#28 The Other Sleeping Beauty

A while ago Lottie, I said that Princesses don’t need rescuing.  They don’t and just to make sure that you have enough stories where they save themselves, I’ll write a couple here for you.

Sleeping Beauty

Once upon a time, in land that lies just beyond the first star of twilight, somewhere between wide awake and almost fast asleep, a Queen and a King were rejoicing at the birth of their new baby daughter.  They named her Aurora.  Aurora meaning ‘the dawn.’  And as the sun rose on the morning of Aurora’s naming day, the faeries of the kingdom, upon invitation, prepared their finest gifts for the baby princess.  All of the faeries, except one.  The Faerie of the Morning Breeze had not received an invitation.  It had accidentally fluttered out of the Postfaerie’s bag,  unseen, and slipped silently away on a Northern wind. Gone.  In anger and upset, rationale had departed and the Faerie of the Morning Breeze presumed he had been left out on purpose.  So as the other faeries prepared their gifts of kindness, strength, courage, intellect and integrity, he prepared a curse.  A curse stronger and darker than any that had gone before.  A curse made from the first frost of winter, and the last decay of Autumn, married together and bound by the powers of the darkest moment in the night time.

fairy

So, on that fateful morning, the faeries flew in, lacing the castle air with glitter and sparkle dust (which made the King sneeze something awful), each darting in to the crib, dousing the princess with their gifts of character. The Faerie of the Morning Breeze lurked just out of sight, until the celebrations were almost over, for he knew that timing was everything. As the final gift fell on the sleeping child’s forehead, he zoomed in, clumsily, careless and full of rage.

The crowd gasped.

“Even though you didn’t deem me worthy of an invite.  I have a gift for your precious Princess Aurora.”

He fired the curse in to her cradle, from finger to forehead it shot like a bullet.  The baby Princess let out a cry in her sleep, but didn’t wake.

“May she prick her finger on a spinning wheel on her 15th birthday and fall down and DIE!”

He flew out of the window laughing.  The party guests were in shock, the King necked three Whistle-Wind whiskeys on the trot. The other faeries huddled together in urgent conference.  After some time the Faerie of the Shepherd’s Delight Sky announced to all that he could not save the Princess from this fate, but he could weaken the curse, so she would not die.  Instead, she would fall asleep for one hundred years and be awoken by the kiss of a Prince.  The Queen and the King said they’d settle for that, and sent everyone on their way.

The next morning the Queen ordered that all of the spinning wheels in the land be destroyed, and the spinning wheel factory be closed at once.  (Which caused quite a stir, as numerous job-losses in an already struggling Kingdom were never a good thing.  The Queen, though generally a kind soul, had no time to worry about this, her daughter’s life was at stake.)

And so the princess grew.  She did well in school, and had lots of friends, and the Kingdom almost forgot the curse that had been cast all of those years ago.  Occasionally, on the evenings when the Queen had drank one too many dew-drop sherries, the sobering echoes of the evil Faerie’s words would come falling down on her, leaving her unsettled and sleepless the whole night long.  Her concerns were always quickly washed away again the next morning along with a swig of ice cold water and two painkillers.

Aurora’s 15th birthday.  She was bored.  Her parents had gone in to town to buy more red jam tarts for her party.  She climbed the staircases exploring the hundered-thousand rooms of the castle, each different, each grand.  On the 33rd floor of the castle, she swung the door open to a room she hadn’t visited before. An old (and slightly creepy) man sat at a spinning wheel; though she’d never seen one in real life, the Princess recognised it from books.

“Come closer my dear, come have spin on my wheel.”

Aurora, being smart and streetwise took one look at the creepy old man, her instincts sprang forth and belted her in the gut.

“Not likely.”  She asserted.  “Thanks anyway.”  (She was a polite Princess, even to suspicious old men.)

She ran downstairs, satisfied, and sure she’d she’d made the right choice at not having a go on the spinning wheel. In the Clover Ballroom her friends were finally beginning to arrive, and when her parents came back, she told them about the weird old man on the 33rd floor and her parents reassured her they’d have him seen to.  During the party there were so many guests that the Faerie of the Morning Breeze couldn’t get anywhere near her with the spinning wheel (if only he’d picked something smaller and more transportable: a knitting needle.)  At midnight the binds of the darkest moment in the night time fell slack and the wicked Faerie’s curse disintegrated.  The spell failed, and would never be able to do Aurora any harm.  The faerie had a strop, but got over it fairly quickly, after all 15 years is an awfully long time to hold a grudge, even when you are accidentally not invited to a party.

Aurora finished her A-Levels and went on to study Neuroscience at the Kingdom’s finest University where she became a highly successful sleep scientist, helping thousands of people across the land overcome their insomnia.  She became known to all as ‘Sleeping Beauty’: the beautiful princess that devoted herself tirelessly to helping others find their dreams once more.

100 years later the Prince arrived at the castle, of course the Princess was long gone (her name etched in indelible ink in medical journals across the land.) He was sort of relieved, it has been his mother’s idea to go and seek out the Princess, and the only reason he’d agreed was to give his ears a break from her constant whining of not having yet found a Princess.  He went for a drink in the local tavern to recuperate after his travels, and it was here that he met Prince Edwin.  But that Lottie, is a story for another day.  Sleep well little one.

Yours, Auntie Spudge

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