Alice and the Warden, Stories

Gud Riting

Outside, Damon kicked something or other and threw a major fit, picking up a lawn gnome and hefting it over the fence.

Miranda asserted, “Calm down! We can use this to our advantage!”

“No, we’re going to drop it,” Damon explained. “We don’t have a case.”

“What do you mean?” Miranda inquired.

“I kissed her first,” Damon confessed.

~OR~

Having egressed from the abode, Damon sulkily perambulated about the premises, seeking to obviate himself of his indignation, and finding outlet in his frustration through the act of kicking some object or other before truculently hefting a hapless garden gnome through the air with an ungainly heave of his torso.

Miranda ejaculated, “Calm down! We can use this disadvantage to our advantage!”

“I’m afraid that I must disagree,” Damon countered obstinately, “There are major show stoppers preventing us from leveraging the turnabout successfully.”

“I need your hot, throbbing elucidation,” Miranda desperately entreated the roguish dandy, her bosom heaving breathlessly.

“I must woefully confess that my passions overcame my better judgement,” Damon confessed woefully, “I kissed her before she kissed me.”


An explanation: I had a particularly stressful day, so I was too frazzled to think when I sat down to write. Instead, I jotted down the lamest thing I could think up.

When I shared it with my husband, his response was along the lines of, “Hold my beer.” He wrote #2.

Alice and the Warden, Stories

AatW – 36

Alice plopped down into a wooden lawn chair next to Kate and nibbled from her plate of food, grateful to be out of the spotlight. In addition to the hamburger that Hackett had proudly assembled for her, there was an assortment of salads for her to choose from, including one that looked like crushed cookies in whipped cream. She felt particularly excited to try that one, but felt reticent to admit it for fear that it would make her look like she belonged more with the kids than the adults. While she felt secure when she was alone with Hackett, being surrounded by all of his friends made her feel like she was barely older than her baby.

“You look stunning today,” Kate murmured, happily patting the baby’s back as she slept. “When Basil put my ring on you, I thought that you looked exactly like a bride.”

Alice forced a small chuckle. “Honestly, Basil’s the one who chose this dress for me to wear, and I guess now I know why.”

“I hope you didn’t mind gesture, especially since you were so tired this morning.” Alice blushed as Kate spoke. “I wanted you to have a piece of our family, and my wedding ring seemed like the most appropriate thing. Basil is so madly in love, he wanted to shout it to the world.”

“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Alice said, holding her hand up to look at the ring and admire the small diamonds set into a delicate gold band. “Are you sure you want to part with it?”

“Don’t worry about it. William will always be in my heart, but it’s time to move forward.” Kate stroked the baby’s hair as she added, “I’m a grandma now.”

“I promise that I’ll cherish it. And I’ll take good care of Basil too, especially after everything that he’s done for me. He really helped me turn my life around, and saved Alicia’s life as well …” Alice choked up a little, so she cleared her throat and turned to watch Hackett, still manning the grill. “I don’t know how much he’s told you about my past.”

“Not a whole lot. All he really said was that you had been taken advantage of by a bad sort who got you into a lot of trouble.”

“Yeah.” Alice paused to continue eating, and to think of how she wanted to explain her history to her mother-in-law. “I don’t know why, but I did everything Damon wanted me to, even when it was scary and painful. At first he seemed so experienced and smart, so I told myself that he knew better than I did, and it became a habit to always give him what he wanted. Then I met Basil, and he – I don’t know – woke me up, I guess. I started to think about what I wanted, and when I found out I was pregnant, I realized that I wanted to keep my baby more than anything else.”

“I’m glad that you and Basil found each other. It makes me sad to think that I live so far away from you and won’t be able to see you anywhere near often enough.” Kate sighed. “I don’t know if I can leave William and Jasper, though.”

Alice didn’t know how to respond, and hoped that Kate wouldn’t misinterpret her silence as something negative. She got the feeling that Hackett had asked his mother more than once to move closer to him, and that her unwillingness to leave her deceased family members had become a solid blockade. But, she wasn’t going to open her mouth without first knowing what Hackett actually thought about the matter.

“Anyway, this is supposed to be a happy day, so let’s not linger on such topics.” Kate patted Alice’s shoulder. “Go ahead and eat up. This little one is still sleeping peacefully with me, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. There’s no rush at all.”

“Thank you.” Alice couldn’t resist the temptation any longer, and finally scooped up a forkful of the cookie salad and popped it into her mouth. “Oh wow! This is really good! Did you make it?”

“Mm hm. It’s quite easy, just mix vanilla pudding with whipped cream and add crushed cookies.”

“You need to show me how to make it. Both you and Gertie are really good at cooking, and I want to learn too. It must be so awesome to be able to eat food like this any time you feel like it.”

Kate laughed. “Absolutely, I’ll teach you anything you want to learn. I’ve always wished that I had a daughter I could pass on all my secrets to.” She grew quiet for a moment, then said, “Alice, if you don’t mind, I’d like to take you out to lunch tomorrow, and we’ll go shopping, too. All of the other ladies back home take their daughters out, and I’ve always been rather envious of them. I do hope that you’ll indulge me.”

“I’d love to!” Alice gushed. “My mom was always too busy working to do any activities with me, so I’ve never done anything like that either.”

“Basil!” Kate called out, waving an arm in the air. “Basil, come here!”

He saw her and waved as he finished putting the last of the meat patties on a plate then turned off the grill. After he placed them on the buffet table, he jogged over and asked, “What is it, mom?”

“We need to use your car tomorrow,” Kate answered.

“I suppose I can get Rob to give me a ride …” he mused. “What are you planning?”

“Just a little mother-daughter date is all.” Kate grinned over at Alice. “I’m sure we won’t get into too much trouble.”

“In that case, my car is all yours.” He turned to Alice, placing his hands on the arms of her chair as he leaned down to softly ask her, “Are you enjoying yourself?”

“Oh, yes.” Alice nodded, meeting his gaze. “Even despite you.”

“Despite me, huh?” His voice was almost like a purr, so Alice couldn’t help but half-close her eyes as she lifted her mouth towards him.

“Yeah, for springing a big surprise on me in front of everyone,” she murmured. “You’re lucky I love you.”

“I guess I am.” He placed his lips against hers.

Behind him, two teenaged boys snickered as one of them took aim with a foam football, then threw it to hit Hackett square in the butt. He bolted upright as he barked, “Hey!” then fetched the ball and tossed it as the boys dashed to catch it. After giving Alice a wink, he ran after them with Dr. Westley hopping up to join in.

“Oh goodness!” Kate exclaimed with a laugh. “I haven’t seen Basil this carefree since he was little.”

Alice giggled as well, then reached for her baby. “I want Alicia back. My arms are starting to feel empty without her.”

Kate passed the sleeping infant over, who gave a small fuss then settled back down against Alice’s chest. They sat for a moment in silence, watching the game of football that had spontaneously began, until Kate commented, “Basil and Rob grew up together, you know; he lived down the street from us. It’s great to know that they still play together.” She chuckled.

“Rob?” Alice asked.

“Doctor Westley. They kept in touch, and after Basil became the warden, he somehow managed to sweet talk Rob into becoming the prison doctor. Must have offered him a nice salary, because he moved his whole family out here for it.”

“So they are good friends! I suspected, but Basil was always so proper around me in the prison. It was all business with him in there.” Alice stroked her baby’s back, feeling more confident now that she had Alicia with her again. “I didn’t even know that he loved me until he asked me to marry him.”

“That sounds like Basil. He’s so conscientious with his work, and always has been.” Kate stood and stretched. “Excuse me, but I need to get myself something to eat as well. It’s fun talking to you, Alice, and I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow.”

Next

Alice and the Warden, Stories

Alice and the Warden – 35

A short time later, Alice found herself glued to Hackett’s side as he maneuvered through their guests and introduced her to everyone invited. She recognized the judge who had married them, surrounded by a blur of faces that she had never seen before and names that she forgot as soon as she heard them – mostly people who worked with the prison in some capacity or another. It was a relief when Dr. Westley arrived as a familiar face, and it surprised her to learn that he was married with four children. For once Hackett openly joked in front of her, reminding her of how painfully proper he had been while she was still a prisoner.

Kate had taken charge of the baby, and had settled herself into a chair next to Gertie who had brought her knitting bag, and the two women talked excitedly between the two of them. Alice frequently glanced in their direction, to ensure that her baby was still sleeping peacefully, and to wish that she could join them away from the spotlight.

However, once all the introductions were done, Hackett grabbed one of the plastic folding chairs and placed it near the propane grill, simply saying, “Keep me company.” So, Alice sat down and watched him with fascination as he turned the knobs until a click was followed by a woosh sound, then closed the lid. He casually sat down on the grass next to her and held her hand as they made small talk for a few minutes, then he was back at the grill, placing down the meat patties he had made earlier.

Her inexperience must have been obvious on her face, because when he turned to her once again he asked, “Have you ever barbecued before?”

Alice shook her head. “No, never.”

“Here.” Hackett took her hand and pulled her over to stand in front of the grill, then grabbed the apron from a hook on the side. “First, you put on one of these to protect that pretty dress from any splatters,” he said, looping it over her neck and tying it behind her back. “Now, take the spatula and open up the lid. Careful not to burn yourself.” He stood behind her and held her hand around the handle of the spatula as he continued to explain, “Slide it right under the patty, and flip it over.”

Flames flared up and startled Alice, causing her to jump back against Hackett’s chest with a small cry. He laughed and wrapped his free arm around her waist, giving her a squeeze.

“Perfect! Now we do that again with all the rest.”

“You really do this?” she asked. “Aren’t you scared of everything catching on fire?”

“Nah, the flames are the fun part. The burgers are done when the juices run clear. Or, if you’re the paranoid sort, keep them on the grill until the juices run dry. They’ll be nice and tough, and have a great burnt taste to them.”

“You’re pulling my leg, right?”

“Not at all, my princess. There’s an art to successfully making overdone burgers without turning them into charcoal. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to muster up the nerve to keep them on for that long.”

“You!” Alice turned to lightly punch his shoulder. “I know you’re teasing me! Don’t tell me ridiculous things, or I’ll lose my trust in you and it will be your fault.”

“I might be teasing a little.” He brushed a lock of her hair behind her ear. “I like you too much not to.”

Alice blushed as she met his gaze. “I think you should take care of the barbecuing on your own. Fire makes me … nervous,” she said softly, then bit her lip and looked away. “I feel like everyone is watching us.”

“They probably are.” Hackett reached behind Alice to undo to apron tie, then lifted it from around her neck before helping her sit back down in her chair.

“That doesn’t help.”

“They’re here for us, darling, to celebrate our marriage.”

“I know. But it’s been ages since I’ve been around people, and it feels weird. I kind of wish that I could hide back in my tower again, away from everything.”

Hackett remained silent and thoughtful, managing the hamburgers on the grill then closing the lid before he spoke again, “Is it too much?”

Alice shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“There’s no shame in being overwhelmed. Any time that you’d like to, you can hide inside the house; I’ll make your excuses for you.”

“With Alicia?”

“Of course.”

Having the possibility of an escape helped Alice feel better, though the suggestion made her realize that she wasn’t ready to use it just yet. As uncomfortable as the spotlight was, she still felt a thrill race through her at the thought that everyone was there to celebrate them joining together as husband and wife.

“Well …” she mused out loud. “I can’t hide forever.”

“I was hoping that you’d say that.” Hackett gave her a grin as he pulled her back up to her feet, then whispered into her ear, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to hate me for this.”

“What?” Alice more mouthed than spoke, her eyes shining with alarm. Hackett took the metal spatula and banged it against the top of the grill.

“May I have everyone’s attention, please!” he spoke loudly, and Alice felt herself shrinking against him in an effort to hide. “Now, as you all know, Alice and I have already legally tied the knot, and this beautiful woman has been my wife for the last couple of weeks. But, there’s something special that I would like to do today, with everyone here as my witnesses.”

Hackett took Alice’s left hand and looked unwaveringly at her as he spoke, “Mrs. Alice Hackett, I solemnly promise to care and provide for you; I will support you in sickness and in health, through the good times and the bad; and I will cherish you always until the end of my days.” He slid a ring onto her finger. “I love you.” When he leaned down to kiss her, their guests began to applaud.

Alice wanted to beam with happiness and die of embarrassment at the same time. “I don’t have any promises for you,” she whispered, then stumbled over her words. “I mean, poetically planned out. Obviously I’m going to …”

Hackett put a finger over her lips. “This was my mother’s wedding ring – she wanted you to have it.”

“Oh wow.” Alice looked down at the ring that he had slid onto her finger. “Just wow. Thank you.”

“I’m hopelessly devoted to you, Alice. There’s no escape for you now,” he said with a wink. Then he turned back to the crowd and announced, “Oh, and uh, one more thing: the hamburgers are done!”

There was another round of applause.

Next

Alice and the Warden

Random notes about AatW

  • I feel like I’m writing the baby too much like a prop. I’m always mindful to make sure that she’s present and accounted for (instead of simply not being there for some unexplained reason), and newborns really do spend most of their time sleeping, but I want to throw in more descriptions of her to make her feel more like a character.
  • I want to flesh out the friendship between Kate and Gertie. I know how they’d interact, but I can’t quite figure out how to slip it into the story. My brain is being totally blah about this.
  • Because I originally intended this to be a novelette, I’ve been typing it on the laptop. Right now, I’m really missing the ability to scribble notes in the margins. I have no clue if LibreOffice has a similar feature, because I never bothered to learn anything beyond the bare basics.
  • I’m also really terrified of my laptop crashing and losing everything.
  • I wrote a really sexy scene, and now I don’t know what to do with it. What’s this story rated anyway?
  • I need to describe pretty much everything better, and figure out what the heck that English thing is. You have no idea how mortifying it is to publicly post a first draft.
  • Nobody’s reading it anyway (except for you, of course).
  • I’m starting to worry that the pacing is too slow, and I need to get on with it already. But, given the speed of the rest of the story, doing that might make the ending feel unpleasantly rushed.

Alice and the Warden

Alice and the Warden – 34

Gertie arrived first, letting herself through the gate into the backyard with a white paper gift bag in hand. She immediately tapped Kate on the shoulder to gain her attention, and the two women hugged.

“Gertie!” Kate exclaimed with a laugh. “How are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m keeping busy. Now tell me, how could you let your boy elope without a proper ceremony?” Gertie looped her arm through Kate’s. “I feel as if we missed out on something important.”

“I told him to follow his heart, and he said that he wanted to bring Alice home as his bride. She had absolutely no where else to go after she was released, you know, so I gave him my blessing.” Kate patted Gertie’s hand. “Besides, we’re all here to celebrate now, so we’re not really missing out.”

“Where is the young dear?” Gertie asked. “I’ve got something for her.”

“Inside. I believe she had a diaper to change,” Kate replied.

“I’ll be back to help you finish setting up. I’m expecting a few of my grandkids to stop by shortly, so I hope you don’t mind some extra guests.”

“It will be delightful! Rob is bringing his wife and children as well, so they’ll have plenty of playmates.” Kate grinned. “Basil is still inside as well, so go ahead and pop your head in.”

“I’ll do just that. It’s so good to see you again Kate. How long are you in town for?”

“The whole week. I hope you’ll take a day off for me, since I would just love to catch up with you.”

“I’ll plan on it then. Be back in a minute.”

Alice was sitting in the kitchen with the baby in her arms, watching Hackett form balls of ground beef and smash them flat into patties, when Gertie opened the back door and called out, “Hello!”

“Hello Gertie!” Hackett answered. “You’re early.”

“I thought that you could use some help getting ready,” Gertie said. “Alice, dear, I brought this for you. Think of it as a wedding gift.”

Alice gave Hackett a quizzical look, but he simply smiled at her. She took the gift bag and reached inside, pulling out a soft, white, shawl.

“It’s hand wash only, so make sure you don’t run it through the machine – especially the dryer,” Gertie advised. “Anyway, I started knitting it for myself awhile ago, but when I finished it a couple of days ago I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that it suited you better. So, there you are.”

“It’s really gorgeous,” Alice said breathlessly. “Thank you so much.”

“Well, I’m going to go help Kate outside if you don’t mind.” Gertie seemed oddly shy, and unconsciously wrung her hands as she spoke. Alice wondered why.

“How about you grab a couple of the salads on your way out?” Hackett said, pointing towards the fridge. “We still need to get the buffet set up, and time is running out.”

“Yes, it always does that. I’ll think of how you can thank me later.” Gertie grabbed a couple of big bowels and disappeared out the back door.

“Gertie must think that you’re something special,” Hackett said as soon as they were alone. “That’s mohair.”

“I have no clue what that is,” Alice replied, fingering the edge of the shawl and marveling at the lace pattern. All of the stitches seemed beyond perfect, especially in comparison to the asymmetrical shapes that Alice had practiced making.

“Expensive, that’s what,” Hackett replied.

“She’s really good at knitting. Do you think that I could do something for her in return? As a thank you?” Alice looked at him earnestly.

“I don’t see why not.”

“I don’t have any skills though, so I don’t know what I could possibly do. I’ve just never had anyone make something so beautiful for me before, and I feel like I need to properly show my appreciation.”

“Something will come to you.” Hackett piled his patties onto a large serving plate. “Now, darling, could you put Alicia in the carrier and help put the food out? We need to pick up the pace if we’re going to be ready on time.”

“Sure. Sounds easy enough.” Alice put the shawl back into the gift bag and stood up. “Give me a minute to put this away, then I’ll finally deign to lift a finger in assistance. Consider yourself bless-ed.” She put extra emphasis on the last syllable. Gertie’s present had lifted her spirit considerably, and after the emotional rollercoaster she had been on, she landed in a state of giddiness.

Hackett chuckled. “I suppose that’s what I get for marrying a mysterious princess. Hurry up then, before I decide to put you back in that tower.”

Alice stuck her tongue out at him, then giggled as she scampered to the bedroom.

Next

About Me

Personal Note

I got a million things to do.

At the end of the day, I consider myself to be an author and not a blogger. So when something’s gotta take a hit, it’s going to be my blogging instead of my fiction writing. I like to fantasize that all of my visitors are here to enjoy the fruits of my imagination rather than my incoherent babbling, and would prefer that I maintain my fiction updates.

Side note: I didn’t sleep last night.

Anyway, the gist is that I’m tired and busy and I don’t feel like blogging — I’d much rather spend my free time working on Alice and the Warden. And napping. I’m also having anxiety about Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but we don’t need to get into that.

So, Alice and the Warden will continue to be updated every Monday.

But I’ll only check in when I feel like it.

Alice and the Warden

Alice and the Warden – 33

Alice sulked in bed with a number of candy wrappers lying around her, darkly thinking back to how much she had hated Hackett after the very first time she had met him. First impressions, she chided herself, and wondered if she should have kept her vow to hate him forever.

Except that she hadn’t truly hated him, even back then.

She had been impressed by him.

Hackett had been calm and self-assured, with an office that smelled nice and a bookcase full of interesting titles. Her first impression had been that he was smart and intriguing, someone that she could admire and look up to. It had been herself that she was ashamed of, wearing a stereotypical costume of rebellion and acting like a prostitute.

Unbidden, the memory of the night he proposed to her crept into her mind:

Alice, I want you to say no … It’s easy to be a hero in here; all I have to do is eat breakfast and take you on a walk through the woods. But the outside is different. Outside, you’ll be alone while I work long hours, and you’ll discover disappointment after disappointment in me.

Now that she was living with him on the ‘outside’, Alice was beginning to understand that had been his way of expressing his insecurity, the fear that one day she would accuse him of being ‘selfish and controlling’ in the same way that his ex had, and the possibility that he might have his life ripped out from underneath him again.

Yet there she was, lying in Hackett’s bed and eating the chocolate that he had purchased for her, taking him for granted.

Damon had never cared if she felt used or hurt. He never bought any sort of treat for her to enjoy, or provided any sort of stability for her safety. In the end, he had tossed her aside without a goodbye or anywhere for her to go, and Hackett had been the one to pick her back up and tell her that she still had value.

Alice heard Alicia crying outside the door, followed by a gentle knock. She immediately felt embarrassed by the mess, but sat up and called out, “Come in.” She couldn’t let her self-pity get in the way of caring for her daughter, and the ache in her breasts told her that the infant was most likely hungry.

Hackett came inside and handed her the baby. His eyes took in the candy wrappers, and his mouth twitched slightly, but he didn’t say anything.

Alice couldn’t help but coo over Alicia as she prepared to nurse her, kissing her before settling her against her breast.

“You aren’t dressed,” Hackett said.

“Hm, no.” Alice had pulled her pajamas back on with the intention of staying in bed all day, but she was too embarrassed to admit that out loud.

“That won’t do. The guests are going to be here in an hour.”

“Guests?”

“For the barbecue.”

“I completely forgot! I must look so awful right now … is it too late to cancel?”

“I’m afraid so. But don’t worry, darling, because I am here to save the day.” Hackett browsed through the closet until he found a dress that Alice hadn’t had the chance to wear yet, and pulled it out – a pale pink maxi dress, with lace sleeves and a deep v-neck. “Here. This one is cute.”

“You really think so?” Alice asked uncertainly. The dress had struck her as pretty when she ordered it, but she wasn’t certain if it was worthy of the barbecue that Hackett had planned. From the way she had been acting, she wasn’t certain if she was worthy of wearing it either.

“Of course. You were a good girl and avoided pleather like I asked you to.”

“Oh hush.” Alice picked up a bite-sized candy bar and threw it at him, but he caught it and ripped off the wrapper to eat it, winking at her.

“It doesn’t really matter what you wear, Alice, you’ll be the most beautiful woman there,” he said.

Alice blushed. “I hope I don’t say the wrong thing and make everyone think poorly of me.”

“Hm, I think that it would be better if you did. Then I’d know who to cross off the list for next time.”

“You mean that?” Alice couldn’t help but gape.

Hackett sat down on the bed next to her and reached over to hold her hand. “Anyone who thinks negatively of you isn’t welcome in my – our – home.”

Alice rested her head on his shoulder, staring down at their interlocking fingers. “Hey … I’m sorry for acting so weird earlier. I mean, you were there when I gave birth and all, so I shouldn’t get caught up with modesty around you. For some reason I can’t stop myself from getting massively emotional over everything.”

“I think that’s your reason,” Hackett replied, nodding towards the baby. “I figured that you needed some time to yourself to rest, and you do seem much better now.”

“Well, you know, massive amounts of chocolate will do that.” Alice smiled as she closed her eyes. It felt good to be holding Hackett’s hand again, soaking up the warmth that radiated from his body. “Having you here is helping me too.”

“In that case, stay by my side for the entire evening.” He leaned over to kiss her forehead, then abruptly stood. Alice watched him with confusion as he wordlessly left the bedroom, unsure of what to make of it until he returned with the hairbrush from the bathroom. He sat down next to her and began brushing her hair.

“I hate the bleached part,” Alice murmured. “But if I cut it off, my hair will be too short.”

“It’ll grow out in time,” he answered.

“I still don’t really understand why you love me.”

“That’s something else that will take some time.” Hackett’s fingers touched her neck as he worked on her hair, sending chills throughout her body so that she couldn’t help but shiver.

“Basil … when the time is right, you won’t say no … right?” she asked timidly.

He paused with the brush mid-stroke. “How do you mean that?”

“I don’t know.” Alice bit her lip. She was too scared to say it out loud.

Hackett silently resumed slowly brushing her hair. When he was done, he put the brush down and placed both hands on her shoulders, whispering into her ear, “I won’t say no again.” Then he stood. “I’ll take the baby so you can finish getting dressed. Is she done eating?”

“Oh. Yeah. She fell asleep. Here, you can take her.” Alice had to shake herself slightly to regain her grip on reality, her heart pounding fiercely in her chest.

He won’t say no again.

Next

Alice and the Warden

Alice and the Warden – 32

It was a quarter to noon when Alice woke up, with burning eyes and a heavy head. She sniffled as she attended to her baby, then picked up the infant and went in search of Hackett. The house was unexpectedly empty, and a painful lump formed in her throat with the realization. Had he gone out with Kate in order to avoid her?

In retrospect, Alice felt ashamed of her behavior. Hackett had opened up to her about a tragedy from his past, and in response she had tried to push him into something that he had responsibly put a stop to. Instead of appreciating his strength of will, she had sobbed pathetically. She wished she hadn’t acted so selfishly.

There was a piece of paper on the kitchen table, with a note that simply read, ‘At grocery store.’

“At least that explains where he went,” Alice murmured to Alicia. “You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the first person he ever told about his brother – he’s exactly the sort. I should have taken the chance to hold him and say something perfect and reassuring, so he’d know beyond a doubt that he hadn’t made a mistake in marrying me. Instead, I broke down because he wouldn’t have sex with me, even though I know that we shouldn’t be doing it yet.” She let out a depressed sigh. “Though seriously, if that man says ‘no’ to me one more time, I’ll tear my hair out. Is he really impotent? Or does he not want me that way?”

She looked down at Alicia and bit her lip. “I’m sorry, I’m venting. Babies don’t need to know about anything like that, so go ahead and forget everything I said.”

Alice rummaged around until she found her phone on the kitchen counter, and typed out the message, ‘About last night … I’m sorry.’ She hesitated before sending it to Hackett, then deleted it. This time she typed, ‘Just got up. I love you.’ and hit send.

“I don’t want to make it awkward between us,” she explained. “Especially with Kate staying here.”

A minute later her phone chimed, and she checked Hackett’s reply, ‘Love you too.’

“I guess that means everything is fine. I’m going to ask him to pick up some chocolate, take Tylenol, then it will be baby bath time. Does that sound good? Good.” She still felt tense, and still wanted to apologize for her foolishness. “Lots of chocolate,” she added, then put her phone down.

Alice didn’t understand why she was going so crazy. She always had the idea that women took forever to want sex after giving birth, yet she was becoming ridiculously over-the-top horny despite still needing to use a pad for postpartum bleeding. Remembering the way it felt to wrap her legs around Hackett’s hips made her want to start crying again. It had been the first time her actions had been done with her heart, and the first time nothing had followed.

“Basil could do with a little less dignity and self-control,” she muttered darkly. “C’mon, Alicia, lets get to that bath.”

The warm water put Alicia soundly asleep, so Alice took advantage of the opportunity and turned on the shower. It felt good to lather up shampoo in her hair, and the heat eased the tension in her neck, helping her feel more clear-headed. She was not going to make a fool of herself, she decided, and it was about time that she regained control over her emotions no matter what her hormones were doing. She cried way too much, and it didn’t suit her. Besides, she didn’t want to ruin Kate’s visit by sobbing over every little thing.

Alicia gave a squawk from her crib, so Alice turned off the water and wrapped herself up in a towel. Her hair was still dripping heavily as she scooted into the bedroom, then froze. Hackett was already there, picking up the baby with a grocery bag looped over his arm.

“Basil!” she exclaimed, turning bright red. “I didn’t know you were home.”

“Just barely came in,” he murmured, smiling as he gazed unwaveringly at her. “You can go back to showering, if you’d like.”

“Oh no, no, I’m fine. I’ll get dressed and join you in a minute.” Alice unconsciously clutched tighter at her towel. Of all the things that could drive her crazy, she had to walk right into the middle of a bad stereotype.

“Here,” he said, holding out the grocery bag. “For you.”

Play it cool, Alice reminded herself, so she took the bag and peaked inside. It was filled with a huge assortment of chocolate bars and candies. “Wow, did you buy the whole candy section?”

“Tried to, but the store manager wouldn’t let me.”

“You didn’t have to get this much for me.”

“I know. I wanted to.”

“Uh, thanks.” Alice put the bag down on the bed, then shifted uncomfortably. “I’d like to get dressed now.”

“Go ahead.” Hackett showed no signs of moving.

“Are you teasing me?” Alice asked, growing frustrated. As much as she was tempted to drop the towel and give him an eyeful, she wasn’t in the mood to risk another rejection.

“Maybe.”

“Well, get out!” she snapped.

Hackett nodded then turned to leave, still carrying Alicia with him. Alice felt herself turn cold.

“Wait,” she said quickly. “I really appreciate the chocolate. I asked for a lot, and you really went above and beyond with it, so thank you. I’m just … tired.”

He stood at the door with his back turned towards her, his broad shoulders seeming like an impenetrable wall. “I don’t want to hurt you, Alice,” he said softly.

“I know.” Alice looked down, shifting her balance to rub her ankle with her other foot. “But you did anyway.”

The door opened and banged closed, leaving Alice alone in a stunned silence. Numbly she went to the closet to pick out a new dress to wear, but her hands shook as she sorted through the hangers. Her knees slowly sank to the floor, and she found herself staring at the grain of the hardwood underneath her, barely able to breathe. “I fucked up,” her voice squeaked, and she felt as if her heart had been torn in two.

Out in the hallway, Hackett paused to kiss the baby’s hair and rub her back as he frowned thoughtfully. Then he walked back to the kitchen where Kate was waiting.

Next

Observations

9/8

Dark and windy.

The crickets are giving a steady chirp, punctuated by wind chimes and rustling leaves. The roar of motorcycle engines pass by in the distance, and a dog begins to bark. A cat yowls.

The light from the neighbor’s porch is blaring in my eyes, and the haze of smoke is holding the city glow in the air. The street is empty, and no one is sitting out on their porches despite the pleasant coolness of the night.

The cat’s voice sounds almost human, and it’s easy to imagine why they were once thought of as witches’ companions.

The dust in the wind is triggering my allergies.

Occasionally the wind stops, leaving an eerie silence filled only with crickets, followed by an even stronger gust.

I need to find that cat.

Alice and the Warden

Alice and the Warden – 31

I decided to change the featured image for this story, just because it’s been going for a few months. Felt like shaking things up a bit.


With her teeth freshly brushed, Alice tiptoed out of the bathroom and quickly crossed the hallway to the bedroom. Alicia was already asleep in her crib, which was pushed up next to the bed where Alice could easily see her at night, and Hackett was propped up on pillows with his phone in hand.

“Hey,” she whispered as she climbed into bed next to him.

“Hey,” he whispered back. “You look happy.”

“I am.” Alice snuggled against him and hugged his arm. “Though I have to say, it was super embarrassing when you called me brilliant, and all I could think of was, ‘Dur, I like sci fi.’ I didn’t come across as remotely smart.”

“Don’t sweat it. My mother loves you. She thinks that you’re the bee’s knees, and wants us to live happily ever after.” Hackett put his phone down and turned to stroke Alice’s cheek. “I knew she would.”

“Basil …” Alice scooted even closer to him and laid her head down on his chest. “Why didn’t you tell me about your brother?”

His breathing halted for a moment, then the air came out through his teeth with a small whistle. After a heavy silence, he said, “Thank you for not bringing this up in front of my mother.”

“I kind of sensed that I shouldn’t.” Alice hoped that she hadn’t made a mistake in bringing it up with Basil as well.

“Jasper was … well, I idolized him. He was a top student, good at sports, and got along with everyone he met. He was the sort who could make friends with just about anyone, and he was always striking up conversations.” He paused, so Alice nodded but didn’t say anything. Her fist subconsciously clutched at Hackett’s shirt, as if to brace herself for the rest of the story.

“When he was 17 and I was 14, someone broke into our house in the middle of the night. Jasper heard the intruder first, and he grabbed his baseball bat with the intent of sneaking up on him. As luck would have it though, mom came out of her bedroom while Jasper was still getting ready to hit him, and the noise alerted him.

They grappled for a bit, until Jasper managed to land a good blow to the intruder’s temple and he was knocked out. I remember I was about to shout triumphantly, when Jasper suddenly collapsed. It turned out that the intruder had a knife, and he had managed to get Jasper in an artery. He bled to death in my mother’s arms as we waited for the ambulance to arrive.”

“No …” Alice gasped. “No. That’s too horrible.”

“Mom used to blame herself for what happened, until one day she stopped talking about Jasper’s death entirely. I suspect she never got over it.”

“Oh Basil, I’m so sorry.” Alice felt like she was going to cry from the guilt of asking Hackett to relive the story all over again. “I should have realized that there was a reason why you never talked about it before.”

His hand closed over hers and he slowly kissed her forehead. “It happened 24 years ago. I found my peace, and that event was what inspired me to become part of the criminal justice system. I never told you because I didn’t want to place anything heavy on your shoulders with everything else that you were going through.”

“How are you so – I don’t know – ‘zen’ about everything?” Alice asked.

“Age, mostly. I was a lot angrier about the world when I was 21, and a lot more scared too. I even vowed to remain a bachelor for my entire life, so I would never leave anyone heartbroken when I inevitably died young.” His hand slid up her arm to her shoulder, then down her side to her waist. “Or maybe I was waiting for you, and using that as my excuse,” he whispered.

Alice moved so she could kiss his lips, thrilled by the way his hand gripped the curve above her hips, and she wondered if it was still too soon after giving birth to consummate their marriage. In the back of her mind she had to grudgingly admit that it was, but sharing a bed made the thought hard to resist night after night. The way Hackett’s body turned to press against hers made her decide that she didn’t care to resist after all.

His tongue found hers, and he leveraged himself over her as her heart pounded furiously in her chest, and she touched his neck lightly with her fingernails before sliding her hands up under his shirt. However, when she wrapped her legs around him, Hackett yanked himself out of the spell that had crept over them and he pulled away.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, then turned to lie with his back towards her. Alice felt hurt.

“Basil,” she said, then bit her lip to keep from crying.

He sighed, then turned to face her again. “I’m sorry, Alice,” he repeated. “Now isn’t the right time.”

“I know.” She couldn’t hold it in anymore, and broke down crying.

Hackett pulled her into an embrace and gently stroked her hair until she fell asleep from exhaustion.

Next