Chapter 5: Rock in a hard place (Cheshire cat)

June 24, 2002
Later that night...

Some people say that wallowing in self-pity is a bad thing. That you should always look ahead, try to find the positive things about every situation, and just learn from your mistakes.

Obviously, those people are over-optimistic idiots who have never had their heart shattered by a local Kroger bag boy.

I stared the television. Saturday Night Live was on, but for a change, I didn’t feel like laughing. Not even when Sean Connery said he’d take ‘Famous Titties’ for $200, (instead of ‘Famous Titles’) on Celebrity Jeopardy. Usually, at this point, I would be rolling around in the floor in a giggling fit. Louise always said I had the most rambunctious laughter she’d ever heard… or seen.

I picked up the remote and flipped randomly through the channels. VH1 was playing Def Leppard: Behind the Music for about the 20th time that weekend. The Shining was on Bravo. MTV showed some disposable blond bimbo prancing about onstage in a typical music video. I quickly changed the station. Alice in Wonderland was playing on the Disney channel, and I left it there for a few moments, wondering what in the world Lewis Carroll had smoked when he wrote the original story. Not even the Discovery Channel, with its documentary on the mating habits of komodo dragons, interested me. I didn’t really feel like watching TV, but there wasn’t anything else to do. Louise had gone to bed, as she had to get up at some ungodly hour to go to work in the morning, so I was left alone in the living room with my pity. Once I’d flipped through every channel, I finally threw the remote down in disgust.

I dragged myself over to our living room stereo. It was a tall, thin console, 5-disc changer, two tape decks, and even a record player built into the top, which I thought was pretty cool. I planted myself in front of it, opening the clear glass door that covered the controls. CDs were strewn about next to it, and I sat down and pilfered through them. Music, I thought. If music doesn’t make me feel better, nothing will. But it had to be the perfect song.  A song for rejects.

I picked one shiny disc up. Matchbox 20? Where the hell did that come from? It certainly wasn’t mine. I threw it back into the pile. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana? None of them appealed to me at the moment. I wanted to sit and be soothed by a soft, sympathetic voice, not listen to warbling, screaming Seattle grunge. After scowling at a half-dozen other useless discs, I spied a CD sitting inconspicuously off to the side. A soundtrack, from the movie Pleasantville. I struggled to remember what was on the disc. Buddy Holly, Elvis, Miles Davis, Etta James... and Fiona Apple, if memory served. I nodded. Her moody, melancholy delivery was perfect for my current temperament.

I fell over on my side, plugging in a pair of huge, oversized black headphones and slipping the disc into the player. Using the remote, I flipped to the tenth song, listening to Fiona, crazy as she may be, perfectly articulate my pain.

Just because I am in misery, I don't beg for no sympathy,” she crooned in my ear, her voice a perfect match for Percy Mayfield's lyrics. "But if it's not asking too much, heaven, please send me someone to love..." I closed my eyes, lost in listening, letting the rest of the disc play through. When the last song ended, I switched the stereo off. Well, I did feel a little better. Maybe, like, one one-hundredth of a fractioned percent better. I groaned and rolled over.

Suddenly I felt a warm nuzzling on my ear. My tiger-striped cat, Chester, rubbed against me and purred loudly. I smiled. Maybe he wasn’t a hot young guy, but at least he loved me.

I stroked his long, soft fur and wondered what to do next. Suddenly he meowed shrilly at me. I eyed him, pursing my lips. That sounded like the ‘I’m hungry, feed me now, dammit’ meow. Jeez. People thought I ate a lot, but Chester could put me to shame. How many people can say they own a cat who weighs almost 20 pounds? He’s monstrous.

“Kitty, you don’t need any food... you’re pushing obesity as it is.” Pushing? Ha. I glanced up towards the kitchen.

Standing up, I brushed myself off. Food, I thought. That's a brilliant idea. My stomach actually rumbled then, at the thought of finding something to nosh on. Side-stepping my cat, who looked very excited at this new turn of events, I headed towards the door and entered the kitchen.

I shuffled around in the dark. I didn’t feel like turning on the lights, and there was enough light streaming in from the other room so I could see what I was doing. Opening the cabinets, I noisily tossed out boxes and bags of food. Ritz crackers, Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, Rold Gold pretzels… Nah. I was in the mood for something sweet, and a lot of it. Chester meowed angrily at me when he realized that I was not feeding him, but myself. I glowered at him.

“Sorry, but I think I need this more than you right now.” Talking to the cat. God, I’m so pathetic. No wonder Jay’s not interested…

I had pretty much emptied the contents of the cabinet into the counter and floor, except for a few items in the far back corner. I tried to see what they were, but since I hadn’t turned on the light, it was useless. I stood on my toes, reaching my hand back into the darkness of the cabinet, feeling around. Finally, my hand rested on a crinkly bag… Cookies? I grasped the package, pulling it out, and squinted in the dim light. Famous Amos. Oh, hell yeah. I fucking love Famous Amos cookies. The bag was already opened, so I dug in and grabbed a handful of the bite-sized treats.

I lowered myself down into the floor, resting my head against the lower cabinets. There were boxes of food all around me – it looked like a pregnant woman had attacked the place. I grabbed another handful and chomped down. The cookies were stale, and kind of had a strange, powdery aftertaste. But they were sweet enough, and that was all I cared about. I stuffed another handful in my mouth. And another. And another...

Chester approached, meowing so loudly that I was sure my neighbors could hear. Jesus, who knew cats could have such a set of lungs? He began crawling on my lap, sniffing, heading for the open bag. I shrieked, holding it up and away so he couldn’t stick his furry little nose in it. “No!” I said loudly. “No! Not for you. Get down!”

I finally had to pick him up and forcibly shove him off to the side. He hissed angrily and stalked off. “Be a baby, then,” I mumbled. “I’m just trying to help you out here… cats can’t eat chocolate, anyway…” Sticking my hand in the bag, I grabbed yet another handful and crammed them down.

“Alley? What the hell are you doing?” The light suddenly came on and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I looked up at Louise, my mouth gaping open, full of cookie crumbs. I must have woken her up with all my clanging around and yelling at the cat. I chewed furiously and swallowed before I answered.

“I’m having my own personal pity party, Louie. Care to join me?” I held up the bag of cookies as an offering. “What are you doing? I thought you went to bed.”

“Well, I did, but then I heard all this noise and came down here to investigate.” She reached down into the bag, feeling around for a second. “Good grief, did you eat the whole bag?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

She shook her head. “I swear, you must have the metabolism of a six-year-old child…”

“The body of one, too,” I muttered.

She snorted. “Well, all I know is that I could never get away with--” She stopped abruptly. “Alley?” She held the cookie in her palm, her face suddenly taking on an uneasy, sick tint. I furrowed my brows, confused.


“What’s the date on those cookies?”

Date? I hadn’t even thought about that… “They have a date?”

She quickly grabbed the bag from me, scanning the text on the packaging. “Oh, God…”

“What?” I demanded.

She held the bag out, cringing. “January 2001…”

My jaw dropped. God, I was such a moron. “WHAT?!” I screeched. “You mean I just ate 18-MONTH OLD COOKIES?!?”

She covered her mouth with one hand, looking queasy. With the other hand, she slowly handed me the cookie she had just taken from the bag. I reached my hand up, reluctantly accepting it.

Oh, no. I stared at the cookie in horror. It was green. Big, furry splotches of mold covered it, like polka dots. Nasty, sickness-inducing polka dots. I clutched my stomach, imagining the havoc that mold was wreaking on my insides.

“Could my day get any better?! I mean, honestly!” I wailed. “Now I’m gonna die from food poisoning…”

“Alley, sweetie, how could you not have tasted that?! They’re covered… Oh my God…”

”Because I’m an idiot. A big, stupid idiot who’s too lazy to even turn the lights on when she enters a room.” I sniffed loudly, burying my face in my hands. I wasn’t sure if it was the mold itself, or just the thought of the mold that was suddenly making me feel sick. “I guess I should have listened to you all those times you told me to slow down and actually chew my food.”

Louise sighed. “Come on. Get up. There’s nothing we can do about it now. The damage is done.”

Such an apt choice of words. I didn’t protest as she grabbed my arm and lifted me to my feet. “Come on, let’s get you in bed. I have a feeling you’re gonna need all the rest you can get…”

“Rest? These may be my last few minutes of life, Louise,” I mumbled, dragging along behind her up the stairs. I clutched my stomach with one hand, feeling it begin to churn. “So if you have any kind words before I go…”

“Quit being so melodramatic. You’re going to be fine… you might throw up, but you’ll be fine.” I followed her into my room, where I was immediately pushed onto the bed. Louise went to grab the trashcan from the corner. “You’re not allergic to it, or anything…”

“Not that I know of, anyway…” I curled up in a little ball, staring at her. “Louise?”

She turned, trashcan in hand. “Yes?”

“Why am I such a loser?”

The sigh she let out then sounded like a hurricane gust flowing out of a drain pipe. “Alley, honey… you are not a loser. You’re human.” She walked over and set the trashcan next to the bed. “There, in case you get sick. I’ll go get you a glass of water… but I’m not going to give you any anti-nausea stuff, because I think it would probably be for the best if you… emptied your stomach.”

“You’re probably right,” I mumbled, burrowing my face into the pillow. I heard her leave, and minutes later, she came back upstairs with a tall, ice-cold glass of water. I watched as she set it on the nightstand.

“Thanks,” I said softly.

“You’re welcome.” She turned on my lamp and then walked over to flip off the overhead light. Then she pulled up my computer chair next to the bed and sat down.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’ll wait up with you a little while, in case you need anything. Until you go to sleep, hopefully.”

“Louise…” I really was like a child; someone she had to watch after. “You don’t have to do that.”

“Well, if you do get really sick, I don’t want you to be alone…”

“Go back to bed,” I said. I felt guilty enough waking her up in the first place. And now she was waiting up on me just to make sure I would be okay? She had to get up at five in the morning… “I’ll be okay,” I insisted.


“I’ll be okay,” I repeated. “Besides, I’m not the one who has to get up early.”

She sighed. “Alright, alright…” She stood up, scooting the chair back in front of the far window. “I’ll go back to bed. But listen, wake me up if you start feeling really bad, okay?”

“Okay.” I watched her retreat towards the door. “You should have lots of kids, Louise… you’d be a great mother.”

“Me, kids?” She paused in the doorway and laughed. “Nah. I plan on being the perfect aunt who spoils your kids, Alley.”

I started to tell her that producing children involved having sex, which involved a member of the male species, which was something I had yet to attain, but I thought better of it. I was in no mood for a self-esteem lecture, particularly when I was feeling nauseous and out-of-sorts. Instead, I merely smiled. “You’d be a great aunt, too,” I said.

She grinned and nodded. “Of course. Someone has to be around to properly corrupt them.”

I laughed softly, leaning over to flip off my lamp until the room was lit only by the light from the hallway. I lay back down and buried myself deeper in the comforter. “Goodnight,” I murmured.

“Goodnight. And remember, come get me if you need to.” She started to leave, and stopped, turning back to look at me one last time. It was dark, but her profile was lit up, so I could see the rueful smile on her lips. “What am I gonna do with you, Alley Kat?”

I didn’t answer. Instead, I just closed my eyes, exhausted from the events of the day, praying for rest. I heard the door softly shut. Surprisingly enough, I began to feel drowsy almost immediately. There’s something about pitch black darkness, I guess. I rolled over on my back, gently covering my gurgling stomach with my hands, hoping I would be unconscious soon.

Good question, Louise, I thought as she went back to her room. Because God knows I can’t seem to take care of myself.


I was trapped in a maze, a tall, immaculately trimmed hedge labyrinth, running, desperately chasing someone who I was unable to keep up with. In the dream, I somehow knew, because you always just know in dreams, that this person was the key. That he (because again, though I had never seen this person’s face, I just knew it was a ‘he’) knew the way out, and if I ever wanted to escape, I needed him. I was running as fast as I could, but it was completely futile… there were large rocks along the path, and my speed was slowed from darting around them to keep from tripping, which increased the distance between us even more. Finally, I came to a set of forked paths, and stopped, unsure which way he’d taken.

“Wait,” I yelled, gasping for breath, leaning against the prickly bushes. “Please, wait for me…” My legs trembled from the exertion, and I fought to stay upright. There was no answer, just a soft, whistling wind blowing through my hair. I fought back angry tears. I didn’t know what to do… where to go… Fantastic. I was lost; trapped forever among the tall, trimmed hedges…

Frustrated, I spun around and kicked one of the smaller rocks as hard as I could. It sailed through the air, thumping against the ground and rolling away. I had turned back to the fork, cursing my luck, when I heard an indignant cry.

 “I think you should apologize for that.” I slowly turned, my heart hammering in my chest. I’d thought I was alone…

Just a little ways down the path, a fat, furry cat had suddenly appeared, carefully licking his paws… only, it wasn’t my cat. Chester certainly didn’t have pink and purple stripes… This cat looked like he’d fallen in the bargain bin at Claire’s. He looked up, and… smiled. A huge, bare-teeth, grimacing smile. What the hell? Cats can’t smile

“Lose something?” he asked. Forget smiling, when the fuck did cats learn to talk? I noticed, then, the rock I’d kicked lying next to him. I must have accidentally clipped him with it.

“Sorry about that…” I said slowly. The cat merely nodded an acknowledgement and went back to cleansing himself. “I didn’t see you.”

“Most don’t…” I watched, amazed, as the cat suddenly faded into nothingness, part by part… first the ears, then the tail… the nose and eyes, the legs… until all that was left was that hideous smile. No wonder I’d accidentally hit him earlier… what sort of creature could make itself invisible? I blinked. Wait a minute… Cheshire cat? Ah, I get it…Alice, Alley… close enough, right… Now where’s the Duchess, or the Mad Hatter?

The most surreal, disorienting moment you can possibly have in a dream is the moment when you actually become aware that you’re dreaming. When you stop taking it so seriously, because you realize that all the madness is just a product of your overactive imagination. You remain in this unreal world, unable to control your words or your actions, simply waiting for the dream to be over and for your mind to wake up. It’s pretty annoying, actually.

“So…” I couldn’t keep myself from speaking again, despite feeling very silly for doing so. “Which way should I go?” The question surprised even me. What was he going to do, pull a map out of his non-existent pocket and give me directions?

“Well, that depends on where you want to get to.”*

“I—I don’t know, I don’t know who, or what, I’m after, exactly…”

Then it really doesn't matter which way you go.”*

Okay, that was no help whatsoever… of course, I wasn’t sure why I expected assistance from a pastel-colored talking cat… “Thanks,” I mumbled. “You’re a tremendous help.”

“I try.” He looked up, his smile growing freakishly wide and frightening. It was unnerving. I took a few uncertain steps back and groaned, squatting down and burying my face in my hands. When I finally looked up, the cat was gone. When he hadn’t reappeared after several long, silent minutes, I sighed.

“Great,” I muttered. “I’m lost, I’m alone, and I’m going fucking mad…”

“Lost? Perhaps. Alone? Never.” I snapped to attention. Where was that coming from? I looked all around, bewildered. Suddenly the grin appeared, floating in the air like some sort of weird crescent-shaped helium balloon. “Mad? Of course. You can’t help that. We’re all mad here. I’m mad… you’re mad… in fact, you may have noticed that I’m not entirely here…”*

Slowly the rest of his body appeared, one part at a time, until once again a complete cat was sitting on the ground in front of me. I stared. “How do you do that?” I asked.

He ignored my question, choosing instead to ask one of his own. “How do you do it?”

“Do it?”

“Do what?”


“I asked you first.”

“No, you didn’t!” I was horribly confused. And I felt like an imbecile for not being able to follow a simple conversation with a cat. I scowled and turned back to the maze. Fine. I would just find my own damn way out… anything had to be better than staying around here with that weird thing.

“You need to hurry. He’s waiting on you.”

“I doubt that…” I said, bewildered. “I can’t catch up with him, even if I knew where he went. He’s too far out of reach…”

Is he?”

The tone of his voice was amused and slightly condescending. I ignored him and bit my lip, evaluating my options. I could just wait around here until I woke up… but that would mean having to spend more time in the company of the cat, and he was really annoying the piss out of me. Apparently I had no patience even when unconscious. I started to take a tentative step towards the right-side path when he spoke again.

Oh, by the way, if you'd really like to know, he went that way.”* When I swiveled my head to look, the cat had one pink paw lifted in the air, indicating the furthermost left fork. He gave one last hideous grin before disappearing yet again.

“Thanks,” I said softly, but didn’t get a reply. He was gone again, and apparently this time, for good. Sighing, I followed his directions, taking the right path. I didn’t run this time – what was the point? I knew it wasn’t real...

I turned a corner, and from the corner of my eye, caught a flash of movement. The hedges up ahead were rustling, as if someone had just brushed past them. I furrowed my brows – was it him? How was that possible? Surely he was miles ahead of me by now. I sped up to a rapid walk, craning my neck to check around other corners. I stopped, listening – I could hear soft footsteps ahead of me.

What the hell… it’s just a dream. Might as well see who it is… I abruptly took off at a run, determined to catch up.

“Hey!” I shouted. “Slow down!” Naturally, that didn’t work at all – in fact, I was pretty sure he sped up. Figures. Even in my dreams, the guys were running in the other direction. I scowled and kicked it into high gear, leaping over the rocks and dashing around the sharp hedges. At one point, I knew I was close – he was just around the next corner, if I could just step it up a little faster…

Obviously, this would be the point where my natural-born gracefulness – still evident even in the dream world – stepped in and effectively ruined any chance of reaching him. I felt my foot catch on one of the rocks, and the next thing I knew, I was sailing through the air, my momentum propelling me forward. I saw the dirt path coming towards me and cringed, even though I knew it wasn’t going to hurt. I hit the ground hard, screaming.


“ARGH!” I bolted upright in bed, clapping my hand over my chest. Beads of sweat had formed on my temple, and they slowly rolled down my face, tracing wet lines across the skin. I was breathing like a filly that had just run the Derby. “Shit,” I gasped. “What a fucked-up dream.” Cheshire cats? Mazes? That’d teach me for watching weird television before going to bed.

I fell back against the pillows and tried to re-orient myself, which was sort of hard, as I felt even sicker than I had before I’d fallen asleep. Combine that with a sense of uncontrollable dizziness, and, well… I was suddenly very glad the trash can was next to my bed. And God, I was thirsty. I reached out, tentatively feeling for the glass of water Louise had left for me. My hand grasped it, and I sat halfway up, guzzling it down. I wanted more… my mouth still felt like it was stuffed full of cotton. I leaned over and flipped on the light, cringing when it burned my dilated eyes.

And then I promptly screamed.

There was a strange boy sitting on my computer chair in front of the window. He had soft blond hair that was layered around his face, and even in the dim lamp light I could see his stunningly blue eyes. His skin was smooth and slightly tanned. Although he was sitting down, I could tell he was tall because of the way his legs splayed out in front of him. He had on a snug black t-shirt and khaki pants. Basically, he personified what I had always pictured Adonis as looking like, except with cargo pants and Doc Martens. But Adonis or not, he was trespassing.

He looked startled at my shriek; indeed, almost scared himself. “Who the fuck are you?” I asked, my voice quivering despite my effort to sound tough and menacing. I wanted to add an additional threat, but I was too shocked to even come up with anything else.

He stared, those beautiful blue eyes widening. His jaw dropped. “You can see me,” he whispered. “Oh, my God… you can see me…”

“I’m calling the police,” I whispered. Where was my phone? My eyes darted all around, frantically searching for the receiver, which was not on the cradle, as it should have been. Oh, God… If I tried screaming again, would Louise hear me through both of our closed doors?

He was still stuttering. “You—you can see me!” Was it my imagination, or were his eyes glittering with unshed tears? I watched, in horror, as he stood up and started to walk towards me, his expression frozen in shock.

Back off!” I screamed shrilly, pulling my comforter up around me to cover my body. To my surprise, he complied, stopping and slowly walking backwards until he was sitting in the chair again.

“Who are you and what do you want?” I managed to get out. “Is it money? Take it. It’s over in my desk, there’s a jar with over 500 dollars in cash…”

“No, no…” he said. I couldn’t understand the high-pitched bafflement in his tone. Jesus, I wasn’t blind, of course I could see him. “I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. But… you can see me, right? You can see what I look like?”

He’s insane. That’s what his problem is. Gorgeous, yet insane. Great.  My eyes darted around again, and I finally spotted the phone in the floor, next to my desk. If I leaped over there, and startled him, maybe I could get it before he did… “I’m calling the police,” I repeated.

“No, please, listen…” he started talking then, but I didn’t hear a word. I was too busy trying to figure out a way to get out of this mess unharmed. Well, my threats to call the cops didn’t seem to faze him, so I tried another tactic.

“Okay, buddy, I know taekwondo, so if you know what’s good for you, you’ll get the fuck out right now,” I growled, interrupting him. Well, that was actually a total lie, as my ‘method’ of self-defense would most likely involve kicking him directly in the nads, but it sounded good nonetheless.

He stared at me. “What? I’m not going to hurt you. Listen, I need your help… please, just listen to me…”

“Help?” I repeated. Help with what? Science homework? That’s about all I was good for. I scrunched my features, staring at him, trying to pinpoint why he looked so familiar to me, when I was sure I hadn’t seen him around on campus. I was fairly certain I would remember seeing someone this attractive walking around. “Who are you?”

He looked me square in the eye, actually seeming a little surprised that I didn’t know already. “My name is Taylor.”

“Taylor…” I trailed off, indicating that I wanted a last name. I was stalling, still frantically trying to think of my best method to escape. I looked over at the clock on my nightstand. 5:34. Shit. Louise had already left for work… which meant I was alone in the house. I was on my own, as far as finding a way out. I eyed him. He doesn’t look that strong, I mused. Maybe I could take him down… I studied my lamp, picturing myself lifting it up and breaking it over his head.

“Hanson,” he finished. “Taylor Hanson.”

I stopped, resisting the urge to burst into laughter. “Hanson?” I repeated incredulously. “Hanson, as in MMMBop?”

He looked highly irritated at that comment. “Yes.”

I stared at him, trying to ignore the unsettling dizziness I couldn’t seem to shake. “I ought to shoot you on sight right now…”

“Please don’t.” He was not amused by my response.  “Now, if you let me explain--”

I ignored everything he said for the next ten or so minutes. Hanson? What the fuck? What was going on here? What was Taylor Hanson, pop star/sex symbol extraordinaire doing in my black leather computer chair blabbering on in the middle of the night? And how in the hell did he get in here? Through the window? I never locked them, I never thought I had the need to. I was on the second floor, it would take an act of guerilla warfare to make it through my windows… so surely not. Had I remembered to lock the downstairs doors?

Oh, shit… I hadn’t… fuck… Was is still considered breaking and entering if the person didn’t actually have to break in?

Yet… Taylor Hanson? That made no sense whatsoever… why was he here? What did he want? Hmmm. Maybe he’d heard that some chick named Alley from Kentucky had spent the majority of 1997 snidely making fun of his band’s fruity, girly looks and irritating pop ditties… What if he had hunted me down, planning to kill me for that? A lot of those celebrities go off the deep end. What if he planned to kidnap me and take me back to his secret hideaway and make me his slave?  What if he planned to rape me?

I focused my attention back to him briefly, noting his lithe, lean body and gorgeous face. Well, maybe that last one wouldn’t be too bad. Actually, it wasn’t considered rape if it was consensual, right? Errr…

“—and I was walking around outside, because I needed some fresh air, and when I came back to my house--”

Good grief, was he still talking? I shook off my thoughts and attempted to listen.

”—so when I woke up, I was lying out there on your lounge chair--” he was saying.

Woke up?

Oh, God. Of course…

“I’m still dreaming,” I said aloud, interrupting his long speech. Relief washed over me. Still dreaming… Wow, this was seriously fucked up. Cheshire cats, hedge mazes, and now Taylor Hanson? What an odd combination. The images of the cat and the hedge could be explained because of what I’d seen on TV, but I hadn’t even given Hanson a second thought in years. “I am never eating cookies again…”

“What?” He stared at me. “You’re not dreaming, I’m really--”

“Sure, sure,” I said dismissively. “But I’m tired, and I’m going back to bed now. Just be sure to wake me up when the Spice Girls arrive. Oh, and I hear that Justin Timberlake is coming over for tea later, so be sure to let him in.”

He let out an irritated noise, sort of like an indignant grunt. “That’s not funny! I--”

“Okay, I’m sorry,” I interrupted. Anything to get him to shut up and let me get back to ‘sleep’. He was worse than the cat. “Whatever you say, Taylor.” I yawned, lying back down in my covers. “Goodnight.”

“Wh-what the…” I heard him sputter. “Listen to me!”

I ignored him, rolling over and burying my face in the soft comforter. And I attempted to block out any more crazy thoughts of Taylor Hanson or weird Cheshire cats. I relaxed, no longer fighting the lightheaded feeling that had been plaguing me during our entire conversation.

“Taylor Hanson,” I repeated drowsily just before the wooziness took over and rendered everything black. “Crazy, crazy shit…”  

*These lines have been quoted from Alice in Wonderland (both the book and the movie script).