[This is a story I wrote for a literature class during my final year at university where we were commissioned to write fan fiction blending two texts we’d studied. I picked Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Alice in Wonderland where Holly Golightly goes to Wonderland.]
30 September 2014
It was nothing at all like Tiffany’s. I shuffled forward a few feet on my hands and knees, waiting for the world to clear. Clunk went my head. Oh, golly gee damn! Not again. I grabbed the painted leg of a wooden table.
“A butt! A butt!” exclaimed an excited voice.
Where? I stuck my head out from underneath the white table cloth and saw four people sitting up to tea.
“A head! A head!” squawked an odd-looking hare in a vest and bow-tie.
“Oh, Holly, it’s you,” said Fred, adjusting his hat. He definitely looked more at home in this world now.
“Holly? Holly, Molly, golly, folly, dolly . . .” said the hare, staring into the sky.
“Freddie!” I said and launched myself at him ecstatically. I knocked the hat askew with the tag saying 10/6 on it.
“There’s no Freddie here,” said a young girl indignantly who had stayed quiet all the while. “And who are you?” I knew I hadn’t liked the look of her.
I straightened my shoulders. “My name is Holly Golightly, travelling. Sister of Fred the Hatter and general favourite. The question is who are you?”
“Oh, I’m Alice. I’m just a harmless little girl.” She looked about herself nervously.
Sure you are, I thought. I turned to the March Hare who was jabbering away and said, “Don’t you remember me? I visited Freddie—the Hatter—here some time ago. When he had just arrived.”
“. . . Polly, trolley, lolly . . .”
“Oh, March Hare, do shut up!” snapped a little mouse with very large ears who barely reached the hare’s shoulder. He glanced my way somewhat darkly—“Hi, Holly”—and continued. “I want to finish my story!”
“No one cares about your story,” said Hatter Freddie with a careless wave of his hand. “Holly, deary, it’s lovely to see you, to be sure, but you are late.”
“What time is it, brother?” I inquired politely, wiggling my nose slightly.
“Six o’clock!” proclaimed the March Hare, as he looked up from poking the Dormouse, who was drifting off to sleep again.
“Then six o’clock is the time I told you.” I winced inwardly. “And so here I am.”
“Just so!” cried Freddie with a large-toothed grin, always pliable. His head was ever so large, in keeping with his teeth, but every now and again I looked at him and got to wondering how his head didn’t fall right off. But you see, that was the magic talking again.
“But it’s always six o’clock—” This so-called Alice began to protest.
“Be a dear and make yourself useful,” I talked over her. “Fix me a cup of tea, will you?” The others turned to look at her, so she had no opportunity to refuse, which was my intention. The Dormouse, wakening suddenly, invited me to please take a seat, so I did. Although I took care to sit on the other side of my brother.
Patting my gloved hand, he said, “How’s that world of yours?”
“Just fine, but not the same without you.” Glancing in Alice’s direction, I added, “And a cigarette, please.”
“A cigarette! Why, I’m just a little girl.”
Say that one more time. “Never mind then.”
Fred’s smile faded. “Now, you haven’t a new hatter, have you? A new Fred?”
I thought of my friend. My other Fred. Our late night conversations. The patched up injuries in the bath. Then I looked at Fred’s rosy-cheeked face. Gently crossing the fingers of my hand under the table I said, “Never.” And in a way it was true. Fred. Sally. Sid. Doc. Rusty. They were all the same. They were all ‘darling’. They were all Fred. A sip, a sniff, a puff, and I could escape to my true heart.
Wonderland. Utopia. Neverland. Different people called it different things. I’d come here today because of a particularly bad case of the mean reds. It was a Sunday afternoon and Tiffany’s was closed.
I focussed back in to the conversation, where Alice was trying (and failing) to guess a riddle the others had posed.
“I give it up,” said Alice. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” Fred replied.
“Nor I,” agreed the March Hare and laughed deliriously to himself.
“I don’t like things that don’t make sense!” said Alice. “Nothing here does. I think you might do something better with your time than wasting it.” Ignorant girl. Time was a he. Everyone knew that.
“Such a long time since I’ve seen Time,” I said dreamily, because I knew it would irritate Alice. “I wonder what he’s up to?”
“This is all very infuriating,” said Alice, seeming proud to have used such a big word. Bravo.
“You,” I pinned her to her chair with a stare, “are very infuriating. Nonsense. Time standing still. These are just the facts of life. Sometimes he gets tired. A raven is like a writing desk is like a staircase is like a tea cup full of imagination and a hard kick up the backside. From Life.”
She gazed at me in terror, no doubt wondering if I really meant Life, or someone else altogether. I kept her guessing. The mean reds were making me mean today. Would Freddie be disappointed in me?
“Back to my story,” declared the Dormouse, and the others turned their attention away from me.
I touched the table cloth. This wasn’t on the table when I was here last time. The myriad stains reminded me of just how darn long I’d been away. A girl has to earn a living, after all. And magic wasn’t cheap. The trees had grown considerably, in both height and breadth, for of course a year in Wonderland is like a moment for the rest of us. More tea cups were dirty this time. And of course, the girl was a new addition. By the looks of it, she had only just arrived. Only someone who didn’t understand talked like that.
But the flowers, the way the breeze felt against my cheek, my dear brother’s hat. These were all the same, and so deliciously familiar. Such a comfort. Like running my hand along a freshly wiped glass counter at Tiffany’s and gazing at the diamonds through the reflection of my pearls. The shop was almost too dark to see sometimes with my glasses. They really ought to turn the lights up. The other four were all talking amiably at the table now. Freddie and the March Hare were busy entertaining Alice, and not really listening to the story of the Dormouse, who was nodding off to sleep again. I felt a pang as Freddie chuckled at something Alice said. Looking at her odd shaped blue dress and white apron, she seemed so strange to me. And that neck! I’d never seen one quite like it, on a human. Like someone had stretched it out with their hands. And maybe someone had.
I watched a green and red leaf as it fluttered down from a tree above, landing softly on my saucer, the stem touching the tablecloth, which was blurring at the edges. The others continued talking until a substantial piece of sky crashed down on to the middle of the table, breaking most of the china. Curiouser and curiouser, or so says the local slang. A tree fell to the ground with a mighty thud and my right hand disappeared. In a few moments everything was shaking.
Oh, dear. It appeared to be crumbling. The magic must be wearing off. “So soon?” I whispered. “Goodbye, my heart.”
“Holly, you’re leaving?” My brother’s distressed voice grew fainter and fainter. “It’s not long enough! Time said he would give us more.” Freddie began to cry, sobbing uproariously as the world continued to crumble. “Come back! He said you could stay longer this time. He promised . . .”
I heard the Dormouse’s low voice through Alice’s screams as he woke up again. “I say, is the world really falling down about our ears, or am I mad?”
The March Hare shrugged, taking a sip from his empty tea cup. “We’re all mad here.”
Image: http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/tenniel/alice/7.1.html, accessed 27 August 2017.