August 9th, 2013
I started to cry. I had to close the journal and go to sleep before I woke Auntie Bee. It’s all so frustrating, Hatter. I want to spend every waking moment with the rabbit, but he has a life, too. He has friends. All I have are him and Aunt Beatrice. I think he’s growing annoyed with me. You know, like when I used to bug you to play Barbies with me when we were little. ‘Please, Hatter, play with me, only for an hour, please?’ I’m doing the same thing with the rabbit. I’ve stopped calling him. He calls me everyday anyway, but…I still feel horrible. To talk to him, I mean. To waste his time. I know, I know. I need to stop thinking everyone hates me. But it’s just so hard. It’s so difficult to think, hey, maybe this person actually cares; maybe they actually want to spend time with me. But…I don’t think so. I never think so. It’s impossible, impossible. For me to think so.
I know you must be excited to read these letters from me. You will probably get them days apart, perhaps even weeks—but you’ll be excited, nonetheless. I know you. You love a juicy secret, especially from me. Like when I told you I had a crush on my best friend’s older brother. You remember her, the one with the round glasses with lenses so thick her eyes bugged? Yes, well, her. I can’t believe I was thirteen, and he, nearly twenty-four. I also can’t believe he kissed me. I was so stupid. But, I suppose…I still am. For loving a man so much older than me, also unobtainable. At least I’m legal now, huh? Haha…
I hope that you won’t grow bored of these letters. That you’ll eagerly await the next chapter, that you’ll re-read them all, over and over. Until you’ve memorized every little detail. I am photocopying each page I write, keeping a record for myself, as well. So maybe, one day, I can read them all again and relive the memories. Especially if the rabbit ends what we have. I think he will. I’m so terrified that he will find someone else, someone closer to his age, someone more mature. Someone more scholarly. Someone just like him, instead of some wild child girl with a dreamer’s heart and a cold soul. I think I’m just going to get him in trouble. He’ll lose his job, I’ll get deported back to the US, and everyone will have their lives ruined. I’ll be labelled the slut who slept with their professor to get better grades, and he’ll be the perverted older man who slept with a pretty little thing because he can’t get any otherwise. Everything will just be…horrible. Do you think I should end it, Hatter? You’re my cousin, you have to help me. E-mail me, or maybe Skype me. Okay? Actually come online for once. I need your advice. I need it asap.
The week that followed was excruciating. Mister Alley didn’t look me in the eye, his gaze not even reaching the left side of the room where I was seated. He stopped talking to me before class started, dismissing everything I said with a simple, ‘Mhm.’ I was so worried, Hatter. Worried that he hated me. Worried that maybe he knew I was crushing on him. That I was so completely infatuated I couldn’t even bear to know of his, ahem, friendships, with other women. I was turning into a pathetic old cow, and I wanted to change that.
I handed in an essay to Mister Alley, stapling a note in the middle of it. It was simple, just asking him to speak with me after class. During the class, when he reached my essay from the pile, his face grew red. I had been watching him the entire time, hoping he’d reach mine before the class’s two hours were up. His eyes flicked up, scanning the left side of the room. When we locked eyes, I flinched and looked down. Pretending to write down answers to the questions he had up on the blackboard, I could feel my face pop cherry red. He was going to tell me he had someplace to be, or perhaps he would ask me to stop bothering him. Either way, I figured he was going to dismiss my request.
I informed my only friend I wouldn’t be at dinner because I had to talk to Mister Alley about the essay. She shrugged and headed off after class without me.
“Mister A…” I started after every student had left the room.
He cleared his throat as quietly as he could. “Y-yes?”
“Uh, I wanted to talk to you. About something.”
“Yes, that much was, um, it was obvious. From your…note.”
I flashed him a pained smile briefly, then stared at my hands. I fiddled with the hem of my shirt. “Uh, yeah, so…I sort of, I was wondering, uh, why you’re ignoring me. We used to have such awesome discussions before class and sometimes after, and now, it’s like, like I don’t even exist. What’s wrong? Do I annoy you? Am I too stupid?”
His eyes bugged out of his skull. “Wh—no! No, Miss Peregrine, it’s n-nothing like that!”
“Then what is it?”
“I—it’s nothing, nothing like that, I…I promise. Please, don’t assume I think you’re not clever, in any w-way. I’m just not having a good week, ’s all.”
I shrugged and swivelled on my left toes. I slapped my outer thighs gently, startling him. “Okay, well, that’s all. Sorry to bother you.”
“Y-you didn’t, it’s fine.”
I smiled, and he tried to return it. I left the room feeling only slightly better.
That weekend, I had a terrible few nights sleeping. It took me hours to fall into sleep, and then I would have nightmares. On Monday, around two in the morning, I decided to head over to the university library. The librarian hadn’t heard me come in, as I am pretty sure she was dozing off. I snuck to the lower half of the library where it held the history books. The hair on my arms stuck up when I heard pages turning.
“Hello?” I cooed, just making sure there was a real, living person in the lower library, and not a sad ghost.
“Miss Peregrine?” came a response. My body tensed and I tried to pinpoint where the voice had come from.
“Uh, Mister Alley? Is that you?”
He poked his head out from behind a thickly stocked shelf and smiled. There were bags under his eyes, as though he hadn’t slept in days. I felt instantly sorry for him despite the fact that he seemed overjoyed.
“Miss Peregrine! So nice to see you. What are you doing up so late? And why are you here, of all places? There are plenty of discos you could stumble into, I’m sure many of them would love to have you.”
“Heh. Uh, I couldn’t sleep. I thought I’d read a book on the Ancient Greeks to learn some, uh, cool facts, or something. Impress the profess, you know?”
“Well, you’ve impressed me. I hope your Greek history professor will be just as excited.”
I pulled my lips to the side of my cheek. “Uh, yeah. What book are you reading?”
“Just browsing. Not really looking for anything in particular, you know how browsing goes.”
I gave a nod, biting the inside of my lip. “You seem really happy. Did anything cool happen?”
“I’m just a bit hyper, I think. I’ve been living on several cups of coffee a day—I can’t seem to sleep.”
I laughed. “Well, I think all that coffee could be to blame…”
“Yes, quite right. And what about yourself?”
He closed the book softly. “What about you, Miss Peregrine? Why can’t you sleep?”
I sighed. “Nightmares.”
“…You’ll laugh if I tell you.”
“I think we’ve been over this before, Miss. I won’t laugh.”
“…They’re always about food. I mean, I’ll eat so much I puke, or sometimes, my stomach starts tearing open…It’s really grotesque.”
His expression shifted into something sad. “Oh. I’m sorry.”
“Nah, don’t be sorry, Mister A. I’m fine. They’re just dreams. Don’t mean anything.”
He gave a determined nod, then placed the book back in the shelf. “Do you want me to help you look for a book to nibble on?”
I laughed. “I’m not a goat, but, uh…sure.”
We spent over half an hour scanning the shelves for books on Greek history. He found several, while I had only found one. They were piling up on one of the tables nearby. We ended up scanning the same shelf, and in unison, we pointed at a particular book.
It sat on a high shelf, and I went to go reach for it. My shirt rose up, revealing my stomach. I blushed when I noticed his gaze on it. But I could see rose glowing under his cheeks, as well. He probably thought I was so repulsive, at how fat I was. I tugged down my shirt and held my belly. The book was in my hand, and that’s all that mattered.
“You have a lovely form, Miss Peregrine,” he hushed in a low voice after we took our seats at the table. I blushed furiously and gave a high-pitched laugh.
“Ah, no, I really don’t. I’m all…chubby. In all the wrong places.”
His brow furrowed. “You’re really not, Miss Peregrine. I think,” he hiccuped. “I think I’m actually a bit too drunk to be talking about this right now.”
I nodded, then awkwardly flipped through the first few pages of the book I held. Then my head snapped up. “Wait, you’re drunk?” I sniffed the air, and noticed the scent over his cologne and the light aroma of body odour. “Oh, yeah. You are.”
“Mhm,” he hummed, lengthening it. He palmed his chin and rested his elbow upon the table. He just…stared. Hatter, it was a bit creepy. I have to admit honestly.
“Why did you get drunk?”
“About what?” My breathing quickened, and my body turned, just slightly, to face him better.
He laughed loudly, slamming his palms onto the table. In a low voice, he asked, “Do you really want to know?”
I shrugged. “Desperately so,” I joked.
His lips curled into a smile and his eyes danced across my face. “About you.”
My own smile faded, my brain trying to process what he had said. “What?”
Mister Alley patted the table and stared at it. He began to draw little swirls on the marbled pattern. “Just things, you know? Stupid things. But, alas, I’m so drunk I believe I will fall over if I stand again. And that means I’m far too drunk to be talking to you at—” He paused, checking his watch. He peered at it for what seemed like forever, then showed me the small face. “What time is it?”
I smiled. “It’s two-thirty-three.”
“I’m far too drunk to be talking to you at two-thirty-three in the bloody morning!” He laughed loudly again, embarrassing me. But the sound was so sweet, I didn’t tell him to quiet.
“Ah, fuck,” he muttered, closing his laugh. His eyes fell on me again, wandering down my neck, across my collarbones…I brought a hand to my chest and played with my buttons.
“I’d like to see you out of that,” he whispered darkly. I blushed bright red.
“M-Mister Alley, I—I think you’re very drunk, and you should stop talking,” I stammered. Licking my lips, he continued to stare at me. His gaze flicked back up to match mine, however.
“Sorry—yep, sorry. I get a little, um, I get a little over-confident when I’m drunk. Liquid courage, I call it. You know?”
I nodded hesitantly. I didn’t want to be here with him any longer in case he said something he would regret in the morning. I didn’t want him to act awkward around me for another week, yet again.
“I think you need to sleep it off, Mister A…”
“Mis-ter A,” he sang. “Call me Emerson. That’s my name. I prefer Emerson over Alley.”
A sad smile tugged on my lips. “Mi—…E-Emerson. I think you should stumble on home. You’ll say something you’ll regret on Tuesday. You, uh, you probably already have…”
He gave me a confused look. “Really? What did I say?”
“That you got drunk because you were, uh, thinking about me…?”
“That bit, m’dear, is true, however.” He tapped my nose with his index finger and smacked the side of his face. He kept his hand on his cheek while he stared at me.
“Yes, but—but, Mister Alley, I think it, I think it would be best for you to get some sleep…”
He heaved a sigh. “You’re right. I’ll see you on Tuesday then, yeah? Bright and early for a nice, little chat. I’d enjoy it.”
My smile was still sad. He might not even remember any of this by Tuesday. I nodded, standing up with him. Mister Alley stumbled towards the stairs on shaky legs and began to ascend. I helped him by holding onto his elbow. We got to the top of the stairs, and he made his way towards the door. I watched him leave.
I stayed awake the entire night there daydreaming about my professor and what he had said. It was only slightly embarrassing, yet I wished he would have stayed and told me more. I prayed to every god that he wouldn’t remember any of this encounter by Tuesday.
August 9th, 2013