"I like the story of the bear in the forest," Alice said, sitting down at the long elegant table.
The Mad Hatter and the March Hare both studied the little girl with glassy mad eyes, then exchanged sly looks of smug opportunity.
"Once upon a time there was a bear in the forest" isn't a Story," the Mad Hatter said.
"Of course it is," Alice said. "There's a bear. In a forest."
"And then what?" the Hatter asked.
"You can begin writing and add heartbreaking pathos and characterization, of course: "Once upon a time there was a little baby bear who was lost in a forest, who was sad and lonely and afraid because its mother had been caught in a trap" ... but you haven't told a Story, have you, until there is an End that offers Meaning," the Hare said. "Punctuation and Meaning."
"Because you cannot tell what it Means," the Hatter smiled, "until it's over. Thus, you cannot write a story until it's done."
"All else is mere "situation" or "episodic" limbo; the writer is Describing, but hasn't yet written a Story," the Dormouse shrieked softly in its sleep. "Yet --"
Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare all stopped and waited for the Dormouse to complete its thought ... but the small creature only rolled over and went back to sleep.
"Yet, what?" the Hatter sneered in frustration and disgust.
"Perhaps," Alice offered hopefully "He meant to say 'Yeti."
The Mad Hatter gave her an infinitely long look. "That would make perfect sense, yes."
"But we shan't know, ever, then, shall we?" the Hare said, and then looked accusingly towards Alice. "I suppose that makes it another of your favourite stories, doesn't it? It has your sort of skilled denouement, after all."
"I suppose the Story is whatever the Story-teller says it is," sighed Alice, ever so slightly miffed. "And however they choose to write it, is how stories are written. Let's don't ruin a nice tea party with arguing."
Having made her point to her own satisfaction, Alice raised her cup delicately to her lips and drank the tea until it was gone. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare watched her patiently.
"The writer may write that it was a nice tea party," the Mad Hatter finally offered begrudgingly. "But we don't know whether it was nice until the story tells you at the end whether the tea had been poisoned or not."
The tea cup trembled, just once, only momentarily, in Alice's delicate hand.
"Punctuation and Meaning," the Hare nodded wistfully.
'The only tyrant we accept in this world is the still voice within.' -GandhiIOTF:Winner Q1 vol.27 (3x Finalist); WOTF: HM x2