cherith: (Muses are Busy)
"Where did you come from?"

"That's a good question." The young brunette looks back over a shoulder at the dark forest behind her. She shrugs, "I was walking down the path through the forest..."

Alice leans to the side to get a good look around the girl, but doesn't see any path through the trees. "Well, I don't see a path."

"I know," the girls turns completely around and stares at the trees. The shadows are heavy under the snarl of twisted branches and thick leaves. She heaves a heavy sigh and fidgets with the basket over her arms.

"So why don't you tell me what happened? Maybe I can help?"

The young girl sets the basket on the ground and flops down into the grass, gathering her knees up in her arms. Alice checks around for a nice clear spot in the grass and sit facing the girl, spreading her skirt out and smoothing down her dress apron. She looks the younger girl over: her dark hair, pigtails, pretty and clean red dress. She's had a bizarre morning herself, and the confusion written on the girl's face feels much like she imagines her own must.

"This morning, my mother made a large breakfast." She points to the basket at her side. "There was too much for just she and I, so she sent me out to take the remainder to my grandmother's house."

Alice nods, listening with interest.

"Grandmother doesn't live too far, I only had to follow the path and take her breakfast." The girl's gaze darts around the clearing, continuing to look for the absent path. "But, I don't know what happened."

"Well, I am new here myself but I don't think it's unusual for this place to lose a path, or confuse a traveler." Alice gives the girl a soft smile. "I, just this morning have found myself in several strange and frustrating places."

The girl returns Alice's smile with a shy one of her own, "Truly?"

"Oh my yes. As a matter of fact, I just left a strange area covered in flowers that sang to me."

"They sang?"

"And were mildly insulting, but I cannot say I was entirely pleasant to them either."

The girl giggles but catches herself as she remembers her dilemma. The two of them sit quietly for a moment, both of them scanning their surroundings: Alice looking for any sign of the mysterious white rabbit, and the girl, hoping to spot the path to grandmother's house. Suddenly, Alice jumps up, and reaches down toward the girl, her bright blue eyes sparkling.

"I have an idea, come on!" The girl grabs Alice's hand and pulls herself up. She grabs her basket folding the handles over her free hand and waits for Alice's instruction. "So, I was coming from that direction," she gestures behind her with her free hand. "And you, appeared here right here, so you must've been coming from that direction," she points across the clearing to the forested area in front of them.

The girl nods, "I think so."

"Well, I'm sure we can't go the way I came, I haven't seen any house that looks like it belongs to a nice grandmother. And, I was headed over towards the forest anyway, so I'll go with you."

"You will?"

"Of course. Maybe, if I go with you, I can help you find your path. Maybe help you start over, find the beginning of it, so you can find your grandmother's house."

The girl nods, and the two of them set off towards the shadowed forest. As they step under the branches, the girl tightens her grip on Alice's hand. She shrugs the arm holding her basket to adjust it closer to herself. She looks up at Alice hoping to find reassurance in her her new friend's face.

"My mom told me stories about the woods. It's why I'm supposed to stay on the path."

"I understand. Don't think about those stories now, just think about the path and your grandmother's house. Maybe it'll help you find the beginning."

"Alright." The girl closes her eyes, and after a moment her grip on Alice's hand loosens. "The path is just dirt, at the end of a long road out of our neighborhood. I always like to stand at the beginning of it, because it has beautiful flowers. Bright red ones, like my cape."

"Sounds pretty."

The girls wander for several minutes through the forest. The shadows are thick, but they walk slowly, and are able to see in front of them as they go. Alice, always watchful, spots a cat high up on a tree branch once but when she stops to point it out to her young companion, it disappears. The girl thinks it's a very long time before either of them speaks. And she tries hard to think of the red flowers she always picks for her grandma where the path begins and it helps make the trip easier.

When Alice does say something, it's an exclamation "I see them! I think those are your flowers!"

It takes her a moment, but she sweeps her gaze through the darkness, and she too can make out the grouping of flowers through the shadows several yards in front of them. She drops Alice's hand and runs towards the flowers, cape billowing behind her, both hands tight on the basket to keep it closed. When she reaches the path she looks back for Alice, but sees only the road leading to her neighorhood.

Alice lets the young girl run out ahead of her thinking to catch up with her in a moment. But as she watched the girl running through the trees, Alice thought she caught another glimpse of the strange cat in the trees. When she looked back, she caught only a flash of red on the far end of another clearing. On the other side, the sun shone down on a large table with several tall wingback chairs and what looked like a mighty tea party.
cherith: (Speak my Mind)
I know it's not much, but it will have to do.  She had spent a good deal of time lately thinking that very thought. But of course, it was never about the same thing.  Couldn't be, of course.  There was far too much her to be troubled with in both good ways and bad ways.  This new particular dilemma however, was not going to sort it self out. While a great deal of the issues she had faced recently had simply vanished on their own, or been blown out to sea by an errant wind (or walrus), she know this one wasn't just going to wash away.  No devilish man in a rakish top hat was going to invite her to a carefree tea party to get her out of this mess.  And no mysterious shadowed feline would point her in any direction out of here either.  She was, above all, on her own shoulders this time.  How quickly things can change, how quickly people appear, or disappear again.  But the same, she'd come to discover, could be said about challenges as well.  Each challenge seemed to have a mind of it's very own, popping in and out when they deemed her a necessary competitor in their games.  
 
The key, she thought, is all about how quickly I can figure out the problems when they do choose to arrive.  The whole mess with the crackers and the drinks had taken entirely too long.  And then again, inside that awful house...oh how cramped it had gotten inside.  If only she could sort these things out a little sooner.  She'd already decided one of her new rules was to begin ignoring labeled food items.  Every time she chose to partake in one of them because she felt they were directing her to, she found herself in some sort of size conundrum, and that just would not do anymore.  She patted the pockets on her dress apron for reassurance.  She had kept just enough food in them in case.  Separated by which direction she might grow if needed.  But she'd rather leave those for a last resort, after all, she wasn't even sure they'd work just now.  And if they did, that would not be a solution for this particular problem, and would of course in turn, only create more.

She stared steadfastly at the mirror in front of her, and noticed while her mind wandered over her recent challenges that the mirror flickered in front of her.  She turned around to see what reflection she'd seen, but there was no one.  She though it might have only been one of her younger sisters passing between rooms in the hallway.  She hadn't been paying close enough attention to what she could see in the mirror, so she hadn't noticed exactly, but it was just as well.  If she was quick enough she could get out of the room before anyone noticed her, and be back where she wanted to be in time for tea (provided you'd forgotten that it was always teatime where she wanted to be).  The problem of course was that the mirror only reflected her parents living room now, drab furniture and cozy but colorless rugs.  Nothing so exciting as a castle with card guards, regardless of the garden rose's colors.  If it only reflected this place, could the mirror take her where she wanted, no, needed to be?  She wasn't sure now, but it was worth a try.  
 
Pulling one of her parents sturdy wooden stools over towards the fireplace, she stepped up atop it, one foot at a time, carefully making sure that her black dress shoes didn't clack against the wood as she stood up.  She could reach it now, the mirror with the large gold frame, the one she's seen her destination in so many times when her mind wandered during long photography sessions. Hesitantly, she patted her pockets again, smoothed her apron down, as well as her hair after a second thought, and reached out a nervous hand.  "The key is simple," she whispered as her hand slipped through and passed her smiling reflection, "I'm sure of it, I need to be there, and so I shall be."  
cherith: (Speak my Mind)
 It's amazing how quickly one little sound can become so bothersome.  It's all about repetition, and even the smallest, quietest, most pleasant sound if repeated often enough at regular intervals can become an nuisance.  My party companions seems to take no notice of it, although I do dare to think it could be this very noise that has put them in their current predicament.  The first, the one that invited me to this dreadful party in the first place continues rattling on about the wonders of his hat, occasionally pausing in his soliloquies to jot down a note in the small spiral notebook he's keeping in the breast pocket of his jacket.  His hat is indeed very wonderful, but I have already learned my mistakes about remarking on such a fine hat, although I cannot help but admit that the quality and size of his hat seems far above what I imagine his station to be.  I cannot imagine him among society trying to pass of that hat as his own.  And indeed, if he were to try and wear that hat where I come from, I'm quiet sure he would be laughed right back home again.
 
Our second companion, of equal size and stature as the first, but far furrier and with enormous ears - far larger than any I've seen previously - is chatting consistently with our third companion, unlikely friends they make. They do both share a sense of timidity our first friend in the hat cannot claim, but that does not make their friendship anymore likely.  I tried to listen to their conversation, and contribute once or twice, but they seem happiest when left to chat amongst themselves.  However, of the four of us, I seem the only one continually bothered by the soft chiming and clinking noises made by the fine china tea cups and saucers and the sparkling silver spoons that are scattered and stacked all over the enormous dining table.  Each time one of us moves even in the slightest, it sets off a chain reaction of tinkling noises that fills the entirety of space around us, a great accomplishment when dining and taking tea out-of-doors.  To be honest, I cannot decide what is driving me more mad, the noise, or that I am the only one that seemed bothered by it in the slightest.  And then, because of a silly watch it's only moments before we all get up and move 'round the huge table, finding new chairs and settling the whole cacophony off all over again.
 
It's difficult to decide, but when I realize I've stopped counting the number of times I've gotten up to move around the table to find a new seat, I know it's time to move on.  I try to mention the noise to the others at the table, but it seems like the sound itself is against me, and there's a clattering of saucers and spoons, or the lids to little pots of sugar each time I start to say something about it.  Other comments come off quite well, but none of them notices as I struggle to get the words out, or even bothers to have me repeat what the clamor overshadows.  Really, it's for my own sanity that I finally stand, in-between chair rotations, dust my dress apron of crumbs and errant sugar, and say my goodbyes.  They do not ask why I must go, only agree that it is time, and it's not until I'm over the next hilltop that my ears are finally free of the noise.  I ponder the strange afternoon tea party as I make my way down the next lane, and it becomes quite clear I am correct in my assumption about how those three went mad.  You only need to spend a few moments in their company, straining to hear anything over the chiming of the dishes to realize that it's the sound that's driven them over the edge. 

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