Story: Dream Crawlers: The Experimental Treating Team – 25/06/19

He was the last person I saw as they put me to sleep; I was terrified, they were going to crawl through my dreams. My days as of late had been incredibly disturbed, I was seeing things, hearing voices, and my sanity I could not be assured, not so sure. My doctor, Mr. Celephelump, advised me of this certain procedure, where they could place me into an induced coma, and intrude upon my rapid thoughts of delusions, grandeur and paranoia. For my nightmares had shifted into my daydreams, they were not separated, nothing was what it was meant to seem, and the images which terrified me into the night continued on existing in daylight, a shadowy corner here, a creaking there, a BUMP, goes the fright in my day and night.

As you can imagine, I was not so certain of these proposed intrusions, I wanted to keep some of my thoughts private, the embarrassing ones, the special ones, the private ones. Would they like their thoughts being read like a book, how would they take the endless openings into their minds, allowing others a firm, scrutinising look? I expressed my concerns with the doctor; he simply laughed all of them away.

“Why, dear Penny, there is nothing to worry about, we will not use these thoughts against you,” he said with a smile. Under my breath, I muttered, “You may.” Thankfully though, he didn’t catch wind of my apparent insolence, and explaining the process again to me, yet more thoroughly, I understood that I had little choice in the matter of this. Because I was so out of control, unable to take care of myself properly – why, I was eating toast only thrice a week as my weekly meals because I couldn’t manage my finances – I was addicted to buying cigarettes, alcohol free beer, and full cream and flavoured milks – my mind was spinning all the time, bouncing off the walls, it seemed I was crazy, without even a sip of my favourite richest strength dessert wine.

My alcoholism had been the trigger of my mental downfall, and that was why I now only consumed alcohol free beer, I thought of this solution it would fix me, all in all. But it didn’t, my thoughts centred around how gravity was the answer to everything, how a burning bush that I would light meant the created reference and celebration of Biblical story telling, and my little toy dolls, who I played with giving cups of tea every night, despite the fact I was now thirty two and no longer five, I would talk with the sweet girls well into the morning after midnight. I exercised fervently every morning, to wipe the sweat away with glee, weight dripping off me with every moment, then once home, I’d dehydrate myself further and set my heart racing with a teacup loaded with five bags of tea. Such utter chaos was in my land, visibly by my doctor when we finally did meet, that he was so very severe and concerned that he must enter my dreams.

“You will be fine,” he finished off, “Allow me to make an official time, we can book in for two weeks from now, at a quarter past nine. Please fast from midnight onwards, only a small amount of water permitted, and come in relaxing clothes, with an overnight bag of several changes of outfits. You may need to stay more than one night, but we shall see, from your dreams, what will become of them.”

With a presented hand to shake, I formally took his hand, wondering what would happen when they viewed all my secretive, locked away dreams that presently only I could command to come at hand. How embarrassing would this be, if they could view my exact hopes and dreams, when I was but a patient who couldn’t even take care of herself, needing others to decode my heaven sent thoughts and dreams? How could I help it if I had taken the available clues and figured out my true identity, the one which was forced upon me as I grew, as a wee embryo, a little baby inside, I was bound for greatness, this my middle name did decide.

I was given the name of my great grandmother, we had never had the chance to ever meet, yet when I was taken to her former home by my father, the streets and surrounding courts and roads were the words I used into my dramatically written screenplay scenes. Astounded, I asked my father how did I know these strange otherwise unknown words, had I been here before, for if not, this was all rather untoward. With a twinkle in his eye, he shook his head and said to me, “Darling Penny, you are special,” then he fell silent, that was all he would explain to me. I found it rather peculiar, if you were to ask me.

Then came the date for the dream crawling, I had been dreading it for the two weeks, my stomach had been perpetually churning. What if they saw, the being they didn’t realise or understand who I was truly was, my great grandmother’s soul transported within me, living now upon the Earth with me, rather than resting in the sparkling stars? They would, have and did call me delusional enough for the thoughts I stupidly shared, the ones which I possessed, wanting to be honest, truthful, forthcoming, as they required me to be, no less, because my mental health team apparently only wanted what was right for me, but now I wasn’t so sure, and of these hospital grounds I wished to leave. It was too dangerous here, I was already easily enough read like a book, what would it mean to give the final, private details, my true identity could never be accepted, and the notion that I was incredibly unwell would be spoken of with great concern, again and again. This treating team shouldn’t treat this way. They should simply leave me be.

And the Doctor was the last person who I saw as I slipped into my dreams, falling, flailing, helplessly trying to keep my head above the pool of consciousness, paddling despite failing in every manner, I would sink further, it would seem. And then blackness, an overwhelming silence, and there was nothing, nothing like I had ever known it. But I could feel an icky sensation of someone filing through my thoughts, as though they were arranged carefully in a cabinet, from A to B, to C to D, each pull making me feel tenser and more taut. Instead of being able to unwind in the murky scene, I felt myself angering, agitation growing within.

“Ah ha, we’ve found it!” I heard my Doctor call triumphantly. An exiting motion, a sliding sound, and apparently this meant the selected memory was freed. I suddenly felt emptier, like something was missing, something important, something that couldn’t again be derived, its former presence within me was so potent. It was an original, and saddeningly, I realised that a part of me was no longer alive. I fought now, I kicked and screamed to be freed from the deepening darkness, and swimming desperately to the surface, I broke the air of consciousness with my gasping breaths.

“Penny? Penny? Are you okay?” my doctor called from far away.

“How dare you?!” I seethed, grabbing the small folder he held in his hidden hands, attempting to keep my eyes at bay. I ripped open the paper and what did I see? The details of my great grandmother’s life: her name, her birth date, certificate, her portrait, staring right back at me.

“You disgust me!” I spat, and with that I launched a physical attack, but the other medical staff were ready, within seconds they firmly held me back. But my heart was frantically beating, the adrenaline keeping me still ready, I was panting and flailing and groaning, why wouldn’t they leave me alone now? Deeply concentrating, as I closed my eyes, I reabsorbed Great Grandmother’s facts, taking in her details, her knowledge, her love, her life, and now once more she was again close to and within me, Penny and Great Grandmama together, our names intersected so freely.

Never again would I trust this doctor, and his treating team, I wasn’t ill, I was blessed and enlightened, and this could have all ended in a terrifying dream. Where I would have lost all sense of the layering of who I was, and who I was born to be, my family member’s soul atop of mine, providing me love and protection, and additional creative energy. I avoided all members of the medical professional of psychiatry from here on in. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them, I simply didn’t want to be treated for something that I felt belonged within me. Eccentrics and dual lives aside, I was happy with who I was, am, and who I have always been.

© 2019 Alice Well Art. Lauren M. Hancock also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: Lucille the Innocent Minded Street Thug – 25/08/19

Lucille the Street Thug was used as sparkling bait. In her resplendent sequinned outfit and sparkling with jewels on every finger, she drew the attention of the rivalling, warring gang members in the hours of late. When they would be drawn to her attractive appearance, and pulled into her welcoming presence, Lucille’s gang members were waiting, with baited breath, for the others to drop to their knees, now as quivering cowards, intimidated and frighteningly scared. All it took to quell their false bravado was a few words – “Get down now!” and a levelling of a magical yo-yo near the gang leader’s nose. For this object was known to cause a great catastrophe, if one was to unfurl the entire string, it would emit a nasty scent in the eyes, and squeak with the loudest of swings. The decibel of this noise was terrible, such a horrid ring-a-ding-ding. With demon eyes, the rivalling gang members would glare at Lucille, for tricking them, drawing them in, into a situation which for them could cause great ill moments and a vapid chill, as they understood, inherently knew that they would never forget her face, she was on a list that was not wise to be listed on, it was dangerous, the consequent chase would never be her thrill.

But why had these gang members been lured in by Lucille? What could they possibly provide, when they had nothing upon their persons, or so it seemed, until, they were made to empty their pockets, remove all their layers, and now in their underwear, the clothing revealed Lucille’s gang members’ true desires. There, before them, lying innocently on the damp ground, were rounds and rounds of ammunition and bracelets, rings, necklaces of pure 24 karat gold. The leader had the most of it, draped around his waist, a chain secured, then hanging from the links were chains of gold, thick links of them, and he had always believed this method of disguising would never go to waste. Silly him, and silly them, they had spread the word around of their good fortune with too many members of the streets, a secret can only remain a secret if it is infrequently or never told, these members should have listened to the understanding that silence is gold. While the search was underway, revealing now nuggets of gold sewn within the hems of their shirts and pockets and slacks, Lucille stood stoically behind her leader, watching carefully, observing the facts.

The truth was that she didn’t like being so deceiving, deceptively undertaking dangerous missions such as these, if she had been in another vicinity or country, she would have felt safer because afterwards she would be permitted to leave. Her face would not be placed upon any mental kill list, and her life would be safe. But the more that she lured different gangs in the neighbourhood, no matter how often she changed her wig colour or makeup or outfit, she felt the rush of danger in the air, and truth be told this was not a sensation of which she cared. She longed for her days when she was younger, not walking around the streets, having been dragged into this lifestyle by the leader, her boyfriend, Little Ol’ Pete, he didn’t seem to understand her hesitancy at being the apparent prize, of the hungry victims’ wandering eyes.

Did you think she enjoyed walking around barely dressed? With her man seemingly caring about her welfare, when she knew otherwise, she knew best? How could he watch her approach these men without care or safety for her, nor concern, why, she could unexpectedly be attacked, and then wouldn’t his aching heart then learn? She knew she had to leave this scene, quickly, quicker, before she became less free, less herself, attacked and made to suffer inherently, due to the actions which seemed to be her own, but were in actual fact the orders of Little Ol’ Pete. He said he loved her, boy, did he not show this as truth, but she was not strong enough to walk away when she knew nothing of freedom, how to grasp it, take it, taste it, within her view. She was the only woman in this gang and while she was afforded the luxury of her other gang members giving a damn, she disliked the attention because she knew it was only for her visual appearance, not her interior, and this shallowness caused her great apprehension.

She made a decision and planned to leave at twelve midnight on the hour, returning to the gang’s share house with the excuse that she had a headache and needed to rest, she couldn’t handle the current mood, the fervour. For her group was excited by the next attack, where they would thieve the belongings of another gang, the next suburb over, and then that would be that, but this time was different, they had planned it without the need for Lucille, so she was permitted to return home, and rest with great zeal. The reality was she would be on the next train to the furthest town in the province, St. Bastaile, with her safety, her mind would be at rest, permitted to heal.

Hurriedly she threw her belongings into a duffel bag, she didn’t reach for the gold and jewels in the safe like others would if they were to desert this house, and prove their essence as being utterly devious, terribly bad. She threw a trench coat over her outfit to protect her modesty and at the train station not draw any eyes, and with that, she escaped with a run, high heels clicking, as she sprinted away, the approaching sounds of cars did not frighten her, nor dismay.

She would never be found again, she changed her appearance too much, lived a secure, quiet life and such, until she grew old, always wearing her jewels as a reminder that too much wealth could made one far too greedy for power.

By now, she was a grandmotherly woman with two granddaughters and a grandson to love, and they loved playing dress ups in her costumes that she told them were from the dance troupe that she used to perform in, and would later own. Such a little white lie, she believed, to throw them off the scent of other untruthful things, and with a smile as her granddaughter Priscilla wore her favourite pink halter, she reminisced about that night she escaped and was permitted the opportunity for freedom, safety, and the chance to grow older. Never did she wonder again about Little Ol’ Pete, he never loved her truly, only used her as a lure, and treated her unfairly, as though she were a mere floozy. She knew better, and the life that she had made for herself here, the life that she owned, was far more precious than anything he could have promised her, this was exactly what she had known.

© 2019 Alice Well Art. Lauren M. Hancock also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved. 

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Story: Bruce the Cheerful Dreamer Beaver Thinks Big – 22/09/19

During his break, Bruce secretively lugged his bags of water from the river into the night, in the depth of twilight he transported them to the colony’s dam without being within any other creatures’ sights. He relished this task, he had taken it upon himself, to add to the H2O to the family’s dam, to create a large area to rest and bask. Bruce, being a willing and helpful beaver moved through the rushing river water, capturing bagfuls, to expand the colony’s homely horizons where they could relax and feel no stressors their nights or days, thankfully this process was complicated by no other.

Bruce was a young beaver, only three seasons old, he had mighty big dreams, they were so very bold. To create a wild yahoo land of a colony, with rushing water slides and miniature pools to be seen, this was his lifelong passion, his far reaching, ambitious dream. His aim was to become older and study as an engineer, where he could realise his water theme park dreams, and cause the younger beavers and older beavers the desire to cry, wail, in an excitable style, enjoyment would be available, on display, everywhere to be seen.

For he wanted to cause nothing but joy within others, this was his ultimate aim, this was why he worked the normal night shift at building up the dam with muds, sticks, trunks, bits of hay, with several break periods where he sneaked in some water for their comfortable stay, and then after the shift rest for a few hours, and rise again to transport more water throughout the day. That way, the pond caused as a consequence of the blockage in the river, would mean that it would remain deep and silent, and allow a place for them to build upon their little compact homely home, of which their efforts had delivered.

Their home, The Sleepy Lodge as it was called, was constructed with walls which were firm and of woven, weaved bits of moss, sticks and grass, and here the group of beavers rested for the majority of their day, the colony of beavers who thought they had everything perfect, a relaxation house to rest all day. Then off to the dam again, to make it stronger, more detailed, with its design, the beavers were busy every evening, the lot of them, understood what it was like to create and make magic outside of the normal working day.

Bruce, being a perpetual dreamer, while transporting the water bags, he understood, knew that while his nightly and daily tasks were secretive from the others, he was still risking being viewed, but how could they not understand, surely they knew, that when they awoke to work in the night, the waters levels were more than replenished, and Bruce was resting now for a couple of hours, out of their sight. How could they not compute what Bruce was performing for them, the arduous back and forth work, the back breaking task done for the lot of them, for their comfort, their security, of the perfection of surroundings of their large domed Lodge, the sleepy beavers needed to appreciate whoever was doing this water moving task – because if no one did it, the water would never be replenished, nor would it last. Their eyes didn’t ever catch him during the night as they worked, as he carried water during his rest breaks, they didn’t notice him in the dark. Perhaps their eyes were far more attuned to the textural sticks and such, that the lurking figure of Bruce in the shadows didn’t show, he was far off anyway, somewhat of a purposeful outcast.

While working Bruce dreamed, of the interaction of this future slides and pools and how they would intersect freely, he relished the time he had in this thoughts. There would be no height restrictions, there would be no rules about certain ages only allowed to enjoy these, the beavers would be allowed to do as they pleased. The rides would be safe for all ages, you see, and with the correction of linked slides, they would obviously be able to ride, ride, ride, and then safely leave, there would be no dead ends, no scary rides upon to be sent, it would simply be a water park of great joy and this was what Bruce had his heart upon greatly set.

Sneakily, the cogs started to turn in dear Bruce’s mind, for he had been working too hard and without enough rest that his thoughts were beginning to chang and chime, ringing here, ringing there, everything was setting off, his ideas becoming outlandish, and of his ideas he did dare to think of them possible, right here and then! So in the pond of water by the dam he stood, ankle deep, tail thumping, thumping, as his thoughts were tossed and turned, and he began to realise, it was being understood, that he didn’t need to wait to become an engineer, he was already talented enough from constructing the Lodge with his other beavers – he should not have any construction fear. He rushed into the lodge, into his back room, where he shared with three other beavers, known as being from the Brotherhood, and he pulled out a few sheets of blank paper, began furiously drawing up plans, by the end of the evening, he had enough to work with, he would do this, this he knew he could, complicated construction after all wasn’t only known to Man.

So instead of transporting the water during the day, while the others rested, he began the construction of his sliding tunnels, he shaped them with mud and twigs and lined them with hay, then he made them slippery with the liquid of a special plant, only the beavers knew of its existence and boy, was it made to last. The other beavers soon noticed the construction going on though, they wondered at who had become crazed, they didn’t understand how whichever beaver was responsible could be so maladjusted in the brain. For the maker had obviously lost the plot, there was no sense, riddle or rhyme in the making, it didn’t look like a lodge wall or domed roof, or thick dam, it was a strange undertaking. Still, they left the construction there by itself, wondered each night at how it had become more and more grown, and then slowly they understood what was being made, maybe for them! A world of fun and fantasy, sliding and pools, endless fun to be had.

Now Bruce cheerfully returned to moving the bags of water, filling his pools, allowing the drains and plumbing he’d created in the slides to be flowing and new, the water rushed consistently down the tubes, and proudly, he presented his fun water world to the rest of his colony, his family, his crew. Oh, how they cheered, they could not be more appreciative, of their daily slumber and relaxation they would be freed of indeed. Instead of lying around during the day, being somewhat useless, they could be happy and joyous, and experience all there was to do in the Land of Bruce for his crew. This was what he called it, simple and sweet, just like the smiles he would soon be seeing, from the youth and the adults, how fine their time here would be, they would never, ever tire of the result of Bruce’s dreams.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: Dragon the Maddened Punk Rocker and Roland the Skilled Tiger – 21/08/19

Dragon the Maddened Punk Rocker held endless sold out shows. Wherever his voice would crackle and growl, endless dragons and other appreciative figures would go. They loved his deep throaty talent, his ability to generate energy from the crowds, but most of all they appreciated his vocal percussion, he was skilled at what he could do, this he was endlessly told. Crash bang here and crash bang high-hat there, the percussive effects he could showcase without concern, effort or care. He was self taught of this skill, he never needed his very own drummer, for he was a drummer punk dragon unlike any other.

However, what Dragon was also equally known for was his ability to rock, he’d thrash and throw himself around the stage, throwing his segmented Mohawk hairstyle to and then fro, he was such a lively entertainer, a great performer, he could generate the very essence of what was deemed as punk rock. Despite him having styled his Mohawk to within an inch of its life with basically hair superglue, it was still movable, and this he despised, he wanted a hair stylist who would know what to do. Basically, he had been doing his hair and makeup all on his own, and one day he realised, to himself, that he could afford to have his own stylist and makeup artist, all for his own. He was a millionaire many times over, why was he doing his own styling, it was outrageous, it was crazy, it was simply embarrassing.

So he placed an advertisement in the paper, as Dragons are wont to do, calling forth a stylist and a makeup artist for a client who he simply described as “well to do”. He knew not to use his real name, nor to make mention of his own occupation at all, because he didn’t want to attract those wanting fame from his presence, he wanted those humble, and willing to perform the best of their work. He found three potentials: one called Amy, a shy lizard who had a great hairdressing portfolio, then Sandy, who was more focussed on making him endless coffees and providing compliments that made him roll his eyes and want to send her away with her little famous dreams, scurrying off home, and finally, the perfect candidate of them all, Roland, the tiger who was skilled with makeup and hair, who seemed to know it all.

During the interviewing process he had had bad feelings, of course, about Sandy, she was seemingly only interested greatly in the job now that she had met Dragon and knew how famous was he – and potentially how famous she could be, Amy was rather bland in her personality, she lacked the fierceness he wished his staff to have, but Roland was perfect, they chatted about music, percussion, hair gel and styling mousse, and everything from here to there. They actually got on like a house on fire, and of this Dragon was forced to admit, that Roland was everything he could want and expect to prepare him for his nightly shows, making his image into that of a punk dragon king. He asked Roland to style him as a test, and perfectly made up was his segmented Mohawk, it was presented as its very, utmost best, and then and there he was hired, the others would be called by his secretary, informing them of their negative news of that hour.

So now Dragon was free to rock, never bothering his head about whether his hair was falling side to side nor splitting apart, he could expressively percussively sing, throaty rumbles, clever rhymes, tunes, and Roland, of him, he was taken everywhere around the world where he loved to experience the cities outside of the borders and then within. On the tours that Dragon would like to take, he found out more about Roland’s habits, his dreams, his soaring feelings about punk rock, and other things, such as his dislike of dried fruits, especially dates. For they stuck in his teeth, and made him feel greatly at unease, but this information is useless to most people, it does not inform of much, nor please.

So we move on to discover that Roland was a talented singer, he was classically trained, most especially in opera. He had been trying to find his feet, his way, in the classical world, whilst chasing his other dream of hairstyling and makeup artistry and it so happened that the ad to him had called, the simply written advertisement calling for someone of his skill set, to showcase his talents, techniques he knew best. Then it seemed fate that he was paired, working for, rather, a dragon of immense fame and incredible skill, it didn’t matter that he was of a different singing style, what mattered was that he was within the right ilk. He could practice his arts and so too learn from Dragon, from observing his own unique style of art, his music he soaked up every night from the side of the stage again and again.

And finally one day he admitted to Dragon that he was highly skilled at vocals, being classically trained. With shock, a startled Dragon said, “Let me hear your voice, it must be showcased!” And with great nervousness, Roland opened his mouth, and out came a melody so delicious and skilled, the surrounding beings’ hearts melted, their minds screaming for more, of his voice they became devout. The listeners wanted more and more, and with each vibrato, trill, turn, arpeggio he would sing, oh, how the surrounding world shivered and shuddered, he was that amazing. Dragon made certain to incorporate Roland somehow in the show, his talent would not be wasted, no, he would not allowed it to be breathy, breathed out, he would not let this tiger go. When it came to Roland’s debut night, Roland understood that he could not allow anything to cause him a fright.

“Just calm yourself,” he said, “Allow yourself to think pleasant thoughts in your head.” With a beating  chest he thrust himself forth on the stage, and percussive mixed with operatic style was then presented for the listener’s minds to be heard, interpreted, and saved. How they whooped and hollered, they had never heard of anything so innovative, so amazing, so different this was from what Dragon usually presented, his normal sound, it was like two musical lines were clashing but weaving, and so eloquently the differences were as they were being presented deeply and shrilly. One melodic, the other crash-clash, and an operatic finish, from tenor to falsetto, Roland had performed his best. Dragon the Punk Rocker was over the moon, their duet should be featured every concert from then on, Roland was now known of as incredible, amazing, he would famous so very soon.

But he shied away from the crowd, felt it too overwhelming and cumbersome, perhaps he would sing behind a curtain, this is what he had decided, until he could grow less awkward, of being ogled and stared at. He was a shy young thing, and he wasn’t used to the raucous environment, from the sidelines he was happy to have his time spent. So Roland had had his few minutes of fame, perhaps one day he would grow courageous again. But for now, he was happy to be behind the scenes and tend to Dragon’s makeup and hairstyling, this was enough of his chosen talents that the world would be seeing. Occasionally though, he sung the duet with Dragon, from the sidelines though, he was an unknown tiger to the lot of them. To the concert goers that had viewed his debut, they remembered him fondly, but never knew of which way he had decided to go, to pursue his chosen truths.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: When I Was A Toddler (Fiction) – 20/08/19

When I was a toddler, I had the greatest friend there could ever be, her name was Delilah, she loved me, and never ever betrayed me. We would have fun before and after playgroup swinging on the monkey bars, we would take turns riding to playgroup and other places in each other’s parents’ cars. She was kind and friendly, and surprisingly always full of energy, there was nothing that could stop her when she was in this powerful, energetic mood, she moved and thought so frenetically. We liked to run laps of the nearby local dam, and huffing and puffing we would giggle, then breathless, upon the ground we’d rest, utterly spent.

Delilah was always there for me, she lived but two houses down the road, often we’d sneak outside of our windows at night and lay on the grass, wondering at the moon and the stars. She often spoke of meteors and shooting stars, planets and things, I wondered to myself where she’d procured all this information, such a clever girl she was to be seen. But poor Delilah had a side to her that others could not, would not be allowed to be seen. She was saddened beyond belief at certain things she’d read about the world, depressing these occurrences were, events that had been. She could not speak of them, not at all could she disclose of them, for her father was a journalist who dealt with information classified by the highest security force in the world, we dared not even name them. In this sense, she was too curious for her own good, and during her alone times, she would contemplate the events that she couldn’t speak of, not even to me, let alone the neighbourhood, and troubled she became, each layer building, building, becoming more painful, then the same, until she had to release them, she wrote of the information in her journal, and dreamed of them in her daydreams.

If there was any doubt as to how Delilah, as a toddler, could absorb such intelligence written, complicatedly through the reports throughout, she was far beyond in understanding of certain things of the past and today. Her parents had read to her since she was but three days old, and upon having heard of this, my parents had done so too, copying their friendly neighbours from the fold. For we were born mere days apart, this is why I call her my best friend and twin, and of life, we had together started. But now a problem presented, and I must make mention of this fact, stressed beyond belief at holding the information back, she began to share it with me, in snippets here and there, and then, I was becoming stressed, I could not hold my frustration in again and again! Now, I knew what danger that there was in knowing this information, I urged her to keep quiet, to cease reading the reports, and quell her stressors with contemplation, but Delilah giggled her typical laugh, and said not to be ridiculous, that knowledge was a key to the present, future, and past.

“But ‘Lilah,” I said, sounding rather pained, “You’re risking your life for being informed, do you want me to be forced to do the same? Please don’t share your facts with me, and please of them stop reading, it is the best for us, for you and for me.” Shaking her head, she would not be convinced otherwise, she toddled off to the other house down the street, with her unbalanced toddler gait, knowing she could do as she pleased, hide and fervently read. If only Mister Garter, her intellectual journalist of a father, could know of what his daughter was doing, the dangers she was risking, the dangers into which she’d been thrown. And there was only one thing I could do, one thing that would make me lose my friend, I had to inform Mister Garter, because no one else knew of her antics, and besides, if they did, they would not inform him instead.

For the sake of my friend, for her protection now and in the future, my little twin best friend and sister, I was willing to lose her. If it meant they were required to move across the world, to avoid consequences, of her being known of as privy to the information only meant for a certain fold, then so be it, she may hate me forevermore, but at least she would be safe, and that would be a godsend for me, simply because. I loved her dearly, and I hoped she would understand, there was nothing underhanded or reeking of betrayal about this, but I felt so terrible, so sad. She would never speak to me again, but this was the way it had to be, my sister, my heart, my truth, gone would she be, flown the coup.

And I still remember to her to this very day, as I write of her, in my current day and age, I wish that I could find her, but surely she is married by now, different surname, perhaps an exciting life, I will never ever know. I knew I had performed the right action when official looking vehicles and men came looking for them, about three weeks after the family had suddenly upped and left in the middle of the night. These men asked around the townspeople, knocking on residents’ door for hours, trying to reckon of where or what had occurred in this scene. And smiling to myself as I remember how she was saved, perhaps she recalls my memories fondly, I hope that her father provided her a proper explanation the departure day, but in my heart she’ll always ring true, Delilah, my best friend, who had to leave because of what she knew.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: The Frog King Kisses Many – 20/08/19

The Frog King had kissed many princesses in his time. None were to his liking, his tastes, the flavour of human was too overwhelming. He had no idea why he was required to couple up with a human being, when of his own species he felt an overwhelming inkling, a great fondness of feeling. It had somehow been programmed into his royal family that he was to rule the Primitive Pond Kingdom with a regal lady, not his frog princesses that he witnessed each morning playing with tadpoles so merrily. He felt an inner angst when he walked by them, in the heart of the pond’s town, he was regal himself, majestic, well grown, he was strong enough to be firm with the rules, make them unfold. But he couldn’t go against the manners of his sovereign state, he knew he had to conform, lest the kingdom fall into ruin, saving it from mortification and embarrassment, it would be too late to relearn.

Every morning, he was required to parade to the Crossroads, where there was a chair, a small table, and a little umbrella, the frogs called it a Dating Brolly. Here he would sit, for hours on end, meeting human princess after human princess who would apply to be seated with him, but then – when they leaned in for the inevitable kiss, which should alter the right one into a hopeful Princess Frog or Queen, he could not help but pull away, disgusted of this practice he was, of this be assured. Leaning in closer, their lips made a smmmmack! And no transformation ever was there, this was a blatant fact. Now Frog King had to deal with saliva upon his lips, wiping away the remnants of their unwanted kisses, and then oh wait, would you look at the time, it was nine o’clock – or some such – he would claim he had another engagement at a quarter past nine! And toddle away with the brolly would he, wherever he desired to go, feeling the heavy breathing behind him of the human princesses who downright refused to go, they stalked him, they followed him, displeased with him, yet desiring him, they simply would not take the obvious hint. So with a great bounce and a hip-hip-hippity-hop Frog King would be gone, of their presence disappeared, completely flown.

Despite his high intelligence, Frog King didn’t seem to completely compute or accept that he could alter the rules of his neighbourhood, that he could rewrite the laws, make them plain and easy to see, that this current Frog King could decide to be single and no longer forced to mingle, he would not be required to kiss many who waited each morning in a desperate, heaving, heavy breathing crowd, for goodness sake’s he now realised that he had kissed some more than three times on consecutive days! It was difficult to keep track of the women when he was utterly bored and still lonely, their company was nothing of interest to him, for their human lives were tedious to hear of, and complete garbage, useless baloney! Even when the thought faintly crossed his mind that he could change the world, make it more positive for him, more divine, he dismissed the thought as soon as it appeared, he did not wish to displease his great uncle, who he most certainly feared.

Uncle Scott was large, he was robust, he was strong, and Frog King knew he wouldn’t hesitate to clip him across the face if he even breathed a word that was wrong. He claimed he was over protective of his nephew, but the truth of the matter was, he was decidedly jealous that Frog King was the King, and an uncle was all that he was. It was a terrible thought to have, to hold, that being the uncle of a wondrous being, disciplined frog was not good enough, that he was desperate for to provide him a serve, whenever he could justify this it would be done, and soon of this ultra disciplinary life Frog King wanted to run!

As he passed the tadpole area of the pond one day, dismayed at the upcoming events of his morning he was swayed toward a cute little group of youths, blue in nature and swimming consistently in their group, now one led the others, and follow did the rest, such a delightful view. Then Frog King noticed a little damsel dressed in a vintage dress, white, and cream with brocade lace, hem down there, and corset up to there, with cascading brunette curls framing her face. She looked delightful, so charming and when she opened her mouth to speak, to greet, she sounded so insightful and enticing, she was such a living dream. They stopped and chatted for a while, apparently she did not know of his ranking in the great kingdom of his world, and this he found utterly refreshing; she knew that he was simply a beautiful moment of truth in a first place sash, they could barely contain their excitement at their immediate connection that Frog King decided to do his dash. He would not hold himself liable to the throne’s rules anymore, he would take this damsel on a date, one that he actually wanted to partake in, be on, and they would have the most glorious time and then some more. And even if Uncle Scott would not approve of his new lady friend, he did not care, he would simply glare and stare, and take the physical serve.

But to King Frog’s great surprise, Uncle Scott was not upset at all, in fact he welcomed the damsel, named Lilac, into the family home.

“Come wine with us, come dine with us,” he welcomed her, and with a smile, he explained why he had been so hard on Frog King all the while. It was out of complete frustration at the rules dictated to him for his nephew left by the former king in his will, that would mean Frog King was forced to marry a human princess, even though she would be inclined to perhaps make of her king into a juicy, leggy meal. The former king had been of the incorrect understanding that a Frog King’s kiss would transform a lady into a royal froggy lady to be seen and heard the pond all over, and Steve couldn’t deviate from that formal will. The former king had been  misled by words whispered by human ladies as he had passed them in the marketplace, he had believed the things they’d said.  

As Frog King had discovered, none were transforming, not any, none of the others, and the fact the he had found an interest in this new lady friend made Uncle Scott so happy he wanted to call the world over, announcing the words to be transported upon the wind, in their clouds they would sail, there they would sing. But devious was Scott, he knew of a loophole in the will, if Frog King ended up with another native frog, Scott would reign true leader, just as he wished,his ambition would prevail. When it came to the throne or true love, months down the track, Frog King was willing, more than happy to give up his throne, for his damsel who was never, ever distressed.

King Scott ruled over the pond with a stern nature and a forcible fist, but the animals and frogs were allowed to live rather independently, and some even wished to continue to coexist. All became regimented and well until one afternoon a human princess attacked him, grabbed forth his face, and kissed him until he became violently unwell. When he came to, he opened his eyes to sternly glare and viciously seethe, but sitting there in front him was the most beautiful of froggy things. A lady, a real stunner, her eyelids flickering at him lazily, he could barely believe his eyes, here was his new, real life Froggy Queen.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: Will Steve the Super Thief ‘Come Good’? – 17/08/19

Steve was skilled, but he was questioning the morality of his practices…

Of his craft he was superbly skilled, Super Thief knew every emergency evacuation and drill. What would occur from the moment security was called, to cease the activities which Super Thief had honed since he was not so old. If the manager came racing to the safe, Super Thief knew which precautions to take. He was incredibly well trained when it came to avoiding the negatives of being held accountable for his tasks, but rarely did these occur anyway, because he was so calculated with his security wire cutting, his lock picking, his safe drilling, he performed these ever so fast. No one could barely breathe a breath of knowledge of his sneaky back views, he understood, even though his conscience occasionally pained him, asking himself if robbing was the correct thing to do.

Aside from his possessing his developed thieving tricks, Super Thief had not developed any positive life skills, nothing to add to his lifelong language, no little bricks of knowledge mortar to add to his foundations, his walls, to cement, to concrete his positive path in life, the way that his parents had always schooled him of doing, as he would grow from little to old. Those who knew him intimately, as former friends and such supposed it were not his fault, he had been surrounded by bandits after school, they were the company that he ultimately chose. From those one surrounds themselves with equates to how one could then become, and soon, the growing thief – we shall call him Steve, for now, his real name  – was filled with a burningly bright spark. He had listened to his friends boast of their nightly antics, and proud as punch were they, speaking of their gains ill gotten as so fantastic, and slowly, morally, Steve then proceeded to come undone, it happened slowly, day by day. He viewed his friends as people to look up to, after all, they were ‘cool’, they ruled the streets at night, and their ‘exploratory skills’, as Steve’s friends would call them, at the expense of others, aided them into gaining monetary and accumulative benefits.

The first time he went out with them at night was when he was twelve years old. He was much younger than the rest of them, who were upwards of fifteen plus years old. The seasoned crew broke into an empty home, and squatted there for the night, just to give Steve a taste, to keep him away from his exemplar parents and warm, loving home that night. The rush he felt when he entered the premise was nothing compared to when he first picked a lock to a cage of bantam hens, freeing them, releasing them back into nature, their world of wild, until out from the brush snapped a fox, and consumed one of them whole. Then the fox attacked the other, purely for sport. Dejected, Steve left the poor hen laying there, feathers strew about, he felt saddened this was caused by him, and that this second hen died not for food, but simply the fox’s thrill of the kill. And then he decided to lay down by the hen’s side, comforting the gasping animal as it slowly drained of life.

The cruel fate of nature, this occurrence which happened without any hint of reason or rhyme, the randomness of it all made Steve wonder at life. Why, if this fox could steal this hen’s life so easily, so powerfully, so freely, shouldn’t Steve so too look out for himself, before others stole from him, beings so utterly greedy? And what about those who had far too much, who weren’t concerned about sharing with others, at all, their greediness more than enough? They needed to be taken down a rung. Whoever they were, they should be prepared for Steve’s nightly antics and exploratory fun. While this reasoning made little sense, to a prepubescent Steve it did, and learn from his friends did he the tricks of their trade, but one by one they all began to leave. Some to juvenile detention, others punished and sent away by their mamma and pa, slowly, after Steve had learned all the skills, he was the only one left illegally driving in their hang-out car. How lonely he was, so he thrust himself into work, he picked this lock, he entered this safe, he did everything required to take the sadness away from his enslaved brain. All he could think of were his missing social connections, his dear mentors of his friends, until suddenly, an epiphany, it occurred to him, he was substituting this emptiness with this ‘work’, puttying his absence of happiness, the missing friendship borne spark. Never once had he been caught, and he supposed this was a miracle, but then again he was far too skilled to have that happen to him, but still, he realised he’d performed far too much ill, and taken from others, only justifying the steals for the thrill and implying that the victims could afford it, for he never stole from anyone singular any more, only companies and corporations that could afford to lose at least two or three mill.

Once home, he stripped himself of his thieving garb, removed the mask that had shaded around his eyes, dropped the burlap sack and the backpack, and with the knowledge that he was rich beyond belief, he needed to make this less of a strange immoral dream, and donate all the proceeds of his thievery to charity. His mama and his papa were shocked to see him without his garb, they knew of his practices but couldn’t stop him because, they were powerless, or so they felt, in every moment that they attempted to change their almost adult son into something better, something right, someone who created a legal profit, someone who knew better.

Formerly Super Thief Steve gathered all his belongings that he had procured from his many missions, and into piles he threw countless pieces of gold and diamonds, and silver, and platinum and cash and rare coins, and assigned a pile to one charity, a pile to the next, and so on and so forth until his efforts thereafter were well spent, the finality of the divisions he would firmly decide. He even decided that it was time to turn himself in, not in the manner though, that most people would view as appropriate, to be seen, but rather offer his services to the security officials and CEOs of the companies he had targeted over the years, and teach them of the vulnerabilities in their security systems, such appropriate knowledge he felt worthy of sharing. If he did so, they could improve their vulnerabilities, cease having individuals such as the negative former character that was he alter their apparently tight securities, and with Steve’s capacities out on show, his motives would be clear, his past then translucent, and wiped by those who would now know who he was and where he had gone to thieve out of principle and somewhat overthrow because they simply had too much.

Steve knew that his plan was correct and right, and he would proceed with implementing it in the morning, and for the first time in many years, he crawled into bed before nine in the evening and slept there, baby-like, until ten in the morning. No more would there be Steve’s Super Theiving.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: Miss Veronica the Piggie Goes To Market – 17/08/19

Miss Veronica liked to look her best.

Miss Veronica was a showy piggie. She loved to dress up in ostentatious outfits, so pretty. Her little blue hat atop her porky head, her frilly neck collar around her neck, her dainty bow around her tail so curly, why, she was as gorgeous as she could be. With a slick of red lipstick upon her smackers, she was perfect to be presented to whomever she was pass by or wander. No one could ever imagine within was an introverted piggie who was trembling at the drawn attention. Her dress ups aided her in being more confident and self assured. Forcing herself into the limelight, she would squirm inwardly, slightly, but then bolstering herself in these moments, she hardened herself, and became stronger, an outer shell presented so protectively. And the more she wore her attention seeking garb, the more confident she felt, the garish outfits soon became a second skin, and she felt calmer, reposed, and appreciated within, a sense of personal growth throughout.

Miss Veronica the Piggie enjoyed going to the market on Wednesday, for it was her one day off, and there was much fresh produce, knick-knacks, jewellery, and foods on sale and display, for a pig, more than enough. She enjoyed walking along the aisles, taking in the feverish atmosphere that sometimes accompanied some stalls, the fervent scent of an imminent sale, as the seller and buyer called. She grinned to herself whenever the stall owners’ gaze would flicker to her, taking in her outfit, her confidence, heart and pride would swell more and more. Then she would move on, to enjoy other food or observe other knick-knack delights, she drew the attention of many others, but never caused a startle nor a fright.

Veronica’s favourite part of the market was where they deemed which animal was best in show. This was one of the other reasons why she dressed up, secretively, why she spent time upon her appearance the most. And the reason she went to the Wednesday shows was because she was only just beginning participating in such shows, the Saturday versions were much larger and of greater competition, and the thoughts of such a larger crowd and amount of competitors admittedly scared Miss Veronica, even though she was such a pretty sow. When she had commenced entering the competitions, she had been greatly lacking in her self confidence, but this had been fine, she was working on it through the Wednesday show system.

Firstly, the animals were lined up, presented forth to the crowd by name. Then they were weighed, and measured for girth and height, and allowed to perform up to two tasks or impressive tricks to the crowd to be seen. Miss Veronica only had one finely honed skill, and this was to hoola hoop around her portly hips, for over five minutes, this was her drill. Although the crowd was initially impressed, by the two minute mark they were lulled into boredom, but blessed was Veronica to be able to hoola hoop for so long. Instead of wasting the opportunity of presenting a second talent, as an impromptu, she took upon the stage and sung her favourite song by Pig Schneider, “Back in the Habit”.  

She didn’t win the talents round, and she didn’t win the show, but this was not worth mentioning other than in passing, for the show caused Veronica an outward glow. The ability to stand, being presented, on stage, when initially she was so embarrassed and shy and ashamed, now being here in her garb so unique, showing off her eccentric style, her goal was complete. And ready herself to depart the market and show, when a little piggie, tiny in stature, approached Veronica, so daintily.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he emitted, for that was only what one could call it. His tiny little voice sounded like a tiny verbal beacon for an ant army. Veronica did not notice him and turned to walk away.

“Veronica? Miss Veronica?” he pressed more forcefully, tugging on her tail’s finery. Startled, she lowered her eyes to him.

“Yes?” she asked kindly. She was never approached at the market, never addressed, this was strange to her, a certain feeling caused an appreciative tingle within.

“I couldn’t help noticing you in the show,” he went on to say. “You were admirable, fabulous, I loved your song choice. Do you think I could take you out on a date?” His eyes shone with hope, and he wished his request had not been made too late. For he had seen the way the other members of the audience shone with admiration, and something else too, which he could not put his finger on, he would have to perform some research.

“Oh my!” Veronica said, placing a trotter, shocked, before her mouth. “Of course, I would love too, I’ll meet you tonight at the pub down south.” Little Piggie grinned a grateful smile, he would be seen with this beauty, for much of a while, and together they would eat, and sing, and hopefully dance, why what a glorious evening that was promised, perhaps they’d hold trotters as they pranced. As they parted ways in the crowd, each saying they greatly looked forward to meeting one another in the pub down south, near Vermouth’s Mouth, Little Piggie overheard a conversation between two farmers from the show’s crowd.

“That winner, mmm, I’m looking forward to that bovine for dinner,” one growled. The other chuckled in return. “These silly animals don’t know they are sending themselves in for assessment, why don’t we just make the process more obvious?”

“But then they wouldn’t come,” the other exclaimed. “And it would be less fun, at least we are allowing them a final moment to enjoy their Life’s run.” Then the men cackled together most evilly, and headed off to the van which provided hot drinks for a spot of peppermint tea.

Shocked, aghast, utterly horrified, Little Piggie rushed around the market trying to decipher what he’d heard and seen with his very ears and eyes. From what it sounded like, the show wasn’t an innocent play on the notion of a beauty pagent, it was instead a sinister means of procuring an animal victim for human consumption, a means of fooling the lot of them. He must spread the word now, it must be so, it must be done, and rushing forth to the marketplace’s microphone, he screamed this aloud:

“Fellow animals, LISTEN TO ME! Do not enter the human’s show ever again, unless you wish the chance to never again be seen. They are looking for victims, to grace their plates for lunch and tea! Now, come now, leave, leave, and never here again be seen!” With this came great confusion, animals running here, rushing there, here, there and everywhere, eyes bulging, obscenely frightened, a catastrophe, a cacophony, and then Little Piggie was swooped away by unseen arms, and taken to a darkened, damp holding room. He was held there initially for the night, then questioned harshly for three days and nights, and ultimately missed out on his evening date with Miss Veronica.

He could not contact her, he did not know what to do, all he could do was imagine her sitting sadly, eyes wistfully flickering to the doorway whenever movement could be seen. And then by the time the kitchen would close, he imagined her dejectedly leaving, her stooped shoulders a heavy pose, and returning home sob sorrowfully would she, whilst she removed her precious fineries.

But they would meet again, coincidentally passing by one another in the street, and Little Piggie would share his tale, and over coffee, many others, of his life’s goals and inner dreams, and the more that Little Piggie opened up to her, the stronger their connection did grow, appreciative at being trusted and her company wanted, Veronica’s heart now felt utterly replete, she was one joyous sow.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: My Talented Dancing Cat-Roo, Solly – 16/08/19

My cat Solly is one unique girl. She can stand on her haunches, and dance in a twirl. She can boogie each step, along to the beat, she has every dance move within her belt, twinkle toes, paws and feet. Within her skilled capacity, translated through her talented feet, for Solly’s hind legs were more human-like, longer and wider, allowing the ability to walk easier, heavier and lighter, as I speak. She was able to creep upon tippie toe, she was able to thump, thump, thump, wherever she had decided to go, and then prance and prance and twirl, one step, two step, three step, four, she began a group dance upon the outback’s grassy floor. I giggled to myself, at viewing her antics, she was so clever, her personality so bright and fantastic, how lucky I was to have found her, when I went pet shopping on a whim, this wonderful combination of cat and kangaroo, of whom everyone in the neighbourhood did speak.

For Solly was a popular girl, she taught dance class to the other animals and creatures, boys and girls, it did not matter which breed or animal they might be, she always adapted the dance moves to suit the others’ dance skills and capacities.

“Pump it, pump it!” she urged them, encouragingly. From the front of the class, she observed her groups of twos and threes, all up today she had eighteen in attendance: a mixture of a family of duckies, rodents, raccoons, a single unicorn, and a giraffe and an elephant. The elephant was the most uncoordinated of the group, he kept stepping on and over his large dance shoes. So embarrassed was he that he decided to cease, he thumped upon his bottom and dragged the shoes from his feet. The shining unicorn noticed his turmoil, and crept over, threw a hoof over the Elephant’s shoulder and I quote this: “It’s hard, I know, but you can do it, I’ll show you how!” And with that, a little flint of trust shone in Elephant’s eyes, small, yet there, almost clouding his need to weep, uproariously cry. He pressed his feet back into his shoes, and allowed himself to be led by caring Unicorn, back to the groups. And although Elephant had the equivalent of four left feet, or so it seemed, Unicorn was patient, and allowed him to chase his inner dream, of being a beautiful ballet dancer, flying, sailing through the air, but first he needed to get his 1, 2, 3, 4’s correct, before he could even think of beginning to soar.

My cat-roo Solly noticed Unicorn’s attention on Steve the Elephant, and loved how caring she was, even though she had not been asked to assist, undirected to Steve, no purpose given or meant, and it was Unicorn’s great kindness that touched Solly’s heart, and pushed her into thinking that she should take Unicorn on as a dancing teacher counterpart. So quietly she made her way over, and requested permission for her assistance, Unicorn was jubilant, so surprised, she could hardly believe the luck she had been sent! Unicorn had always dreamed of being a teacher, just unsure of which teaching discipline to chase in future studies, and now being presented to her was an opportunity of great magnitude and self-discovery!

Happy together, working together, sharing thoughts and learning from each other, the dance school grew larger and larger until she needed room to fit Elephant’s entire family, who came every session, hearts filled with ardour. Word had spread like wildfire of Solly and Unicorn’s talented capacities, and parents flocked with their children and other next of kin, to view this, witness this, this world renowned school to be experienced and seen. They became so well known that they were looked upon as the number one school of the dancing world, and how wonderful was this for my cat-roo who only used to purr, slink and meow.

And how so very proud I am of Solly, my little cat-‘roo, each night I thank her with a lullaby and soliloquy until she dozes gently, then travels to her dreams gentler soon. All such beauty my dear pet has created, without a finger lifted from me. Why, all I have to do is view the worldly nature and professional power of her and her partner’s work together with ease. What a proud happy owner, am I, my heart will never cease to feel so proud and utterly free.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: Sammi the Beautiful Girl With Two Missing Teeth – 14/08/19

Sammi was a beautiful girl, inside and out. Her hair and skin glowed, shone throughout. Her effervescent personality made others joyous and gay, she was a bubbly, vivacious girl, and she loved to make others happy and keep them entertained. However, Sammi had a personal nightmare, it was evident when she grinned, she always hid behind her open hand, because missing were her two of her teeth. She was ashamed to grin like the other children, to show her remaining pearly whites to the world, she was always told that beauty came from within, but within her mouth was where her exterior beauty ended, she believed, it was the torment of her inner world. She was scared of being judged, frightened of being viewed of as uncool, she knew she had beautiful characteristics and traits, but she wished her teeth had never been taken so soon.

That moment when she had toppled, so happily hanging from the monkey bars, when her teeth made impact with her shins, despite this being in the past, the memories of the pain, as they hit against each other, the ‘crack’ heard inside her brain, made her wish she had not been so careless. If she’d fallen slightly differently, the dentist had said, her teeth could have been saved, instead she was left with unsightly gaps, and pain within her that was always there, within her memories never going away. Instead they had shattered, unable to be retrieved, her baby teeth gone, never to be again seen. And cry and cry all that day, and into the next did she, poor little Sammi, her beauty compromised, her dream of being a beauty queen seemingly gone, her sorrow spread quite freely. And the times when she accidentally burst into a giggle or a guffaw, and unintentionally she showed her teeth, she became chilli red and frightfully embarrassed, for, she wanted nothing more than to hide in her bed, trying to ward off her fiercely warm complexion as though it were a contagious disease about her face, her head.   

For now, Sammi’s dreams of being on show, walking down the runway with teenage model beauties from all over the world were scrapped now, her dreams once a whirlwind, an utter whirl, were now apparently unattainable for this unfortunate little girl. She had planned to grow into the industry, continuing her weekend beauty shows, but now, her best friend Susan scorned her, saying she was no longer the best in show.

“I’m telling you the truth, now,” she said firmly, “Not wanting to hurt you one bit, but those gaps in your mouth, they should be covered or filled, fix them with false teeth.” Her heart fell the most heavily at Susan’s sharpened words, for she was the closest friend in Sammi’s world, she could not understand why she was being such a nasty girl, was she suddenly cruel, no longer caring, had she fallen under a strange spell? Surely she understood that Sammi could smile without her teeth being shown wide, she could walk the runway and wave with delicateness, with glamorous pride, and there was no need for anyone to know that she was missing her teeth, she would train her mouth to disguise the apparent flaws, this uniqueness that she held within.

“I will still enter Miss Terrific Teenage World,” she vowed, from the age of still a little girl. “I will take on all the beauties, I will experience all there is to be seen and told.” And at that, she felt confident, that she could do this, despite her insecurities, despite her feelings that she was inadequate for simply missing two teeth. Although her mother and father had reassured her that her teeth would grow back, Sammi was dubious, their assertion did not seem a fact. She was certain that the two specific teeth she had lost were adult teeth, not baby ones, and that the dentist had simply gotten his facts wrong, and that of dentistry he possibly had much more to learn. After all, she had to prepare herself for the truth, that if she was not receiving any replacement teeth, she would perform the most, her utmost, at adaption; this was what she would do. And practised in the mirror, smiling and talking, while surreptitiously disguising her pearly whites at every minute free of her day and night, finally she gained great skill at deception, so she would not give even the most unsuspecting passerby a sudden fright.

As she grew, the time for Miss Terrific Teenage World finally arrived. She was flown to New Mexico, where all the other contestants were nervously biting their nails, drinking sugar free caffeine drinks, and others were with bright eyes, running on adrenaline, utterly alive. By this stage of her youth, Sammi had the art of speaking eloquently and with deception of her missing teeth down to a fine art, no one could tell, no one even knew, that she was different from the start. All they saw was her lovely face, her styled dress, her flamboyant nails and hair – the dress selected was a bit risque, but with the finery detailed upon the jewelled strapless garment to match her glittery, bejewelled necklace, she felt both at peace and excited beyond belief, she understood that her message to be shared with the world was heaven sent.

And when it came time for her to address the world, in the capacity that she knew of so well, she spoke of freedom, and false alliances to be broken, and strength in numbers, and holding self worth and confidence, that when she was greeted by an almighty audience cheer, a standing ovation far and near, she burst into a widened grin, no longer uncertain that she should hide herself anymore, she knew to shine from the outside and within. She wept tears of happiness when she was awarded first prize, the first teenage beauty to win with a couple of teeth missing beneath her rosy cheeks, beneath her expressive eyes. It didn’t matter whether they were there or not, for the truth be finally told, she was an amazing individual, whose stunted adult teeth would finally, eventually, in one single year, grow.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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