‘No, I’m not doing it! I’m not going to be Alice again and jump down the stupid rabbit hole this year, you’ll have to find someone else!’
Of course there is no other Alice candidate and I’ll jump just the same, although I really believe I’m getting a little bit old for this role. But they keep telling me the audience loves me and I wear the Alice frock so beautifully. I hate that costume, it makes me look childish and innocent.
There is a new guy playing the white rabbit. They had to get him last minute because Peter broke his leg in a stupid accident. I mean, whoever breaks a leg reaching for cat food on the upper shelve. He keeps claiming he really saw the Cheshire cat grinning down at him. Guess he’s been the white rabbit too often, it's getting to him. None of us has seen the new guy yet, but he came highly recommended by a friend of the director.
Standing in the shadow of the trees I can hear the audience taking places and making comments on the stage decoration in our open air theatre. Suddenly I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn around and look into the face of a white rabbit. No, not looking into a mask, a real animal face. My god, somebody worked a miracle on costumes and make-up this year. Even from up close I could swear the rabbit looks real.
‘You must be Alice,’ the rabbit says.
‘No I am Aileen. My real name is Aileen.’
‘Never mind, you have to come with me, now! We have to hurry.’
The rabbit grabs me by the arm and starts pulling me away from the stage, he has a real firm grab. I try to break loose, I don’t like being bossed around.
‘You’re going the wrong way, the stage is up there. And we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer till the audience has settled in. We’re not starting yet.’
I yank free from his grip and rub my arm, it hurts a little bit. I’m not going to be intimidated.
‘What’s your name? You haven’t introduced yourself yet.’
‘I’m the white rabbit,’ the rabbit hisses. ‘Now stop being difficult and follow me, please hurry!’ The rabbit grabs my hand this time, a little bit gentler and despite myself I start running with him, following the lane in the wrong direction. Strange, I don’t see any of the other players nor the crew, the lane is deserted.
‘What are we running from?’ I can hardly speak, panting while trying to keep up with the rabbit.
‘Look up, you’ll see.’
I look up at the trees. No! This is not happening. I see, not one, but hundreds of cats smiling down on me. There’s a grinning cat on almost every branch of every tree.
‘Quickly,’ the rabbit is hissing between its teeth. ‘Go down here, we’ll be save.’
I don’t have a choice, the rabbit throws me down a pitch-dark hole and I start falling, falling and falling. No, no, no! I will never, ever be Alice again, never!