Alice let herself in with her pair of keys, slammed the door shut with a quick thrust of her foot, flung her shoes and bags around and plopped down on the living room sofa. Her face was grumpy, but there was also a faint hint of a smirk at the corner of her lips as she glanced at her belongings strewn about. After lounging on the sofa for sometime, Alice got up and strolled into the kitchen to whip up a quick snack. Her tummy was starting to gnaw at her insides, making fervent pleas for satiation.
The kitchen was as usual stocked up with things she liked, thanks to mom for that, thought Alice. Taking her peanut butter sandwich with her, Alice trudged up the stairs to her room, the lethargy of her humdrum existence weighing her down. She knew what she would do – it was the same every single day. She would lock herself in with her books, her laptop and her sandwich to keep her company until her mom would yell that it was time for dinner. Then, she would have to go down and face her – a moment that never failed to make her squirm.
Maya glanced at the mess near the door and sighed deeply. She should have gotten used to this by now. But then, there were so many things she was still grappling to come to terms with, starting with the big, deep void that had grown inside of her, taking over her life. Maya cringed at the thought of his last days. He was gone even before the knowledge of his illness had sunk in! And then life had suddenly become hard and heavy.
Alice lay in bed, thinking hard. Sleep was elusive these days. Clutching her favourite book to her bosom, she thought about Alice and her Wonderland, her innocent glee as a toddler, as she heard her mom read out the story of another little girl with the same name as her. The magic world of Alice had intrigued her – maybe the fact that she was her namesake had something to do with it! Alice’s thoughts flitted to what would be her Wonderland. She knew it had to have fairies – lots of them! And then, her mom and her dad – the three of them as a happy family again! Alice finally drifted off to sleep, a hopeful half-smile on her lips.
“Alice dear! Can you look at me, darling?”
A gentle voice caressed the room. Alice raised her head from the pillow she had been crying into and looked around. Her eyes grew wide in amazement. Is that a grandmotherly fairy flying near her window, complete with a star wand in hand? She rubbed her eyes, staring incredulously at the window.
“Why are you crying so hard, dear?”
“My favourite book is ruined,” mumbled Alice, still dumbstruck. She pointed to “Alice in Wonderland” lying in tatters on the bed, some pages strewn about.
“Don’t worry, darling! Your book will soon be as good as new!” The fairy smiled and raised her wand to the book and the pages stuck themselves back to where they belonged!
“Wow! You can fix broken things!”
“Yes, darling, I can. Just think of me whenever you are upset and I promise I will cheer you up!”
“Can I call you Granny-fairy?”
“Of course, sweetheart! Bye until next time!”
The grandmother fairy blew a kiss at Alice and vanished as quickly as she had come. Alice grinned. Her dream had come true. There were fairies and maybe, Wonderlands too!
“MOM! What is for dinner today?” screamed Alice as she skipped down the stairs, humming a happy tune. She didn’t feel that angry at her mom for once. A pleasantly surprised Maya smiled fondly at her little girl – she looked happier than she had ever been since the tragedy of the past year. Maya wondered why …
“Alice sweetie, I want you to meet Harry. Harry, this is my little girl, Alice.” Maya smiled at Alice and Harry trying hard to mask her anxiety.
“Hello, Harry, nice to meet you,” said Alice, smiling shyly. Moving closer to her mom, she took her hand and gave a gentle squeeze. A wave of relief swept through Maya. She looked on eagerly at Harry. “Hi Alice sweetie, nice to see you finally! I have heard so much about you,” said Harry, as he put an arm around the both of them. “Is this my new Wonderland?” wondered Alice as she embraced her mom and maybe her future dad.
“Can you please fix me up, Granny-fairy? I feel so broken”, sobbed Alice. It had taken her many sleepless nights to muster the courage to confide in someone. The grandmother fairy sat down beside Alice, stroking her head. She did not say anything but waited for Alice to continue. Alice shivered as she reminisced about the horror of the last few weeks. Harry had seemed nice initially, maybe a little too nice for her liking, but she had dismissed it away. Her mom had seemed so happy with Harry that she did not want to spoil it. Moreover, she didn’t have anything against Harry, just that he made her feel uncomfortable at times. That was too vague to bring to anyone’s notice, wasn’t it?
And then the horror had begun – faint brushes, leering smiles and creepy touches that were unbearable. Alice had been sure that she didn’t like any of this, but she wasn’t sure if she was imagining it – it was all so imperceptible. She had tried to meet Maya’s eyes, hoping she would sense it, but Maya seemed to notice nothing. Am I sure this is wrong, or is there something wrong with me? Alice lost her sleep. Every night she would lie wondering why her Wonderland had come crashing down, yet again. And finally, she had gathered the courage to ask Granny-fairy’s help. Granny-fairy knew how to fix broken things, didn’t she?
After patiently listening to all that Alice had to say, the grandmother fairy finally spoke. “Alice dearest, yes, I can definitely show you how YOU can fix yourself up. And also, your Wonderland. I pieced together the pages of your favourite book, remember? But if you think carefully, you could have done it yourself too. Hardly things need magic, the magic comes from within us. We just need to be aware of it and use it. Go, confide to your mom. Wouldn’t it break her heart more to see how broken you are, keeping your misery to yourself? And also, remember, Wonderlands never break, and even if you think they do, YOU have the magic to piece it together again!”
Alice felt as if a heavy load was off her chest. Granny-fairy had cheered her up this time too. She felt like a fairy herself, with all the magic in the world to create her own Wonderland!