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.

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Alice and the Warden

Alice and the Warden – 3

Alice had met Damon when she was sixteen-years-old, and he had talked her into bed with him that night. Shortly afterwards, she dropped out of school to run away with him on his motorcycle, and somewhere along the road she lost her sense of self.

When Damon asked her to have sex with a friend to repay a favor, she did it. When he wanted leverage over someone, she became a seductress on his behalf. He taught her to steal, chose her clothing for her, and pushed her into drugs and alcohol. After four years, Alice had disappeared completely underneath Damon, to the point that when he asked her to confess to murder, she did it without hesitation.

Until the moment Alice found herself alone in the stall of a public restroom, staring down at the two lines of a nicked pregnancy test, too numb to feel her heart beat. It was then that the word ‘dignity’ had risen up sharply in her mind, spoken by that stupid, impotent warden she had vowed to hate just three weeks prior.

Dignity.

She still didn’t know what it meant, but she knew that if she told Damon he would insist on an abortion, and she wouldn’t argue against him. That wasn’t what she wanted, and she knew that it wasn’t dignified to be so blindly obedient to someone like Damon. There was no doubt that he was the father, but she couldn’t trust him with her baby.

She never told him.

A couple weeks later, they checked into a motel where Damon began to undress her as usual, but Alice didn’t have it in her to go through with it. She was more tired than she had thought possible, slightly nauseated from the pregnancy, and angry at Damon for using her too much. For the first time ever, she snapped at him to ‘fuck off,’ then for a terrifying second afterward thought that he was going to hit her in response.

Instead, he grabbed his bag and left.

When dawn broke in the morning, Alice awoke with the realization that he hadn’t returned. She waited, staring at the clock until the motel staff chased her out to prepare the room for the next guest, and she drifted to a nearby diner to continue her wait, knowing full well that he wasn’t coming back for her.

She had a $20 hidden in her bra, so she ordered blueberry pancakes with whipped cream to help make up for skimping on dinner the night before, and she ate slowly as she wondered about what she was going to do. Her mom wasn’t going to want her back in the state she was in – especially after four years of estrangement – and everyone she knew was exactly like Damon. She didn’t have any resources, but she couldn’t live in the gutter with a baby growing inside of her.

By chance, the small TV in the corner of the diner showed a mugshot of her with the words, “Wanted for questioning.” Alice stared, seeing herself for the first time. That girl, glowering at the camera with flamingo pink hair and far too much eyeliner really looked like the sort of person who would be involved in murder, even though Alice had never felt that way on the inside – she didn’t want to hurt anyone.

She dialed the phone number provided on the screen with her cellphone, then put her $20 on the table before slipping outside.

With nowhere to go, Alice turned herself in.

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About Me

Too Late?

Sometimes I worry that I decided to jump into the whole ‘author’ thing a bit too late. Blogs are, like, totally old hat by now, and everyone has literally switched over to YouTube. Most of ’em haven’t read anything since Fifty Shades of Grey anyway.

The funny thing is, I was planning on retreating for the first half of this year, given that I’m expecting our fifth baby (omg that’s a lot of kids). Instead, the characters in my head have gotten louder, to the point that it’s meaningless to argue that I’ve got my own major life events going on. So, here I am, writing another story.

And I wonder: is there going to be an audience for novelettes posted on some random person’s blog? Even if I put tons of effort into marketing in my own way, will it ever amount to anything? It’s been ages since blogs were the hot new shiny item, and as much as I love fantasizing about being a crazy trend-breaker, I’m not sure if anyone else wants to go along with it.

Am I too late?

In a way, it’s also exciting to discover who’s still out there.

Hello, we’re the weirdos who stubbornly do our own thing, irregardless of where the masses have gone.

Alice and the Warden

Alice and the Warden – 2

Doctor Westley tended to the women of the prison with a small rotation of nurses, and while Alice knew full well that she wasn’t the only pregnant inmate, she was the only one who was personally accompanied to each appointment by the warden – and that made her stand out. He was amiable towards her, in that stiff sort of way that hinted at being unfamiliar with friendliness on the job. The only exposure Alice had to the female population of the prison was a long and miserable walk down the corridor of cells as Hackett escorted her from his office to the infirmary, for a physical examination to confirm the pregnancy that she had claimed on her admissions paperwork. By the time she had reached the end of the corridor, she was terrified at what she had gotten herself into. A few minutes later when Westley pricked her vein to collect blood, the sight of it squirting into a tube had sent her into a dead faint.

Alice had come to with Hackett holding an oxygen mask over her face, and a nurse placing pillows under her feet. That night, Hackett took her up to her room in the tower, apologized for the dust but assured her that the sheets were clean, then locked her inside. She never saw the other inmates or the prison cells again, for which she was grateful.

When she entered the infirmary for her appointment, Dr. Westley smiled at her. “Would you like to find out the baby’s sex today?” he asked.

Alice’s heart thumped. “Yes,” she answered quickly, her hands moving to cradle her stomach. “I want to know right away.”

“Go on with the nurse – you know the routine – then we’ll get set up to find out.” He patted her shoulder. “Don’t be nervous.”

Alice nodded then followed the nurse towards the bathroom. After they finished up with the routine prenatal tests, she returned to the main examination room to find Hackett and Dr. Westley laughing together, though her presence meant their conversation was over. She had seen enough to know that they were good friends behind the scenes, but around her they always maintained the professional distance of coworkers. In a strange way it made her feel left out, even though she had no business trying to be chummy with either of them.

“All right, lets get started, shall we?” Dr. Westley motioned for her to sit in the exam chair. “Don’t be so nervous; ultrasounds don’t hurt at all. We’re just going to take a quick peak inside to see how the baby is doing.”

And find out the gender,” Alice said, forcing a smile. She didn’t know why her heart was pounding so hard, and she silently reminded herself that practically every pregnant woman found out beforehand, now that the technology existed. But she was scared that she would be disappointed with the revelation, and only have herself for consolation once she was locked in her room once again. Despite the trappings of comfort, she was still a prisoner who had confessed to murder.

Hackett came to stand beside her, and brushed her hand with his fingers. He was watching Dr. Westley, so Alice wondered if the touch had been accidental. She shifted away, but his fingers gently touched her again, and she realized that he was trying to reassure her while maintaining subtlety.

I wish that he was the real father, she thought, then felt her cheeks grow hot with the realization of what had crossed her mind. No, she corrected herself, she wished that the baby’s real father was there, instead of the warden.

Dr. Westley had dimmed the lights, so no one saw her blush. She winced when the doctor squirted cold jelly onto her stomach, then placed the wand against her skin. The screen came alive with movement and strange shapes, and it wasn’t until Dr. Westley stopped the picture that Alice realized she was looking at a leg and a foot.

“Oh my god,” she blurted. “Is that my baby?”

“Sure is,” Dr. Westley murmured in reply, staring at the screen as he began to shift the wand around again. “Looks good. Looks good,” he mused quietly to himself, then finally turned Alice and smiled. “The baby is developing normally, so let’s get to the important part.” He shifted the wand around to the top of Alice’s stomach, and she held her breath as she stared at the screen, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to interpret the image herself but still searching for any tell-tale signs. Her fingers weakly grabbed onto Hackett’s as Dr. Westley said, Let’s see … the baby is a … girl.”

A girl …” Alice repeated quietly. “I’m going to have a girl.” Then she broke into a grin as she looked up at Hackett and joked, “Hopefully she won’t turn out like me, huh?”

He moved away, pulling his hand out of hers. “You’re still turning out,” he answered, but Alice didn’t understand what he meant by it.

After she was cleaned up, she said goodbye to Westley and the nurse, then followed Hackett through the winding path back to her room. She knew that he was deliberately leading her through the hidden passages that had been utilized during the prison’s former days as a castle, and it amazed her that he never got lost. If she ever tried to escape, she wouldn’t make it out of that maze.

“Hey,” she said slowly after a minute. “If people really can climb the trees and peek in at me, I’d like to put up some curtains.”

What color?” he asked.

“Pink, for my baby.” She smiled as she cradled her stomach in her arms. “You’ll fight for me, won’t you? My baby is all I have to live for, and I’ll do everything I can to be a good mother for her. I’ll get an honest job, and I won’t ever have sex again, I swear.”

Hackett laughed. “I’ll do what I can, but ultimately it will be up to you on whether or not you keep her. I can get you enrolled in the education program in the meantime, since that will certainly help you find your feet. You can’t stay here forever, you know, especially with a baby.”

“I know.” Alice couldn’t help but sigh. “I kind of wish I could though. You’re my only company, but I don’t feel as lonely as I used to. I used to always feel like I was … pretending.”

They were quiet for a time, as Alice tried to understand what was going through her heart. Thinking about Damon, and the life that she had shared with him, hurt her in a way that she hadn’t expected. She regretted it, and wished that she could undo every part of it.

“I read a new book,” Hackett said. “I thought that you would enjoy it too.”

“Oh!” Alice exclaimed, surprised by the break in silence. “Good! It’s been a week since the last one, and I missed talking about books with you.”

Hackett patted her shoulder as he smiled. “You have more free time than I do. You should be recommending new books to me.”

“I can’t leave my room to find them.” Alice grinned back at him. “Go ahead and do that education thingy too. It’s not too late for me to get a GED, right? It might help me stop being so stupid.”

“You aren’t stupid.”

“Sure I am.” Alice looked down at the floor. “You don’t know what I was like before I came here.”

“I know that you have good taste in literature,” Hackett replied. He stopped and turned to face her, putting his hand under her chin to look her in the eyes. “I know that underneath everything, you have a good heart.”

He kept walking then, stopping a few feet away to motion for Alice to hurry up and follow.

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