Alice’s Choice

by Sarah Zhang
Alice’s Choice Sarah is an eighth grader in International School Manila. She is an American Chinese and lives in the Philippines. Sarah enjoys watching Netflix, running, and writing stories.

“Outside was a ravishing forest. Different types of flowers populated the sylvan landscape, and the sky was roofed by vast trees. The sun-dappled ground was covered with moss and ivy, and the forest smelled of petrichor and pine. Cool humidity settled on Alice’s skin, and a flock of birds flew past her. She soon realized they were not birds at all, but a deck of cards flying in the air.”

The air was filled with the taste of something creamy and buttery — cake.

Alice glanced up at the large, maple table overshadowing her, and then at the oversized, empty glass bottle laying beside her. The smell of cake wafted from above, and Alice knew that the delectable dessert was on top of the table. Doors of all variety and size adorned the walls, and the ceiling, well there was no ceiling at all! Instead, high above her was a long hole with a miniscule hole of light at the top. From what she could see, the sky was turning vermillion, as day was slowly engulfed by darkness. This must have been the hole she had fallen from, Alice realized.

How had everything gotten so big? she wondered. She recalled the tangy taste of the liquid she had drunk from the glass bottle, and then the tight, squeezing sensation that came after as her surroundings gradually grew larger and larger.

Alice crawled towards the bottle, its surface catching light and shimmering as she turned it over. The words drink me were inscribed on the bottle’s side, and she hugged her knees wondering what had just happened. Curiosity raced through her, ensnaring her mind in wonder.

Getting up, Alice paced around the room, examining each door. The doors had to lead somewhere, anywhere from here. Eventually, she came to a small, locked door her size, with a shiny door knob and gold paint peeling off from the door. An abnormally large keyhole was fitted above the door knob, and Alice could hear strange sounds coming from it, like a jungle. The sharp scent of something floral wafted from the hole, enticing her to come closer. Alice had to know what came behind it.

She scanned the walls, searching for anything that could help open this door, her eyes almost passing over a black key shrouded in the shadows. She picked up the key, about the right size for the keyhole, and the cold weight in her hands calmed her. A strong, metallic smell came from the key, permeating the air with the smell of iron.

The metallic scent reminded her of the smell of the pots and pans she would deal with at home. Everyday, she would wake up early to help her mother cook, but not out of goodwill. Her daily activities would include cooking, cleaning the house, and other menial tasks. The act of doing the same tedious drudgery every day eventually resulted into feelings of boredom and even resentment towards her family.

Alice realized that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to return.

“I don’t want to go back,” Alice said to herself.

“Nobody’s making you go.” A croaky voice rang out from the shadows, as a tall, green body stepped from the darkness.

A frog stood, fully clothed in a burgundy, satin suit. Shockingly bright spots of lime dotted his skin, and he twirled a wooden cane between his hands before finally setting it down and laying his webbed fingers on it. A black, silk top hat rested on his head, and his large, translucent eyes peered at Alice, who was staring back with wonder.

“What’s the matter, child?” The frog bent his knobby knees to lower himself to Alice’s level.

“I’m conflicted, I suppose. I don’t know if I should try to find my way back home, or continue exploring this… wonderful land,” Alice confessed.

“Well, why would you want to go home?” the frog asked.

“Because I know that place, because it’s familiar, and it’s home, and… and all of those things,” Alice said.

“But… ” the frog prompted.

“But this place, it’s so new. It’s so different from what I know. Everyday at home is the same thing over and over again; it’s driving me crazy,” Alice said. “And this place, it’s so full of wonders and things that I just have to explore.”

“Then, stay here,” the frog said, spreading his webbed fingers. He raised his foot and stomped on the floor, sending waves of dust flying, and revealing a small trap door in the floor.

“But I might want to go home!”

“Then, go home,” he lifted the door.

“But I want to stay and go explore this land!”

“Then, go!” the frog bellowed. He jumped into the hole, his voice echoing below the moss-eaten floor.

And then Alice was alone again.

She looked at the key, before setting it into the keyhole and turning it. The resulting click resounded throughout the large room. She set her hand on the doorknob and twisted it, pushing open the door.

Outside was a ravishing forest. Different types of flowers populated the sylvan landscape, and the sky was roofed by vast trees. The sun-dappled ground was covered with moss and ivy, and the forest smelled of petrichor and pine. Cool humidity settled on Alice’s skin, and a flock of birds flew past her. She soon realized they were not birds at all, but a deck of cards flying in the air.

Alice stood in the doorway. She could feel the allure of magic and wonder drawing her in. She lifted her foot past the threshold ready to set it down, but hesitation clouded her thoughts.

Alice knew that if she went back home, she would never have a life of imagination, of wonder, of freedom. This was the first time ever that she could have a change, a decision to make. Setting foot in this land would mean no more days of listless boredom and endless monotony.

But what if there were things, dangerous things, that could harm her in this land? Well, she just had to take a chance, didn’t she? The only thing holding her back from doing something new was her own doubts. It was a bet against herself, Alice realized. She brushed past her doubts and breathed in, ready to begin a new life in this land of wonder.

Alice took the chance and stepped into the forest.

 

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