It was a Spring morning, and therefore it was raining outside Wonder Academy. The Wonder girls had been sequestered inside the school’s library to write their midterm exams, and though the library held many doors that looked out upon the courtyard, and four windows that led to other rooms, the majority of the girls were indeed focusing on their essays. All throughout the basement an observer could have seen bent heads, furrowed brows, and fervent scribbling. Only one crown of blonde hair persisted in skipping about the floor, which the observer would see if he or she watched from an aerial view, and this was Alice. The girl took her books from one chair to the next with a sense of growing frustration, for from nowhere in the library could she find relieve from the noise. The quiet gossip of rain beyond the door was decidedly vexing. Alice couldn’t see why no one else found it so.
“Alice.” The teacher called her name reproachfully after she’d tried to force herself onto the table next to Whitney, which seemed to cause the other girl annoyance. “Can’t you stop bothering your classmates?”
“I’m only looking for the best position to write from,” Alice replied immediately and honestly. “This paper is worth quite a lot.”
The teacher’s mouth flattened into a disapproving line. “Not that much, Alice, only half your term’s grade. And I should know. In any case, could you choose one spot and settle down?”
Alice’s brain busied in automatic response to the request because she was thinking of all the possible places to sit even before she’d formed the coherent idea to do so. None of the chairs here were vacant – for Alice, half of the time, preferred to work alone – and the tables were uncomfortable on one’s seat, besides. So. When at last her brain produced a pleasant result, Alice was surprised she hadn’t gone there immediately. Of course the unused wing of this building would be most perfect.
Stealthily, Alice eased through a window when the teacher appeared not to be looking. The brass knob felt stiff in her grip, but the latch closed behind her quietly enough. There were, as I’ve said, four windows that led out of the library, but two led away and not towards the abandoned location. Only one window would take Alice ‘there’ in under five minutes; she’d chosen correctly.
Alice walked into the open space of the grand foyer, and she spied the hidden staircase to the side that she needed to take, rather than the obvious main flight of shelves. Alice climbed the shelves of the staircase one at a time, laboriously, but in two minutes she’d only made it halfway to the ceiling. For her purposes she’d want to reach the upper shelves. As Alice pulled herself over some particularly perilous ledges, she sometimes cut open her hands. Once she stumbled and created a jagged scrape on her knee.
Alice cried out. The pain of the wound wasn’t great in comparison to the effect the sight of blood had on her. The sight of crimson scared the living daylights out of Alice; she’d never seen such a shocking shade of red. She seriously questioned whether this venture was worth its effort, then. Alice looked up and noted each shelf had an apparently larger gap between the next, than the last. Her reach was of a limited length. Could she even make the top shelf? The adrenaline that pumped faster in her veins had a sobering reaction in Alice. Maybe she should give up her plan as a fancy tale.
Alice put her fingers into her skirt’s wide pocket, and she encountered the pages of her composition. She had to get to the end of these shelves. The words simply wouldn’t come out for her back in the library, and the rain was no help. Almost disappointed, Alice rose from her sprawl on the wood. She wasn’t as strong as she’d thought, but this she could nonetheless do.
Eventually Alice did reach the summit of the wooden shelves, and when she did- she smiled. It was deafening among the rafters. Silence lay like a blanket among the eaves, and if she hadn’t been holding her breath each exhalation would have seemed out of place with the stillness in the air. Felinely pleased, Alice staked a corner formed by the meeting of two walls, and curled up into the little space.
“I should return to my narrative,” she said aloud, just to desecrate the sanctity of her newfound refuge a single time. No one would find Alice at this height for a considerable while; no one could disturb her and ask trifling questions about the manuscript she held in her hands. Assignments were always slow in returning to their owners, so no one able to see her work for a week after she’d finished even existed. Alice lovingly traced the title of her creation, The Looking Glass, out of a love that couldn’t be seen in her writing class.