it I think.’
Clarissa reached for a glass, and holding it up to the light such as the liquid inside was even more molten in appearance, asked, ‘But what is this lovely looking stuff?’
Clara’s father was about to reply when she butted in, talking over him, to say, ‘It’s tulip dew’
Both echoes eyebrows arched. ‘Tulip dew? However do you capture tulip dew?’
‘From the tulip Silly’, Clara replied. ‘It is, as you can imagine, a lengthy and delicate endeavour’
‘Quite’, her father said.
‘And Alice has recently perfected the science and the technique to do just that. The result is, surprising….won’t you try some?’
Clarissa again raised her glass but this time not to her mouth but to his lips, causing him to dis-engage his hand from where it rested. And like a hummingbird his hand took flight, flitting back down to his side.
He leaned his head forward to allow her to gently tip the edge of the glass between his lips. He breathed in, rather than sipped at, the wine.
‘I dew declare’, he giggled…..’Get it? D-E-W? …… dew?’
‘Enough nonsense Frances’, Clarissa said.
‘Oh, by the way……this is Frances. How rude of me…’
‘Hola…..and it’s Francissco, not Frances. Also, It’s Francissco with two ‘esses’ ‘
Clarissa rolled her eyes ands looking at Clara’s father said,
‘and we never got your name, sir?’
‘Oh yes, how rude of me….I’m sorry’
‘Nothing to be sorry about…..so, what is your name?’
‘Of course, I’m sorry’
Clarissa looking a little exasperated, looked exaggeratedly at Clara.
‘Is he always like this?’ she asked.
‘Well, not always…but he is sorry….I mean that is his name. Sorry McMathews….’
‘Huh’ the twins said in unison? ‘For real? Like ‘sorry’ is your right proper legal name?’
’Tis’, sorry replied. ‘But with a lowercase ‘ess’ Whereas Francissco has an abundance of ‘esses’, I have but one. But it is lowercase….as are yours, Francissco, right?’
‘Well I never actually thought about it.’Turning to Clarissa he said, ‘What you think Sis? Is it spelled with two lowercase ‘esses’ or one upper/one lower? And if so which is which?’
‘I agree, it is a good question. And just as in my name, with two ‘esses’, I’ve not given it any thought.’
‘sorry - what do you think?’
sorry looked at the three of them, took a b i g sip of wine and slowly grinned, and said, ‘Let’s take a vote. Yes….and from this day forth it will be as a christening…..what say you Alice?’
All the while that this nonsense had been flowing back and forth between them, Clara had been only half listening. Her attention had seemed riveted on a tall thin man across the verandah space, whose hair, pure white/silver, parted in the middle, had mesmerized her. It was just as she was about to reply that the stranger swivelled his head to lock onto her with laser-like eyes. She felt a ripple of pleasure swelling within her. Unexplainable, but she felt her self panting just slightly.
He winked at her and turned back to the conversation he had been having with the people nearby.
‘Yes - yes, of course….. and you did say, father, from this day forth, correct? You do mean this day, **the** fourth, no? As it is the 4th of July?’
‘Yes, yes!’, the twins replied in harmony. ‘Perfect - from this day, the fourth, forth…..we love it!’
‘Well’, Clara started hesitatingly, ‘As ladies should be first, the lady should decide, right? But which of you is the lady here?’
‘That would be me’, Francissco stated.
Clarissa glared at him.
‘We did decide that - some time ago dear Clarissa……moi la femme, pas toi….’
‘Oui, yes, yes - c’est correcte…….’
’So’, said Francissco, ‘From now on, I shall spell it with the first ‘ess’ being capitalized.’
‘Great’, said sorry. ‘You know, if you had need to, you could/might/should register a web-site domain as FranciSs.co.
Now that would be coool……what do you think?’
‘What a great idea’, FranciSsco replied gleefully.
‘And Clarissa, so could you……as in Clarissa.co.
‘But whatever would we do with a web-site?’
‘Sell spiritual flowers and tulip dew wine’, replied Clara.
‘Can you please excuse me for a few moments? I must check on my garden…’
‘Of course - we’ll be here won’t we FranciSsco?’
‘Yes, yes….we’ve decided to stay over now that we’ve made your acquaintance. Sorry, there is room for us, somewhere, do you think?’
‘Of course - we’ll arrange something. Now, I’m sorry, I also have to go check on a few things, Be back in 15 minutes or later…’
Clara eased herself backwards towards the steps the led off the verandah.
She pivoted as a ballerina and gracefully descended to the garden path.
As she hurried along towards the rise she found herself thinking, ‘Whackos……all of ‘em - whackos. But then what can be expected when father insisted on naming this place Wonderland. It brings out all the whackos…….’
Slowing as she crested the grassy knoll, she looked anxiously towards the peonies. Slowing to a gentle shuffle, she glided to the nearest one and taking it gently into her hands, said, ‘I didn’t mean to stay away quite so long…..are you all okay?’
As a group the peonies swayed back and forth in the gentle whispering breeze, affirming their pleasure that their mistress had returned to check on them.
This soothed Clara to the depth of her soul. She didn’t care that the begonias sortof sniffed their displeasure. Or that the pansies beamed with colourful exuberant happiness.
‘Now to the tulips, my friends…..must attend to the tulips over there in the greenhouse. I will, forever return to check on you’, she whispered to the peonies.
And she glided off towards the big white framed glass greenhouse/conservatory.
Quiet-like, as a whisper.
‘It’s known as The Greenhouse for a reason’, she said aloud.
She wondered though, had anyone heard?
If it were chartreuse, would it not then be known as the MaisonChartereuse?
Of course she had to ask these questions. Quite simply the answers were required on a regular basis. ‘Like as if a tax’, she reminded herself.
‘The tithe mutht be paid’, the acorns chorused. ‘Yeth – the tithe mutht be paid.’
‘Alright – alright…..I get it. You’ll get it. I shall marshall together the requisite funds and
apportez-la, to the toll bridge. By morn-time it will be there.’
The NastyCrow sneered at her.
‘Aren’t you afraid that the troll will penalize you for your tardiness?’
‘You mean, and, close the troll bridge?’, she asked, the smirk rippling across her eyebrows.
‘Tee hee’, responded the treeFrog.
‘Ribbit!’, she echoed in kind.
‘Nuff! The Witch awaits…..’
‘Which Witch?’, she cried.
‘Ah, you doyennes are all alike….bring you into a world of comfort and class and you quickly become determined to move ahead with no class.’
‘Tis time’, she said, turning abruptly on her heel and moving towards the French doors of the chartreuseum.
‘’Tis time to feed the dandelions, for if they are neglected and not fed in a timely manner, they become ever so upset.’
Grasping the verdigris lever handle in her left hand, she pulled, rather than turned it.
The door did not open, but the ground gave way beneath her feet and with a ‘Whoops!’, she dropped immediately out of sight.
‘Outasight!’, croaked the treeFrog.
A whistling wet darkness cushioned her tumbling frame as the conduit undulated.
For sum minutes, she was caught up in this rapidTransit express, until with a sudden ‘WHOOSH’ she plopped onto a very large feather pillow.
Music, inky music, flitted about. At one moment it was seriously sensuous, the next, a lover’s whisper in tone and intensity.
‘My dear Clarissa’, she heard. ‘Whyever are you so ever so late?’
Panicking, she felt perhaps that maybe, she was now – no longer alive. Perhaps even dead.
Being late to her mind was being as before. As in the ‘late Edward Smarkles, Lord Due of Perth.’
She raised her head and was momentarily possessed by the light that flowed all about her.
‘Tis ridiculous if even momentarily so’, she thought.
‘I am not late, I am now….and I must see to my duties.’
She sprung, in one languid fluid motion, to her feet. As if gravity had no influence over her being.
‘Why have you brought me here? I have seriously serious duties to deal with – up there’, she said, nodding her head upwards.
‘I have no time for such Tomfoolery’
Whispering currents caressed her silken hair, gently buffeting it about the fineness of her features.
‘Hush’, she heard.
‘I have missed you and your slippery smile. And I have felt the vacancy of your absence here about us. Why ‘tis it that you cannot be more fully cooperative in the affairs of our concerns?’
‘Pogglewash!’, she exclaimed. ‘For to miss me would suggest that I am meaningful. And your actions and/or inactions, in volumes, contradict such. After all, where were you, and your magic, when I so desperately needed to increase the tulip dew flows?’
Silence met her.
‘Our services are in short supply at this moment. We cannot satisfy all situations or
solve all problems. Patience, virtuous as it may be, may serve you well and/or better than what we can deliver as of this moment.’
‘I must return most immediately. I am awaited thus. And the dandelions….can you not even here hear their plaintive growl?’
‘We will send you back – reject you gladly, as it were, provided you agree to our current TOS.’
‘Pish posh! You and your silly rules….have on. I have importances to attend to. Who will escort me back now to my reception?’
‘Granstowl will see to it, my lovely. At dawn tomorrow be awaiting in left field….. help will find you to expedite the collection of your tulip dew. Remember, however, the tithe is to be paid proper and timely.’
©2018 michael moore