Sorry, friends, no Broken Reflections today! I was going to … promise … but I know that a lot of my followers don’t read it, so I’m giving you another stand-alone story! (Not exactly a short story…)
Back when Rooglewood Press had the Sleeping Beauty writing contest, I played around with a few different ideas, and since I was digging around in some of my old Word Docs., I found a lot of those and thought that I’d share one here. Please enjoy! 😉
My story begins in King Jarred and Queen Aria’s fifteenth ruling year. The couple hadn’t yet had a child and it was causing them great distress for neither were young and they didn’t want to leave the kingdom without an heir.
One day the queen was bathing in the river when her young hand maiden, Cara, shouted for the queen to come quickly. Aria waded to the riverbank and slipped on a robe.
“My lady!” Cara said. “I saw a snake!”
Aria let out a small laugh. “There are bound to be snakes in a river. Are you afraid of them?”
Cara responded, “It was a Fimage! My grandmother used to tell me stories of the magnificent creature. If you capture it, it will give you your greatest desire.”
“What are we waiting for! Let’s go and catch us a snake!” Aria said.
Both women then walked down the bank. They had been walking for a decent while when Aria stopped and took Cara by the shoulders.
“Are you certain-” Aria stopped mid sentence.
The queen slowly let go of her hand maiden’s shoulders. Then with lightening fast speed, she bent down and grabbed a serpent off her foot. Aria had the snake just behind the head. The Fimage was wrist thick and stretched all the way down to the the ground, and the queen was a tall lady.
“So I just ask?” Aria questioned Cara.
Cara hesitated. “I think.”
“Serpent, I would like a child.”
“And so you will be given one,” the Fimage replied with a thick, yet pleasant accent. It’s voice gave no hint as to which gender it was. “And for the young lady?”
“I wish for my brother to be found,” Cara said, her voice cracking.
“As you wish.”
The queen instantly dropped the serpent and shook her hand. “His scales turned fire hot!”
The two, both overjoyed, then ran to tell their families the good news.
The serpent did indeed tell the truth. The kingdom’s knights found a young lad wondering the wilderness, whom Cara claimed as her brother. The queen became pregnant, bringing much joy to her and her husband.
As you may have guessed, I was their child.
In the month of May and the sixteenth year in my parents reign, my mother was about to give birth to me. She was in labor for sixteen hours before I was finally brought into the world. They named me Esme, meaning beloved.
Unfortunately I never met my mother for she died in child birth; but people always say she was a lovely queen, the best they had ever known. I also didn’t know my father that well, for after my mother’s death he fell into a great depression, though he always pulled himself together for the people’s sake.
After mother’s death, father wanted to give the kingdom a reason to celebrate, so he did a grand celebration for my birth. He invited all the people in the land to the party, no matter what their social status was. This included the ten fairies who lived just outside the kingdom’s borders. Many people say it was unwise of him to invite the tenth fairy, Lily, but he didn’t listen. Lily was know to be sneaky and often spent her time alone in her cabin in the woods.
The time of the celebration came. Father was in his throne and I was in my cradle that stood between him and my mother’s throne. Father had refused that the traditional black lace be lain on her throne.
Most of the guests had arrived so people began to present their gifts. The poorer people gave hand made baby and child furniture and clothes, while the richer gave jewels and other riches.
It finally came time for the fairies to present their gifts. Everyone stood on their tiptoes to see what was going to happen; fairy gifts were a rare thing. The first fairy mounted the stairs and stood at my cradle.
“My name is Anna, and I present the gift of kindness,” the fairy said. She tapped her index finger on my forehead.
When the fairy left another came. “I am Ellie and I give the gift of incomparable beauty.”
A third named Emerald came and gave me the gift of happiness. The gifts went on in the same manner for six other fairies until it was Lily’s turn.
She walked up the stairs. The click click of her high heels on the marble echoed throughout the otherwise quiet room. Some say it was quiet enough to even hear the swishing of her black silk dress.
“Esme, sweet child, I shall not give one, but two gifts,” Lily said. The crowd gasped appropriately. It was said that a smirk filled her face.
“That is very generous of you,” Father had said stiffly.
“For the first one I give the gift of eloquence. And for my second one, well, it isn’t so much a gift as it is a curse.”
“Please, wait!” Father stood up and grabbed me from my bed.
“All your begging won’t reverse what has been done in the past!” Lily shouted. “I curse Esme! On her fifteenth birthday she shall prick her finger on a rose bush thorn and she shall fall into a deep sleep. And from that deep sleep she shall arise once a year to yet again prick her finger on the bush. Every time she awaits there will be a new trial that awaits her to prove her worthiness! The only way to reverse the curse is for a boy with a noble heart to await three years and last through the trials with her, then Esme must willing accept a kiss from the lad!”
Lily leaned over and took me with great force from my father’s grip. She took an ash covered stick from an unseen pocket in her dress. She drew a rose on my left forearm. “This is the mark of the curse!”
Father took me back from the fairy. He desperately tried to rub off the ash, but it became even more detailed the harder he tried.
“I hope you and Esme enjoy my ‘gift.’” Lily then surrounded herself with black mist, and vanished.
“She’ll pay for what she has done!” Father cried desperately. “Can’t you fairies get rid of the curse?”
Anna approached. “I’m sorry, sire, but her magic is too strong.”
Father hung his head. “I want every rose to be burnt; every bush cut down. You are all dismissed”
The people left, waiting to whisper among themselves until they had left the great room. Ellie was the only one who stayed.
“Sire?” Ellie asked.
“Yes?” Father’s head hung low.
“Would you like me to stay and help you with the child?”
“If you feel it would help.”
Ellie did stay. She took care of me, while Father’s depression became even worse. He would often snap at Ellie, though still she stayed. Ellie treated me as if I were her daughter, and I treated her as a mother.
When I was two, Father managed to get his depression under control and he noticed how Ellie and I had bonded. He asked Ellie to be his wife, and she accepted. Neither spoke of my birth mother, so I just assumed Ellie was her.
One day when I was twelve I walked by the King’s Hall when I heard my father and Ellie discussing something that sounded serious. I did the natural thing; I hid just outside the doorway and listened to the conversation.
“It’s for her own good!” Father’s voice. He sounded desperate.
“She needs to know. She can’t live her whole life in oblivion!” Ellie argued validly.
“But then for the next three years she’ll be dreading her birthday!”
I had never heard my parents argue before. I leaned closer so I wouldn’t miss a word. Before they hadn’t had a chance to say anything more, my foot caught on something and I fell forwards. I instinctively reached my hands forwards to break my fall. I sat up looking at my red hands.
“Esme?” Ellie asked, rushing towards me.
“Mother, what were you talking about? Does it have to do with my rose mark?” I asked Ellie.
Ellie sighed. She glanced at father. Father looked away for a moment before nodding his head.
“Esme, sweet, why don’t we go upstairs to your room?” Ellie asked, helping me stand up.
I nodded and allowed her to lead me up the stone stairs to my sleeping chambers. When we got to my sleeping chambers we both sat on my bed.
“What is this all about?” I asked.
Ellie sighed again. She told me the story about how my real mother was childless until she caught a mythical snake, that she died in child birth, about the celebration and the fairies’ gifts, and about how Lily had cursed me; yet she never said the cure.
Throughout Ellie’s whole story I stared at the rose on my forearm, gently caressing the beautiful, colorless rose. When she was finished I looked directly into her blue eyes.
“Why did you never tell me any of this?” I asked.
Ellie thought for a moment. She pulled me close, and combed through my hair. “I wanted to, I really did, but your father forbade anyone to tell you. I guess the memories were just to painful. Are you mad?”
I looked away from her probing eyes. “No, but I wish you would have told me.”
She took my hands in hers. “When it happens you need to be strong. For the next few years don’t dwell on bad thoughts about the future, but rather on good thoughts of the past. The memories that you can make in the present.”
I nodded. I ran different ways of a happy outcome for me; I didn’t want to sleep forever. “Is there a way to undo the curse?”
“It’s possible, but the rules of magic forbid me to tell you.”
I thought again. “How about that snake? The Fimage? Can it reverse what has been done?”
Ellie was silent for a moment. “I suppose. But finding this serpent is very rare. I’ve actually never seen one before.”
“But it could work, right?”
“I’ll leave immediately.”
“Esme, you can’t go alone!” Ellie protested.
“Ellie,” I said, calling her by name for the first time, “I know you mean well, but if this is my one chance at getting rid of my curse, then I must do it.”
Ellie looked down at our joined hands. “I understand. The most common sighting of the Fimage is near Lily’s section of the forest.” She leaned forwards and kissed my forehead. “It will be dangerous, but I know you can do it. I’ll tell your father, at least it’ll give you one less thing to worry about.”
“Thank you, Mother,” I said.
“Oh, but, Esme?”
“Please, wait until your fourteen.”
I jolted out of her arms. “But Mother-”
Ellie hushed me. “No, child. Your father couldn’t bare it; I couldn’t bare it. I know your time is ticking away, but you must treasure moments. And you’re still but a young lass.”
I attempted to reason my way out, but she prominently had a good retort for every one of my points. Eventually, I gave in. I hadn’t wanted to leave straight away, anyways.
Ellie left, leaving me alone in my room. I changed into leggings, a lose tunic., and braided my waist long blond hair into a thick braid, and wondered how I could possibly survive two more years.
So how’d you like it? So far it’s really similar to many other Sleeping Beauties (retellings and the original), but it gets more original later. Please comment on what you thought, and if you like reading my short stories! Bye!