If You thought that Alice was all alone in this strange garden then You would be forgiven for making this mistake, for up until now she never once felt the presence of another or suspect that watchful eyes were in shadow of her every movement. All around her were faces swaying in the light breeze, beautiful and mute, but these belonged to flowers and the waxy leaves of trees, and nothing else, at least not of any creature that could walk.
Side-stepping away from the luscious green shrubbery and feeling revived by the air in which steeped wondrous elements, she walked over to the paved area in the middle where she made herself comfortable by sitting down on an old wooden bench. Just as she shifted her legs to ensure that she found a comfy position to stay in for a while, a little girl leapt in front of her, whose skin shone as white as pearl and whose locks were reminiscent of oiled coils of gold. She was younger than Alice and quite the sprightly creature, and in her hand she held proudly what appeared to be some sort of futuristic staff with a stunning blue beam of light extending out from one end which she had decisively thrust into the paved stone.
“Oh my, who are you?” exclaimed Alice. By now she had shot up from her seat and had stepped back in nervous apprehension. She finally had learnt that this garden was not completely identical to hers, for how does one go about accounting for this strange girl whom she had never ever met back in her own world?
The little girl let out a giggle and then composed herself when she realised that Alice did not find any of her antics all that funny. “Sorry to have scared you! I am Alice!” The girl bowed her head down with a degree of eloquence worthy for any royal court.
“Excuse me? But that is my name! I am Alice!” Alice concluded that the little girl was harmless, and walked round the bench again and sat down, reasoning in her mind that now would be a good time to let her legs rest so that her brain could think!
Little Alice chuckled again and came closer. She was desperate to lift the fog of confusion off from the eyes of Big Alice. She sized up the tall girl with the red jumper and then said, “So this is how I look like in your world…”, she seemed to be impressed by what she saw and then continued, “ I like your red top! My mum only lets me wear white tops because they don’t get as dirty and nor as quickly as the other colours do.” Big Alice was intolerably perplexed by the logic, but then again this world had rules of its own. What she could not ignore no matter how much she tried was the object that little Alice held firmly in her hands and she surmised that whatever was its purpose that the little girl had mastered it well because of the way it melded into her.
“May I ask you what is that?” Big Alice pointed to the object and it was not only her ears, but she fixed her gaze as well onto the little girl, to penetrate her concentration into every inch of the answer that she hoped would be given to her.
“Oh, that! Don’t you have these in your world?” Little Alice was very amused, she had always assumed that everyone, everywhere, had one of these by their sides!
“No. We don’t.” Big Alice felt that somehow she had been left out of something great even though she had not yet learnt of the nature of the object.
“In that case…”, and she reached into her pocket and pulled out an intriguing book to show Big Alice, “… you probably have never heard of this!”
Big Alice stepped closer still and, with uncertain forwardness, extended her hand out to take the book. The little girl smiled and obliged quite happily.
Big Alice read the title, “William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back!” Nearly in danger of losing her footing, she was overcome with a flabbergasted expression, astonished by the revelation that the famous bard had collaborated with his imagination to such an astronomical degree that he had combined his tales of love and comedy and tragedy with the odysseys of the stars! “Gosh, when did Shakespeare write this?! And who is this green goblin with big pointy ears?”
“So… you don’t know anything about these things from where you come from?” The little girl looked concerned.
“Obviously not…” Big Alice was slightly dismayed, it was as if she had been let down by some unseen entity. Why had she not known that her favourite writer in the world was also a passionate traveller of the stars! What a shame that her world was oblivious to this side of Shakespeare.
Without any warning, the little girl peered over big Alice so that her gaze was trained towards the western horizon. “It’s that time again! Time to put the sunglasses on!”
“Why? It’s only evening and the sun is not that bright at this time of the day!”
“But it hurts our eyes when we look at the suns-set…” And she balanced her black shades over her eyes before taking the book back into her hands. “It was very nice to meet you, especially as your name is the same as my name!” She put out her hand and cheerfully I shook it although I was still reeling from the restless oddity of this world.
“I enjoyed meeting you, too..”
“I will tell mum all about you! I hope you’ll stop by longer next time but now I must go otherwise my tea will get cold!” She hopped and skipped away, the mysterious object in one hand and her engrossing tome in the other, and all the while a playful hum and a whistle could be heard from her. Big Alice gave a confusing smile as the little girl vanished round a corner of berried bushes.
Ah, once again we could now speak of Alice as Alice, without the differentiating adjective preceding it! And as this Alice stood there she was struck down by a great mystery, a phrase that the girl used.
It was plural. Surely it was an innocent slip of the tongue caused by the immaturity of a young mind?!
Alice shrugged her shoulders and turned around to face the vastness of the western horizon. In the serene silence embalmed within the arc of an indigo sky, she saw them, two ores of giant marmalade.
She stood still. So very still. How was it possible?!
She wished to cry and smile and laugh at the same time, but most importantly, she wished her grandma could have been there to see what she saw. She chose to smile in the end, it stretched across her face with the pleasant slowness of melting wax, and oh how it gladdened her deeply that could watch those two suns, freely, with her own two eyes… ♥♥♥
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories |My Garden | Winchester | UK 2016