Well, I can almost breathe – I am more than half-way through packing. Tomorrow, we will be on a plane that will bring us halfway across the world. I am both excited to visit my birth home and a little intimidated with having antsy kids in a long flight. There are so many friends I want to meet again but time and logistics do not seem to make that possible. Right now. As my husband says, I should leave all of my worries behind and just go with the flow – a difficult task for one with worry as her twin. 🙂
Anyway, I wanted to post something more substantial than my giddy excitement and worries. So I thought of digging some old posts from my ex-main blog. Since Trifecta started us on a re-tell mode, I decided to put up my re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. This was written following a Bloggy Moms Writers’ Workshop prompt for us to choose a favorite fairy tale character and to rewrite the story according to that character’s point of view. Several months ago, when I wrote this piece, I did not know of any movie version to this story. Now, I heard that Angelina Jolie is playing Maleficent, the evil queen in Sleeping Beauty.
Anyway, here is my story. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
“Ahh.. my dear Wife, do not worry so much. Our friends have been busy with all of the preparations. Besides, That Godmother of yours took charge of everything – guests, banquet, details details. You know how persnickety she could be with details,” said my husband as he came in and saw me pacing in our nursery.
I managed to smile at him. I knew he understood all of my anxieties.
Once there was a big Christening like this one that we are going to have. The King and Queen, for all of their care, failed to invite one fairy because she had not come out of her tower for many many years. When the King and Queen remembered to, they were not able to prepare well for her coming. As a result, she was not given the same treatment as my Godmothers were given. Old Fairy took great offense for the perceived insult and laid a curse on the little child. Thanks to a young novice fairy who managed to bestow her gift last, the curse was mitigated. Instead of the child dying from a needle prick on her 16th year, she would simply fall asleep for 100 years until a prince came and awakened her.
On the day before I turned 15, I learned about my cursed life when I overheard my parents, the King and Queen, talking about it. It turned my happy world upside down. To say that I did not like the fate that awaited me was a great understatement. Sleeping for 100 years might as well be death, a death that was delayed. I would wake up alone in the world. And if anyone managed to fall asleep with me, they too would be taken out of their time, their family and world. Who knew what awaited them when they woke up. The curse was on me, not them.
I sought my fairy Godmother to find a way to break the curse. Alas! Even though over the years she had become the accomplished fairy that she is now, she had no power to undo someone else’s will. She could not break the old fairy’s curse. It was from the old fairy herself that I had to find relief. So I went to her.
My godmother transported me to the realm of Old Fairy. Before long, the Old Fairy’s minions had brought me before her. Even before they could put me down on the floor, I was on my knees to tell the Old Fairy about my petition. The very walls seemed to tremble with my fear, but I found my voice and stated what I needed from her.
She looked at me with her beady eyes.
“So you ask to be freed from the curse. What can you offer me in exchange of so great a favor?”
“I have nothing. I have no kingdom nor priceless gems nor magical artifacts to give.”
She stared at me. I felt my soul being torn to pieces.
“Yes you have, yes you have”, she said softly as though in a dream. “A lot! Your godmothers gave you a lot.”
I shuddered. But if my gifts would free me from the curse…..
“Your beauty! Every perfection you have now shall now be mine! And you shall walk where I have walked, trod the paths I have trod, live what I have lived ……
My head spun. My heart seemed to have been ripped out from me.
And there was laughter, a joyless laughter, echoing, reverberating through the hills and valleys, bending down the trees, smashing down rocks, filling the heavens.
When I came to, I was in a different world. I did not recognize the filthy and ragged clothes covering me. My hands were rough and bleeding. And my long silken hair ….. But there was more. My being itself changed. There were emotions and thoughts that I did not recognize – malice, anger, hate, resentment, fear, and other things I had no name for. There was the laughter in my head – mocking me for what I had become and might become. I understood then that when the old fairy took what I had, she turned me into herself. But there was no time to sort things out. There was danger! An angry mob was chasing me. I ran and ran and ran to the rhythm of that laughter that seemed to have filled my being.
But I was raging inside. I was angry. I wanted to call down fire and storm, to smash everything around me, to punish those who did this to me. For a time, Old Fairy and I were thinking as one. I knew I had to resist. The laughter got louder.
The Handsome Stranger
While in my miserable state, a handsome young man on a splendid horse and wearing splendid clothes appeared as though magically. With a velvet voice he said –
“My fair lady, what have they done to you? I know you are angry and want to punish those who hurt you, those who betrayed you. Come with me and we will make that happen.”
The laughing in my head seemed to have paused in reverential silence. Hope and joy, if ever it knew joy, was sparked. It had never encountered this kindness. “Make things right, make things right’, its voice relished the very taste of the word. Yet, even as the sweet prospect started to envelop my thoughts, something deep within me cringed and softly whisper “No. Revenge is not for you.” It was what remained of the self I gave up and I clung to it. I fought the tides inside me. I struggled with all of the will left in me. But the laughing voice and my own miserable state were starting to defeat me. My strength was getting feebler with each second that passed. I did not know how much longer I could go on resisting. My hand seemed to reach out to the stranger’s outstretched arms of its own will. “Help!” I heard my soul stir and with the final gasp of the dying – life again ran through my veins and somehow I managed to turn away. The voice was silenced. The laughter stopped. The stranger disappeared. And I was all alone again. And calm.
A New Beginning
I lay crumpled under a tree for how long I did not know. Daytime came and with it the dawning that this would now be my life. Had the curse been broken? Or had it just began? I did not know. I had to begin anew. That was all that I knew. I was no longer a princess. I no longer had my famed beauty nor great qualities. Old Fairy took them away. I was henceforth a borrower – of somebody’s body, somebody’s life and all the gifts and curses bestowed on it, in addition to whatever qualities or failings that I managed to bring in.
I had to find a shelter. Since I did not know how to make anything, I decided to look for a cave. I must have been distracted because the only thing I remembered was that the minute I decided to look for a cave, a gray wolf appeared. It looked at me as though to call me. I followed it until we reached a cave. There, I settled myself and lived on the bounties of my surroundings. The wolf proved to be a faithful companion.
One day, when we were out looking for food, we saw some hunters. As soon as they saw us, they let their arrows fly. I was hit and left for dead but not before I heard a jubilant “The witch had fallen!” I, a witch? Who would think otherwise? The last time I chanced upon myself on a river, I saw blotchy skin, squinty eyes, ears sticking out of a head, long nose, fat lips. Wispy brown hair hang limply from my head, more tangled than the forest vines were. But I willed myself to survive, if only for the hope of breaking the curse and seeing my people once again.
Once again, I was angry. With anger came the desire to avenge myself. I heard the voice mocking me once again, urging me on to fight and destroy those who sought my own destruction. With what? I was powerless…. “Say you will and the power will be yours. Want it. Desire it,” the mocking voice said. I could not. And never would.
The struggle inside me became so intense that I felt little sparks come out of me. The power that seemed to radiate through me scared me. It was not mine and yet mine. If not for Wolf, I would not know what would have become of me. Wolf carried me on his back and went on as though at somebody’s bidding. We traveled many days and nights. While we were resting in what we thought was a secluded spot, woodsmen found us. One cocked his arrow in alarm. But the other one stayed his hand. The latter took pity on a wounded woman and offered us food. He even led us to an empty cottage in the forest when he learned that we had nowhere to go. For once, I met kindness after my exile and I felt my heart sing.
Princess Finds Happiness
Often did I meet this young man. He stopped by our little cottage as he went about hunting, walking, wood gathering. Sometimes we talked , and we became friends, if there could be friendship between a hag like me and a young man like him.
In the meantime, thankful for the house Wolf and I were staying in, I tried to make it as pleasant as I could. I tended a little garden and brought in flowers when I could. If this little place would be home – whether for the time being or not – I resolved to make it a good one. I employed myself in learning new things. The loss of my Godmothers’ gifts often made learning quite difficult, but I did learn. I was more than happy. I guess the happiness showed in my face. I once caught the woodsman looking at me with a smile. “You should laugh more often,” he said. Happiness had this other fruit – the laughter and the mocking voice was silenced. Victory was sweet. I still longed for home. Whenever I thought of the world and people that I left behind, I consoled myself in the thought that they’ve been spared from suffering the misfortune that would have befallen them had I stayed. They may have been saddened by my disappearance, if they even noticed that at all, but their world, their lives would have gone on, as mine had. They would live their lives in the fullness of their time. Maybe, the spell had been broken after all.
I must have been enjoying myself too much, forgetting my exile, that one night, in my dream, I heard a voice say – “Beauty yet sleeps. True love of a prince will wake her up and set her free.” How odd, I thought. I had never felt beauty more alive than when it was warding off the ugliness that was threatening to overpower me. Besides, if that Prince should come, he’d better come now before the woodsman completely enthralled me. Would it be enough if one acted princely? Would he love me? I would be happy to be stuck with him for all time He’d be a prince. I am a princess. Ah. WAS a princess. Silly!
One afternoon, while the woodsman and I were gathering wood and hunting some game, he told me to close my eyes. When I opened my eyes, there was a ring of flowers on my hair. But before any of us could speak, armed men suddenly appeared and were upon us. “Grab them!”, ordered the leader. The woodsman fought as valiantly as he could but we were outnumbered. Someone lunged for him. To save him from the blow, I threw myself down and got the sword that was meant for him. My woodsman, in a burst of strength, managed to come to my side. “My lady, my life, ” as dew fell from his eyes. And at that, light seemed to envelope us and transport us back to my familiar grounds. My Godmother was there ministering to us. “What took you so long?” she said to me and my bewildered woodsman. With a twinkle in her eyes, she quipped, “For all this trouble, you might as well have slept!”
Some Loose Ends
I need not say that my woodsman turned out to be the son of a king after all. He spent most of his time in the woods to avoid the constant matchmaking that had been his lot since his return from a campaign. What made him choose me, you may ask. He said that I made him laugh. He said that I was real. He said that he found what I did with my life utterly beautiful and impressive.
When all of the preparations for our wedding were finalized, my woodsman and I got married. How happy my parents were to celebrate a wedding on my 16th year instead of a funeral. However, they were not too happy to know about the things I went through to dispel the curse that had loomed over our lives. It would not have been necessary to tell them about my adventures except that they would be quite curious if my 16th birthday came without the expected drama and tribulation. (Though they might have simply dismissed such absence in the thorough removal of needles and anything that would have pricked me.) You see, Old Fairy took my form and lived ‘my’ life. Hm. Except for my ‘odd’ behaviors here and there, my parents would not have suspected anything out of the ordinary.
When the spell was broken, Old Fairy was transported back to her tower while I was transported to my own realm, with my own prince to boot. We also recovered our respective appearance. My husband did not mind the change in my looks so much. “That was the least of my concerns,” he said in his characteristic way. To him, the physical beauty I regained did not add any to the beauty that he found in earlier days. But he did rejoice with the restoration of my Godmothers’ gifts. If I might say, however, after going through the struggles I had, the perfections that were given me did not seem so material anymore. They were and would always be appreciated nonetheless. As it turned out, Old Fairy took away only the gifts that were bestowed upon me during my christening. I retained the qualities that were inherently mine. Thus, even though I gave up the privileges from my Godmothers, I had mine, insignificant though they might be, to work with. In the end, the struggles enriched my own merits and won for me the victory I sought.
As for Old Fairy. Ah! That name no longer befitted her. As I was transformed by my exile, so was she. She cast me into her mold and her life so that I would eventually be like her. The events, the handsome stranger, the emotions, all of these she encountered in her youth; all of these she brought up to bring me down her path. My victory over her desires and snares freed me as it freed her. She no longer had to be a prisoner of her own choices and ill feelings. On the other hand, living ‘my’ life and enjoying the gifts she took from me opened her eyes to goodness and happiness, even if very reluctantly. So you may be surprised to see that she no longer looked like the crone that she was. Peace had transformed her features. One would be likely to see a kindly wizened face that could be prone to give way to a scowl from time to time. But that was alright.
And my Godmother. I would not have done what I did without her help. As it turned out, she was always looking out for me. It was her strength that shored mine when it faltered. It was she who spoke in my dream and sent me my wolf companion. Where could he be now? I wonder.
And so, here we are now. In a few days, our first child will be christened. On that day, we will celebrate this child and the new life for everyone.