First, there was Alice.
You have lived your whole life in the lap of storytellers; everything you have learned, everything you remember, is from stories told over and over. The reason we tell stories is because this is how we learn. History is nothing without the narrative; every religion began as a story – some way of shaping what’s around us, some way of making sense of who we are and why we are the way we are.
At some point, you read Lewis Carroll. Maybe you were just little. Maybe you were older, in University, and a girl you liked read Alice Through the Looking Glass. That girl liked you too. An awful lot. She won’t remember, years from then, which of you most resembled the White King, but she will think it is you, because she…SHE…is the one who sometimes believes a half dozen impossible things before breakfast. You were one of them.
Later, a different boy would hear her read Alice in Wonderland and would give her both stories bound in cloth, cuddled together in a sturdy red box with foil reproductions of the woodcut illustrations on the cover. That would be the moment she knew she was in love with him.
Look, verbs are difficult. Tenses muck everything up. Because even later than THAT, the girl would be in a far-away city (relatively speaking), and she would go and see Alice, on stage.
And it would be the most magical, the most achingly beautiful thing she will ever have seen. Better yet, she will have gone to a dress rehearsal, and she will have been one of the first people to see the performance on stage; on this stage. On the chessboard.
It will have started with Alice. Then, two Alices, as the mirror rotated in a complete circle, over and over and over. Where did that other Alice come from? The girl will have spent the evening full of so much joy she wept. She laughed and wept and laughed and cheered and there will have been jellybeans. JELLYBEANS FALLING FROM THE SKY FOR EVERYONE. And the jellybeans made it rain on stage and verbs. Verbs are tricksy things. Very slippery. Very verby.