Part One: The End

Chapter Two: Alice

She knew it would be a relatively bad day when she greeted consciousness deciding that she hated everyone and everything. Because of this knowledge, she decided to play a trick on God by pretending to be asleep.

She knew the sun was filtering in, could feel it on her face. But she didn't stir from beneath the covers, wrapping her arms around her pillow tightly as she buried her head into the soft folds of the fabric. To wake would be to realize, to realize could only end in a profound disappointment.

Her arms clenched tighter as her face buried deeper into the pillow. The sun was positively blinding now, mocking her pathetic attempts at hiding. It was burning, making her eyelids turn a searing pink in color, and she knew that she could not feign sleep any longer.

Yet she still didn't want to wake up. She never wanted to wake up.

Because whenever she woke up, she would only become involved yet again in the world where nothing was permanent, and nothing held substance or truth.

"Alice, breakfast!" Came the screech of the banshee behind the heavy door, "I'm not saying it again!"

And so, the cycle began again.

OoO

The shower was cold, although she didn't feel it. Her clothes smelled and were stained, but she didn't realize she had worn them yesterday. Her breath stank, her eyes were perpetually cloudy now, but she didn't care. Her steps were heavy as they approached the school bus, and her heart twisted violently in her chest as she ascended the steep stairs. At the top, there greeted her an overweight, greasy, and irritable man. Alice could see the deadened stare in his eyes as the driver attempted to mask the shining suffering that lay dormant.

She stands in the aisle, her heart thudding even louder now against her chest. Fear fills her, and she feels their eyes, staring her down. They're ridiculing her, she can sense that, they don't like her. They don't want her polluting their processed happiness. Alice clenches the fabric at the edge of her shirt, twisting it frantically to still the shaking of her hands.

She didn't understand it, her terror. Deep in her mind, the part that wasn't cowering like prey, she knew that none of this would matter. That their condemning and scrutinizing glances would fade into the obsolete as time wore on. Choking sensations vibrated in her throat and Alice could feel herself wanting to cry and beg for their mercy. Why? She kept asking herself, why is this the way that I am?

It was only the strangers, whose judgment horrified her. She wasn't aware of them enough to get detached, and when they swarmed her, crowded her like they did on this bus, she wanted to scream. She wanted to disappear and shrivel away. She wanted them to go away because they were the ones making her feel this way. Alice abhorred them with every fiber of her seventeen year old being.

Quickly, she takes the empty seat in the front breathing frantically and hoping they will forget her.

The bus pulled away from the house.

And then the chatter begins. The mindless, ceaseless talking that creates a buzz like a swarm of flies over rotting meet. It irritates her, but this she can drown out. She breathes again, as her head leans against the cold, hard pane and her eyes numbly stare out into space.

OoO

When the bus pulls in, she feels her feet move along without her, her hands continuously fidgeting with the straps on her backpack as she tries not to feel the stares of those around her. Her hair falls forward, creating a curtain and shield from the outside world. She eyes her fellow classmates with mistrust, waiting for one of them to lash out with their insults and demeaning words that hurt Alice more than anything physical ever did.

She enters her school, and is greeted immediately with the sight of all the other fellow students, lounging about at their tables and talking. She feels the eyes yet again and she just stands there awkwardly, one foot in the cafeteria, and the other outside of it. Alice knows she is not connected to these people, as she watches them go about their own lives. She wants to be though.

Alice breathes deeply and attempts to muster enough courage to actually make a stand somewhere in her own life, to speak and stick out, to makeā€¦friends. Her watery brown eyes watch them, but there is this invisible barrier separating them forever, it's tangible. The panic grips her body tightly, and she shivers despite the warmth from the heaters. Anxiety overfills her mind, and she decides that today will not be the day she opens herself up to these cold, callous people.

She wants to bolt out of the room, out of the school, but she knows that will draw attention to her so she decides to calmly walk away, ignoring the frantic beating in her chest.

Unfortunately, Alice is a very clumsy girl, and she accidentally bumps into someone's shoulder. Her head darts down and she cringes, expecting a reprimand. She receives silence and she slowly looks up, to meet the face of someone whose eyes were blank and empty.

He's younger than she is, she can tell. But he's staring at her, and that immediately puts her in the edgy and frantic mode, "Sorry," She tried to make it sound genuine, but it's a whisper and husky from her overall lack of talking. She coughs and clears her throat to repeat herself, but she falls silent and uncomfortable.

He doesn't say anything, only saunters off towards the lunch room, where he takes a seat by himself.

Allowing herself to inhale now that the trial was over, Alice tightens her fingers' grips on the straps of her bag, and walks quickly off to the girls' bathrooms, where she can hide in a stall, counting the seconds until the bell rings and she can be shrouded in the anonymity of the classroom.

OoO

Alice enters her empty home. The feeling of relief washes over her and cleanses the girl of her anxieties and nerves when she crosses its threshold. Blissful silence opens it's welcoming arms and she embraces it full heartedly. There is no one to judge her or condemn her here and she feels the weight of the world leave her. Her shaking stops, her sweating ceases, there are no tears of fear collecting in her eyes and she is not choking anymore.

Careful footsteps pitter patter against the carpeted steps as she retreats to her own personal sanctuary. The door closes behind her and she dumps her backpack on the ground and flings herself across the unmade bed. Rolling over, her head faces the ceiling and she stares fixedly at the light fixture that's turned off. Her mind drifts to the only person she has spoken to that day, the boy with the dead eyes. She wonders if he is like her, she wonders if she could ever make a friend of him one day despite their menial interaction.

Then she berates herself, for that line of thinking is strange and desperate. Alice may be terrified but she knows not to open herself up and willingly invite disappointment that will find her on its own.

She feels something pressing against her chest most days, that indescribable sensation of isolation that grips and tears at her until she's suffocating and crying into her pillow because she can't muster the courage to scream. There's a world out there, and it's begging her to join it, but she is unable as every time she leaves her house she wants to curl up and wither away. She is chained by her own paranoia and delusions, but she can hear the siren call of normalcy. She's a battered person and a broken soul and sometimes she rocks back and forth at night, unable to get to sleep, and digs her nails into her head so sharply the ability to feel disappears. It drives her to madness and she craves companionship, any sort of personal relationship, so she knows that she does in fact exist and isn't some phantom drifting through smoke and mirrors each and every day. But the real world tends to disappoint, and she finds herself coated in rejection and shunned by contempt. This reaction wounds her far more deeply than the sting of seclusion ever could, and she learns to resist the tempestuous desire for reality.

Alice will always be alone, because that is the only time she is ever okay.

But she hates herself for it.

Such a creature cannot exist.