She grabbed my hand and forcefully pulled me into the living room. I
had never before seen her like this, she seemed possessed by a
supernatural spirit by the way she pulled me over to the couch and
pushed me down onto the cushions.
“There’s something I’m busy with at the moment, but I’ll be done
in a few minutes, so you just stay down here and enjoy yourself while
I go and finish up…whatever it is I’m doing,” Alice said, then
smiled down at me before she disappeared like an upward-shooting bolt
of lightning to the second floor of the house.
I was sitting on the couch in a daze, Alice has never treated me like
this before. Usually she was so polite and gentle, but now she seemed
like an impatient boss who didn’t have the attention span to deal
with me. But I didn’t make a big fuss about it, I simply waited in
the living room for her to come down. I stared at the pendulum clock
hanging on the wall, becoming hypnotized by the tick-tock of the
escapement. Five minutes passed and she didn’t come down, I became
worried. Shouldn’t she be down here by now? But maybe she was using
the term ‘few’ very loosely, so I decided wait for another five
I walked over to the piano and ran my fingers over the keyboard. Her
piano sounded so wonderful that I wanted to press the keys; not to
play a tune, but just any random key so I could enjoy the sound of a
note coming into being and slowly decaying away. I closed my eyes and
pressed a single finger down, a sonorous ringing reverberated
throughout the room. Opening my eyes and looking down and saw my
finger on G3, my second favorite note. It was low enough that it
didn’t sound tense, but high enough it still sounded bright. My
favorite note was E♭4, because it was the tone Alice spoke in.
“Are you practicing the piano?” Alice said, her voice
muffled by the labyrinthine passages of the house, “Just wait a
minute, I’ll be down there to help you in a minute!”
I didn’t want to practice the piano, so I said, “No, I just
wanted to listen to how the piano sounds like.”
Alice laughed and said, “You’re weird.”
I immediately walked away from the piano, I didn’t want Alice to
think of me as weird.
I waited for five more minutes, exactly five. I passed the time by
reading the Wall Street Journal (not that I have any interest in
business or economics, but it was the only reading material in the
living room beside a stack of X-men comics). After five minutes I was
frustrated with the way she was treating me,
so I carefully tip-toed upstairs to see to see what she was up to.
Despite how large her house was it was easy to find her room; it was
the one with pictures of her cat attached to the door. I could hear
her speaking, so I put my ear against the door to get a clearer sound
of her voice.
“…of course I didn’t drink, mom,” Alice said, “I
know enough that that stuff is toxic. Hehe…you did teach me well.”
It sounded like she was speaking with her mother, but I didn’t hear
her mother’s voice. Perhaps she was speaking to her over the phone.
“No MOM, that dress wasn’t slutty, it’s normal for a party. Did
you expect me to dress like a Puritan, with a buckle on my hat and a
big red letter ‘A’ on the front? I know what you think, but let me
have my life! It’s perfectly normal for me to like boys and want them
to want me… No, I don’t allow him to touch my tits…yes, I did
allow him to use tongue… No, that’s not disgusting!” At that
moment I heard a cat meowing in the background. “Oh, Midnight
wants me to feed her…yeah, we’ll have to talk later… Okay, I’ll
give you a kiss, mwah, mwah!”
I planned to walk away right after she finished talking, but she
opened the door too quickly for me to escape. The door swung open and
I fell face-first onto the floor. After I got over the pain of
planting my face on the carpet, I looked up at Alice and she was
“How long have you been listening to me?” she asked as she
walked over to me.
“Not very long, I just got here,” I said.
She grabbed my hand and helped me get off the floor, then said, “It’s
very rude to eavesdrop on other people, didn’t anyone tell you that?”
I didn’t want to look into Alice’s eyes out of shame, so I turned my
head to look at her bed.
“Don’t look at that!” Alice shouted.
But it was too late, I already saw everything lying on her bed,
especially a vase with a picture of a young woman’s face on it. And
specifically because she told me not to look at it my mind
unconsciously focused on that vase and the picture of a young woman
was burned into my brain.
Alice covered my eyes with her hands and screamed, “Turn around,
turn around! Don’t look back until I say so!” I was scared,
never before had she been so aggressive, so I obeyed her. Behind my
back she hid away that vase, I could even see which drawer she put it
away because unknown to her, I could see her reflection in the glass
cabinet facing her bed.
After stowing away the piece of pottery I wasn’t supposed to see,
Alice sighed, walked up to me. I didn’t even turn around to look at
her because I wasn’t sure she’d allow me. But I could see her face
reflected in the glass, and it was she was smiling. Her sudden switch
of mood was unsettling, I wanted to ask her what the hell she was
doing, but was afraid she would yell at me again so I didn’t.
“I see you are looking at my memento cabinet. Pretty neat, huh?”
“Memento cabinet?” I asked.
“Yeah, whenever I had a fantastic day, I would keep an item from
that day so I could relive it whenever I wanted.” She pointed to
a sand dollar on the bottom left corner of the cabinet and said,
“That was from the first time mom took me to the beach. I could
still remember the beautiful sun, the hot sand, and mom talking to
some really charming guys while in her bathing suit. At the end of
the day we found a sand dollar, Mom told me to keep it as a reminder
of the wonderful day, and I did; that’s how this cabinet started.”
She then pointed to some lacy fabric and said, “That was from
the time mom took me to Disneyland for the first time. We met Belle
and a small bit of her costume came off. We wanted to give it back
but she was too busy greeting the other visitors, so we kept it.”
I looked up and saw a picture of Alice smiling while holding a
violin, but what really caught my attention was the woman standing
beside her; she looked like the picture of the woman on the vase.
“What’s that?” I asked, pointing to that photo.
“Oh, that was when I won the talent competition at my elementary
school. I played a Mendelssohn piece, I gave an astonishing
performance. I still remember the stunned faces on the audience when
I finished, especially my mother who was sitting in the front row.
She couldn’t have been prouder of me. I still know the piece by
heart; do you want me to play it?”
I nodded, she took her violin out of its case, rubbed some rosin on
the bow, checked the tuning of the instrument, then played the piece.
As soon as the bow touched the strings Alice went to a land of pure
bliss. She looked absolutely entranced by the music she was playing,
her face and body melding with the sublime vibrations emanating from
her violin, her arms and fingers moving sensuously along with the
contours of the music. The music sounded as beautiful as the way she
moved, and I couldn’t help but be seduced by the angelic singing of
After she finished she came down from her musical nirvana she smiled
at me and asked, “What did you think? Did you like it?”
“Now I feel bad because no matter how much I practice I won’t be
as good as you.”
She laughed and said, “Don’t think that way, with practice
you’ll become good as well.”
“I doubt it, you’re just more talented than me.”
“Mom said you don’t need talent to be good at music, all you
need is a love of music and lots of practice.”
“Maybe your mom should teach me.”
“I wish she could, unfortunately she’s not around anymore.”
“That’s not a problem, she could just Skype in.”
Alice suddenly looked sad and said, “No, you don’t understand,
she’s not on Earth anymore.”
“You mean she’s an astronaut?”
Alice laughed and said, “What I’m trying to say is…she’s
living with the angels.”
“Oh,” I said in a flat voice, unsure of how to respond to
“At least that’s where I assumed she went; I can’t imagine she
went to any other place.”
“If she did go to a different place you would still be
technically correct since Satan is an angel.”
Alice was outraged, she shouted, “How dare you suggest that my
mom’s in hell!”
I was thrown off by her anger, but I kept calm and said, “Sorry,
as someone who doesn’t believe in heaven and hell, I didn’t know
someone who does would be so upset if I make a joke about it.”
“That’s okay, I don’t believe in that mumble jumble either, I
just pretend because it makes me feel better.”
There was a knock at the door and a woman saying, “Dinner’s
Alice was suddenly happy again, and said, “Would you like to
have dinner with me?” I nodded and followed her downstairs.