Monday, July 9, 2007

Alice - Looking Through The Glass

“I worry about Layla,” We hear the Mommy saying into the phone, “she plays so strangely sometimes!”

She wants to listen, I feel our heart grow warm and still at the sound of her name from the Mommy’s lips. I know Layla wants to go to her, press her face into the Mommy’s lap and try to calm her. I try to remind her that the Mommy isn’t like us. Just to prove a point I tug our hair a little, Layla cries out when a bunch of it comes off in her hand, I laugh, “Did that hurt?” I tell her, “Funny! I didn’t feel a thing!”

The Mommy and Layla catch each other’s stare and I stop, it’s not good to confuse her, I don’t know why, but somehow I know you can’t let them catch on. You can’t let them know we’re different. I have to be a secret.

“Ssshh!” I whisper, “I’m not really here…” and I can’t help but giggle while I take us to our room. I know the Mommy is watching me go. She almost always does when I forget, when I come out in the living room. I have to be more careful. I need the Mommy.

“Al-ice!” Layla whines at me as soon as we have the door closed, “You’re gonna get us in trouble again!” Her voice is so much sweeter than mine; I think that’s how the Mommy can tell, because Layla can sing. The Mommy always looks at us funny when I try to sing with them. I start to sing now, while we pull the boards from the closet wall, ‘Golden Afternoon’ from the movie where we got my name. We saw it at the Grandma’s house last year. I almost never come out at the Grandma’s house, the old lady smells funny. I let Layla go there alone; I play by myself in our mind.

I like to watch the movies, though. Layla snuggles up next to the Grandma. Usually we fidget and fight, and the Grandma gets upset, but this movie was special. Something about that little girl and her daydreams caught me. We sat still as stone and the Grandma was so happy she gave Layla a cookie. After, in the backyard we found a family of opossums and played Queen of Hearts; I told Layla she had to call me Alice after that, it just felt right, and I never had a name before. That’s how we know Layla’s the real one, I’m just something else.

The air is hot in our lungs and Layla wants to rub the sweat out of our eyes, but I like the sting. Its not easy crawling between the walls, but it’s the only place where I can be with my things. I don’t think the Mommy knows about the little room, I think it sits between the hall bathroom and the den, there’s pipes. Layla always tries to stop at the entrance, she doesn’t like it here.

I like it here. It’s dark, and hot, and I don’t have to worry about them seeing me, I can take over for a while, in here it’s my turn. Layla doesn’t know how to go away, but I don’t let her steer, she has to just sit there and watch. The pipes make a lot of noise, so I can even talk and play with my treasures and not have to worry about being heard.

“Boxes of boxes of boxes,” I say to myself with a smile, the sound of my real voice as refreshing as the feel of the Daddy’s old cigar box in my hands. A whiff of that deep, sticky, oily scent, puffs from the box when I open the lid. Looking at my treasure makes me smile, I think back to the woods, playing with the opossum family, how upset the Grandma got when she found us, fresh blood on our cheeks; the taste of it on our lips. It was a hard moment for Layla, for sure, but she got through it. The next time we were there, the Grandma kept a stronger eye on us, but I got a little time and I was able to find where she put them and bring a piece back to my secret place. I pet the small patch of fur with one finger, and dream about the treasures I will find, and create, in time.