I lay there on my bed. The pillow lay by my side, not under me. The position was uncomfortable with my head slightly squashed against the head of the bed, but I didn’t want to move. The clock ticked 1:30 A.M and I noticed how quiet it was. I could hear the noisy static that seems to fill your ear when you are locked in the car, with the engine turned off, maybe waiting for your friend who has stopped to pick something up from the roadside shop.
I had been wondering the past few days, and I continued to wonder before midnight. Midnight would welcome the next day, the day I had popped out of a vagina eighteen years ago. My parents were excited to say the least, and I was not. I was waiting- waiting to die- since…I had lost track of how long. It all seemed worthless. Nothing seemed to make any sense. All through high-school, I had had one thought of escaping. But the journey between high-school to college, and the following year had taught me that becoming an adult wouldn’t mean a thing.
Sure, I get to drive- legally, and drink- again, legally. But seriously? We all have this silly fantasies and a picture in mind, of how we would grow up to be. Tall, if you have height issues, slim, if you have weight issues, and confident, if you’re socially awkward. I guess we continue to do that our entire life, don’t we? We somehow think that the person in the future is someone different- us, but capable of great change. I don’t think that image ever really resurfaces into reality.
People don’t really miss their childhoods. For most, they suck. But the human mind possesses the uncanny ability to wipe out the bad and back up the good. And in the face of ever present struggles to survive in the big bad world, childhood seems like complete bliss.
So, as I lay there contemplating and drowning in self-pity, I realised that it had been midnight and it had long past, but no parents had burst in to wish me, neither had my phone buzzed with any courtesy calls or messages. It seemed highly unlikely that people had finally understood my desire to be left alone.
But no, as I opened the door and looked into the hallway, my parents were sound asleep, with no light seeping underneath their door, sans any noises leaking out to disturb the stillness of the imaginary static filled air.
The idea that they might have forgotten- or understood me- for once in 18 years, was ridiculous to the point of hysteria.
I checked my phone: no calls or notifications. Strange, I thought as the screen locked again. But something pinched me, and I did the customary double-take to check the time as I hadn’t been paying attention the first time. First world problems.
The time was midnight. That was it. The digital dial displayed 00:00, so did the other alarm apps. The social media posts reloaded on refreshing, refusing to display any new ones after midnight. My watch, on the other hand, still displayed 01:35 A.M. Curiouser and curiouser.
I dialled my best friend, and the call sounded the connecting tone. About two minutes later, it was still sounding the tone. I hung up and tried again with the same result. This was not right. I didn’t want to wake up my parents, after near threatening them to conserve my peace of the auspicious day of my being expelled from a birth canal. I had no choice but to sit down and try to text someone on an online messenger, hoping they would be awake to read that. I don’t know what good that’d do, except maybe reassure me of my sanity.
The net was working fine and the search results loaded up pretty fast. I logged onto Facebook and started a chat with a friend to appeared to be online, only to have my message not get through. Had I turned into some sort of a signal repelling device? A gift of congratulations on reaching adulthood by mother nature? Oh great, I sighed frustratedly. What was I going to do with my life without any wi-fi or telephonic contact with the world?
I looked up to stare at the wall and did a double take as soon as I looked away. Double taking, up till now, seems to be the highlight of my adult life. Two of my bedroom walls are striped horizontally with blue and alternating white. I had had it done on a whim when I had suddenly found myself obsessed with the whole navy theme. The bars- the navy ones- seemed to be getting lighter and hazier. I watched amazed as the blue quickly blended into the white, leaving the whole stretch of wall completely blank. But I could see it was not just in monochrome now, it was a passage entrance, leading to somewhere stunningly white.
I sat there in shock, unmoving. I was still sitting staring at the wall, probably drooling by now, when I saw a shape growing on the wall. I blinked rapidly, I cleared my blurry vision to realise that it was something coming from the passage, into my room.
Immediately panic kicked in; I couldn’t just let someone waltz in into my room at 2 A.M in the morning! But pardon me, for I didn’t know how to block a wall that had turned into a doorless entrance autonomously.
The shape neared and neared, walking at a brisk pace, but never really reaching near enough to make their first step into my room. Must be a long hallway, I wondered. Too bad, I couldn’t block it, seeing as I had so much time.
Now the shape almost seems here, and I see that it is shaped like a rabbit. The rabbit is light rose pink, the only shade of pink I can bear. Wait, no, not quite. There is only the outline of a rabbit, it has no inner fillings.
So, what looked more like a bad, hasty drawing, the artist remembering only to draw in a colourful outline, of a walking rabbit comes into my room and looks down at me. Well, yeah, I’ll admit people who have met me wouldn’t call me tall. They wouldn’t even call me average. I am a tiny thing 5 feet 1 inches tall, weighing 95 pounds. But this rabbit was huge! It must near six feet by pretty close.
It stares down at me, and I stare up at it (probably still drooling), when it starts to speak. And, at this point I am not surprised one bit.
“M’lady,” he says (I conclude a he because of the masculine drone of a humanoid male voice) “If you could please follow me.” The voice sounds to me, and I have no way to trace it back to his face for he has none.
I continued to stare at him- Oh, come on, tell me what you would’ve done!?- when he extended his empty rose outlined paw towards me. I raised my left hand on default and placed it into his big paw , and as expected, felt air below my hand before it went right through the empty space.
“Oopsie there!” he exclaimed and turned around to walk into the blank wall. He took a few steps forward and momentarily turned back to see if I was following. I was not. I had merely stood up from my bed and was marvelling if I were actually dreaming, when he bowed me towards the white passage.
I had no choice, I had never seen such a well behaved rabbit, you see. So I obligingly walked into the white, with him following me.
The “factory” was behind the door at the end of the passage. The rabbit bowed me in again, and I fought my hesitation and walked in swiftly. All the things in the factory were nothing new, all that we find everywhere; stuff you would expect in regular factories. Too big machines, cranes and steam rollers.
What was different about this place though, was the stuff the factory seemed to “manufacture”. At the beginning of a long and rather dangerous looking chain connected to a pulley, several objects were being loaded on it. These objects reminded me a lot of The Rabbit towering next to me. They all ceased to exist, just like him, without their colourful outlines.
I watched in a tinge of shock and a healthy dose of wonder as the objects moved ahead on the chain and headed towards a covered unit from which sounds of clashing metal and colourful sparks excited. I felt scared for what was in store for the animated cushions, toothbrushes, dogs and lions. But they seemed careless as can be, playing with each other. The lion seemed to nuzzle the top of the dog’s head, more like the outline of his head, while the toothbrush brushed off imaginary burrs off the cushion.
They moved into the covered unit and I rightly panicked for a second as similar sounds sounded and the sparks seemed wilder this time. A giant Teddy Bear, complete with outline and filling, rushed towards the end of the covered space with a cage in hand. A life-size Barbie appeared out of nowhere with a collar in hand. The Teddy Bear quickly stuffed the very real, very heavy lion into the cage as he sounded a roar. I trembled a bit, as the Barbie, unnerved, placed the collar into a friendly, wiggly tailed dog. The toothbrush sat comatose on the cushion which seemed to have lost all its life.
The rabbit nudged me a bit, and I remembered where I was. I looked up at the empty giant next to me and felt like a little child, released to the ground, to explore the world outside the cradle for the first time. I was filled with awe at slight fear. The bed seemed so far away now.
“If you have any questions, I would be delighted to address them” my guide talked slightly above the general sounds of the factory.
I open my mouth for the first time to speak. “What is this place?” I asked The Rabbit. My voice shook a bit.
“What do you think?” is all he asked me. “The Queen will be ready to speak with you shortly. Please make yourself at home till then.” He drew out a boxed object, which was thankfully filled inside and out, and I assumed it was for me to sit on. The rabbit quietly observed me and then walked away. I started to call out to him, but the Barbie glided between us for a split second, and when she had passed, a another collar in hand, my guide was gone.
So, I settled into my upturned boxy chair and watched the bizarre machine at work as it changed the happy, gay outlined animations into your average lifeless stereotypical objects.
After what had seemed like hours, “The Queen” had called for me, bringing The Rabbit into the factory where I was still seated, hooked to the machine at work. He directed me forward to the other end of the factory and spun a blue tiny delicate looking dial with golden symbols on it. The passage in front of us changed with each turn of the dial until a well lighted passage with polished marble floors came up. The rabbit bowed me in, and I had walked just a few barefeet soundless steps, when I realised his lack of presence behind me. The passage had intricate carvings on the walls, that reminded me of a cathedral, and I walked out into a similar gigantic room at the end of the passage. The layout of the hall, with the continued carvings the frostily painted high windows screamed church, until the throne in front came into view with The Queen sitting on it.
I say The Queen, because, a) throne and crown, duh, and b) She introduced herself as The Queen on spotting me. No, kidding aside, her robe was exquisite with many embroidered beauties woven into it. As I neared her in a trancelike state, she stood up from her throne and came down the platform to meet me. I instantly froze when she started walking towards me and considered making a run for it. I knew the way back- maybe I would make it without her guards catching me. But, I have always been an overthinker and my time was up, with the choices gone.
“Welcome to my kingdom, Creatio Ex Nihilo. You must have realised what we are all about by now- what I govern and what I stand for. Do you have any idea why you are here?” She asked me with an eyebrow cocked up. She was very intimidating, I guess a quality all queens shared.
“I do not, have any idea as to why I find myself here.” I started off looking at her, “And as to what this kingdom is all about, I am guessing manufacturing stuff for supply to earth?”
I knew how ridiculous I sounded, and I hoped half heartedly that she would start laughing and say that it was all a big charade, and that this was a haunted house of some sort. But no, she nodded gravely before starting to explain;
Creatio Ex Nihilo is my kingdom of creation. I have created it all- the trees, the sea, the people, and the species that inhabit the planet earth. Everything is my creation, and no object that has once excited my realm and entered earth, has ever come back. Which brings us to you. You are the first human, or rather the first of my creation in several million years to come back to your birthplace.”
“Why, you might ask. All that I have created has a record back here. A branch, if you will, that adds to the family tree. All the branches are quiet and stowed away safely in Familia Arbore, but your branch…your branch didn’t stay quiet. Your branch has been shaky from the day it sprouted. It was extremely frustrating to watch, and I feared that I was doing a faulty job, so you have been monitored, your life and your feelings, to understand what could be causing your branch this misery. The only conclusion I could reach after years of watching, is that you desired change to an extent that was painful.”
“The bond that connected your branch with your earthly form, was tortured by this want. I have never seen anything like it before. You’re here to observe, you’re here to understand, and you’re here to ask me for the change that you feel the ardent need for. I can’t have a member of my family upset. I am a just Queen, who cares for her family dearly.
“You are the creator of all things. So you’re God?” was all I could ask her at this point.
The Queen laughed and her laughter, I noted sounded of tinkling bells in a hazy summer afternoon. Present, but never quite traceable to the source.
“God. There is none. You’re all my creation, but god? Is solely your creation. I think of myself as a Queen who makes the kingdom, the governing is left to you all. And I have to say that it is disappointing, seeing you all. It’s like the kids I start out with, possess all the common sense in the world, then as you grow, you banish your thinking poweress into one narrow lane that everyone follows. You were all created to be different. There are infinitely many colours if you try, and each of you were outlined with a different colour to start with. When your organs filled in, the your blood started to flow in the womb, you all filled in the same way, more or less. But those different shades continue to exist in you. You all were meant to shine in a brilliant shower of unique. I grieve to see how few have managed to sense the magic of their shade.”
“Why me?” I asked her confused, “Why does my branch feel?”
The Queen seemed to quieten at this question of mine. She silently glided back to her throne and seated herself. “You were not created by me.” she whispered. “My daughter made you.”
“Your daughter? Did she do something differently?” I enquired excitedly now.
The Queen seemed to sink into her throne guiltily. I realised she felt responsible for her daughter’s creation. For me.
“Cecilia was very enthusiastic about my work back when she was but a kid. I was careful to let her sketch only pre-planned objects. Everyday stuff like beds, tables, pens and pencils… She wanted to draw big- important creations, if you will. I never got why humans struck her fancy. She was determined to sketch in a human, maybe it was the variety that appealed to her. She didn’t understand that everything that exists comes from up here” The Queen tapped at her right temple. “She could have created anything new, but no, she was stuck on a human, and so she created you without my knowledge, and tried to send you off to the earth. But that girl could think different, she sketched your outline with traditum magicae.”
I stared back lost now. What magic did she create me with??
“Traditum magicae, Alicia, is our magic that only we have power over. I rarely put that to use. In fact, I have used it just twice!”
I started to ask one of the many questions that had made way into my head, when The Queen raised her hand to stop me.
“She managed to wield her magic and sketch your outline using every shade that has ever existed. You bear the burden of being everything at once, Alicia. That is why your branch trembles, that is why your very being begs for change. You have every shade imaginable, and then more. This is a curse and a gift. Your infinite shades show you all that the world could have been, and how that all has been led to waste.”
The rabbit bowed me in, and I entered my room. My watch reads 4:20 A.M and the wall clock reads the same.
“Why did the time stop, might you explain?” I turned back to The Rabbit who still stood by the entrance.
“Time never stops, it continued to move while just for once, you ceased to exist here, while you travelled to Creatio Ex Nihilo. Now you’re back to where you belong for good.” said The Rabbit obediently.
“Thank you for this wonderful journey. This turned out to actually be a memorable birthday. Plus, no one got to wish me!” I smiled at the hollow rabbit gleefully.
The rabbit gave me an awkward salute and bowed to me, before starting towards the white. As the shape grew smaller, faint lines started to appear on the walls, soon turning into the alternating blue stripes that I had always loved.
As the sun on the rise touched the horizons, and the birds had just started to chirp, if you noticed very closely, you could see a woman maybe, with a large box with pretty patterns on it. She travels the earth but is quick as a whiz, make no mistake. She soars the skies and zooms in out of places, touching the hearts and clearing out the spaces. Hate, jealousy, prejudice and other monsters have a new home now, having found a way back into Pandora’s Box.
a.l. wonderland aka roo