a/n: this is also a repost, due to the fact that Alice has been trapped on my hard drive for a while, and.. well, she's been a good friend to me. Those of you who've read it before, I hope you still enjoy it, and those of you who are here for the first time – I'd like you to meet my friend.

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...And these, my dear Alice, are the dangers of Wonderland.

(she lifts the cigarette to her lips and drinks from it rather than just inhaling. the smoke is gray. she is gray:
her shirt and jeans from constant wearing, her eyes from the sins she has seen, her soul from
the monotony of these hours. the guitar slung over her back looks like a weapon and is her only color,
a splash of purple on her monochrome palette. she sips at the smoke and poisons herself and smiles.)

I. Outside it's a symphony of tin rain, a cacophony of falling angels. The walls keep their music muted,
dulled; they hold in the bittersweet coffee scents and the warmth of familiar betrayal. Each night
when he slips beneath the sheets he smells like whiskey and another woman. The taste lingers
after he kisses her goodnight: tall glass, blonde and brazen and beautiful. A stranger's perfume chokes her.
Before she shuts her eyes he rolls over to whisper in her ear: i love you he says and lies and inside,
inside she screams, but her walls hold it in. On these dark and stormy nights he kills her softly.

(people pass her by. some have pity printed on their faces. others push past without a second glance.
she doesn't blame them. after all, who is she? no one but a purposeless gunslinger, a nameless vagabond.
she makes a child's pistol with her thumb and forefinger -- baddaboom -- in a parody of herself. there is
blood on her hands but no one sees, and her raucous laughter is only to cover the jagged crystal.)

II. The child comes lifeless, nameless, from her womb and she isn't surprised for a moment. He does not give
life, after all: he beats it, destroys it, steals it. He could never create such innocence as a child, not with
his iron fists, his barbed touch. His poisoned laughter. Not him, the jackal himself. Not him. The nurses
take her baby and try to soothe her although she does not weep. She curses not him but herself.
Did he promise her more than this? Certainly not. Man or beast, she knew him before
she surrendered herself. The pain is as much her fault as his. She names the dead child Hope.

(the scars are hidden now. like her, they have been assimilated into the marred silk of her existence.
finished with the cigarette, she throws it away like the rest of her ragdoll life. the taste of ash is left on her
tongue -- not of nicotine or their advertised toxins, but a taste all her own. the taste of life itself:
she swallows it smiling, the cheshire cat lounging on a bed of nails. she takes her communion with strangers.)

III. On a corner of suburbia she sells herself body and soul to men who will never know her name.
She screams beneath them and they mistake the agony there for passion, mistake her loathing for love.
In the silence that follows she slips away from them, taking their money, their guilt, their sinning.
Go home to your Heaven, she whispers, Go home to your Hell. A curse or a prayer, even she cannot know.
They call her a whore and she agrees with them. Still they make fresh cuts, these words,
but they are wounds that do not bleed. She leaves them raw and does nothing to heal them.

(when she ran that night it was snowing. the wind and ice burned her face and left her breathless
but she did not stop. she found another life another lie another name and claimed them for her own use.
now when the shrieking is too much she lets it out and it blends with their applause, weaving unnoticed
in the mask they create. later she will wonder if she ran to or from herself and never know for sure.)

IV. Men adore her without seeing her in person. She is plastered on television, on Broadway and billboards.
Her voice is a rusty purr and she uses it to seduce. They give her what they want, only assuming
she wants the same. Instead of correcting them she flashes a glossy smile for the camera, shading them
to her truth. The children adore her -- the perfect role model -- and she laughs at the irony of it all. They
overlook her past because she is beautiful. Because they are too foolish to comprehend. Even now
she wants to love them, but they only offer her another script to read. She takes it.

(the world is hers and she wants nothing to do with it. these roads she walks mean nothing to her,
and she means nothing to the people who gather here. but she knows them by name and heart and face,
her guitar sings for each one of them and their pains. she is propaganda to them: they are oxygen to her.
she does not amend their vision. she is a porcelain butterfly, and she shatters when she falls.)

V. She dies never knowing she was an angel. At the funeral service they praise her good deeds, her glories,
overlooking the rest for the sake of the living. After all, it was not suicide: they killed her, killed her
day by day, until the air she breathed tore apart her throat. She bared her soul to them and they put it
in the tabloids. She dreamed of lilac and they gave back thorny nightmares. They beat her with force
and malice. Again and again she lived and died, and meant less to them each time. With the coffin closed
they call her wicked or worse. They blind themselves again and they name her Alice.

Curiouser and curiouser, she said.