Continuing Tales

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 1 of 48

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Alice Kingsleigh tried to keep down the coughing fit that was threatening to erupt from her chest. After three years at sea, with nothing but the smell of salt water and tar, the smoggy, smoky, oppressive air of London was clogging her poor lungs.

Hong Kong, as busy and up and coming as it was couldn't even compare. At least the port city had been bright and colorful, not the grey, drab, thing that London was. Even in the seamstress's shop here in Piccadilly Circus, with its bright silks and satins, was dull compared to China.

And yet, even China was colorless compared to …


Alice jumped in her seat on the settee. Startled from her impending day dream, she searched for the owner of the agitated voice. As expected, it came from her mother.

Helen Kingsleigh hadn't changed much in the three years Alice had been gone. She still sat ramrod straight, her hair grey-blonde was still gathered into a sleek bun, and still had warm blue eyes albeit with a few more wrinkles.

Right now though, those blue eyes were accompanied by an annoyed frown.

"Really now Alice, I would have thought after three years in the sea air would have cleared your head of frivolous fancies."

This new voice belonged to her sister Margaret, who had changed quite a bit. Particularly around the middle. Margaret was now expecting her second child, having given birth to little Andrew Edgar Manchester a year previous.

"Quite the contrary Margaret. The sea air happens to have a habit of blowing my fancies around my head at an accelerated rate." Alice quipped back.

Margaret laughed aloud and Helen's frown lessened as amusement took over. The seamstress however, cleared her throat in irritation.

"Miss Kingsleigh, if you would please make a selection on the fabric of your dress." She huffed.

"Right, sorry. What would you recommend?" Alice queried, trying to appease the woman.

"Well with your fair coloring, this one might be nice to make you stand out. Plus bold colors are the mod right now."

Alice looked down at the fabric and flinched. It was a deep crimson red, embroidered with black and white hearts. Alice's mind went to another time, another place. A woman in red, with hearts all around her. Hearts that symbolized danger and evil.

"Alice?" Her mother's voice was concerned. Alice looked to her, trying to school her face into a calm mask, but failed miserably to hide her distaste.

"Perhaps something in blue?" Margaret recommended helpfully. Alice turned to beam at her. Yes, blue was much more preferable. Blue was soft, blue was peaceful, blue was well … her!

"If you wouldn't mind Madame?" Helen Kingsleigh inquired firmly. The woman huffed and stalked back to the silk room. Alice tried and failed to smother her laugh. She felt Margaret shaking silently beside her.

"Girls." That single spoken word made both young women fall silent. Alice couldn't help smiling though. She was twenty-two now and Margaret was twenty-six and a mother to boot herself, yet one word from Helen Kingsleigh commanded them both to be quiet as mice.

Then again, quiet was not the word Alice would use describe all mice. Church mice most assuredly, but if the mouse happened to brandish a hatpin sword and insist on plucking out eyeballs …

"Miss Kingsleigh!" Once again Alice was pulled from her day dream by an irritated voice, this time the seamstress. Alice grinned sheepishly at the woman.

Without another word, the lady threw down several bolts of blue fabric. She then moved to the corner and crossed her arms to await their inspection.

Alice and Margaret began sorting through the fabrics, occasionally making comments but mostly examining everything in silence. Until …

"Alice…" Margaret's voice was breathless. Alice turned to see what had enraptured her sister and felt the breath leave her body.

In Margaret's hands was the most perfect silk Alice had ever seen. It was a beautiful sky blue and embroidered delicately with darker blue butterflies. The fabric called seem to call out to her and without completely realizing Alice gathered it into her arms, cradling it as though it was precious babe.

She felt herself choke up. Here before her was a reminder of a promise she had yet to keep, of the place that held her heart. Still, after three years at sea and now a full week back in London, she wasn't able to speak of it out loud, even to herself. Instead she turned to the seamstress and held the cloth out gently.

"This one please." She whispered. The seamstress, whom she expected to be exasperated merely nodded. Perhaps the woman had a sense of what Alice was going through but that didn't really matter.

"Please Madame Seamstress; please make it your best work to date." She couldn't help adding. Alice swayed slightly as the silk passed out of her arms. Margaret was already flipping through a pattern book and didn't notice her sister's odd behavior, but Helen certainly did.

"Alice darling? Are you alright?" Helen kept her voice down, not wishing to draw attention to her youngest child's apparent distress.

"Forgive me Mother, but I find myself feeling light headed. I think I need a little fresh air." Helen Kingsleigh felt alarmed. Alice was never given to fainting spells and had never looked so lost before. She gently reached for her daughter's hand and squeezed it.

"Of course dear. Go. Take a walk down the lane. Margaret and I will meet you at Cormack's Bookstore in a bit." Alice simply nodded, seized her reticule, and fled the shop. Helen could only gap at her hasty retreat.

Once outside, away from the swirl of blue fabric, Alice closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She hoped that the scent of the sooty air would ground her back in the present, but to no avail. Her mind could only think of THERE and not HERE. Trying to run from her thoughts, she set off down the lane. Still her thoughts chased her.

Stupid girl…

Not hardly…

Alice! At last!

Her thoughts consuming her, Alice squeaked in surprise after bumping into a gentleman loaded with boxes that were sent flying. Flinging out apologies and desperately trying to help gather up the over turned articles; Alice suddenly realized that the boxes were more than boxes. They were hat boxes. Alice slowly stood up and turned to face the shop window. It was a haberdashery shop and there in the window sat a handsome mahogany top hat with an emerald band. It was not THE hat and yet …

Be back again before you know it!

You won't remember me.

Of course I will. How could I forget?

Alice pressed her fingers to the cool glass and willed the words from her mouth.


Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 1 of 48

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