I wondered if I could write Sleeping Beauty, with the classic version of the wakeup – you know, not with a kiss, but with an everything? But still keep the modern woman (and most modern men) from hating the prince as a rapist. Can I create a situation where it isn't so horrible? (I also liked the idea of writing the time after the wake-up rather than the time before).
Well, sometimes I think I might be able to. Sometimes I don't.
I’m having trouble getting the words out. It feels like a razor’s edge description, the tiniest detail can turn acceptance to hatred, but this is how far I’ve gotten.
Do you hate him? Do you think I’ll be able to get through the inevitable conclusion of the next scene, really, without you hating him? And more importantly, do you care if I get through the conclusion of the next scene? Or the scene after?
Forever and Ever
Rain felt a slight pressure on her lips. A hand curled under the curve of her neck, his thumb pressed gently against her pulse. She could smell him. Masculine. Soap and sweat, with a hint of citrus. Clicking sounded gently in the background.
She could hear!
Then he was gone with a rustle of clothing and a flurry of footsteps. A door closed and darkness crowded in on her again. Freezing her in place.
How long had it been that way?
She couldn’t remember. Forever, maybe.
Forever and ever.
Mostly, she couldn’t feel time passing. She only knew that it had. Decades gone.
Passing her by.
Fingers smoothed gently over her brow, brushing hair off her forehead. Soft sounds of things rattling, metal sounds, and murmuring voices cluttered up the background. The scent of citrus soap filled her lungs as she drew a long deep breath.
He was back. He was back, he was back, he was back!
The world came alive around her. If only she could convince her eyes to open, her fingers to move. Anything that might prove she, too, was alive. He sighed and drew back. After a few random touches -- he straightened her gown, touched her arm, one last caress of her cheek – he stood abruptly and walked away.
She could have cried. She would have begged him to stay.
If only she could speak.
He paused at the door – had she made a sound? She’d wanted to so badly, she thought she might have. Might have forced something out past the lump frozen in her throat.
But she hadn’t. She couldn’t have.
Because he kept going.
As the door closed behind him the darkness surrounded her again. It was more hateful now that she knew there was something else. Now that she could remember the light. Then it was gone.
She was gone.
The world came back once again with the scent of citrus. She wanted to laugh. She wanted to cry. Unable to do either, Rain tried to feel out the time since he was last there.
His hip pressed against hers as he chatted in a voice full of familiarity, his touches random and gentle – almost as if she spoke in return, as if they regularly conversed. Was this a common occurrence that she couldn’t remember? Had he spoken with her before the kiss? Except for the vague sense of the passage of time, she couldn’t remember anything before the kiss.
“I don’t know if I can do it.” His voice was low and gentle. Thoughtful. Sad. “I know there are people who could, but I can’t bring myself to send them either. I should.”
He stood to pace and Rain winced internally, terrified he’d leave her once more in the void, but his voice continued. “I may have to. The entire hall of minor magic stopped working last week. By next month we won’t have enough left to keep the museum open.”
Then he was back, leaning over her, his finger tracing her cheekbone. “I think it’s you. If I could just wake you up…. That you’d bring magic with you.”
Wake me up, Rain wanted to beg. She wanted to move, to think, to see. She wanted to live. If only she knew how. If only he knew how. Did he know how? Oh, please let him know how!
“I don’t have any proof.” He was pacing again, but she could still hear him. He’d stayed in the room. “I could be wrong, but I don’t have any other ideas. No one has any ideas. That, or they’re keeping them to themselves – like I am. But if I told them…. If they believed there was even the tiniest chance, they’d have had someone in here by now.
"And they’ll figure it out. The oldest legends have all the clues. Then they'll get someone and I'll have to watch....” His voice went wild and angry, and Rain wished she could see him. “The newest intern position at the CIMM, who wants to fuck the sleeping beauty?”
Then she wasn’t desperate to see him anymore. For once it was easier not to react.
Rain did the only thing she could. She lay still and listened.
“No, that’s not a scientific enough term. What term would they use? Have sex with? Fornicate? Molest? Rape?” A soft splash followed by a loud swallowing sound, then he was back. She couldn’t feel him, he wasn’t touching her, but he felt close. “Maybe there isn’t an appropriate term, but that last one is probably close. Way too close.
“One thousand years old next month.” She felt the cold metal circle slip under her collar to press momentarily against her chest. He was silent as he held it there, then his hand went flat, fingertips touching flesh over her collar. “But you’re alive in there. You’re not an artifact. Not just any old magical thing.”
The tool was gone, flung across the room, clanging off the wall and floor. His hand slipped up her neckline to press once more against her pulse-point.
“I don’t want you to die.”
He dropped away. The rustling suggested that he sat on the floor below her, leaning against her…. Her what? Bed? Table? Display case? She’d heard that term before. While it sounded correct, she didn’t like it. The idea of being a display was unpleasant, though she suspected she’d had many years of it. One thousand?
Had he really said one thousand?
Liquid sounds suggested that he was drinking. She didn’t want him to be drinking. She wanted him to answer questions that she couldn’t ask. What happened to her family? What happened to her? Why was she there and why couldn't she move?
Would he know?
She couldn’t even fathom a thousand years so she let her mind twist about the number for a few minutes. He seemed to have stories from her time.
“I brought my liquid courage.” He spoke more slowly now than he had before. “’S not helping as much as you might think.”
If only he could share, she could use some courage.
At least he had time to think about the options. She could only think after he’d touched her. Only when he was in the same room. If only she could speak, they could figure this out together.
If she could talk, she’d scream out her anger and annoyance at the wasted years she’d had, the time gone by, and her inability to move or have any part in these decisions. But he, the nameless he, was muttering again, pushing himself upright again.
“I’d miss our talks. Well, my talks, really. But it feels like you’re there, listening. Maybe I just want you to be there listening.” His hand was on her cheek again. She would have curled into it, if only she could move. He felt like safety. “Maybe it’s me being crackpot crazy. Wishful thinking because I can’t find a real girl. Haven’t. Haven’t found a real – a moving – girl.”
Rain’s body moved, ragdoll style, as he pulled her into a sitting position, and lifted her head. “I’m not crazy. I don’t think I’m crazy, at least. I think you’re the key. Either you’ll live and magic will come back, or you’ll die as it disappears.”
His hands slid to either side of her head, holding her face inches from him. His breath overpowered the familiar citrus soap smell. His voice was hoarse and broken. “And I’m talking like you’ll suddenly wake up and give me permission. Please be listening. Please understand.”
Then he was kissing her. Crushing her against him. Spreading such pleasant heat inside her.
Her arms lay uncooperative and unresponsive. One curled behind her, fingers twisted on the fabric. The other had fallen across his legs when he'd lifted her, the back of her hand lay on the soft fabric covering his legs almost as if she was touching him.
She struggled, trying to turn her hand, to return his kiss. Trying to lean into him to accept the feelings he offered even if he was wrong, even if she remained trapped in this soft prison shell until the end of the world.
A tortured growl ripped through the air and she fell. Not far. Back onto her padded display.
The door slammed. He was gone.
She didn’t even have time for regrets.