Long, stressful days had filled Alice’s life since outdoor temperatures had limited bikini wearing to an indoor activity. The shortness of daylight hours, a boyfriend who was being just a little too self-consumed, a mother who kept pushing bridal magazines under her nose, and a job that kept her working while everyone else played had left the poor girl standing on the edge, pondering what it might be like to fall, like her namesake, endlessly down a rabbit hole.
Sitting at her desk, forlornly gazing at another soggy tuna salad sandwich, Alice decided that, even if it was foggy and gray, she could still get out and take a stroll during the few minutes she was allotted for lunch. She fastened her overcoat, cinching the belt tightly at the waist, and wrapped her scarf warmly around her head, giving her somewhat the appearance of a walking cocoon as she stumbled out the doors of the office building. She hadn’t given any consideration as to which way to go, so Alice simply went the direction the wind was blowing because that was what was easiest. As a result, the young woman soon found herself standing in the middle of A. A. Craft’s department store, staring up at the brightly lit displays encompassing five floors, promising everything anyone could ever want or need.
Alice smiled. She hadn’t even shopped for groceries in over three weeks. Clothes? The last item she bought was a pair of white shorts last April. Her monthly budgeted amount for clothes had gone unused and untouched, just sitting there in her checking account, waiting to be spent. Alice looked at the bright colors, the warm fabrics, and the inviting designs. Her mother had always warned that Alice couldn’t afford to shop here, but as she looked at the price tags, she didn’t find the amounts to be so terribly unreasonable.
Lunch time ended as Alice tried on a pair of navy blue slacks. At what would have been break time, Alice was laughing her way through the lingerie. While her co-workers left for the day, Alice played with make-up and perfume. Her boyfriend arrived to a dark apartment as Alice reveled in sweaters. By the time Alice left the store, both her arms and her credit card were full, and for the first time in months, there was a smile on her face.
After loading her new goodies into the car, Alice finally thought to look at the cell phone she had ignored all afternoon. Numbers of missed calls glared angrily at her. She didn’t need to listen to the voice mail. She already knew what they said. Her boss was threatening to fire her. Her mother was worried she’d been struck down in the street. Her boyfriend wanted to know where the hell was dinner. She didn’t care.
The boyfriend was “out with the guys” by the time Alice arrived home. She dumped her new belongings on the living room floor and indulged herself. Reality would certainly be there tomorrow, and she would deal diplomatically with everyone’s frustration, but tonight was for her. For Alice. For if she were to survive the stress of winter, this would not be the last time she would need to invoke the shopping solution.