The following story is based on the ailments, tenacity, and radiance of a person dear to me. He has chosen to remain anonymous, so the pseudonym "Allen" will be used.
A blond-haired lad named Allen looked into a glass that looked back, his gray world at odds with the riot of color within. Inside of it were dreams, terrors, and creatures fantastical. A whisper of light reached out of the glass and beckoned him into its mystery with gentle, but insistent tones singing,
I’ll wait, I’ll wait. For a very important date. No time to say hello, but try. I’ll wait, I’ll wait, I’ll wait. Allen knew he must enter the strange world and follow. And, so he did.
The light transformed into a pure white lamb that led the boy through halls familiar and foreign with doors whispering their own alluring tunes. But the lamb went straight on, heedless to the other whispers, and proceeded through a tiny door that pulsed with light. Allen tried to follow, but the door was much, much too small for the boy. Luckily, he saw a pill on a table nearby that had the words "eat me" written on it with a prescription attached that said the same. This had to be his way through the door. Following the doctor’s orders, he took the pill, but grew much, much too large to fit through the minuscule door. Crying in despair at being caught between worlds real and imaginary, his tears, unknown to the poor boy, shrunk him down, down, down, whisking him through the small keyhole and into the light beyond.
Allen washed ashore an unusual land sopping wet from his tears. Upon surveying his surroundings, the disoriented youth saw creatures of all persuasions, limbs, and appetites running in a circle trying to get dry. They followed the same thought, Get dry, get dry, get dry. (In their own respective languages). Even when the tearful waves crashed over them, round and round they went. While the circuitous thought was unproductive, the time Allen spent there was not. Allen found he could speak in all of their languages if he first listened to them speak. He met a bear that giggled and hopped like a rabbit, a sea monkey that dreamt of dancing on chandeliers, and many other creatures similar in their dissimilarities and unending chase. They are all mad here, Allen thought to himself. Well, we are all mad here, since I am in the same place they are in. We are different, but stuck inside our own circling thoughts. Then, an idea most clever occurred to him:
Perhaps if I listened to the warmth of the sun, I could dry without this preposterous loop. In that same exact instant, he dried as dry as the noon-day sun. He tried shouting to his companions of his discovery, but they were too focused on the whirlpool without and within.
After breaking free from the race never to be won and after saying goodbye to his stuck sad friends, Allen advanced to a forest close by in search of the white lamb. Walking in the cool shade's rich dark colors, he soon heard voices from afar--silliness, stubbornness, bumbling, bouncing, and all manner of senseless babble. Misters Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum appeared from the trees. Without introduction they immediately took hold of Allen pulling him this way and that, each insisting his own way was superior to the other's. Allen--amidst the overwhelming, and rather thrashing welcome--remembered that the white lamb had sung,
No time to say hello, but try. And without further ado, Allen decided to first make the violent acquaintance of the two peaceful brothers. Each was just as nonsensical as the other, but were eager to tell stories inspiring awe and amazement. (They hadn’t had any company, besides the other Tweedle, you see.) After spending enough time to call them chums, Allen left the now un-friendless Dee and Dum. He was off again to follow the white lamb’s lead.
That lamb brought him to a little white house. Undoubtedly, it was the lamb's own white little house. He seemed to invite Allen in, but as always, was just barely out of reach. Looking around the rarely seen interior, Allen spotted another prescription attached to a different pill saying "eat me." How odd to find one here of all places, but the doctor knows best, Allen mused. Allen took the pill and felt immediately blissful--quite unlike the tear-inducing medicine of before--but grew much, much too large again. At this same moment, a Dodo walked by and insisted that the white house was actually his. Upon seeing the young man growing at an alarming rate from inside, the Dodo cried, “Monster!” Then decided to smoke it out and promptly left to get supplies. Naturally, Allen was not fond of getting smoked out.
How can you smoke a monster out that is yourself, especially when you are not a monster at all? the unfortunate lad asked himself. Luckily, the white lamb heard these troubled thoughts and blew a soft breath from where he stood outside into the cramped air the home. Without delay, Allen shrank down to a respectable size.
Upon returning, the Dodo didn’t recognize Allen in his un-gigantic state and treated him with a great deal of civility. Miffed at the Dodo's previous disgraceful manners, but remembering to "stop and say hello," the young man heroically got to know the Dodo. Allen discovered that the Dodo appeared to have been just as friendless as everyone else.
On the young man traveled with the white lamb’s form barely in sight. Allen was led through a meadow of beautiful flowers. Some were bright, some were dark, some had thorns, some were soft. Some vines even tried to ensnare him in their twists. Others of a kinder nature lent him some sunlight they had gathered for him to take along his journey. They warned him he would need it in the dark to come. Filled all at once with incredulity and joy at each of their beauty, Allen stopped to sing their songs of the earth. His voice reverberated throughout the meadow and joined with the larger voice that sang so sweetly in the sky above.
After bidding adieu to his new floral friends, Allen was led into a thicket. The young man soon passed by a caterpillar smoking an enormous curling pipe.
“Who are you?” queried the suspicious caterpillar.
“I am Allen,” said the young man in question.
“No. Who. Are. You?” repeated the caterpillar with more emphasis.
“I don’t understand,” stammered the clearly confused youth.
“That is just my point,” said the caterpillar haughtily, puffing more intensely as each second passed. The smoke soon surrounded the young man, choking him with its insistent air. Attempting to fan away the smoke, Allen's hand brushed against the wool coat of the lamb. The white one led the lost one out of the suffocating haze, only to disappear as soon as the young man could see. The only sign the lamb had been there at all was his: I’ll wait, I’ll wait, I’ll wait, that hung in the air.
Allen went forward on his own and soon found himself in the midst of a splendid party. A person who called himself The Mad Hatter welcomed Allen to his boisterous celebration. The Hatter introduced the young man to the March Hare and Dormouse who seemed just as mad as The Hatter appeared to be. The Hatter observed this train of thought and said, “We are all mad here, or so it may seem. But, the people who are truly mad, are the ones that don’t think they are mad at all. We know who we are, but they never will.”
While Allen mulled this over, he spotted the lamb down the way beckoning him. Allen promptly excused himself from the splendid supper. The Hatter was sad to see his new friend go saying, “I hope this supper wasn’t your last with us! You must return to us soon. Or, at least return to us in the dark,” to which Allen listened, left, and then waved goodbye.
As if on cue, light faded over the pink horizon, resulting in a resounding cold night. Allen could barely make out the dim light of the lamb beyond and only faintly heard the melody of his song: I’ll wait, I’ll wait, For a very important date, No time to say hello, but try, I'll wait, I'll wait, I'll wait But what use was waiting if the spot to meet at couldn't be seen? The faint light of the lamb gave a relative direction in which to proceed, but Allen was distressed for the coming individual and timid steps to be taken. Feeling alone and forgotten in the darkest dark of the night, Allen remembered the words of his friends--to remember them in the dark to come.
The brave man pulled out the light the flowers had gathered for him and smiled despite the darkness. When remembering his friends, strange as they were, strange as they would always be, his smile brightened. Allen recalled the absurdities of the Tweedles and the well-intended hypocrisy of the Dodo. All were friends, despite their failings. His smile glowed all the wider when the defiant man remembered the haughty caterpillar and the sweet songs of the flowers. Finally, he remembered his poor friends who were still running, running, running. He had stopped following the same circling thought. He must now help them escape the same circling thought.
And with this new determination, his smile leapt out in the form of a Cheshire cat. The cat smiled Allen’s smile and bounded into the sky. That smile lit each footstep; Allen's smile lit each footstep; Their smile lit each footstep. The once distant song grew stronger as the light drew closer and brighter.
Allen's smile led him to a clearing of cleanly cut grass, with cleanly cut hedges on top of that grass. Cards of all suits lived there. They happily marched through a maze built into the hedges, played all sorts of adventurous games, and forgot that they all weren't the same card. They welcomed Allen into their fun, making him feel at home. They made him forget that he wasn’t a card, but rather, he was one of them--the same card as rest of them thought themselves to be.
Suddenly a dissonant call of warped trumpets struck the air and the Queen of Hearts strode angrily into their midst. Not saying hello to anyone present, she inspected the clean state her kingdom was in. Though everything was in pristine condition, she saw some white roses growing by the edges of the hedges and was greatly displeased. She wanted them painted black. Confused, but unquestioning they all got to work; all except Allen who just didn't understand. He stopped to ask The Queen why she wanted the beautiful white roses black. No one had asked her such a question before. Or any question at all, for that matter.
“The insides of this Wonderland are black. These roses grow out of the darkness into the light, but are still that same darkness from which they came. Don’t let them deceive you. Just because they are in the open wearing different clothes, they cannot be anything else than what they are,” said the Queen of Hearts with cold disdain.
“But, they are meant to grow; they are meant to change. They themselves are not the darkness. You can’t force them to be what you want them to be just because you want it,” said the wise man with building courage.
Angered by the comment, but not knowing what to say, the Queen looked down with clenched fists and sputtered in rage. Allen followed the Queen's gaze and spied a series of lace clubs poking out at the bottom of her dress. It was at this moment he saw The Queen for what she was, which was not a Queen of Hearts at all: She was the Queen of Clubs dressed in hearts. She hated the white roses because they were what she wasn't. She saw herself in the things she hated and hated the things she saw in herself.
The Queen looked up and saw Allen's discovery plain on his face.
“Off with his head!” she screamed.
But, the cards didn’t want to chop off this nice man's head; he had played with them and joined in their fun. And, they hadn’t forgotten that they had forgotten he wasn’t one of them.
Standing alone in this perilous moment and without knowing exactly why, Allen started singing:
My fate, My fate,
On this very important date,
The times I’ve said hello and tried,
Will end this spiteful hate!
Upon the last dying notes of Allen’s song, tunes from all of Wonderland rose up to form the same melody. Without hesitation, all of Allen's wonderfully unusual friends appeared by his side in a flash of blinding light. Even his running friends had ceased running to help their dear friend. At the front of them stood the white lamb Allen had so carefully sought, noble and proud.
At this sight, the Queen fell to the ground confounded and more than a little bit afraid.
With intelligent eyes and their song in the air, the lamb stepped forward to The Queen, breathing the music into her lungs,
On this very important date,
The times you’ve only said goodbye
Are done and now set straight.
The Queen slowly rose from the ground shining, a new vibrant being. Off with the hearts, off with the reds! She was white and black and every lonely and warm shade of gray in between. She was positively the most beautiful Queen of Clubs they had ever seen.
Joy filled the air as a hazy fog set in. A beautiful butterfly landed softly next to the white lamb and Allen with a kindly recognition in his eye.
“Who are you?” asked the majestic butterfly.
Allen looked upon all of his friends and the white lamb.
Smiling to the butterfly, Allen said,
“I am Wonderland.”