Wonder-land

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story of a little girl and her mother, both lost.

Submitted: December 12, 2011

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Submitted: December 12, 2011

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Alice stood in the doorway to her bedroom, proud of her work. The little girl spent all day cleaning, organizing her stuffed animals (she called them stuffies), and making sure everything was spic and span. She got so excited when she heard that her mom was coming to visit.

“Don’t get your hopes up,” her grandma told her. But why not? She couldn’t help herself. She put on her cutest little pink dress. It had daisies on it, did her mom like daisies? She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about her mom, not really. She would see her every now and again, the occasional birthday or the drunken rampage. But Alice never remembered the bad memories, only the good ones. Like the time that her mom came into her room in the middle of the night, her breath reeking of alcohol, just to pass out in bed with her. She was gone by the time Alice woke up. She didn’t remember that her mom was drunk when she visited; she only remembered that she had visited. And now she would visit again. 

Now that her room was clean, she didn’t want to play in it. She wanted everything to be perfect when her mom arrived. All of her toys were neatly packed away in her red Mickey Mouse toy chest. Her bed was neatly made, wrinkles smoothed out of her candy-apple red comforter. She stood staring at the picture of her mom holding her when she was a baby. Her mom was only 15, and she had long, blonde, curly hair. Just like Alice. She idealized her mother. The picture was hanging above her bed in a blue picture frame. Dust covered the picture and made it just as blurry as Alice’s memories regarding her mom.

Now it was time to play the waiting game. She didn’t want to watch TV in her room; she’d mess up the bed. Her grandma was reading in the living room, so that was out. Well, her mom said that she would be there around after lunchtime, and it was 2 in the afternoon. She went through the living room to go outside and wait.

“Alice, just where do you think you’re going?” her grandma Debbie asked.

“I’m just gonna wait outside for mom.”

“Maybe you should just go play, I don’t want you waiting outside all day.”

“I won’t be out there all day, she said she’d be here after lunch.”

“We don’t live in a safe enough neighborhood for a 6 year old to be sitting outside.”

Her grandma wasn’t so much concerned about Alice sitting outside; she could easily watch her out the window. She was more concerned about how long Alice would have to wait. She should have never mentioned that her mom planned to visit. She knew better. She was too caught up in her own life to keep track of her daughter’s feelings. Debbie didn’t know where she went wrong with her daughter. She disciplined her when she deserved it, loved her when she needed it. But she always had this hunger about her, this longing to find herself. She didn’t care who she hurt in the process. Getting knocked up at 15 should have humbled her, forced her to live for somebody other than herself. But she signed her rights over to her mom the minute Alice was born. She had her whole life ahead of her, and she knew that Debbie wouldn’t turn her back on a helpless little girl. Debbie wasn’t even sure who Alice’s dad was, so she took full custody. If he was like any of the other guys her daughter navigated towards then Debbie didn’t want him anywhere near her granddaughter.

“Grandma, PLEASE!” Alice begged, snapping Debbie out of her thoughts.

“Go ahead. Just stay on the porch where I can see you.”

Alice ran out that door so fast, the wind created from the door opening turned the page on her grandma’s book. She sat on the porch steps in front of the house, and waited. She watched the cars drive by, anxiously waiting to see if any of them would pull into the driveway. At five O’clock her grandma came outside and sat down next to her.

“Come on inside bug, I’ll watch out the window for you and let you know if she shows up, ok?”

Alice looked out at the street, hoping with all of her heart that her mom would pull into the driveway. But she didn’t.  She looked up at her grandma.

“Five more minutes?” She pleaded.

“Ok, just come inside when you’re ready.”

Her grandma got up and went inside. She watched her granddaughter as she stared at all of the cars driving by, knowing that none of them were her mother. It was heartbreaking. She tried calling Alice’s mom 3 times now, but not one answer. Typical.

Debbie heard the door squeak open, and saw the sad little girl that came through it. She couldn’t find the words to make this right. Nothing could make this right.

 

***

Julie woke up at around noon and decided that she didn’t have enough energy to get out of bed. She had a terrible hangover. One of the perks of working at a bar is that you got tons of free drinks, especially when you were as beautiful as Julie. Her grey eyes were so seductive she never really had to pay for anything, even rent. She always just lived with the person she was seeing, this week it happened to be John. He was the manager at the bar she worked at, that’s how they met about three months ago. She had just broke up with Mark and needed to job. The moment she saw John, she was a goner. He had those blue eyes that made her weak in the knees, and a kind of confidence she couldn’t resist. She flirted her ass off and let it slip that she had no place to stay, next thing you know she was staying with him.

It wasn’t the best place to live, it was pretty empty and in a horrible neighborhood; the kind of neighborhood that you drive 20 miles out of your way to avoid. But she didn’t really need a bunch of stuff, and the neighbors had good drugs. So she coped. John didn’t make much money at the bar, or at least not enough to support their habits, so he sold drugs on the side. John was addicted to meth, though he’d never call himself an addict. He said that he could quit any time he wanted, but Julie doubted that. She would do anything that she could get, with no particular preference. The only thing she craved, really, was liquor. He must be making a drop now; the house was too quiet. She hated silence. She went out to the living room to watch TV. She sat down on the old yellow sofa, the only piece of furniture in the room. The TV sat on a tray across the room from the couch. She didn’t really watch it, but the sound helped her fall back to sleep.

She woke up to the door slamming. John was home. She sprang up from the couch, assessing whether or not he was in a bad mood. She didn’t talk to him when he was in a bad mood. He got so paranoid when he was using, it was best to let him rant and leave him be. He sat down next to her.

“You should clean yourself up, you look like a god damn mess,” he told her. His words didn’t hurt her anymore, she was used to his insults. “Why don’t you straighten your hair from now on? I’m tired of that curly mess.”

She hated her hair straight. It took forever to get it that way, then it frizzed up when she got too hot. It wasn’t worth it. Besides, she got way more compliments about her hair when it was curly. It was something about her that was different, and she liked that. Julie didn’t have a clue what kind of person she was, but she knew that her curly hair defined her in a way that she liked. It made her unique.

“Maybe I’ll invest in a good straightener, then I’ll do it more often,” she lied. She had no intention of buying a straightener.

“Whatever. Go get ready for work. Hurry up though, I’m not gonna wait all day.”

She went to the bathroom to take a shower. The tub was so old that it had a brown tint to it. She hurried as fast as she good to get ready, for some unknown reason she had already pissed off John. She threw on a pair of jeans and a black tank top, took a couple shots of cheap vodka and told John she was ready.

They drove to work in silence. She didn’t like talking to him when he was like this, and he thought she was trash when he was in one of his moods.

She started drinking the second she got to work, sneaking shots of Kettle One when nobody was looking. After a couple hours she was trashed.

“Hey Julie,” the other bartender greeted her. She was a young red head working her way through college. John had a thing for her, and made no effort at hiding it, grabbing her ass every chance he got. Julie tried hard not to resent her for that, but she did.

“Hey Tracy, how’s it going?”

“Good, I think I failed my English exam, but oh well. How’s your daughter, you saw her today, right?”

Oh shit. Julie completely forgot about her daughter. She told Debbie that she would stop by after lunch. She forgot all about it, that’s what happens when you make plans drunk. She grabbed John’s keys from behind the counter.

“I’ve gotta go,” she mumbled to Tracy as she ran out of the bar.

She drove John’s car all the way across town to Debbie’s. She didn’t take count of the fact that she was wasted, or that it was midnight. She screeched into the driveway and stumbled out of the car.

“Alice!” she yelled as she pounded on the door. She knocked for a solid 5 minutes before the front door flew open. Debbie was standing there in her purple robe. Her long, grey hair was ruffled, telling Julie that she had woken her up. And she didn’t look happy.

“You’re a little late, don’t you think Julie?”

“I wanna see my daughter. Alice!”

“She’s sleeping, and I’m not letting her see you like this. You’re drunk Julie, go home.”

Just then Julie saw her daughter, staring out of the living room window, crying. What was she doing? She was a terrible mother. She always said that she would get her life together and raise Alice herself, but that never happened. This was her life. She was drunk on a front porch, waking up her child in the middle of the night. She started to feel incredibly stupid. Debbie looked at her the same way John did, like she was trash.

“You need some help, Julie. You’re daughter waited for you all day on this porch. You need to take a long, hard look at your life kiddo, this is no way to live.” Debbie slowly shut the door in Julie’s face. She stared into the window as Debbie grabbed Alice, still bawling.

Julie drove about a block before she decided she wasn’t ok to drive. She was hysterical. She couldn’t believe that her life had come to this. She wanted to be there for her daughter, she didn’t want to hurt her like this. She pulled into an abandoned parking lot. She stared out the window for a while, thinking to herself that she had never been this empty. Or maybe she was always this empty, but she was now fully aware of it.

She woke up a few hours later, hungover with dry tears all down her face and the smell of vodka radiating from her. She started driving. She drove for about two hours. She got out of the car at a big, brick building and signed herself into Sunny Hills rehab center.

***

6 months later

Julie walked out of Sunny Hills rehab center after 3 months. They told her she was healed, for the most part. She had found the lord. Rehab has this way of replacing one addiction with another, that’s why most recovering alcoholics are addicted to Jesus. She worked while she was at Sunny Hills, saving up enough money to get an efficiency apartment. She still had that hunger in her, this driving need to find herself. She was so lost, and no matter how hard she tried she would always be self- absorbed. She made an effort to see her daughter more, but in all honesty her visits were few and far between. Julie started dating Lucas, another bad boy. She stayed sober, but her life was madness. She would always be a wanderer, no matter how hard she tried to stay grounded.

And Alice? She loved her grandmother more than anything, and that was enough for her to handle the fact that her mom was never going to be there for her. She could only learn from her mistakes. She turned to her stuffies, dolls, and imagination to keep her company in times of loneliness. Alice wasn’t sure what kind of person she would turn out to be, but she knew one thing; she would wander as much as she had to in order to find herself, but she would find herself.  


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