Alice - G

Jun. 25th, 2009 02:51 am
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[personal profile] babyjosephine posting in [community profile] thedirtyverse
Sunday, 21st August, 1983. Andy had died on the 19th.

Grief, it turned out, provided options, though all tended to provide what felt like a bat to the face. In some cases, the pain was angry. In some, the pain was crippling. In others, the pain created hallucinations that turned the world into a dream.

Alice wasn’t sure how it was attacking her, as three days earlier she had never been happier in all of her life. It was far to fall, and she was still falling. Maybe it would hit her soon, and maybe then everything would make sense. Why her father had to die the day she discovered she was pregnant. Why her mother wouldn’t wake up. Why Charlie had to split his time between watching his mother commit a slow suicide and visiting his youngest child in a hospital three hours away.

She was in her room, now, though there were no answers to be found in the dusty toys and clothes that were organized as though Alice had only just moved out. The room itself was two rooms in one; a parlor connected by a door to the sleeping chamber, in which Alice had first shared a bed with Robert, innocent as it unfortunately turned out to be; in which she had last seen a friend she could now barely remember; in which she had slept and dressed and dreamt of boys for twenty two years.

It was into that sleeping chamber she walked, and it was at the doorway she paused, shocked.

The room was bitterly cold, despite the sunlight coming through the window. Despite the August afternoon. Despite everything that should have warmed it. Alice was covered in one of Charlie’s sweaters, several sizes enormous on her bony frame. It covered her dress, and fell to her knees, but she had been using it as a shield whenever anyone wanted to hug her.

And now it was providing her with emergency warmth as she stared at the far wall.

The far wall, like its mirror in the parlor, had a fireplace. The mantel was lined with figurines and stuffed toys. The grate was covered by an elaborate dollhouse, hidden away from grandchildren in recent years. It had been Alice’s favorite Christmas gift, until she received a puppy two years later.

But it was not the fireplace at which Alice was truly staring. She was staring at the frost now covering it. Covering the whole wall. From the floor to the ceiling, muting the patterned paper, icing the hardwood floors, concealing the tiles, concealing everything. It glistened, sparkling white, looking like their family’s diamonds. It was wrapping brittle fingers around the wire frame of Alice’s small bed, creeping deeper into the room. Beating like a heart from the center of the wall. A living, fragile monster.

Her mother.

Alice’s bare feet were suffering, but she edged her way into the room, slow as though stalking through grass.

She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Suddenly the day was nothing like summer. Suddenly all the light had gone from the room. Her breath clouded the air, her skin prickled, and she shivered violently enough to knock the sweater off her shoulder. She knew what was causing this, but it scared her to see how far it had reached, how strong it had become, how real it was.

This was grief, tangible grief, and Alice gently pressed her hand to the wall, spreading her fingers across as much of the surface as she could before the chill burned her skin. Her mother and father’s room was on the other side; her mother had not moved from their bed in two days. But trapped in the room as she was, here was how she felt, crushing down on Alice from all sides.

Mortifying. The sight of it was mortifying, twisting Alice’s stomach into knots, and she backed away, the heat from her hand leaving a gaping wound on the wall. She wondered if her mother could feel the cold melting away, but she knew that the frost would be back. So long as her father was gone, there would be frost on these walls.

And her child would never know his grandfather, and their family would be so small and quiet, and all the life in the world would die with winter, or else Alice would at the sight of it. Frost and snow and ice. Her mother’s grief.

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