The Return of Alice

Chapter One: The Great Escape

She stared into the mirror.

For the past thirty years, the thing had haunted her. It was hidden away in her attic, up the creaky stairs, through the heavy trap door, across the junky piles of clothing and packing crates. But still, it lingered in her thoughts, always burning in the back of her mind. Maybe it would have been better to have left it downstairs above the mantle. In the half-lit mustiness of the attic, it seemed all the more mysterious; and when she could not see it, she thought of it all the more.

Now, the only light in the attic was a single candle, burning to a nub on a chest behind her. She saw its dim point get lower and dimmer as she watched; she put out a hand to touch the reflection, and it disappeared.

She felt a thrill when she touched the mirror, a shiver of remembrance that trickled up her arm and down her spine and made her catch her breath. Slowly, she moved her hand across the glass, across her own reflection. Her fingers were light on the pane, pink-nailed tips brushing along it. As she caressed the reflection, a tear beaded in her eye and softly ran down her cheek.

She reached up and traced the tear's image, following it down the mirror with her finger. Another tear followed, then one from the other eye.

As she cried, she took her hand from the mirror and slowly touched her own face. Her eyes were still fixed on the reflection as she wiped away a tear, shaking a little. She moved slowly and stiffly, as if hypnotized, transfixed by her own image.

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