xiii. red light green light (part five // end)

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"of all he could have been for me, he chose to be nostalgia."

--unknown

___________________

This is not the park.

Alice groans and slumps to the ground, slapping her forehead. This is not the park.

She now sits atop Swallow Hill, the last place she ever saw Peter, and she is furious with herself. She is furious with herself because she came out to get away from her thoughts about -- you know who -- and she comes here of all the places in this crappy town to come to--

She chooses the last place she ever saw him.

Like, seriously? This is an awful cliché. Who even wrote this stupid concept, honestly?

(A/N: oh my God I'm breaking the fourth wall help)

But eventually the furious feeling burning inside her ebbs away to make room for a heady sort of nostalgia creeping upon her. She tucks her knees under her chin and stares out at the dim sunset. Israel will be home any minute, she thinks, then smiles. He'll flip a tit when he realizes I've gone out in this foggy mess with my God-awful cold.

The fog swirls around her, and she marvels at the intensity of it -- how is she even able to see the sunset from here? It set in almost five minutes ago but she's never seen it so thick. It almost chokes her.

Or maybe those are unpleasant memories and bitter regrets that are just too hard to swallow. She doesn't even know anymore.

A small bird-call sounds out of the tree beside her, and a moment later, a swallow lands on the ground close to her feet. For a moment she stares at it, and it stares at her, cocking its head for a better angle, and then, cautiously, it hops up onto her shoe.

She snorts softly at it. "I'm not a Disney princess, bird. Why are you on me?"

It doesn't respond. As if it could. It just watches her with its beady eye and she thinks it's nice to have a bit of company -- even if it's only a swallow.

"You know," she says softly, not breaking eye contact with the bird on her shoe. "I'm a coward."

The bird's unwavering gaze seems to prompt her to continue, so she does. "I'm in love with him, with Peter," she continues. "I am in love with him and I don't know if he knows it but I don't think he loves me, not after the shit I pulled way back when." The bird ruffles its feathers and pecks her shin lightly.

She laughs. It's almost like it's reprimanding her for her choice of language. "Sorry. I don't normally swear."

The bird dips its head and its eye trains on her again. Go on.

"Well, I ran away. He was the best thing to ever happen to me, after Israel, of course. And I can't believe he's gone. He's probably moved, like I have. He's sent me hundreds of letters -- well, alright, not hundreds, but you get me, right? -- and I haven't read any because I'm just a coward.

"He's probably given up on me because I was too afraid to tell him about my past. I was too afraid to lose him because of how screwed up I was -- how much of a mess I really am. But now that I think about it -- I was younger, more impulsive then. I don't think someone like Peter would have left me over anything that stupid." She sighs. "And now, it's too late to tell him what I should have told him years ago: I love him."

The ridiculousness of the whole situation strikes her, and she chuckles softly. "I'm talking to a bird. Maybe this really is Wonderland." She smiles softly at it. "Though, you are such a good listener. And you don't judge. Thank you."

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