I make tea and sit thinking about you as the bag bobs in and out of the water at my finger’s will. It steams in the cold air of my apartment, hollow of your presence. Sometimes the past feels so far away, lost in another world, swallowed by a behemoth. Within the confines of its cage, it is dark and damp and dreary. Things stir in the night where it sits, being corroded by stomach acid.
I know nothing good lies down there. I’m very aware that if I followed the white rabbit of memory I would collapse in on myself until I were so small everything would seem large. Each memory of you would be a musical adventure where reality became contorted by your image. There would be no mushroom I could devour to grow, except the one you taunted me with.
“Take this,” you would say. And as devoted to you as my heart is, I would. There were so many things you had me swallow. You, your lies, your facades, your gaslighting, your emotional manipulation that had me believing everything I did was wrong, your drugs, your accusations, your blame, your guilt, your shame. Your pieces of insight that you wielded with cruelty.
“Swallow it,” you said. “Drink this,” you offered.
I loved you. I did everything I could for you and it was never enough. Each time I chased the shadow of your logic something new and strange would appear, different, unachievable. Nothing I did was enough. I followed you through the checkerboard madness your brain produced and you were so frightened of things I couldn’t see. The war on the chessboard consumed you.
There was no way I could keep up. You were the Madhatter of your own indulgent party, afraid to leave, afraid to keep time, so dedicated to your consumption. More tea? Really, love? Don’t you think you’ve had enough of your self righteous madness? How do you think the Hatter truly lost himself? Chasing who he was and never seeing who he had become? Hiding from the failure he felt his life was?
I sat at your table trying to understand the rules of speaking with you. We lived at that table, tea moving from place to place, impossible to taste or catch to me, an outsider. Sometimes I found some, though, and thought, this one time, this will be different. So I swallowed. And you laughed. And down a burrow I would fall, tumbling to depths I didn’t dare become witness to.
Now and then I still wander back there, love. To your table. To sit and watch. No tea on earth could tempt me now that came from your pot. I am not small, anymore. Nor big. I am just me. Sitting at your table. Seeing your lies. I stopped reaching for the unattainable. Now it’s with pity and vague disgust I watch your party, your own self indulgence. I see you for what you are: forgettable.
I can make my own tea now, love. Keep your party and your madness to yourself. Let some other poor soul wander to your table and try to be all the things you say you need and none of the things you truly do. Let some other woman pick up the pieces of your fractured self worth.
After all, Alice eventually left Wonderland.
Off with your head?