4/29/14

Alice
By Vincent Poturica


Alice who likes to paste pictures to the pictures already wall-papering the insides of her camper van. Alice who cuts the pictures from magazines she shoplifts discreetly from gas stations and chain bookstores, magazines she always returns with a page or two missing and their still shiny covers concealing her theft. Alice who just pasted a picture of an elephant showering its child with water from its trunk, an elephant whose floppy ears Alice wishes would detach and flap away like giant butterflies. Alice who sleeps in the van with all the pictures staring back. Alice who wanders into a large park a mile and a half from one of the freeway exits for Provo, Utah. Alice who is driving back to Prescott, Arizona, from Moab where she has been rock climbing for the past two and a half weeks, her hands powerful with calluses, her blond hair even blonder, almost white, the presence of so many colors, which is how Alice feels. Alice who feels mostly all right. Alice who has worked hard to feel all right, once spending nearly six months staring at a wall of a cabin that she and her ex-boyfriend Marcos shared at the edge of a homestead in northern Montana, staring with discipline and vigor at a blank bluish wall, stopping only to eat, sleep, or relieve themselves, staring constantly to lose their attachment to self, the chains of a regenerating ego that Marcos called The Terrible Hydra. Alice who stared with such determination at that blank bluish wall with the spiders spinning their webs in the dust-growing corners. Alice who stared at the wall so long that when she looked in the bathroom mirror, she saw her blond hair and what looked like a large brown egg beneath it, a smooth egg without eyes, without ears, without a nose, without a mouth. Alice who studied the smoothness of this egg with her hands until Marcos went away. Alice who watched the spiders until their webs covered the floor and then the ceiling and then her bed. Alice who left the cabin door open when she drove away. Alice who thought about killing herself by driving off a cliff like Thelma and Louise, two women from a film that didn’t feel so fictional to Alice then. Alice who stopped her van at a red cliff somewhere outside Albuquerque and looked at a picture of Odie taped to the dashboard, Odie the brown-eared beagle, Garfield the Cat’s maligned friend. Alice who had always identified with Odie because she was always given a bad time for being too optimistic. Alice who is still optimistic even though life is often more difficult than she can manage. Alice who feels comforted by the pictures parading down the walls of her camper van, the pictures that are parts of herself as she imagines the world to be parts, fragments of a larger self, an incomplete self that she believes is slowly becoming whole. Alice who wants to be whole. Alice who looks at all the neat manicured paths of this park in Provo, Utah, where she strolls aimlessly reflecting that Provo is the home of Brigham Young University and a town that not only prohibits alcoholic but also caffeinated beverages. Alice who admires this ascetic aspect of Mormonism even though she cannot agree with the tenets of the religion, a religion she admittedly knows little about. Alice who spots a very large sycamore with a very large hole in its trunk. Alice who realizes she is walking very fast. Alice who trails her fingers around the circumference of this hole in the Sycamore tree, a hole that seems unusually large even for a family of colossal squirrels. Alice who hoists herself into this hole and hugs her knees. Alice who presses her cheek against the damp bark. Alice who hears bird sounds, bug sounds, the sounds of too many thoughts wandering around in her head. Alice who watches a father and a son kick a soccer ball. Alice who watches a girl strumming a guitar in the grass. Alice who watches a bum searching through a trash can until he pulls out a newspaper that he begins to read. Alice who doesn’t read the news and feels guilty for not keeping up with this world that keeps going, this life that won’t stop.


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Vincent Poturica has worked as a journalist in Sri Lanka and Minnesota. He lives in Gainesville where he is an MFA candidate at the University of Florida. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bodega, Squawk Back, and elsewhere. He tweets @vpoturica.


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