Her Name was Alice:
The Day Magic Returned
By: E. M. Peterson
Chapter 1: The Girl in the Sewer
The day she woke up, was the first day the girl could remember. That, and that her name was Alice.
When her eyes opened, all she could see was an odd ladder leaning up against what she could only presume was a manhole with four perfectly drilled holes lighting up the hollow sewer. Alice groaned as she pulled herself up to sit, doing her best to take in her environment. Her head was pounding against her skull, and she leaned forward to cradle it. From the top of her head, fell a veil of navy blue with small crystals of various luster, winking at her from their place. It was as if the night sky had been laid atop of her brunette locks. She threw it back once more before trying to lift herself to her feet. Her summer blue eyes glanced at the heavy dress. Well, at least at once point it must have been weighty. About her, quite a bit of the same fabric lay in wet ribbons strewed about the sewer. It was as if the outer shell of it had exploded. What remained was of satin blue turning to indigo as it descended down her legs. Alice played with the bottom that tulipped from her knees, collecting at her ankles in the back. Her eyes glanced up at the ladder before her but as she did, her legs swam underneath her and she stumbled about in the blue ballet shoes.
Above ground, a siren wailed over as the sounds of busy traffic became even more noticeable. Cars, roads, yes, Alice still remembered those trivial things. But the rest was a bit of a blur.
She finally steadied herself and walked over to the damp ladder putting hand over hand as her feet gradually adjusted to the climbing motion. Pins and needles sparked up to her knees but her strength was returning. She reached the top and carefully pressed against the testy metal. It groaned but shifted begrudgingly. Taking a deep breath, she steadied her balanced and pushed as hard as she could, sliding the manhole clean from its fitted home.
Top Hat Society: Book 1 (SNIPPET)
"And your brothers are very lucky to have that," Boy pointed out. "A sister to fight for them? That’s amazing."
"Clearly you’ve never had a brother," she sighed, thinking about the bullheadedness of her brothers.
"Clearly," Boy bit back a stitch harsher than he wanted to let on.
Oh, my darling Lucy. How quick the tongue flies when we aren’t truly thinking.
Lucy quickly caught herself and apologized. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean-“
"It’s okay," Boy said, pulling the next rack of cups through. "Mum and Dad kept trying after I was born but…it just wasn’t meant to be."
"Do you still go to see your Mum?" Lucy asked quietly. "Or did they make you…"
"I came from a very prestigious family of Top Hats," Boy bitterly laughed. "So when Mum was told I would one day be just like Dad, she was thrilled. They threw me a party and everything when I was getting ready to leave."
"But it’s not fair!" she retorted.
"Perhaps. But it’s longer than most."
It was true. Even though her mother was right, Lucy found it difficult to accept.
"There’s something else on your mind," Stacy pointed out intuitively - it was a mother’s instinct.
Lucy tried to ask about her twin. Tried desperately. But the words never came.
"It’s nothing," she sighed. "Just some things with work. Don’t worry about it."
"Are you sure?"
Lucy tried once more. Nothing. Instead she bit her tongue and nodded with a weak smile. “I’m sure.”
The rest of the night was discussions of doctors, treatments, with a few back and forth arguments. Adrian didn’t come home until late that night. He was brimming with excitement as he explained everything that happened. Lucy’s mother had smartly pushed her hair to frame away the grey stone skin.
As Lucy watched Adrian talk, she realized what her Mum meant about waiting. There was an art to serious discussions. A timing of sorts. And Lucy had yet to master it. Stacy O’Rourke had.
"And the Clock Tower, Mum!"
"It moved!" The boy bounced with excitement.
"I’m going to bed," Lucy told them, pressing out a yawn. Truthfully, she was still trapped between exhaustion and insomnia.
On getting to her room, she fell to her bed and closed her eyes. Her body was sore and tired from running but her mind was buzzing. She couldn’t cry, she couldn’t yell, she could only…exist.
Perhaps that is how life wakes us up from those child-like dreams. It sneaks upon us and launches its attack. And in that moment, the world’s weight is truly felt under our own feet.
Oh, sweet Lucy could be so gullible. For as her mother round the corner of the kitchen, Lucy missed the subtle way her foot stumbled. And as her mother drew her body up the stairs, she began to cough quietly until her bedroom door was closed. If only Lucy could see the colors from her cheeks fade from pink to light grey.
After some time had passed, a sleepy blonde boy stumbled out into the kitchen. “I don’t want to go to school,” he whined, rubbing his bright blue eyes.
“Oh, hush up!” Lucy stuck her tongue out and threw a dish towel at him. “Would you go get washed up? Mom is going to start breakfast soon.”
“Can’t deny good food,” Adrian suddenly perked up to his full height.
Lucy looked back at him realizing that her little brother was not so little anymore. He was quickly inching past her. Of course, he’d be tall, just as the others were.
“Just get ready before the water starts to get cold,” Lucy teased.
“Seriously?! Did you use the hot water again?”
Lucy often told her white lie that she used hot water every day. It was the only way to get her mother and brother to wash without guilt. Plus, it normally got her little brother in and out of the shower fast enough.
“I’m here,” their mother chimed, her hair bundled up above her head. “Told you I was fast,” she said while winking at Lucy.
“You sure told me.” She laughed and moved away around from counter so her mother could start preparing their meal.
“Go wash, dear,” her mother commanded the brother. “Before the water gets cold.”
“I know! I know!” Adrian yelled, rushing back up the stairs to the bathroom.
“Darling, will you go set up the front of my shop?”
“Of course, Mum,” Lucy smiled and opened a nearby door to the small tailoring shop their mother ran.
The while the store was a bit little, it still had a cozy appeal to it. The white walls had a warm array of painted flowers along the top of them, just barely touching the ceiling. Lucy’s shoes clicked against the smooth wooden floor over to lumpy items covered by off-white sheets. She pulled off the blankets to reveal cleverly posed manikins showing off some of the work her mother has done. She then crossed to the other side of the shop to open a wardrobe filled with an array of colors and patterns.
“That’s quite alright, Mr. Thomas. I feel like I must be intruding, I better go. But thank you. I’ll come back to visit another time.” The voice replied before making graceful steps towards the door. Suddenly the squeaking wood stopped.
“ T’ere some-fing I can help ye wi’f?”
“No,” the voice giggled. Jack was certain it was a girl but she had yet to step into his view. “I was just ‘admiring’ is all.”
“JA’K!” boomed Mr. Thomas. “Ge’ ba’k ta work!”
In an instant, Jack sloppily began to push books desperately onto the shelf. A faint blush burned against his cheeks as the girl left the store.
After he finally completed his job, Jack rushed to the front desk with empty box in hand.
“Who was that?” he asked Mr. Thomas, setting down the cardboard.
“Who was wa’t?”
“The girl who stopped in.”
“What do you mean ‘W’at girl’?! The one who stopped in just now!”
“Don ye be raisin’ tat voice! Twas jus’ yer imagin’ fings.”
“But I heard you two talking! She brought medicine.”
“Ja’k, just go ba’k ta yer book. Ye only have another two ‘ours ‘fore ye need ta get.”
Jack grumbled knowing that Mr. Thomas was right but it still stung to think that the bookkeeper wouldn’t tell him. He sighed and found his way back onto the couch, trying to desperately escape his burning curiosity. Finally, after a few scenes, he disappeared back inside the world of Shakespeare. His eyes rarely lifted from the page as the actors dances about inside his head. But alas, the clock moved with such swiftness to point accusing hands at 9:00 p.m.
“Alrigh’y boy, tim’ ta ge’ goin’.” Mr. Thomas said, patting the couch. “Keep da book. I’s a gif’. An’ don’ ferg’t yer umbrella!”
Jack watched Mr. Thomas in surprise until he disappeared into the back room of the shop. He quickly turned over the large hardcover to find a price of £30.00! He rushed to the door in a huff and pounded on it.
“Mr. Thomas! Mr. Thomas, I can’t accept this! Mr. Thomas!”
“Ge’ outta my shop, Ja’k. I’ll see ye next we’k.” grumbled the tired voice.
Jack bit his lip, holding back his hand from knocking against the dark oak door once more. He carefully tucked the book under his arms before taking off down the aisle, grinning wider than the English Channel. The store’s bell announced his leave as he hurried onto Kowl Avenue.
His eyes were blazing with passion and his heart bounded about in his chest. He could feel the wind whip his hair into a mess of small waves while the rain soaked rapidly into his clothes. The dark gloomy sky drummed steadily as lightning rumbled amongst each cloud. Huckleberry Lane wasn’t too far and as he turned the corner onto Augusten Street, he could see the boarding school lurking in the distance. The road was much more crowded than the others for it led directly into the heart of London.
© E.M. Peterson exlibris9.tumblr.com
Chapter I: The Home in the Library
“What do you think?” My father asked as we stared at our new home.
“It’s a library.” I said surprised, my American accent dinging against his British.
“Well of course it is! I’m the new director!” He exclaimed throwing tawny skinned hands over a slowly growing bald spot. His challenging brown eyes gleamed in delight against his black rimmed glasses. Although he was book smart, he still had a strong build (even in his older age) from his military years. Since Mom’s death he had adorn his chin with a grizzly brown beard. I noted that it needed a trimming again. Something to discuss over dinner.
"How did the boys take it?"
"They haven’t seen it yet."
"Oh, don’t worry about it. They’ll love it I’m sure. You are all quite bookish little things."
"And who do we have to blame for that?"
He beamed before trying to play it off with a shrug of the shoulder. “They said they’d pop in as soon as they were done saying goodbye to their mates back home.”
"Oh. Bet they are getting a last kiss in from the girls too." I chuckled though inside I was quite jealous of their relationships. "Though I suppose they are ex-girlfriends now…"
"Oh hush you!" My father smacked a paper over my head, before he admittedly whispered, "Bloody hell, that is going to be awful to deal with!"
“Well it is!”
"For me, probably. You don’t have to get their texts moping about it all."
© E.M. Peterson exlibris9.tumblr.com