“Mama, mama- Alice fell asleep and I can’t wake her up!” The beautiful young woman gazed over at her mother, eyes crazed and cheeks flushed, “Oh Mama, I don’t understand, I don’t understand. Was it my fault? Oh Mama, what if it was the heat? I promise we were in the shade and I didn't know and I- Mama, mama please she has to wake up!”
“We gather here today to mourn the death of Alice Liddel, daughter to Charles and Helen Liddel,” The strange little man was interrupted by a loud cry from the middle, a half-sob of misery from the girl's mother. He cleared his throat, waiting for his cue to continue. Only after she sniffled and blew her nose was he able to resume his carefully prepared speech, “I myself did not know her closely, but I was asked by Margaret, her dear sister, to read this today.
“ ‘She was a curious girl. She was always more like Father, spending time to imagine instead of read, explore instead of sew, sleep instead of talk. I only imagine that on her way out of this world it was confusing. She didn’t barely understand the concept of death yet, so when she died, I doubt it was a beautiful tunnel of light. Maybe she felt like she was falling instead of flying. Like all the mortals things were leaving her reach forever.
“She was a good girl, but even I doubt she knew that. She often took Mother’s words to heart, and I wonder now if she truly would believe she made it into heaven. Dear Alice, she would probably make it an adventure. Finding her true size, meeting interesting creatures along the way to lead her to her true self. I, of course, know she would find a pure white soul, but would she imagine someone to paint it red? Perhaps mother, whom she often felt would criticize her even when she did no wrong. Perhaps her tutor, who never quite understood how her mind worked and would often argue her to the ground even if she was right. Or even I, who she would sometimes follow blindly even if I had no way of knowing where to go.
“I only hope, in the end, she grasped hold of her true self and didn’t let the negative words she’d been told influence her in the end. I would not wish Alice an eternity of nothing, stuck in time forever for she knew not where to go. Anyone could go mad in a place of that. Even my dear Alice, who was so mad already with her silly ideas.
“I know she’ll be alright, anyhow. She always is. I only wish I could have been there, when she slid into a daze of heat. I only wish I could have been the one to shake her awake and take her inside for tea. Instead I must live without her, wondering about what might have been.’ "
The man looked up, perhaps for applause or at least a few sniffled sobs. Instead he was met by stunned silence, the silence of people who could not grasp what they had just heard. With a quick thought, one he presumably thought would save him, he added, “Though, of course, we of older age all know that dear Alice rests safely in the realm of heaven, watched by God. Amen.”
The stupor shattered and the group broke into quiet applause, thankful for a safe thought to fall back on. Because no one, no one but those special few, allowed themselves to wonder if the End contains more than just a simple pearly gate. No one allowed themselves to imagine that, in the end, they could fall prey to the imagination they had last encountered when in their early years. Because that, of course, would be mad.