Part One here.
Part two here.
. – . – .
Alison Wonder’s Land – part 3
Alison ate everything on her plate. She licked the tip of a finger and cleaned crumbs, first from her plate, then from mine.
“Pickle, pie, or plums for desert,” I asked, not having anything but plums to offer.
“If you pick two plums for you and one for me, I promise to eat only three,” Alison said. I picked fruit from our occasional rare plum tree. I fed one to Alison, then two more. She applauded, for the effect was a close kin a magic trick.
Alison and I found some grassy shade, and wondered about everything until we fell asleep. I awoke alone. The sun had slipped below the horizon. Alison appeared and disappeared with the suddenness of an unexpected sneeze.
She appeared to me only a few times more before we moved the following autumn.
(Before I continue, let me clarify the phrase, “we moved the following autumn”: We did not, literally, move the following autumn. We didn’t extract autumn from between summer and winter, and insert it between two other seasons. We simply moved from one house to another during the following year, within the autumn time frame. This explanation is necessary, because Alison has taught me that anything is possible.)
Alison once appeared kneeling over a pile of fresh dirt, watering the mound with a watering can from the shed, the watering can that I had forgotten was next to the shovel and behind the mower. That day, Alison spoke only in one-word sentences, each beginning and ending with the word, “wonder”.
A few months later, the watered earth had produced a sapling. I saw Alison in the same spot as before. This time, instead of speaking in one-word sentences, she squatted over the sapling, and spoke only through the raising and lowering of an eyebrow.
The last time Alison Wonder appeared in our yard before we moved, she was examining the tree that had sprouted from a sapling, her sapling, planted for a reason unknown to us.
She was motionless and unresponsive, frozen in pose, a cardboard cutout without cardboard and without the cutting of it. Even her hair and dress resisted to blow in the uneven breeze.
The tree grew, but Alison’s pose stayed fixed. She had width and height, but lacked the dimension of depth. I did not believe her to be unhappy, as she appeared to be trapped in mid-wonder, her favorite place.
I cared for her as much as knowledge of caring for a two-dimensional girl allowed. Most mornings, I placed a tray of bread and fruit next her two-dimensional two feet. When I picked up the tray, there were always missing remains of our occasional rare plums, even when it was not plum season.
Whenever I noticed debris on her face, or cut grass blown and sticking to her dress or socks or shoes, I wiped her off with a damp rag. Once, I blew her off with a leaf blower after a freak sandstorm passed through the town. She never spoke or moved, not even a flinch when cool rain touched her skin, or when I combed her hair.
One morning, we painted, “For Sale” on Alison’s back. This was logical, because her back faced traffic, potential buyers. Don’t misunderstand. Alison Wonder was never for sale, only the house, her tree, and the land on which it grew.
Alison Wonder’s strange appearances had not forced us to sell. It was Alison’s stranger disappearances, and the unresolved questions of from where she was, and from where she was not.
Once our place had sold, we removed the For Sale sign from the yard, wrapped it in a warm wool blanket, and stored it in the shed next to the shovel and mower and watering can.
We had room in the moving van to bring Alison along, after all, she was easily packable. She lacked a third dimension. We discussed the matter, and agreed that bringing her with us would be a selfish act. Alison had put down roots. Besides, sooner or later, the new owners would need to tend to things in the yard with things stored in the shed. They would explore, look, and hopefully see.
After exploring our new home, we discovered that nothing similar could have been said about us by the previous owners. The new place was filled with disappearance, and not much else.
On a positive note, last week, the new owners of our old address contacted us. They told us to expect a package, a package full of more convoluted questions and sayings than they had the energy or inclination to answer.
“Some Wondering Thing from the far corner of the shed,” as they put it, had begun to speak, first in one-word sentences, then more eloquently. That Some Wondering Thing demanded to be rushed to our new address, before her third dimension had re-formed.
Alison knew, as do we all, that it is not legal to ship a three-dimensional child through the postal service. Tomorrow morning, as the sun rises, I will check the mail. I checked the mail today already. Seven times, at least.
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