This story has become increasingly puzzling and complex, so I made up a recap by chapter and a timeline to avoid confusion.
Chapter 1: Alice meets a captivating boy at her work, inspiring her to explore the library’s secret attic where she discovers a chest full of deeply heartfelt, anonymous letters.
Chapter 2: Alice gets caught in the secret attic by the boy. He tells her that he has been finding these letters hidden in the books throughout the attic, and he’s been collecting them into the chest.
Chapter 3: The boy, named Q.Z., disappears for a while. Finally, she finds him in the attic, and he tells her she was the one who wrote the letters.
Chapter 4: Alice’s past is revealed. She grew up an only child extremely sheltered from society. She began working at The Golden Library in high school, and then full time after graduation, exposing her to pop culture and mainstream media. She grows feelings for Quade, and then copes by writing imaginary letters and then hiding them at work away from her mother. Her mother sees what’s going on and has Quade kidnapped by the church, and administers a potion in Alice’s dinner every night to keep her submissive and forget who Quade is.
Chapter 5: Quade Zillow is tortured by the church and it is revealed that his father Harrington was an ex-member who attempted to expose them but ended up getting locked in a psychiatric home. Most members are aliens with secret scientific knowledge which they use to control the world, and they need Alice’s blood to maintain power. Quade and Alice continue working together but have no memory of each other, although it seems that Quade has been regaining his consciousness, which brings us back to present day. Quade gives her all the letters and tells her to read them in order to trigger her memory.
Alice has an extremely sheltered childhood secluded from society. She is homeschooled and only leaves the house for church.
Alice begins working at The Golden Library (where her grandmother works) and goes full time after graduating. Here, she learns more about pop culture and the real world.
Alice & Quade spend more time together and she falls for him. She copes with her feelings by writing imaginary letters to him and keeping them hidden at work. Also, she becomes more confident and sassy, and backtalks her mother.
Her mother sees what’s going on and has Quade kidnapped by the church and brainwashed. She also obtains a special potion from the church to put in Alice’s dinner every night to brainwash her too. Alice & Quade forget about everything and feel a need to avoid one another.
Quade’s memory starts to come back and he discovers Alice’s hidden letters placed in random books in the secret attic, which he collects in a chest.
Alice starts to notice Quade again and wonders about him. She searches the secret attic for “clues” and then he catches her, so she asks him about the letters, and he tells her how he found them.
Quade becomes frightened and once again feels the need to avoid Alice. But then his memory comes back even more and he tells Alice she is the one who wrote them. He gives all the letters to her and tells her to read them tonight.
Walking home from The Golden Library, Alice held the wooden chest closely to her own chest, hugging it like a teddy bear. She felt protective over it. It was almost as if the chest was radiating a magical glow that carried a strong energy. The tighter she held it, the more powerful she felt.
Gently entering the house and quietly closing the door behind her, she nearly jumped, wide-eyed when her mother popped up right behind her.
“What’s that?” her mother inquired, staring directly at the chest.
Her mother typically left Alice alone after work, unless she came home late without calling her, of course. Usually at this time she was found slaving away in the kitchen. Alice sniffed, surprised not to smell anything cooking.
“No dinner tonight?” Alice furrowed her eyebrows.
“Don’t change the subject!” her mother forced laughter, “I want to know what’s in that special treasure chest of yours!” she said with a grin that was a little too wide.
Continuing to walk away and head up towards the stairs, Alice replied, “oh, you know… doubloons… pirate stuff,” she shrugged, making her way to her bedroom.
“Excuse me!” her mother called out in disbelief.
Even Alice was also shocked by what had come out of her own mouth. She was never sarcastic — she always responded to her mother with fear. But for once in her life, she couldn’t care less about disrespecting her mother. She was too eager to read these mysterious letters, apparently written with her own hand!
“What?” Alice exhaustingly pleaded, fed up with the accusations.
“You walk into my house with a strange box and refuse to tell me what’s inside?
“Mom,” Alice rolled her eyes, “it’s just a chest. I picked it up from the store, I thought it looked cool.” Her heart pounded a little heavier, but she wasn’t scared.
Her mother scoffed, “then why won’t you show me what’s inside? For all I know, there could be drugs in there! And that’s ‘mother’ to you!”
“You’re crazy!” Alice snapped, and then ran up the stairs as fast as she could, locking the door behind her, knowing that her mother was following.
Now her heart was beating much faster. She couldn’t show her these notes, Quade warned her not to show them to anyone, or else she would be in deep trouble.
Alice scanned the room as fast as she could for a hiding place. She heard the footsteps of her mother coming. Luckily her mother was very out of shape, and therefore much slower. In the corner of her eye she spotted a large, empty binder. She heard banging on the door as she stuffed the papers inside. The doorknob started jiggling and finally Alice jumped into her bed and opened up the first book she could find, pretending to read.
The door flung open as Alice’s mother flashed her spare key in the air. The chest was set down across the room, where she speeded towards to open up herself.
“Hm,” her mother suspiciously glared, looking into an empty chest.
“I told you, there’s nothing inside.”
“How stupid do you think I am? I saw you run up those stairs like you were being chased down by wolves. Whatever you hid, I’m finding it,” and she began taking Alice’s entire closet apart, throwing her clothes on the floor and rummaging through every drawer.
“MOM!” Alice flipped out, “can’t I have any privacy?!”
“Not if you’re doing illegal activities.”
“But I’m not! I just don’t like being treated like a criminal all the time! I’m not even a minor anymore! You don’t own me!” she screamed.
“As long as you’re under my roof,” she continued taring Alice’s bedroom apart.
“Are you at least going to clean up this mess you’re making?!”
“When you show me what you brought home hidden in that chest, sure.”
Fed up, Alice vented, “how big do you think drugs are? Don’t you think I would’ve just slipped the baggy in my pocket? What kind of stuff were you taking back in the day? Pills the size of beachballs, huh? Man, that would totally explain it.”
Her mother completely paused, dropping everything, to turn and look at her daughter with total fury. And for a moment, total silence.
Alice waited… did I… break her?
Finally, her mother let out a deep sigh, and with total defeat, she left. Alice became both overjoyed with relief, and absolutely terrified at the same time.
“And yes,” her mother called out, already halfway down the stairs, “no dinner tonight.”
I can’t believe today is our ten-year anniversary! Oh my, how time sure does fly!
Our son looks just like you! You can especially see it in his eyes. When he sees something that he’s really excited about, his eyes become very wide and he lights up. He does this adorable coy act where he pretends he’s not hopelessly mesmerized by the enchantment surrounding him. It reminds me of the way you looked at me the day we first met.
And our daughter reminds me so much of your spirit. When she laughs, I instantly picture your laugh. She chuckles so hard that she has to clutch her stomach because it hurts so much from all the laughter. Just like you, she is somehow able to make a joke out of absolutely anything!
And the dog… is just as hairy as you! Who knew it was adopted?! Hehe, I mean that as a good thing.
Love always, xoxo
“I didn’t write this!” Alice blurted out loud, “I don’t have children! Nor have I ever had a ten-year anniversary!”
And then came a sudden flashback to her and Quade in the secret attic where he repeated the words, “imaginary letters… imaginary… imaginary.”
And then another flashback, much further back, Alice pictured herself writing with not her dominant right hand, but her left… that’s right… one of her many hobbies growing up (with all that alone time she had) was practicing different styles of writing. How could she have forgotten that she put in hours upon hours with her tutor, teaching her different styles of handwriting?
As a child, Alice had a strange dream for her future. She never wanted to be a pop star, or an astronaut, or a doctor when she grew up like her other church friends. She wanted to be a spy.
She remembers now, all the hobbies she accumulated… computer skills, photography, different languages, speed-reading… and she was insistent on learning how to be a master of disguise.
Suddenly her brain became flooded with childhood memories that she had completely forgotten about.
How could I forget such a vivid aspect of my childhood? She wondered, what else could I be forgetting?
Alice returned to work the following day with all the letters gathered back in the chest. There was no way she would be leaving that at home with her paranoid mother.
“Quade,” she called out, spotting him in the secret attic, beating her there, “I’m so glad you’re here, I read everything last night,” she placed the chest back to its original spot, “and I also realized there could be many more letters hiding throughout these thousands of books.”
“What did you think?” he asked.
“You were right,” she confessed, “all of these memories came back… it was… overwhelming.”
“My mom was acting really strange last night. I mean, she’s always strange, but… there was this demon energy inside of her. Maybe I’m crazy, but… I just get this intuitive feeling that she is capable of very bad things… I can’t explain it.”
“You don’t have to explain,” he shook his head, listening closely to her words.
“Will you help me fight back?”
“Yes,” he firmly nodded.