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Drama High School

Wonderland High School stood, unaffected by time. The hedges lining the parking lot were an electric green, uniform and impenetrable by any teen who might have wanted a shortcut to the long hallway of the school. My memory is a little blurred, but I recall the gardeners were out here everyday, with their matching black caps, and crisp white jumpsuits.  Rain or shine during the school year they’d trim the hedges, aerate the grounds, and prune the heirloom roses that bordered the walkway to the main entry of the school. Their job was to portray the outside of the school as perfect. A  hermetically sealed bubble to keep all of the outside world away. The gardeners in their Stepford like uniforms were an unnoticeable infantry, but they served a purpose to prune roses and keep the school beautiful in the same way we kept our school work top notch.Looking at the hedges now, I could see how someone got that exact feeling when they walked through the gardens leading into Wonderland High, that we’d lived in a picturesque bubble, coddled by the privilege of money and secrecy.

The familiar sounds of the rippling creek, coursed over the same rocks that had been there for years. The creek was the only place I sought refuge, nose deep in a book is where you could usually find me away from the madness of my school. 

 By all intents and purposes I shouldn’t even be here, sitting in the parking lot of Wonderland High School. Yes, I had marked “going” albeit reluctantly, on the high school reunion invite I’d received in the mail 3 months ago. No, I hadn’t actually believed I’d bring myself to come back to this place. This place was a playground for my peers desperately trying to pretend that they had no interest in their youth. That’s the funny thing about having too much money, it can buy you almost anything except time.  But here I was back in the very place I was forced to grow up in. I’ve dreamt about going back in time to that one confusing night where I mushroomed into an adulthood. I’d adjust the clock, simply to change the course of my life after that particular moment. 6 o’clock will forever be emblazoned in my mind as the day, “Allison went crazy as a Mad Hatter.”

Ten years had passed. Ten years of being labeled as being out of mind, cracked, and unhinged. The truth is, I’m was never any of those things. I, Allison Pleasance had always told the unvarnished truth. It seemed that we were all so innocent in our youth, but behind the stone walls of Wonderland High’s spoiled rich kid persona were dark and twisted traditions.

Blinking furiously, I mustered all my courage gripping the door handle of my aged Honda Accord.  ‘You can do this Allison. Don’t whimp out, you’re here to get the truth out.’ 

Sighing, I leaned all my shoulder weight onto my door, letting all of the heavy air out of my body. Fresh oxygen in the blood cells, that should help right?  I can do hard things. 

My car was parked among seventy or so cars, my timing on schedule for once. Planning to arrive fashionably late seemed to be the best idea to blending  into the crowd, ‘No one is expecting me, it’ll be better this way.’ Down the cobbled path, I pushed myself through each and every step until I stumbled into the grand entrance. The double doors were regal as ever, over twelve feet tall with intricate door handles. It took the strength of my backbone to push it open until I fell quite literally into the center of the entrance. ‘Had it always been  that heavy when closed?’

Gentle lulls of music floated through the ancient foyer. Turning my head, scanning each and every minute detail of Wonderland High felt like I was descending into a hole from my past. There in front of me was the long hallway.. The hallway that I’d run through confused and lost, as I was chased by a battalion of  faceless creatures. ‘Allison, you knew that this would be hard. Don’t fucking bail now. The flashback is real.’

Talking to myself was something I did to cope, to verify that what I was seeing in life was solid and true, not because I was crazy.

A few steps into the long hallway the glassed in cupboards lined the first section of the hall, this is why it had been nicknamed “Looking Glass Hall.”  It was long rumoured that these cases had two way mirrors behind them. Looking into them now, I swallowed a lump of fear. I couldn’t stop thinking about that night, when we were all together last.  My heart bumped around, all wild and loose in my chest when I thought of the other moments stolen away in this hall of reflections. The days I spent chasing Ben White, and that penultimate flash of time when he leaned in to whisper in my ear, “Let's date,” ending it with the sweetest kiss on my round cheek. It’s funny how my hand crept up to feel the warmth erupting from my skin just thinking about Ben White and that one tiny kiss. My eyes betrayed the feeling of that thought of Ben and I, as they mirrored back to me in the crystal clear glass, replacing it with a knotted stomach of doubt. “It was one damn speck of time Allison, it can't be changed now."

It might have taken ten years to piece together the mystery of what happened on that night here in Wonderland High, but I  realized what monsters my classmates had actually been to me.

The registration table was manned by two people I could pick out of a crowd of a million, The Jones twins. Despite them being boy girl twins, the two were damn near identical in respects to their roundness and turned up nose. Their simple last name matched their simple appearance, yet when they traveled in twos as they often did their personage was even more ominous. I spent years being mocked by Debbie and Dan, they had  held their family fortune over my head as reasoning to berate me every day I was at Wonderland High. It wasn’t my fault my parents didn’t own every single  beach resort all along the East coast like theirs did. 

“Checking in?” The twins spoke in unison. Yep, there it is- they’re still creepy as hell.

Debbie made eye contact with me, and froze. 

“Allison? Allison Pleasance? I thought you were? Well I thought you had disappeared!”

“Actually, I go by Alice Liddell now. You could say that the old me has gone by the wayside.”

I took the highlighter from Debbie’s hand and snagged my nametag, slashing out Allison for Alice. A sense of, “I am not to be trifled with,” came over me as I smoothed down the scribbled upon name tag. I had things to do in just a short amount of time, and I wasn’t about to waste them on Debbie and Dan and their nonsense salutations they expected from everyone. As if I owe them, pfft.

Now that I was here, proving my sanity was the goal. Being back here reminded me that high school was a roundabout of waking up everyday asking myself, “Who am I?” 

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

My attention  drawn to the beverage table of  small bottles of alcohol lining an old  table, no cups to speak of, that's good I shant use tea cups ever again. I’m pretty sure a little bottle of this stuff will make me feel twenty times bigger, so here goes nothing. I thought about eating one of tiny petits fours cakes on the adjacent table, but decided against it. 

“Who am I??" The old me would have never turned down cake, but in this crowd I knew better. Warm, liquid courage running through my veins,  I shifted my body towards the crowd of reunion goers. I stifled my shock to see all of them here, they rarely strayed from the familiar. All they knew was Wonderland High and each other.  There was Ben White, his watch, the same watch from our youth beamed brightly guiding me like a lighthouse to shore. I desperately wanted to run to him and shout, "We took the wrong path!"

The gorgeous Ben would have to wait.  I had to breathe, and reassemble my thoughts, I only had one chance to get this right. A flashback from that night burst into my head, catching me off guard shrinking my confidence down to the size of a mouse. If I was going to prove I wasn't mad, now was not the time for me to black out to ancient memories. A quick visit in my mind to the scene of the party could help though.

I walked into the sitting area of the activities building, looking for Ben. I had chased him down the path, after his quick kiss. The building ran along the creekside and was nothing like the rest of the schools pristine interiors. The inside had mismatched chairs and tables. Quirky tapestries strewn about the floor, overlaying one another blocking the drafts from the elderly wooden floor. I can see it all clear as day. Roxanne, the self appointed "Queen" of Wonderland High leaned against a shelf of old books, with her eyes locked on Ben. Shame drowned me. I should have known that Roxanne could have Ben White over me any day. She eyed him as if she'd already conquered him.

"Oh, look who it is." Roxanne "The Queen" Hart was up to no good, and I was her target. Defying her was a non option. She had my complete attention, and I wasn't about to lose my head by countering her now.

"I'm just here for Ben, he dropped this running down the long hallway," handing a white bag over to no one. 

Ben looked confused, before he could speak I turned to go in hopes he'd follow.

"I really must be going, I shouldn't have come here…."

Roxanne, faster than I could blink flashed across the room snatching the bag from my hand.

"Stay. Away. From. Ben." 

It was an order, not a warning.

"Better yet, sit Allison we were just about to play a game." 

Everyone stared intently as if I were a witness on the stand and they were my jury.

"We were just drinking a little tea. Here, have some." Jack Chester passed the tea cup my direction, with the smallest twinkle in his feline eyes. That was the last I saw of Jack. He disappeared, vanished really but his laughter filled the air all the same.

"Drink. Come on drink some more. Drink me!" Lilah March to my side chanted, while pushing the bottom of my tea cup to my lips forcing the tea down. 

I stood, wobbly at my knees and ankles searching for the door. I could barely make out it's tiny frame from across the enlarging room. 

"I'll be going now. But which way, is which?" My arms crossed, and vision blurry. Suddenly faces melted and morphed into one, then back again but onto different bodies. I couldn't find the door.

Then I  fell. Deep down into a sleep. Where the creatures faces chased me through the halls.

My last words were, "Ben...wait for me."

The next day I was found, by the guidance counselor, Mr. Lewis. The smoke from his tobacco pipe wafted to my nose causing me to cough into consciousness. 

"Miss Pleasance,what are you doing here? Where did you get this bag?!" 

The white bag. How long had I been here,  and where did everyone go? This was Roxanne's bag I needed to explain.

"Mr. Lewis, this isn't mine….it's, it's …" before I could even explain, he had my wrist in his hand marching me to the headmasters office.

Crying I continued to blurt out, "Let me go. You're hurting me! It's not mine!" 

The headmaster was not kind in her sentencing, she expelled me for possession of an illegal substance. Her last words to me, "Miss Pleasance, you seem to think the rules do not apply to you. Here at Wonderland High, you cannot hide who you really are so there's no use crying yourself into a puddle hoping you'll float away from. Your troubles. Ask yourself where you plan to go in life." 

The rumors swarmed.

Allison Pleasance had gone mad.

Did you hear she was running a drug service right here out of Wonderland?? 

Yep, they found her with 6 ounces of "Rabbit Hole" all packaged up in tiny white gloves.

She claims to have been poisoned.

I hadn't gone mad, not even a little. 

I had ten years to get to the bottom of this, and it all went back to the Looking Glass hallway. That sweet day when Ben White kissed me. The two way mirror rumors had been true, Roxanne had been  in the room behind that very hall and had witnessed the exchange between Ben and I. The Queen always got what she wanted, and Ben was her main prize.  

"Hey Roxanne." The sound of my voice was enough to freeze her body. She turned, mimicking my stance with both arms crossed.

"What are you doing here Allison? Didn't you go mad?" Laughing out loud to her comrades.

"Actually it's Alice now. But that's none of your business. Now that we're all here together, what happened at 6 o'clock in the activities building ten years ago?"

"Allison….or Alice, whatever" she pushed out her annoyance at my name change. 

"You know what happened. You lost your way. Dealing drugs, you seemed to have dipped into your own supply and you lost your mind." 

I was looking at the whole group  aside from Ben like they were a trash heap waiting to be set on fire. 

I gestured to The Queen, "You. You are what happened. After Ben kissed me in the hall, I stood in shock. Because why would Ben White like me?"

I knew that I was trying to go back in time and change the clock, but clearing my name had to be done.

"I saw you Roxanne. I saw you slip out of the room behind the glass, with a bag in your hand." Sucking in one more breath I stepped forward, dropping my arms my confidence sprouting. "You ran by the rose garden, shouting at Ben. Then you did something odd, and I knew it was odd when I saw Ben's face and he pulled back from your hug and said, 'I'm late, for a very important date.' You slipped that bag into his backpack, he didn't notice though. I heard him say he needed to pop by the activities room, and then you followed along."

I hated that everyone's attention was on me.

I growled, "What you don't know Roxanne is that I had slipped into the room to see behind that Looking Glass. Sure enough, there was a direct view of where I'm sure you saw Ben kiss me."

"Oh please," Roxanne said throwing her arms up with a causal eye roll, "you don't know what you're talking about ALICE. You really have gone mad."

I ignored her comment, because the next part of my speech would certainly knock her head off.

"I found a few more small bags you had stashed under the window sill. I pocketed one, and ran to the activities room to let Ben know what you'd done. You planned to stash the drugs on Ben so you could blackmail him into liking you." 

Ben, shocked at my presence and my detailed evidence shoved forward. 

"You drugged Alice because I liked her and not you? You let everyone think she was crazy?" 

"Ben, I knew Roxanne was after you when you looked at me strange after I produced the bag. You didn't know what I was talking about when I held it up. I thought if I could just get you to leave I could tell you….well, you know the rest."

Ben walked past Roxanne, grabbing my hand pulling me toward the rose lined walkway. We stopped,  and he whispered "I knew you weren't mad. Look I still have the watch you gave me." 

My heart settled, returning to it's normal size. "I think we're late for a very important date don't you?"

October 02, 2020 19:28

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2 comments

Malz Castell
07:05 Nov 15, 2020

Wow, I really loved this story. Your writing style is great and I liked the descriptions as well. Good plot and well executed. Great job. :D

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Shea West
15:28 Nov 15, 2020

Thanks for taking the time to read it😊

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