If you knew me well, you’d be well acquainted with the fact that I’ve loved Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland) ever since I was a little girl. In 2011, EA released a game (a sequel to an older game to be exact) titled Alice: Madness Returns. It was then; an old story was brought back to life for me. There was much to love about it. Alice was a dark-haired, tough girl again (just like in the original), but most of all…I was floored by the music and intricate level design of one particular chapter.
The area is called “Cardbridge” and likewise, the chapter. It is the “leading up” to an area before you are confronted by the now infamous Queen (The Red Queen or Queen of Hearts). What made my jaw drop to the floor was a bunch of neatly stacked “card castles” all suspended in the clouds. The serene & mesmerizing song “Card Castles in the Sky” starts up as you enter. When I reached this area of the game that I was already in love with, my eyes welled up with tears. Why? I bet you’re wondering. Well, even though I am a prodigious sap…that was not my reason for becoming the batch of tears I was at that moment.
You see, I have an uncle on my father’s side that was born deaf and has autism. He can only communicate through sign-language and has difficulty with everyday tasks many may take for granted. Despite his disabilities, he is an extremely intelligent individual. The one talent he has that absolutely shocked me as a child was his ability to build card castles (or a “house of cards” as it’s more commonly referred to.) He can stack them so high and build them so gargantuan your mind would be blown if you ever saw it. I have a fond memory of walking into my grandmother’s house and covering the entire, awkwardly wide kitchen table was a beautifully detailed card castle, stacked neatly to grand perfection. Even now, telling this story, I wish I could make others see into my head; the vivid visual memory I retain of this.
Upon reaching about 10 years old, much to my heartbreak, my uncle had to be placed in a group home. I haven’t seen him since. Although, I think about and miss him often. This was just one of many, many, upsetting events over the course of my life. I’ve lost both of my parents young, a grandmother, so many more; even friends. Each person passing for different, unfortunate reasons. Even though I spent a considerable amount of time being sad about this, over the last past years I chose to look on the bright side. I said to myself, “Now I have better angels.” Guardians, friends, all watching over me, protecting me from harm. That they very much have. Now, every time I listen to that song, I think of my Uncle Dougie, along with all those that I’ve lost. It was only fitting I chose that name to share all of my thoughts, daydreams, and pieces of me with you.
I’ve always been adamant about not sharing my personal beliefs in my writing, but for the purpose of telling this story, I’ve broken my rules once more.
Dad, Mom, Uncle Tony, Aunt Terry, Ray, Jason, Aunt Bea, Grandma, Uncle Francis,
Dave “Grayson Queen”,
Tony “Little Tony” Jr.
and anyone who’s ever lost someone close to them.
Alice “Cardbridge” screenshot courtesy of EA Games and Spicy Horse Entertainment.
You can visit the Alice: Madness Returns official site by clicking on the photo.