(Tuesday???) Stories: Sleeping Beauty – Part Eleven
Yes, I’m late this week. But I had a crazy weekend, so I’m using that as my excuse. Also, in case you haven’t heard yet, I’m headed to Seattle this weekend to sign books at the ALA Conference!!!! So obviously I’m way busy. You know, keeping up with the life of a best selling novelist and all.
Anyway, this is the end of the “Sleeping Beauty” series. Can you believe it??? Well, plus an epilogue next week. No idea what made 12-year-old me decide to end the story so abruptly, but maybe it had something to do with the fact that this was the first and only kissing scene I’ve ever written (hello! It’s “Sleeping Beauty”!) and I may have felt awkward and decided to cut it off. Not sure.
But I hope you enjoy! And if you want to stroll back down memory lane of this story, check out the old installments here.
Prince Carl won archery, speed, and, believe it or not, dancing. It was evident that he was going to win. One by one, depressed princes saddled up their horses and rode away. Prince Carl was by far Mother’s favorite, and had mastered every sport. The only thing left for him to conquer was my heart. And boy, did he try.
On the night before the last tournament, Prince Carl and I sat before the fire as he tried to woo me. Mother, Hannah, and Daniel played cards nearby, by I could tell they were all watching us.
Prince Carl kissed my hand. “You look very beautiful in the firelight, Valerie. May I call you Valerie?”
“Yes!” Mother called out.
Prince Carl smiled. “Then you may call me Carl. Tell me, Valerie, who do you wish to win tomorrow? It will be your seventeenth birthday, and the curse will be over. It never had to be broken.”
No one. “Oh, I don’t know, Prince—I mean—Carl.”
He leaned closer. “Well, I hope it shall be me, and I hope I have captured the heart of the most precious jewel ever crafted.”
Daniel grunted. I moved away from the prince and looked over at him. His face was a storm. I wanted to wipe away the anger from his brow. My fingers itched to smooth his hair and make him smile.
Prince Carl turned me to him and grinned. He began to lean in. I glanced at Mother, who was smiling at us. Hannah sighed wistfully at the handsome prince about to kiss me. But Daniel’s eyes met mine. There was sorrow there—a sort of sadness. I felt my heart crumple as the prince closed his eyes and pulled me to him.
No! I didn’t want to kiss him! But I couldn’t push him away. Mother would kill me if I did. I closed my eyes and braced myself. Softly, the prince’s lips brushed mine. Then more firmly. He pulled away slowly and grinned.
I looked down. Let him think I was blushing. I couldn’t let him see my hot tears of anger. I felt like a china doll! Mother sold me off to a man I hardly knew and made me kiss him unwillingly. And in front of Daniel!
A soft knock sounded at the door. A sweet elderly maid limped in, pushing a tray of food. “A nighttime snack for the lovebirds?”
“Oh, yes!” Mother clapped her hands. “It’s been a most wondrous night! Let us end it nicely.”
The maid passed out apples to everyone. “Here,” she said, enclosing an apple in my hand. “This will help heal your pain, your highness,” she whispered.
I wiped my eyes and grabbed the apple. I opened my mouth and took a big, juicy bite. Mmmm…
Suddenly, the room began spinning. The maid cackled. Mother screamed. I saw the old woman vanish right before I crumpled in a heap on the ground.
I spun around and around. Colors danced before me. Blue, purple, black. The old maid’s face loomed in front of me. It grew and grew, surrounding me. “Ha, ha, ha!” It began to change. It looked younger, prettier. The skin began to purple as the wrinkles were wiped away. Her eyes shown with hatred. Malkaka. The witch!
She began to chase me. I ran and ran, but I couldn’t get away. All I could do was keep running. A cliff! I screamed. There was a burst of light. And then darkness.
I was in bed. I tried to open my eyes but they wouldn’t open. I couldn’t move!
I heard voices around me. “It’s the curse.” Mother. She sobbed out loud. “How can it be broken?” Prince Carl. I hated him. “Her true love has to kiss her.” Daniel. “That’s you, Carl!” Hannah. “You kissed her last night!”
Last night? And I’d only just awoken. Only, I guess I wasn’t really awake. I couldn’t lift my head or open my eyes.
“Yes, Carl.” Mother again. “Kiss her! Wake her up!”
He cleared his throat. A moment later, his lips touched mine. I tried to wiggle my toes. Nothing happened.
He tried more urgently. Again and again.
“Enough!” Mother shouted. “That fool fairy Faulina’s gift didn’t work.”
“Unless…” Hannah’s voice sounded thoughtful. “Unless Prince Carl isn’t her true love!”
“Well, who else could it be?” Mother sounded annoyed. “Don’t tell me I’m going to have to let every prince in the kingdom come and kiss my daughter.”
“What if he’s not a prince?” Hannah sounded excited.
There was silence for a moment. Then Daniel. “Don’t look at me like that! I’m not her true love.”
Flora! “You don’t love Valerie, sweet?”
He sounded uncertain. “Well, I do love her. I’ve always loved her, ever since I saw her climb that giant tree when she was ten. But I’m not her true love.”
“What makes you think so?” Flora’s voice was reassuring. “Are you afraid she doesn’t love you back? Valerie loves you, sweet. You’re the only boy she’s ever talked about. Just look at how she watches you. You can’t tell me you’ve never seen it in her eyes.”
I did love him. With all my heart I loved him. I wanted to sing it out. I wanted everyone to know! I wanted Daniel to know. I wanted to love him forever.
“I agree with Flora,” Hannah said. “Valerie’s always talking about you. Didn’t you see how she was looking at you last night?”
Daniel must have still been hesitant, for I heard Mother whisper, “Please Daniel. Please, just kiss her.”
Everything was silent. Then I could feel his breath fluttering on my cheek. My heart pounded. Then it happened. His lips finally found mine.
My eyelashes fluttered. My hands flew up and grabbed Daniel’s collar as I breathed in deeply. Air. I was awake!
I opened my eyes and found myself staring into Daniel’s blue ones. He smiled slowly. I beamed back. Then I reached up and kissed him again. I’d never felt so alive.
“Harold,” I heard Mother say to a duke, “Valerie’s going to need a wedding dress. Soon.”
Stay tuned for epilogue….