Alice found herself sonder-wandering again.
She reclined on a sycamore at her local park in late July while reading a novel.
Dogs barked, people chatted.
An accordion player stood by the fountain, with an upturned cap on the ground for pocket change from passers-by.
Cars rolled through the intersection, sometimes honking.
But Alice was unperturbed.
She periodically paused pensively to consider each character and their effects on their counterparts and counter-points; this only strengthened her resolve to continue reading.
“Excuse me,” she heard in a friendly tone.
After a pause, she angled the top of the book down low enough to uncover her eyes.
Before her stood a tall man with wavy brown hair, dressed in rags, holding a shopping bag.
“Are you the Queen of Hearts?” he asked.
Taken aback, she rested the still opened book on her lap and asked “Who?”
“I thought I recognized you,” he inserted his hand in the bag of bits and bobs and pulled out a yellow apple, still with its price sticker attached.
“I don’t believe we’ve met,” she said.
“Maybe not,” he replied now scratching his head.
He rubbed the fruit on his shirt then took a crisp-sounding bite.
“I didn’t catch your name,” she said, now sitting cross-legged.
He held his pointer finger up in front of his face and chewed.
“How rude,” she thought.
She wanted to get back to reading but wouldn’t be discourteous.
The stranger spoke with his mouth full.
“What?” she asked.
He mumbled again in much the same manner.
“You’re being very impolite,” she said.
The stranger finally stopped gnawing and swallowed.
“You’re Alice,” he responded.
She stood, a little embarrassed now. “Yes I am,” she said. “But I can’t quite place you, I’m sorry.”
“That’s fine,” he said, “I never take these things personally.”
Alice wasn’t sure what to say.
“I wanted to show you this,” he said holding the apple in his outstretched palm, it shined brilliantly wherever illuminated.
“If you take a bite, all things will be known to you.”
She couldn’t believe her ears or eyes.
“Everything,” she asked sheepishly.
“Wouldn’t you like to learn my name?”
“Well I am curious,” she said.
He wrapped his fingers around the fruit and glanced at it, then her.
“I doubt it’s poisonous,” she thought.
She grabbed the dangling length of red-ribbon and nestled it on her current page before clamping the book shut and resting it on the grass beside her purse.
“You won’t be worried about that soon enough” said the stranger.
She approached, then took the apple from his hand and took a bite.
The fruit was delicious but the skin was quite tough, and a tad sharp at the edges.
Chewing, she strained herself to think, but nothing revealed itself.
“Liar,” she said, “off with your head,” finishing her bite.
They shared a laugh, the man bid her farewell.
Alice sat down and pondered every single stranger she saw that day.
She still sits there.