Like Alice

She was wearing that little face that she makes when she has a Big Question to ask a Grown-Up: like she’s worried and uncertain but so curious and excited to learn the truth, all furrowed brows and wide eyes, the face that only an inquisitive six year old could make.

Auntie, what happens to all the tears when you cry? Where do they go? How do you get new tears? Are there lots of tears in your head and they fall out of your eyes when you’re sad? Can you ever run out of tears? Where do they go?

Into a tissue
The sleeve of your jumper
All over your pillow
Into the toilet bowl
Onto his shoulder
The ends of your hair
Into a box of popcorn
Onto your pet’s fur
Mixed with the bathwater
Into your glass of Chablis
Hospital floors and church floors
Down your legs and into your shoes
Onto letters and photographs
And birthday cards and newspaper articles
To the ground
To the sky
Back into your eyes

Auntie? Are you listening to me? Can you run out of tears?

Yes. No. Yes and no.
You can feel like you’ve run out of tears sometimes but trust me, there’ll be more left hiding in you somewhere for another time.

If I cry too much will the room fill up like the sea like it did for Alice when she cried too much?

No, baby, that won’t happen. You might feel like you’re drowning in your tears but I promise that the room won’t fill up and the tears will go away and you’ll be okay. I promise.

Well just in case it does happen and I don’t have a boat, I can just hide in a big bottle like Alice did!

No, don’t ever hide in a bottle. Hiding in the bottom of a bottle is for cowards. You just have to learn to keep your head up and swim as hard as you can until you’re home and dry.

“I sort of know how to swim…”

You’ll learn, sweetie, I can promise you that. And if you don’t learn on your own, I’ll teach you. I’m a really good swimmer now.

“Are you as good at swimming as a mermaid?”

I’m better.

Fun fact: whilst looking for an accompanying image I discovered that Alice fell down the rabbit hole 152 years ago yesterday, on 4th May 1865 [gif source here]

12 thoughts on “Like Alice

  1. Pingback: Like Alice |

  2. Amazing. I love how you tie in the metaphors of Alice in Wonderland both intended (drowning in a sea of tears) and maybe unintended (cowering at the bottom of a ‘bottle’). Your niece is lucky to have an aunt like you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah it always amazes me how age and mindset are interchangeable. She can be so mature and wise beyond her years, while I often revert to a childlike state when I can’t cope with reality. Things that I say to her now will (sadly) one day make sense to her once she’s experienced the vagaries of life for herself.

      Honestly I’m lucky to have her! She helps me to sort my meds into doses, and she calls my chronic alcohol/anxiety/medication induced tremors “shivers.” But she knows that I don’t have “shivers” because I’m cold but because I’m poorly. She’s such a babe.

      Fucking love Alice in Wonderland forever though – the Disney movie is arguably the greatest LSD trip of all time (but I shan’t explain that to my niece just yet) X

      Liked by 2 people

      • Haha true and true. It’s crazy to look at a kid and hear something wise, even though you know they will forget and remember that wisdom many times throughout their lives.


  3. Gordon is right your niece has some incredible influences in her life not least you and your creativity which I know will influence her in powerful ways if she lets it. She also will hopefully be one of the good lights that lifts the veil of judgement from those of us who suffer. I would have DIED to have had an aunt who was as inspirational as I know you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You write like scars, they don’t stay in the surface, they hurt, they penetrate, then they leave behind, tattoos of a time, they change you, they show when you go out in the sun. THAT is the skin of writing. Write on. Write on. Write on.


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