“What you doing?”
“Nothing,” I don’t even turn around to look at him.
“Are you drinking again?”
Of course I am. I don’t really get why he asks me. The glass is clearly standing next to me. Filled with alcohol. What more does he need.
“I’m not drinking, you’re obviously hallucinating.”
I’ve become a mean drunk. That is what has happened. Nothing more. A mean drunk. Stupidass drunk.
“Of course I’m okay,” he needs to mind his own business, needs to get a life of his own that is what fucking needs to happen. “Can I have some privacy, please,” I say turning towards him.
He doesn’t leave though. Just stands there in the door. Looking at me. I don’t care. He can look at me all he wants. I don’t give a shit about him or anybody else for that matter. I drink and I smoke, that is what I do, and I write songs. Nothing more. Of course that is not totally true. Sometimes I eat and sometimes I take a shit, stuff like that, but none of those things matter. Only the drinking, smoking and the songwriting matters. I’ve decided. I’m going to be a great songwriter so it makes sense that I got problems, right? All great songwriters got problems really when you think about it. I’m sure someone has told me that.
“They took your guitar again?”
Oh fuck him. He knows they took it. Can he see it in the room? No. So they must have taken it then. Piece of shit question. I don’t answer. “Because of the strings?” Fuck my life. Filled with these stupid conversations. Fine, so I lied. I do care about one more thing. I care about my guitar. It is gone now. Probably feels worse than it should. Almost feels like they took my baby or something. If I said that to him, he would say that I can’t say something like that. You know, a guitar isn’t a baby, if I had a real baby I would be happy. I know that asshole, he would say something like that. Well, I don’t have a baby, I just have that guitar. Or had. You know, before they took it. “They thought you would use it to hurt yourself?”
Sometimes I do crazy shit, but I would never use my guitar to hurt myself. I would never. They don’t know me at all. Even stupid asshole in the doorway knows that I wouldn’t do that.
“They said I should sleep here tonight,” he finally says it. Makes sense now, so that is why he is here. I knew it had to be some dumbass reason.
“Well, I don’t want you here.”
“No, I figured,” he hesitates, “I told them that it was too soon.”
“Great, then you’re not as stupid as you look.”
I don’t know why I say things like that. Must be the mean drunk thing, because he really isn’t that bad. I know that. He has never done anything to me. Always been nice. Except for the stupid questions obviously. “I’m just having a bad day,” I look away when I say it, don’t want to overdo it, seem too nice.
“You’re not playing that song anymore?”
“I don’t have my guitar so how could I?” Maybe it would be easier to like him if he just asked less questions. If he were more silent. Just sat there and looked at me. Maybe I would like him then.
“I think you’ll be fine if you just stop playing that song,” he really says that, like I didn’t already know it. “I think they even might give you your guitar back.”
“Yeah, sure,” he really needs to go now. I have gotten angry with him before. We both remember the scissor incidence a little too well. That scar over his eyebrow really didn’t heal well. Sometimes I get like that. I don’t even like me then.
“What was the name of that song again?”
I wonder if they tell him to do this. Come here and talk to me in this way. Try to connect with me. Maybe they tell him to ask me these stupid questions every day and really if he were himself he would just be quiet, and I would like him.
“I don’t remember.”
I look at him again. He is about to give up I can see that.
“Are you the quiet type,” I hesitate, “you know, for real?”
He smiles for a moment. Just a very small one, I almost can’t see it. Doesn’t say anything and then he just leaves. Just like that. I lied though. I know what my song is called, it isn’t like I forget my own songs. I guess that is part of the problem.
“Wonderland,” I don’t know why I say it out loud, maybe a part of me wants him to hear it, even though I know he is gone.
“What have you’ve been doing lately?”
“Yes, what have you been doing?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know.”
“I’ve been eating.”
“You’ve been eating.”
“I just said that.”
“Tell me more.”
“About the eating?”
“Sure, why not.”
“Well I eat at least five meals a day,” I pause a little longer than what seems natural when you talk about something this stupid, “I take my time, chew all the food,” I smile, “and sometimes I even like it.” She knows that I’m talking shit, at least she gets it now. She annoys me. Trying to understand me. Trying to get into my head. Don’t know why she wants to, there really isn’t much interesting in there.
She is looking at me. Sighs. I have been drinking a bit today as well, but she hasn’t said anything about it, at least I haven’t lit a cigarette. I did that once, right in front of her, she got really angry. I am not supposed to smoke or drink. Those things really aren’t good for me.
“How are you getting along with Tom?”
That is stupid asshole’s name. You know, Tom. Such a plain name. Why not call him Adamolfus or something, why Tom? Fits him though. He really is a Tom.
“He says that you’ve been a bit angry.”
So that is what Tom says behind my back, well I have heard worse.
“No, I’m fine.”
“You know that everyone here just wants what’s best for you, right?” she looks at me over those round glasses. She really says that. Quite a statement. Everyone doesn’t want that. Some of them really couldn’t give a shit about what happens to me, some of them doesn’t even like me. I bet a couple of them even hate me. “You know that we all just want you to be happy?” I have been talking to her for years. The same routine. Every day. She comes her. Sits in that chair and looks at me. Says things. Asks me things. Sometimes I answer, sometimes I don’t.
But I don’t know. Not really. Lately I haven’t been up for this, but I remember when I liked talking to her. We used to talk about the future. What I would do, how my life would be. Not anymore though. Doesn’t make sense to me anymore. I know that it worries her. She wants me to plan. Wants to make sure that I won’t do anything stupid again.
“You know, you can still call me mum,” she seems to struggle for a moment, “like you used to.”
“No, that’s okay.”
“You’re not my real mum,” she knows that she isn’t so I don’t get why she says stuff like that to me. I wonder if my real mum used to drink as well. Maybe that is why they worry so much about me drinking and smoking all the time. Maybe my real mum was a mean drunk, just like me. That would really make a lot of sense.
“I get that,” she sighs again, looks tired, “I just meant that I wouldn’t mind if you did.”
I used to live with her. I did. I’m not joking. Moved into her house when I was 2 years old, so young that I don’t really remember moving in. Just remember that she used to always be there when I was little. I had my own room in her house. My own stuff. Things that I liked that she would give me. She was always kind to me. I liked living there. I liked my room. We even had a cat. I got to name the cat. I think I called it Fluffy. Yeah, that seems right. So it was me, my mum and Fluffy, and I guess I thought that I always would live there. I think it was on my 7thbirthday that she brought me here to my new home. My so-called mum.
She looks at me. All quiet. Thinking of something that I don’t get, but then she says it. “You can have the guitar back, as long as you don’t play that song again.”
My heart starts beating faster as she says it. “But you can’t play that song, you understand that right?” I nod. “Alice, I need to hear you say it.”
“I won’t play it.”
“You know, you are so great with songs, and everyone loves the other songs that you play,” I just nod, at this point I would promise just about anything to get my guitar back. She gets up, goes towards a door at the other end of the room. Opens the door and closes it behind her. My hands are shaking. I just can’t wait. I need that guitar. I need it. More than I thought I did. The door opens and there it is. Lying in her hands. She stops. Hesitates. Maybe she can see how much I want it, like some kind of crazy animal ready to tear it out of her hands.
“I really didn’t like the first line of that song. Really didn’t like it at all,” she holds my guitar so tight, like she doesn’t want to give it to me anymore, “What was it again?”
“I don’t remember,” I don’t know why I say that, because obviously that lie isn’t gonna work on her.
“No, what was it?”
“Pink rabbits in a world that has been broken.”
“Uhm, that was it,” it looks like she is trying to strangle the guitar, kind of disturbing. “It makes no sense at all really, who is the pink rabbit? Is that you?” I don’t say anything. Look down. I’m not the pink rabbit. I don’t understand why she would think that I would write a song about myself as a pink rabbit. A pink rabbit would be a lot cuter than I am, she has totally misunderstood, I’m the mean drunk. “Do you really feel that the world is broken, Alice?”
“No, of course not.”
People lie in songs. She finally gives it to me. My guitar. Only it isn’t. It is some new guitar instead.
“What did you do with my guitar?” I almost can’t get the words out. Feels like I’m choking or something.
“I just thought it might be a good thing for you with a fresh start.”
They are all staring at me. All of them. Smiling even. They like me. I’m their favorite, so they come here to hear me play my songs. I’m good with songs. I know. They especially like the happy ones. The new guitar feels strange. Doesn’t feel like the old one. I don’t know, maybe it is just my imagination but it feels harder and colder. Like nothing good can come from it. Not really. I don’t get it. Why does it feel this way, if it is supposed to symbolize a new beginning? Everything getting better again, for me and for Tom. There was a time when me and Tom really were making progress. When he didn’t ask that many questions and I didn’t drink so much. We were even going to have a baby. I used to like him. For real.
Pink rabbits in a world that has been broken
They look at me. I know that it isn’t the right song. Not the song that they came to hear me play.
Pigs flying just keep your window open
It is strange because I can feel my lips move and the words come out, but it feels like everything is happening far far away.
And imagine how fun your life could be, being crazy like me
Someone is running towards me. I can see that. How strange that they would run to stop me from playing that song. It is just a song. Just words. They all came to hear me sing. They like me. I am their favorite. This is my song.
Oh I feel there is a hole in the ground and I have fallen down
I feel the heavy weight of the body that hits me, tackles me and my new guitar to the ground. No one wants to hear that song, I should know that by now.
“Why would you play that song if they asked you not to play it”?
I don’t answer. Tom is in my room now. They have lost their patience with me, and he will now sleep here. He will. In bed with me. Probably we’ll have to try to make a baby already tonight.
“Don’t you know how lucky you are?”
I look down. “That you get to live here?” Tom doesn’t get everything. Doesn’t really get what lucky means, but I guess it isn’t his fault. He’s been here too long.
They took my alcohol. All of it. Apparently I can’t even be a mean drunk anymore. My cigarettes are also gone, but I’ll get them back if I do better again. “I just don’t get it,” he really doesn’t. He looks at me. It is so strange that he looks exactly like I would want him to look. Brown hair. Not too long, but not too short either. Brown eyes. Good eyes, you know, the kind that you really would want to look into. Muscular, but not too much. Tall. Everything I said I wanted. Maybe that is what makes it so difficult.
“They took your new guitar as well?”
He knows they took it. It is gonna be a long time before they let me have a guitar again.
“I doesn’t matter.” It really doesn’t. That new guitar wasn’t right. Didn’t get me at all. “Have you always lived here?” I rarely ask him stuff like this. Probably because I don’t want to know.
“No, but I lived in a place that was pretty similar.”
I figured. It makes so much sense.
“I got out once,” I say it like he didn’t already know, but obviously he knew. It was hard to miss. My great escape. Stupid idiot escape, that was what it was. I sigh. I wish he could look different, not look exactly like I described him to mum. She found him for me. She got it right.
“I know,” he seems sad when he says it.
“You don’t want to know how it was?”
I get that, he isn’t the type to want to know. I didn’t used to be either.
“They couldn’t tell me apart,” I don’t know why I’m telling him this, “Mum always used to say that I was special, but I wasn’t really.”
“It doesn’t matter, they found you and got you back.”
I remember that I told mum that I wanted someone kind and intelligent, and maybe funny, but not too funny either. Not some guy cracking jokes all the time. I wanted somebody just right, and I had always liked the name Tom. So I wanted him to be a Tom.
“Did you write the song about the outside?”
I laugh. So he really doesn’t get it.
“No, the song isn’t about the outside,” I hesitate for a moment, “I saw the sign when they brought me back in again.”
“Did you know that they have human popsicle fingers out there?”
“No, I didn’t.”
I can feel my cheeks getting wet.
“Well they do, I almost ate one.”
“Glad you didn’t then.”
“How did the rest of the song go?”
He turns off the light. The room seems so dark for a moment, feels like we could be anywhere.
“You mean after the part about the hole in the ground?”
“Yeah what is next?”
“I feel like I have fallen down.”
“And then what?”
“Then I can’t get out,” I stop for a moment, almost doesn’t want to say it, “and no one hears me when I shout.”
He is quiet for a while. Just the way I like it. So wonderfully quiet. Just like people are when they listen.
“Your mum gave you that guitar, didn’t she?” I don’t answer. “I mean your old one, she gave it to you, didn’t she? Before she brought you here?”
I look down at her. It took nine months to make her. Have her in my stomach all that time. Get her out, but now she is her. My own brand new baby, even better than my guitar.
“They want to see her again, can I bring her out?” Tom is smiling. Reaching towards her and I give her to him. He is great with her. It makes sense that someone like him would be. I’m not too bad with her myself, probably better than they thought I would be.
“You don’t want to come?”
I just shake my head. Can hear the crowd start cheering out there, they really want to see her. She is so cute. I get that. Mum was here in the morning to check on me again, but she doesn’t need to worry. I feel better. I really do. Those old thoughts they are all gone. Tom says we just need to make the best of it, and he’s right. We do. We are lucky. It could be worse, I know.
“Do you want some fruit?”
I turn towards her, she holds the basket in through the hatch, leans up against the iron bars. I reach for an apple. Smiles. She is new. I haven’t seen her before.
“You’re Alice, right?” she says. I nod. I like the new ones. “Your baby is so cute, do you know what she’ll be named?” My baby is cute, she is right about that.
“No,” I shake my head, “I think there will be a poll or something.”
“Ahh, don’t you worry. I’m sure they’ll pick something nice.”
I really do feel better. When mum comes we talk about the future again. If I would want another baby. Mum has even said that I can start playing the guitar again, but I don’t feel the need anymore. It is better without it. I worry about different things now. I really hope that me and Tom will get a bigger enclosure so that we can move around more, would be good for the baby when she gets bigger.
“You enjoy working here?” I say as I turn towards her again. Take a bite of the apple. I used to want to work. You know, like a real job. Like mum had.
“Yes, I do,” she smiles, “I have always loved animals.”
I reach for the banana, Tom will like to have one when he is back with the baby again. Maybe I should take a pear or something. I really like those.
“You have a favorite?” I say.
She is pretty young, at least I think so. Her skin is still so pale now, but when she becomes older it will become a darker green. Just like mum’s. I wonder if she will work here for a long time, if I will know her when she is all grown. ”No offence,” she smiles, “but I just adore the chimpanzee.”
I nod. He is very popular.
“But you’re great too.”
I smile at her. She really is very nice. I can see Tom coming in with the baby again. She is crying. Probably doesn’t like all the attention. Feisty one. Doesn’t like being stared at either I bet. They all want to be the one coming up with a name for her. Mum wanted her to be called Lucy or something, said that she would suggest it, such a good human name. A good name for a cute, little, human girl. I don’t really care. She isn’t Lucy to me. I call her Rabbit.
I hope you have enjoyed “Wonderland”, the story as well as the song, and I really hope that you would like to hear more songs and read more stories
About the song: Vocals/lyrics/guitar: Therese J (Me)
Mixing: Holger Vocke
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If you like the that have been used to illustrate this short story, they are all from morguefile.com. All the photos have been edited, but the first, second and last photo is by svklimkin, the third photo and sixth photo is by floppy2009, the fourth photo is by wintersixfour, the fifth photo is by pedrojperez.
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