Part One here.
Part Two here.
Part Three here.
. – . – .
Alison Wonder’s Land – part 4 (of 5)
I asked myself on the walk back from an empty mailbox, why Alison didn’t acquire her third dimension in the shed at our old place, become her old self again, then disappear there and appear here. Maybe she just didn’t know the new address.
Then I thought, if Alison could un-grow a third dimension and re-grow it, why not a fourth or fifth? If that, why not a seventy-twelfth-and-two-thirds dimension? I considered the possibilities. No, that’s not true. I wondered about them.
Once back in the house, I took off my shoes and went to bed. Early the next morning woke up and put on my shoes.
“Where are you going,” I was asked.
“Outside to wonder if we’ve received a package,” I said.
“But it’s a holiday,” I was told.
“In that case, I may be a while. When I return,” I said, ”I want to introduce you to someone.”
I looked out the window. I opened the front door of our new home and looked outside, wondering about everything, with everything in me.
(This is where I first tried to end Alison Wonder’s story, but she would have none of it. “Don’t be a coward,” she said. “Stop observing life from the wrong side of the window. Never open the door and take just one step. Walk. Run.” So we continue, Dear Wondering Reader, if only to discover what could happen next.)
I ran toward our mailbox. After three or four, maybe five or six steps (who’s counting) I tripped over something that was not there at the step before my tripping step. I landed so hard that the side of my face bounced against the ground. I slid along, and came to rest in, the greenest of grasses.
My feet were still entangled in the wrappings of what had been a holiday-delivered package, the contents of which had opened itself with a three-dimensional burp of rare occasional plum breath. I know that because I believe it without having seen it with my own two eyes, or those of someone else. I stumbled to my feet, gasping for air.
“You would be considered athletic, if not for your non-athletic nature,” a familiar voice said.
“There you are,” I wheezed.
“No, there I was. Here I am.” Alison Wonder once again occupied three-dimensional space.
“I stand corrected, or at least I would if I could.”
“Are you OK?”
“I think so.”
“Then it is sufficient,” Alison said, ”that you are bent at the waist, catching your breath, corrected.”
“It is beyond wonderful to see you,” I said between spits of dirt and a blade of grass.
“Beyond, wonder, full,” she said. “I like that. My mistake was in putting down roots without realizing that you were transplanting yours.”
I paused for air, air that smelled faintly of soap. “Our mistake was transplanting roots, because we thought yours had died.”
We stood there, admiring the scenery, she the yard, and me the girl.
“Alison, would you like to come inside?”
“Very much. I would enjoy meeting the plural forms of those otherwise singular pronouns you use so often.”
“What language is that,” I asked.
“The language of English grammar,” she said. “When you talk, instead of saying, ‘I,’ and, ‘me,’ you say, ‘us,’ and, ‘we,’ a lot. A lot a lot.”
“Yes I guess we do.”
There was a moment of pleasant silence between us.
“I wondered if you wondered about me,” she said.
“Always,” I said. “And a bit more.”
Alison and I hugged for the very first and best time, but not the very last time, or the very final. I wondered if she loved me, but I didn’t dare ask. I knew she would answer abnormally.
She would say, “I don’t,” and I would ask, “Are you saying no you don’t love me, or that you don’t wonder if you love me, because you do?” And she would answer, “precisely,” or “I wonder,” or something else entirely.
Instead, Alison Wonder, still full of surprisings, read my mind, perhaps because of my mind’s close proximity to hers as we embraced. She whispered in my ear, “I do,” then kissed me on the cheek.
“You taste good, like dirt,” she said. “Thank you for running after me. That’s why you found me so quickly.”
“I wish I had started running sooner,” I said.
Then, Alison whispered something else. The word sounded like, “No.” Yes, she said no. “No,” followed by, “Don’t do it. Please don’t do it.” Alison held me tight and pressed her face into my shoulder, and I responded with a tighter grip of my own.
At any moment, I expected to find myself embracing a For Sale sign, or worse, nothing at all. “I’ll loan you more time,” I said. “All the time I’ve got left. Everything.” She kept repeating, “Please don’t, please don’t, please don’t.”
Before either of us could speak again, Alison and I heard what sounded like the crack of a gunshot coming from the yard’s edge.
(tomorrow, the conclusion)
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