Contest #157 shortlist ⭐️

102 comments

LGBTQ+ Speculative Gay

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

The significance of stage fright and anything other than life itself evaporated the moment the window shattered from the impact of my body.


Sparkling shards formed an iridescent cloud around me, suspended under the clear blue sky. The glass sang a wind chime tune, a backdrop to my sharp intake of breath and the heavy thump of my heart.


As the distance between me and the window grew and my blond wig blew into my face, tears flooded my eyes. I messed up now. Not only was I going to die, I was trying to be Alice whilst doing so, breaking my parents’ hearts twice over.


I was supposed to love my sister. Like other guys loved theirs deep down, beyond the trenches of sibling rivalry—a war I lost by default.


Alice would have been prettier. Kinder. More popular. She would have had straight A’s and she would have landed every lead role in her drama club. Maybe, we could’ve attended the same school and the same drama club, and she would have been cast as Alice instead of me. 


If I didn’t go to a boys’ boarding school—and she wasn’t dead.


It’s a shame I survived our first day of life and she didn’t. She would have been a better child, my parents had said as much. A perfect. Little. Angel. My whole life, my birthdays were chained to her grave where we left Alice in Wonderland themed gifts and flowers on her tombstone. A day of mourning, and not of celebration.


What was I thinking..?


***


‘Artie, we’re gonna be late.’ Dustin squeezed my arm, his foot tapping the steps impatiently as he was holding his pocket watch, a functional part of his costume.


Oliver twisted his purple striped tail.


‘Miss Brown is gonna be mad.’ He grinned, making the painted whiskers rise on his round face.


Sitting on the small landing at the top of the stairs by the library on the sixth floor, I crunched my apron over my forget-me-not blue dress.


‘Can we swap? I can’t do this.’ I looked up at the boys, pleading.


Dustin wrinkled his freckled nose with a pink heart painted onto its tip, and pursed his lips. The big white bunny ears he wore flopped as he tilted his head.


‘Yes you can, we practised. You really are good at this.’


‘And if you chicken out now, you’ll never hear the end of it,’ said Oliver, still grinning, like he wanted me to quit, just to see the drama ensue.


Dustin gave me a warm, encouraging smile.


‘I’ll give you a reward if you don’t let us down,’ he said with a mysterious twinkle in his sapphire eyes. ‘Come on. Break a leg!’ 


Intrigued by his promise, I let him pull me up and drag me along as he started running down the stairs. His bunny ears bounced up and down with every step, and his short, brown hair shined coppery gold at each turn of the staircase, when bathed in the light of the afternoon sun filtering through the tall, gothic windows of the old school building.


‘What’s the reward?’ I asked as we ran, trying not to imagine all the things I hoped for.


‘What do you want it to be?’ He looked back over his shoulder, face flushed and hair messy; an image so tantalising it left me breathless. I wanted it to be him.


Something overcame me, bravery or foolishness. Maybe I was already about to make a mistake doing this performance—why not add another few?


‘A date.’


‘What?’ He spun around so fast I crashed into him, and we both stumbled. Dustin, losing his footing, fell onto his bottom and rolled down the last four steps to the narrow landing on the turn. I lost my balance as he held onto my hand and I ran down those steps, unable to stop. Then, stepped on the hem of the stupid dress. Right in front of the window. And tripped. Forwards. 


Dustin’s hand slipped from mine as I crashed into the glass, one thought reverberating in my mind.


Will I be missed as much as Alice?


***


The glow of the afternoon faded before my eyes, dying inside the throat of the darkness that swallowed me. 


The ground didn’t hit hard, it caught me. Soft and fleshy. I rolled onto cool, spherical surfaces, down and down and down until I finally dug my fingers in and stopped myself from falling, in one that was shaped like a shallow bowl. My heart was pounding like I just fell from a second floor window. I did. Panting, I took huge gulps of the damp air filled with the smell of decay and something familiar. Mushrooms. I was sitting in a giant mushroom underneath ancient oaks.


Where’s the school?


Dusk drowned the colours of the woods. But everything didn't disappear into black, the colours of life didn’t cease to exist. The foliage around was the deepest, darkest green, adorned with pale purple flowers, rhododendrons, radiating a soft, ethereal glow as fireflies danced around them. Like stars gathering for a ballroom dance, they swayed a slow waltz to the soft tune of zephyr-stroked leaves and crickets’ chirps. An owl hooted, a warm, deep sound, comforting in the darkness that crept closer as night was falling over the forest. Soon, it would be completely dark. 


With a soft exhale, I pulled back my hands out of the mushroom and sat up straight.


‘You took your time, Alice.’ A voice said, and as I turned my head towards it, smoke blew into my face, tasting like warm, artificial strawberries.


I frowned.


‘I’m Arthur.’


‘Are you sure? Because this note here definitely says “Alice.”’ 


He waved a piece of folded paper and as the smoke dispersed, I tried not to flinch at the sight of him: a man down to his waist, like a centaur, but instead of a horse, the rest of him was a huge, fat caterpillar. Willing myself not to show my disgust, I took the note.


“To: A. Alice Perry,” it was addressed on the outside. 


Inside it, hid a short message.


“Come to the clearing. Let’s have some cake!”


‘It’s Arthur A. Perry. My second name is after my dead sis–’ Irrelevant. ‘My name is just Arthur.’


‘Well, the invitation is still yours, Arthur-dressed-as-Alice. Why do you refuse to play your roles? You and that other Alice Perry.’ The caterpillar-man shook his head in disapproval.


‘Alice Perry?’ I raised my head.


‘The one who sent you the invite. But you look a mess, girl. You are in no shape to attend a tea party.’ He sighed. ‘It’s going to take me the whole night to wash off all the blood you smeared onto my mushrooms.’


The breath caught in my lungs.


Blood?


Keeping my eyes on him, my fingers twitched towards the ripped skirt, and grabbed onto wet fabric.


‘Poor Alice,’ he said, his voice dripping with pity, but his lips curling into a sinister smile as he licked them, with a glint of anticipation in his eyes. ‘Soaking. Red.’ His tone was one that should have been reserved for “strawberry cheesecake” and “chocolate sponge.”


A wave of nausea washed over me. Losing my balance, I fell off the mushroom, landing in grass that towered over my head.


This was a nightmare.


‘I have to wake up,’ I muttered, getting onto my feet.


The creature leaned closer, snaking down from the top of the mushroom.


‘Wake up? For that, first you must sleep.’ He blew another puff of smoke into my face.


I turned and ran.


Deep into the woods. 


My wig caught in a low branch of a tree, hollies and thorny blackberry bushes tugged and tore the skirt of my bloodied costume and leaves slapped into my face. My heart raced, but as the darkness thickened, my strides slowed down and came to a halt. 


Where was I?


And where did I want to go?


Close by, fireflies gave their aerial performance, illuminating a figure, running from tree to tree.


‘We are running out of time… Artie, where are you? We only have until the sun comes up!’ My heart skipped a beat as I recognised the voice of the boy with the white bunny ears and pom-pom tail, running around with his pocket watch. He didn’t fall… Did he?


‘Wait!’ I yelled, but he was already too far to hear me, and I was unable to catch up. I lost sight of him. How was he so fast? I was always the faster runner, between the two of us.


‘Could it be because you broke your legs?’ A familiar voice replied to my thoughts, from a tree above. On a thick branch lay Oliver, grinning down at me, his purple striped tail swishing lazily as he clawed the tree’s bark.


I shivered.


‘My legs are fine,’ I said tentatively, but refused to look down or touch them.


‘How do you know?’ He purred, his cat ears twitching with intrigue.


‘They don’t hurt.’


His grin widened the way it always did when he found a weak point.


‘But do you feel them at all, Alice?’


My breath hitched and I stepped backwards.


‘What are you doing here, Oliver? And Dustin? You two didn’t fall with me, did you? You aren’t real. This place isn’t real. It’s all in my head, of course I don’t feel a thing.’


‘Quite right.’ He chuckled. ‘But who says the things inside your head aren’t real?’ He hung from the tree, upside down. ‘Can you be certain the “real” you isn’t a mere thought inside somebody else’s head? And if I am your thought, can you command me? Or can I disappear at my own will?’ He mused, turning translucent. ‘Can I leave, before the sun rises, even if you have to stay here forever?’


‘Oliver, wait! What happens at sunrise? How do I get out?!’


He smiled, before disappearing completely.


‘Follow the fireflies.’


***


I continued through the woods, treading carefully in the pitch dark, following the only sprinkles of light in the darkness. The stars moved around the night sky as the hours went, and I walked the woods, aware of the time passing and afraid of the morning that would soon come. Then, I arrived at a clearing. Goosebumps rose on my arms at the chill gust of wind and the sight of tombs. I found a graveyard.


Would it be wiser to turn around?


Taking a deep breath, I stepped out from the trees and made my way through the cemetery, recognising the layout; I knew this place. My pulse picked up when I saw the familiar grave.


Covered in a picnic blanket, it had a big cake on a stand, plates and teacups on top. A petite girl sat with a large gift-wrapped box as tall as her, wearing an asymmetric top hat and a crisp shirt. Serving tea.


‘Happy birthday, Art. You are a little more than fashionably late to our party.’


‘It’s not my birthday… And nobody calls me that,’ I said with a frown, as I sat in the grass on the opposite side of the grave from her. Was this what she would’ve been like? Small, chubby and sporting a pixie cut.


‘I would’ve.’ She shrugged. ‘Anyhow, it’s my birthday every day. Therefore, so is yours. Besides, your unbirthday might be today. Would you like cake?’ She cut into it with a large knife and served a slice on a plate. A perfect slice, with a perfect smile.


‘Keep your cake,’ I pushed it back despite the rumbling of my stomach. ‘How do I get out of here?’


‘Out of here?’ She clapped her hands together, raising her eyebrows. ‘Didn’t you have enough? Sixteen years! Sixteen years of having everything to yourself. Our toys. Our room. Our parents. And all the cake?’ She stared at me in disbelief. ‘You were heard. You were seen. You were loved for who you were, and not who they’d thought you’d be. You already lived.’


‘At least you were never compared to a dead dream.’


‘I am a dead dream. Perfection? It is only for those who didn’t get a chance to make mistakes and struggle. Wanna bet which feels worse?’


‘Having cake and no responsibilities doesn’t sound like a curse to me.’ I folded my arms. ‘You have it easy.’


‘I guess that’s true,’ she said quietly. ‘But do you ever wonder about all the things that would have been different? If I survived. Good and bad. Our birthday parties, the people I would have met and loved. What we could’ve been to each other, if only I lived, or you died too. We’d be best friends, you know. It would’ve been worth it, the bad parts of life, the mistakes and not living up to expectations.’


She sniffed, and my chest tightened. Giving in, I took a bite of the chocolate cake.


‘Is it too late for that? For us to get on?’ I asked.


‘Hope not. I even got you a present.’ She gestured to the large box. ‘Will you open it at least?’


Unable to turn it down as she looked at me with a hopeful expression, I got up and walked around her grave.


‘Don’t worry about not bringing me anything,’ she added, though it did not even cross my mind. I couldn’t have. ‘I’m just happy to see you here, even if you had to hurt yourself so badly.’


‘Uh… Thanks?’ I pulled the bow holding the box closed and opened the lid.


My stomach turned as I looked up at her, smiling expectantly as she sipped her tea. 


Inside the box, sticking out from the grass below was a brand new tombstone with my name on it.


‘I’m not staying!’ I backed away, my body trembling with the urge to run.


‘No need to be afraid. There will be cake every day, and you won’t have to worry about stupid things like exams. It will be fun. We could finally be treated like equals. Real twins!’


For the first time in forever, I didn’t want to be treated like Alice. I didn’t want death to polish my flaws. Was it too late to realise..?


‘Am I already dead?’


She pouted.


‘Not yet. All I know is, if you are still here after the sunrise, you’ll stay. If not, you’ll live. I cannot predict which one it will be, but… you might not want to go back, Art. It was a bad fall.’


‘What do you mean?’


‘I just have a bad feeling about it. Don’t you?


I shook my head, ignoring the sickening feeling in my stomach.


‘Do I get to choose?’


‘If you have something to go back for, if you can find your reason, you might get a chance to go back. The fates love a good story.’ She smiled knowingly. ‘It should be here. Your reason, I mean. Everybody brings their fears and hopes along, and they all wander the woods whilst we wait for the sun to rise.’


My hopes..? But what was it I hoped for…? Closing my eyes I recounted the minutes before my fall.


“I’ll give you a reward if you don’t let us down… What do you want it to be?”


I clasped her hands in mine.


‘I’ll forever be in your debt if you help me now–’


‘Don’t be gross.’ She grimaced.


‘Have you seen where the white rabbit went?’


***


It was like chasing a mirage. The white ears were easy to spot in the dark, but also easy to lose sight of and difficult to keep up with. The possible reasons why kept replaying in my head, making my heart beat to the rhythm of fear.


Maybe, because of all the blood on the mushrooms. 


Maybe, because in the real world, I broke my legs. 


Maybe, because it was a bad fall.


Was Alice right? Should I not want to go back?


Not watching where I went anymore, I bumped into Dustin under a willow tree.


I grabbed his hands before he could disappear again. His white ears drooped as he met my gaze.


‘Artie,’ he whispered, his large eyes reflecting the sad and hopeful flickers of the fireflies around us. ‘Wake up, please.’


‘How?’


He pulled one of his hands from mine and held up his pocket watch by the chain between our faces. 


‘You know how.’


The clock swung side to side to the rhythm it ticked, and my eyes fluttered closed as the first rays of sun touched the willow leaves. 


‘First, you must fall asleep.’


***


I needed time to adjust to the brightness of the sterile room and its clean but unpleasant smell. With a thin sheet tucked around me tightly, I lay on my back on a firm, narrow bed, in a white gown instead of the costume. On the side, underneath the hook that held up a bag of fluid, dripping down a tube plugged into my arm, a screen monitored my blood pressure and oxygen levels.


‘You won’t need my gift just yet,’ Alice said, looking at the readings.


‘Alice?’ I blinked. The woman in blue gave me a sympathetic smile. It wasn’t her.


On the nightstand, chocolates and cards awaited my attention.


The first I picked up was from the drama club.


Not what Dustin meant by “Break a leg,” mate! Get better soon! - Oliver.”


Recognising Dustin’s handwriting, my heart beat faster.


“I’m sorry. I’ll come and visit.”


Was this a “sorry I pulled you off the stairs” or… 


My chest tightened. 


A “sorry—I don’t like you like that”? 


He wrote he would come. Meaning, he wanted to see me, right? Of course, he wouldn’t be able to write his answer inside a shared card. Would he come alone? We could share some choc–


The hopeful anticipation turned into icy dread as I tried to pull my legs up, but–


Could move nothing.



August 04, 2022 21:47

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102 comments

Kelsey H
08:32 Aug 11, 2022

Really love the Alice in Wonderland tie with this, it was extremely well done, but not only that you also put your own spin on it so it still felt original and not just like another version of the story. I really love the dreamlike feel to this which you create and the picnic in the graveyard fit perfectly with that weird/whimsical vibe of Alice in Wonderland too. My favourite section though was the interaction between Arthur and Alice and despite the fantasy setting it is so grounded in real emotions of jealousy and resentment and loss. L...

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Riel Rosehill
11:24 Aug 11, 2022

Hi Kelsey! I'm glad you said this, because when I decided to write this story, I thought people might just write it off as fanfiction because I used Alice in Wonderland at it's therefore not original enough (even though the actual characters and story is different) - so I had very low hopes to begin with! I love mixing dreamy with creepy, so I really enjoyed throwing in a graveyard picnic here :D As always, thanks so much for reading and commenting - made my day! 😊

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Kelsey H
21:40 Aug 12, 2022

Congrats! I'm so happy to see you shortlisted, I knew this story would be on the winners list!

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Riel Rosehill
22:05 Aug 12, 2022

Thank you Kelsey! I'm over the moon to be sharing the winners list with so many of my Reedsy friends too 🥰

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L.M. Lydon
14:48 Aug 10, 2022

This story is spectacular. It's tautly written, tense, and roller coaster-like. The way you tie the deceased Alice and Alice in Wonderland together gives the story depth. You also use some strong imagery (the second paragraph in particular stood out for me). The reader has so much sympathy for the narrator from the beginning (with how his parents struggle with the loss of their daughter and take it out on him), and the way the deceased Alice turns things back on him at the beginning of the conversation is an interesting perspective shift. Th...

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Riel Rosehill
15:49 Aug 10, 2022

Hi L.M., Thanks for taking your time to read and leave this thoughtful comment on this one! Happy to hear you found Artie a sympathetic narrator, and that the perspective shift worked too. The tombstone in the giftbox was something I came up with whilst writing the cemetery scene and just couldn't resist putting it in the story! I very much enjoyed writing the creepy bits.

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Chris Morris
22:34 Aug 08, 2022

This is my favourite thing of yours I've read, Riel! Every line wonderfully written, flowed through like poetry, and totally engaging from start to finish. I thought the graveyard scene was really tense and brilliantly done. And the ending punched me in the gut, in a good and bad way. Excellent story! Hope it does well.

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Riel Rosehill
06:25 Aug 09, 2022

Thanks Chris! I don't have any high hopes because of the borrowed elements but I'm keen to find out what the judges' take is..! Now, onto their chapter two! 😁

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Chris Morris
18:21 Aug 12, 2022

I just came back here to say - I told Sean I had a favourite story of his and then it shortlisted. I told you I had a favourite story of yours, and then it shortlisted! Seriously well deserved and long overdue. Looking forward to the week you win now.

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Riel Rosehill
18:40 Aug 12, 2022

Thanks Chris! Is that a superpower?! Or you just got a good eye for this? Have you considered becoming a Reedsy judge---only joking. Anyhow, thank you so much for all the support and encouragment! And I look forward to seeing your name in the winners circle too :D

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:27 Aug 08, 2022

Hi Riel, this was amazing! The first thing that caught my eye was the title, then the opening sentence drew me in and made me want to read more! I could tell that you put a lot of thought into crafting this story and you know I love that kind of stuff. Also, the little formatting things like crossing out a sentence are a really nice touch. Great job on this one as always! :)

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Riel Rosehill
17:42 Aug 09, 2022

Thanks Daniel! This was a super fun story to write - something I wanted to do for a long time! I definitely felt inspired, that's probably why it feels like I thought about it harder 😃

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Seán Mc Nicholl
12:01 Aug 07, 2022

Great story Riel!! Very ambitious but you pulled it off brilliantly! You have an amazing talent! The ending is fantastic. Some beautiful lines and the way you tug the heart strings in the beginning is so powerful: The chaining of the birthday to the death of Alice. Great great story! Well done!

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Riel Rosehill
16:01 Aug 07, 2022

Thank you so much Seán! This was one of my favourite stories to write - I wasn't sure how it would be received though, so I'm super happy about all the positive comments - your feedback is much much appreciated!! 😁

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Yves. ♙
06:23 Aug 07, 2022

Have to agree with the other commenters pointing out how simply ambitious this was! I love an Alice retelling, but hadn't so much as hoped for one in this word limit-- incredibly impressive!

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Riel Rosehill
09:06 Aug 07, 2022

Hi Yves! I always wanted to write an Alice in Wonderland themed story - and it was though to keep it within the word count, for sure! Thank you for taking your time to read and leaving this lovely comment - much appreciated! 😊

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00:09 Aug 07, 2022

This is amazingly poetic, and very ambitious to include an Alice in Wonderland scene in a 3,000 word short story, I loved the ending. And the transition from a dream/fantasy into a 'bright sterile room' feels exactly like waking up from a nice dream into a bad reality.

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Riel Rosehill
09:16 Aug 07, 2022

Thanks Scott! I'm right at the top of the word limit, it was tough! I didn't think much about that transition to be honest, I just knew he'd have to wake up in hospital, but how true! I'd want to go back under the willow tree 😂

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Suma Jayachandar
14:11 Aug 06, 2022

Riel, This story is a sparking display of things you are best at - imagery, fantastical elements and a right dose of horror/suspense. Though I have only browsed through Alice in Wonderland, I could appreciate how cleverly this story simulates a few elements from it. Well done!

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Riel Rosehill
15:23 Aug 06, 2022

Thank you Suma! I do love a touch of horror and fantasy - I've been doing a lot of experimenting here, but it's been stressful at times so I decided to just really lean into what I enjoy writing unless different inspiration stikes - I won't force it. This one was so fun to write, I already want to give the characters a second episode! Can't wait to read your story for the week - I have the page open ready for my commute home after work :D

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Suma Jayachandar
15:20 Aug 12, 2022

CONGRATULATIONS! 🥳🎉🎂 Riel! I can't believe how many of my favourite people won this time. I'm so happy this got the recognition it deserved 😊

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Riel Rosehill
15:30 Aug 12, 2022

Thank you so much Suma! I'm so happy 😃

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Aeris Walker
20:48 Aug 05, 2022

In my humble opinion, this is your best story. So good. I loved the parallel to the original Alice in Wonderland story, but how you brought an original flare to it. And there was SO much depth with the main character and his feelings toward his dead twin. And him meeting her in “wonderland”—-genius. Their conversation about who had it harder—perfect. Really enjoyed those scenes. These were some of my favorite lines, just so powerful! “My whole life, my birthdays were chained to her grave where we left Alice in Wonderland themed gifts and...

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Riel Rosehill
22:14 Aug 05, 2022

Aww thank you so much! 🥰 Love the edit suggestion - I've changed that, cheers for that! I always wanted to write an Alice in Wonderland thing, so I finally got it out of my system. I'm happy with this story - which is rare for me - but I don't know how the judges would feel about the unoriginal elements used (whether it's be considered lazy?), so I'm not getting my hopes up 😅 I'm happy you enjoyed it - thanks for the lovely comment ❤️

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Aeris Walker
00:25 Aug 06, 2022

I feel like it’s difficult to come up with anything that’s truly original, as we pick up inspiration from all over the place, but it definitely did not come across as lazy writing—in any way. Glad you got a story in this week, and hope you have a great weekend!

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Aeris Walker
15:05 Aug 12, 2022

CONGRATULATIONS 🎊🎈🍾

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Riel Rosehill
15:29 Aug 12, 2022

Thank you!!

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Mary Sheehan
20:03 Aug 05, 2022

This is a cool take on the Alice in Wonderland story, I love the LGBTQ twist. It fits the prompt well. And the ending! Congratulations on an excellent story :)

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Riel Rosehill
12:44 Aug 06, 2022

Hi Mary! Thanks for taking the time to read and to leave this kind comment, it's much appreciated! :)

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Zelda C. Thorne
08:16 Aug 05, 2022

Oooooo you are so going to win/shortlist! This is by far my favourite story of yours. Every word. Wow. I'm jealous of how good this is. I wouldn't change a thing. Well done 👏

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Riel Rosehill
18:15 Aug 05, 2022

Aww, thank you so much!!! I'm actually not sure whether the judges would like this, because they might say it's lazy to borrow existing characters to dress mine as - but we shall see! I enjoyed it nonetheless 😁

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05:22 Aug 05, 2022

There was a lot to unpack here. This is another story that could have had another 1000 words and been perfection. You still worked will with the word count, and this story had my favorite ending. Ambiguous and dark.

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Riel Rosehill
18:13 Aug 05, 2022

Thanks Jaden! Yes, I couldn've kept on writing this one, haha. I even though of their next chapter..! But yes, even within this storyline, I could have added a little more if I had a more generous word count allowance - not sure about a full 1K though! But there's definitely room for some extra lines.

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02:30 Aug 05, 2022

There's so much going on in this story, and it's seriously impressive how you pulled it all together so seamlessly. Arthur feels well-developed as a character, and you nailed his voice. The ending was wonderfully ambiguous as well. I liked the fantastical elements because they were somewhat rooted in reality but still felt creepy and out-of-place at times. Critique-wise, I have two minor points: first, I think you were constrained by the word count regarding Arthur and Dustin's budding romance - maybe it could have been explored more that A...

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Riel Rosehill
18:09 Aug 05, 2022

Thanks Shuv! You aren't wrong - and I was definitely fighting the 3K limit! Cutting words to be able to submit... I'm just happy the pacing didn't suffer too much because of that! But for sure if had a higher word allowance I would have explored things a little more... Maybe in a later story to come. :)

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Michał Przywara
01:53 Aug 05, 2022

I like it :) The setup is a cool idea - twins, one died, and the other lives perpetually in her shadow. That he was cast as a character with her name has got to be some kind of mind job. But then you immediately up the ante and try to kill our protagonist. Seriously, the whole play could have been a good drama itself, but instead everything goes to hell when a kid flies out a window. A very nice way of cranking up the conflict. The wonderland scene is suitably psychedelic and fairytale sinister. It's also a little reminiscent of The Wizar...

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Riel Rosehill
17:57 Aug 05, 2022

Hi Michał!! Always such a treat to read your deepdives! I'm happy you appreciate my humour 😁 I thought nobody was real and everything really was just in his head, as a weird near-death experience (and or the aftereffects of anaesthesia for surgery), but actually, who says stuff inside our head isn't real, right? The reader can make up their own mind on that one! I wonder if Dustin heard him, or if he did, would he have forgotten, given what happened right after? I did think about it and the different ways this could play out - I really wa...

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Michał Przywara
20:48 Aug 05, 2022

I think it was the right call :) Escalate that conflict!

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Michał Przywara
21:19 Aug 12, 2022

Woo! Congratulations on the shortlist! :D

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Riel Rosehill
21:22 Aug 12, 2022

And to you!! :D #DreamTeam

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Jay Mc Kenzie
00:18 Aug 05, 2022

Dreamy, dreamy, dreamy with just the right sprinkling of downright creepy. You have so cleverly woven the story of Alice in Wonderland with Arthur's plight whilst completely making it your own. The imagery, language, pace, structure is fab. I love what you have done here. If this doesn't shortlist at least, the world is wrong. There, I said it.

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Riel Rosehill
12:28 Aug 06, 2022

Thank you <3 And thanks for the title!! The first original one (that you didn't see, that mess I sent was attempt #2) was "Alice Through The Window Glass", clearly my brain was not switched on enough to figure out what to swap "window" for LOL. I'm interested to see if the judges will like this or not! I just wrote it for fun :D

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Zack Powell
23:44 Aug 04, 2022

Well, I was right and wrong. This is in fact the prompt I thought you were going to respond to, but I assumed we were going to see another installment of Noah/Michael/Lucifer love triangle (rectangle?) jealousy. (Yes, I just selfishly want more angel boy stories.) Shameful confession: I have actually never seen Alice in Wonderland the movies, nor have I read the books, so I'm sure there were some allusions along the way that went right over my head. Gonna have to watch the movie sometime, then reread to this story to see if I pick up on mor...

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Riel Rosehill
11:31 Aug 05, 2022

Heyy! Oh no, I feel like I disappointed you by not writing angel boys! I have read the book & seen the movies so it's hard for me to imagine what it's like to read this if you haven't, it's been a long time ago though - so I thought that knowing the original Alice in Wonderland wouldn't be essential, but let me know about that once you have read or watched it, if it changes how you see this story! Would be interesting for me to find out 👀 But you can still throw any criticism at me, because for that I really don't think knowing that other...

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Zack Powell
15:15 Aug 12, 2022

OMGGG! You have NO idea how happy I am to see this (and you) get some recognition! You've come such a long, long, long way, and I couldn't be happier to have taken that journey with you. May your future writing escapades be smooth and fun, and may you have many more wins under your belt soon! Side note: It's settled, by the way! You've totally got to submit this to the Queer Speculative mag. No ifs, and, or buts!

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Riel Rosehill
15:28 Aug 12, 2022

Zack, OMG, congrats for the win!! 🤩 We both get to celebrate today! Cheers 🥂 Excited to be in the winners circle with you - and thanks for all the support you've been with me on this journey from story #1, it's truly invaluable. I'm definitely submitting this one straight away!❤️

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Zack Powell
15:34 Aug 12, 2022

There's no one I wanted to share a winner's circle with more. Cheers! 🥂 Side note: I told myself that if I managed to win, I wouldn't submit a story tonight, and that's almost certainly going to remain the case, so it's probably gonna be a quiet morning tomorrow from me. We're both taking a celebratory week off, looks like. 😂

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Riel Rosehill
15:38 Aug 12, 2022

Haha, cheers to that! I might not even post for the next one, because I have to finish a story for Globe Soup (which is, the second episode of this one LOL) and I'm being a total last minute Lacey this time..! I know I just can't do both. But I think the Reedsy time off is well 100% deserved right now!

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Faith Ogedegbe
14:43 Aug 21, 2022

Good job, Riel.

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09:56 Aug 09, 2022

You're such a cute Lady been gifted from God and make use of them okay 👍 you're great 🙏that you get more grace 💞 love your story ☺️ please can you give me more , mmmm please want more on my mail please, syriabasementmilitaryservice@gmail.com 🙏🙏🙏want more

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Riel Rosehill
10:31 Aug 09, 2022

Sure, $500 per story :)

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