The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider: An Anomalous Selection
Alice the Weaving Webster has spun herself a labyrinthine web. Alice is the Spider, waiting in her lair, spinning from her body the threads that create her life. Spinning around in the dance of her own conception. Alice is exactly where she should be, doing exactly what she ought. Alice is grinning.
she's a nightchild baby, daughter of the city, she's part of these neon lights, she walks so fast and looks so cool, you know that she's got it right, she's a citygirl, sugar, and she's so clever, she knows the quick way home, she's a moonbeam baby, she'll live forever, in the city you're always alone
she's a wildchild honey, a cityslicking woman, in leather and net and steel, her lips are red, her eyes are laughing, you know she could make you feel, she's a slickchick baby with a heart that's beating and a head that knows it's home, it's where she's from and where she belongs, in the city you're never alone
Alice and the Prince
Alice Spider met a Prince one night. Oh you silly thing, you've really gone and done it now.
Alice the Mermaid
Alice spent too long looking at her own reflection in a rock pool. She fell in and turned into a mermaid.
Alice and the Unicorn
Alice had a beautiful unicorn. It died. Then one day it came back to her. Alice was beautiful then.
Alice and the Patterns
Do not think I have forgotten because I do not forget. And memory is more than in the mind. So sometimes I come back: to here. Because sometimes it's still like this.
Alice says it's just a pattern. It's part of your pattern for feeling lonely. But there were people there, Alice, and I still felt lonely and Alice, I still don't understand. And I carefully smoked my cigarettes and I carefully tipped the ash into the ashtray and I carefully put them out and I didn't do it, Alice, I didn't.
Alice says, you are as old as the moon and yet you are still a child. You are still crying for things you don't even want. You are still reaching for something that's just out of reach or maybe doesn't exist and you don't even know what it is except perhaps it's peace of mind.
But Alice, how could I feel like that, when I have no reason?
And Alice says, it's raining outside and your lover is sleeping and you're up late full of questions and you know the answers are inside you but you still haven't learnt them. And now you're feeling ashamed because no one should feel the way you do but you do you do and you don't know why but you do.
Alice the Hunter
At night, sometimes, Alice transforms herself into a panther. Her eyes are smouldering amber; her fur is sleek and black; her instincts are sharp. She hears the wind and smells the storm. She relishes the hunt: the chase, the catch, the taste of warm, raw flesh. Alice the Hunter hunts alone.
Alice's needs are primal and she knows no shame. She knows how it feels to slide a hand over a bare thigh. Alice knows how to take. Alice knows how to give.
Alice has Time
There are times to party and times to hold on and wait. There is always enough time. It is not finite and it does not run out. It goes on forever, in a spiral.
Alice the Dinosaur
Go for it, Alice. Alice Dinosaur. Go little dinosaur, go, go, go.
That Alice Spider – she's your one true friend (well, apart from the others), the only friend who will always be there (well, when it suits her), the one friend you can count on (well, when she feels like it).
The problem with you and Alice is that you want different things. She wants freedom, you want security. She wants passion, you want love. She wants adventure, you want stability. Whatever, you're stuck with her. You and Alice. Alice and you.
That Alice, she's a trollopy little tart. She has no morals, or dubious ones at best. She has no conscience.
She is a champion of honesty.
She's a witch.
That Alice, she laughs in the face of adversity, she laughs at danger, she laughs at life's tragedies, large and small. Alice the Comedienne.
Alice Meets Men
One morning when Alice Spider is walking through the park in Western Springs, she meets a middle-aged alcoholic drinking McWilliams sherry. He offers Alice a swig, which she accepts. The middle-aged alcoholic used to be a mercenary in Zimbabwe. His wife has left him. Alice can see why. They do the crossword together. He wants Alice to go home with him. Alice declines.
In an Irish bar one night, Alice meets a pig-hunter from the West Coast. The pig-hunter is very drunk. He remarks on how large the breasts are of the woman across the bar from them. Alice agrees that they are pretty sizeable. The pig-hunter declares he prefers Alice's breasts. He finds them more discreet. Alice is flattered, but refuses to take him to bed.
Walking across Grafton Bridge, Alice passes a young Indian man. Alice smiles at him; she is feeling very happy. When she gets to the other side of the bridge, she hears footsteps. It is the young Indian man. He has run back the length of the bridge to ask Alice for a date. Alice demurs.
Alice is on her way to the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde park, when an Egyptian man asks if he can join her. He follows her all around the gallery. Then, when Alice goes to the gift shop, the Egyptian man goes to the gift shop. When Alice goes outside, the Egyptian man goes outside. When Alice goes back in again, she tells the Egyptian man she would like to go in alone. Some time later, she finds him waiting for her outside. He asks her out. Alice explains that she is catching a plane to New Zealand in two hours. She has to get back to her B&B. Alice is not lying.
Alice is in a gay bar one night, which is run by the most stunning transsexual in Wellington. Alice gets talking to a Glaswegian plasterer. He is the most beautiful man Alice has ever seen, although she can only understand half of what he's saying. He claims to be very good in bed. Alice doesn't doubt it.
Alice and the Zebra
Alice Spider has a pet zebra called Horace. Horace eats only hors d'oeuvres. Shrimp cocktails, stuffed mushrooms, steamed asparagus. Alice spends hours in the kitchen: Horace is a hungry zebra. One day, she gets fed up with all the cooking. Learn to make your own hors d'oeuvres, Horace, she tells him. Horace enrols at night school. He learns to cook. When his course is over, he cooks for Alice: tuna pâté triangles, cheesy tomatoes, tarragon and salmon mousse. It makes Alice very happy.
Alice Gets Cloned
Alice decides she's so much fun, there ought to be two of her. She has herself cloned. It's like looking in a mirror. It's so much like looking in a mirror that Alice and her clone do exactly that, just gaze into each other's eyes all day, going Oh wow Oh wow.
Alice Goes to a Party
The thing with parties is that you have to get on to the party circuit. The place where you're most likely to get invited to the next party, is the last party. Should you miss out on one or more parties, you are off the circuit and may never be invited again. You will be forced to have a party of your own to get things rolling, and will have to phone people individually to invite them, which looks desperate, rather than happening to bump into them at a party, which looks casual and cool.
Alice goes to a party and it's a proper party, operating in the way that a party ought to operate and there's something very satisfying about that. Each time Alice walks into one of the bedrooms, the scene changes: people are snogging or standing in a circle passing a joint round or someone is going 'Listen to my new jazz CD it's really great' and it turns out to be exactly the kind of jazz Alice can't stand. She tells that to the man in the white shirt standing next to her and he says it's not the kind of jazz he likes either, he prefers the Rolling Stones.
Wine glasses get broken, people fall over on the dance floor, a woman goes to sleep on the couch. There are miniature martinis and small glasses of absinthe. A proper party: the kind Alices like best.
Alice Gets Published
Alice decides to get herself published. She staples her pages together, folds herself in half and inserts herself into an envelope. She hopes the publisher will like her.
What are you? asks the publisher. Are you a poem or a short story or what?
I'm a prose poem sequence, says Alice proudly (after she's asked around). Publish me and be damned.
Alice Gets What She Wants
Alice Spider is feeling smug. She gets what she wants, when she wants it. She gets who she wants, when she wants them. Alice can sometimes be a little unbearable.
I get what's coming to me, says Alice. And it's all good.
Janis Freegard was born in England, but has lived in New Zealand most of her life. She writes fiction and poetry and is a past winner of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award. Her poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus, was published by Auckland University Press in May 2011. She blogs at http://janisfreegard.wordpress.com.