It’s midnight again, and Alice is sitting at the bar.
She’s drinking absinthe, of course, and muttering about a caterpillar and a mushroom, taking drags on a hand-rolled cigarette in a way that makes you wonder what exactly is in that tobacco. But it’s Alice, so you don’t ask.
You never ask Alice.
When you do, she gives you a look like your head is a magic mirror and your brains are made of cheese, like she can see right inside you and there’s nothing worth bothering about there. She shakes her head and takes a long drag on her cigarette and she doesn’t answer, not really. Not Alice.
It’s a long story, she tells you, and the way she says it you begin to understand that calling the story ‘long’ is a lot like calling the ocean ‘damp’, and then her gaze wanders back to the little white rabbit at the other end of the bar and she tells you to give him another gin and carrot juice, please.
It’s midnight again, and Alice is sitting.
She rolls herself a new cigarette and lights it on the end of the last one, taking a long drag before she blows a smoke ring that settles on the absinthe bottle. It’s a lot less full than it was when she started, but she isn’t acting tipsy. She’s just acting like Alice. Always Alice.
She looks at you again, and you have the feeling she isn’t seeing you at all, just something with your shape in another world, and she takes a drink of absinthe and blows a ring of smoke and says
Who are you?
You don’t know how to answer, but she repeats the question with a nasty little edge in her voice, like it’s not really a question but a challenge, so you try to find a way and that’s when you realize that you don’t actually know.
The white rabbit snickers at the end of the bar. He looks drunk, with the orange smudge on his hare lips, but Alice. Alice isn’t drunk. Alice is Alice.
It’s midnight again, and Alice is.
She’s not smiling. She never smiles. Alice is drinking absinthe and smoking another cigarette, and this time she offers it to you, so you take a hit, just a little one, and then another.
At the end of the bar, the white rabbit is getting out a pocket watch and checking the time. He looks worried. You want to tell him not to bother, because you know what time it is.
It’s midnight again.