He was, by all accounts, a mediocre man. He got average grades, went to an average university, and had an average relationship with an unremarkable girl who lived the entirety of life on the cusp of being beautiful. They validated their marriage in a small garden to a small audience, at an event where the only notable guest in attendance was God.

They had three children, each an inheritor of their parents’ mediocrity. This applied to all facets of life; financially, socially, and everything in between. None of them ever dreamt of a life beyond their front lawns. Their roads to success were driven over by station wagons to summer camps, choir recitals at a Protestant church, or when feeling especially impulsive, the drive-thru lane of McDonalds.

‘Three quarter pounders. No cheese. No pickles.’

Indeed, they were a family unmoved by art. It’s purpose evaded them, much like emotion. Love was not celebrated, rather accepted as a matter of science. One plus one is two. Boy meets girl, married and makes three. Easy. Formulaic. Understandable.

Except then there was Alice.

She was the colossal genetic miscalculation that paired the family with a fourth child, a girl, for whom every blade of grass, every ripple on a rainy day, was a testament to the inexhaustibility of what life had to offer. She did terrible at school, had a terrible history with men, and cared little for white-picket pleasantries. Her world spun on the access of sensationalism. When she loved it came down hard, like gun-fire raindrops on rusted tin roofs. When she hurt, she howled to a family more concerned about her facial distortions than her heartfelt woes.

She didn’t care for security, repentance, or saving. The senses were her scripture; desire, the needle pointing North.

Indeed, if there was one thing she believed in with all her heart, it was love. And as any time-tested romantic would know, for that, she would pay.


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