Sunday, August 9, 2009

New "Sleeping Beauty" Giveaway!

I am so proud of the work of the "Sleeping Beauty" Rewrite contest entrants, that I have decided to drum up some readership for the entries by holding a giveaway. Here are the details:
1) The prize is a print by one of my favorite artists, Cat Mallard. She has an Etsy shop called Darkling Woods, which you can link to by clicking on the title of this post. The image of the print the winner will receive is shown here.
2) You must be a contactable person -- for example, someone who has signed on as a follower. In any case, you must be someone I can easily reach to get contact information (please don't put any special personal info in comments).
3) You can be from anywhere in the world, but you must be 18 (I will make every attempt to verify that bit of information). Students of mine, who will be in upcoming Fall classes, are NOT eligible.
4) The contest entrants who are posted on or the Diamonds and Toads contest blog are not eligible. After all, the point is to drum up readership! There is no problem with entrants' family and friends commenting and entering.
5) If you wish to enter the contest, please include that in the comment. Only comments on the winning story or one of the other contest stories count in this contest. Of course, I'd love it if you comment on other posts, but those comments won't count for this special giveaway.
6) Comments should be at least a full sentence or two.
7) You may comment on as many stories as you like, but each person who comments will only be entered in the contest once.
8) The contest ends at midnight, August 28. That's Eastern Standard Time.
9) The winner will be chosen the first week in September. Every name will be written on a uniform-size piece of paper and put in a container, then, in front of one of my classes (so there will be at least 20 witnesses), I will pull the winner's name.
10) The winner will be announced on this blog some time in the first week in September.
Good luck, and remember, as darling and wonderful as the prize is, the real prize is enjoying these great stories.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sleeping Beauty, By Sandra Urias

Note: Sandra Urias's fascinating, wonderfully imagined entry was the victim of an email accident. Please make a special effort to read this extraordinary entry.

The President and First Lady of the World held a banquet in the World Government Building to celebrate daughter’s first birthday. Delegates from every region and every planet in the Galactic Union were present.

Moord, whose planet was the most recent addition to the Union, surprised them all by videoing in. He went into an envious rage because he was not invited and declared the President’s neglect an act of war. He swore to murder the President’s daughter before her 17th birthday (as it would take him that long to travel to Earth), and then snapped off the video before anyone could reason with him. All of the attendees swore to his little daughter, Aurora, safe. Moord’s delegates were already on their way to Earth, and the President decided that Aurora should be hidden away and raised by her Aunt Ceridwen until a truce could be negotiated.

Aurora and her aunt secretly moved to a little cottage on the Jos Plateau of Nigeria. Ceridwen taught her farming, herb medicine, folk magick, and healing of the soul. Aurora grew in strength, confidence and beauty but in ignorance of who she was and who her parents were. She could not recall their faces and did not want to hurt her aunt’s feelings by inquiring about them overmuch.

The day before her 17th birthday, Aunt Ceridwen announced a surprise: They would be going to the World Capital to celebrate. Aurora was so excited that she could not sleep that night and dozed during the entire blimp ride. At the blimp station, they were met by a security detail that escorted them to a grand hotel. Intimidated, Aurora asked her aunt whether they were in some kind of trouble and her aunt laughed kindly and told her not to worry and that it was all part of the surprise.

After they bathed and dressed in new-found finery, they were quickly brought to the World Government Building. The entry doors burst open and out ran her mother and father. Tears were shed by all and the reunion was joyful. After about an hour of explanation, partygoers from all over the Galactic Union arrived for a great party. Everyone danced.

Then a security detail burst into the room and announced that Moord had come out of hiding and was on his way with skilled warriors to kill Aurora and finally have his revenge. Panicked, the President, First Lady, Aunt Ceridwen, and Aurora fled to the spaceport where a fast and sturdy spaceship was being prepared for an emergency evacuation. Aurora and her aunt would be put into hypersleep so they could endure a quick journey to a well-guarded asteroid at the edge of the solar system while her father’s armed guards battled Moord. The ground crew was hastily fueling the vehicle and putting on the hypersleep fluid, and after a brief and tearful goodbye to her parents, Aurora and her aunt strapped in.

The navigation program was uploaded and the last of the fuel was onloaded. Just then, a pressure surge in the hypersleep fluid tank burst and vaporized the entire supply. The vapor was like a dense fog that filled the inside of the spaceship, the entire spaceport, and spread across the continent. Everyone it touched immediately fell into the deep, dreamless sleep of suspended animation. The autopilot on the spacecraft engaged and sent the unconscious Aurora and Aunt Ceridwen into deep space.

They drifted for ten years.

A settlement vehicle was returning from a deep space mission and grew concerned when they were unable to reach any major spaceport on Earth. Captain Pan listened again to the message at the asteroid outpost that said they had all returned to Earth to investigate the lack of communication, but the message was 9 years old. As they approached the asteroid, the captain noticed a spacecraft adrift. Nobody answered the communication, so, Pan and two of his officers boarded the craft and found the two women in hypersleep. Pan was stunned at Aurora’s beauty, and after the crew programmed the awake commands, he was also taken with her genuine kindness and confidence. Aunt Ceridwen told the Captain about their hasty departure and about the fog. They all decided to return to Earth, and en route, they would develop a way reverse the effects of the fog… unless Moord had destroyed everyone and everything.

From Earth’s orbit, the crew directed a concentrated ray of a hypersleep chemical isotope at the spaceport. The ray acted as a reawakening agent and woke the ground crews. After a couple of hours of confusion and explanation, the Captain instructed them on how to make the reawakening ray. It took only a few days for airships to travel the planet and wake every human, foul, fish, and furred creature.

Finally, it was safe to land, and the Captain, crew, and passengers wandered into the spaceport where Aurora’s parents were waiting. After a happy reunion, they all decided go to the President’s residence. They passed a room of glass with a very sick being inside. Aurora discovered that it was Moord. The hypersleep fog was a poison to his biology and he was suffering greatly. Aurora’s kind heart demanded that she attend him and she grabbed her medicine bag.

She studied his biology and his symptoms, brewed a series of teas, and treated the alien for several days. Captain Pan would not leave her and brought her food and drink and conversation as needed. On the fifth day, the alien improved. Moord, finally conscious, asked her who she was, and when she told him, he thanked her for healing him and begged her forgiveness. He vowed that his people and the people of Earth would forever be allies.

The people of Earth recovered from their sleep. Aurora and Pan married and lived outside the capital in a cottage, and Aunt Ceridwen returned to Nigeria and told the good villagers how their beloved Aurora’s saved them all.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Winner: The Prince With Good Manners, By Tahlia Merrill

Note: I received a number of requests to put the winning posts up on this site as well, so here it is! Please see for a post on why she won.

“This is the last quest I am ever going on,” Patrick muttered to himself.

He struggled up the never-ending staircase, sweat weighing down his tunic. At the top, a door was finally in sight. Before he could reach it, his brother Prince Conrad burst out of it and rushed passed him, muttering to himself, “…didn’t work…bad omen…voices of ghouls…” Before Patrick could say a word, Conrad was gone.

“Well, I’m not giving up now that I’m here!” Patrick called to the sound of retreating footsteps. Plodding behind Conrad for hours chasing this legend had been bad enough. For Patrick, there was no turning back. Moving closer, he could read a stone plaque on the door.

“Here sleeps Princess Deirdre of Acrasia, until after a hundred years have passed from the twelfth day of Yune, 988. Whence that time arrives, she shall be awakened by a kiss, and the rule of the royal family shall continue.

“That silly ninny!” Patrick laughed out loud. “Con was a whole year too early!” It was the year 1087, not 1088. Stepping into the room, he saw an ornate canopy bed with the princess on it. “What?” A female voice said. “Back for more are you?”

Patrick spun in a full circle, frantically searching for the speaker. Confused, and a little frightened, Patrick crept over to the bed. The princess talking must not be asleep after all, maybe she was just pretending. There she was, lying on top of the covers. Her breathing was deep and relaxed. She certainly looked like she was sleeping.

Patrick swallowed hard and tried to remember his manners.

“Sorry to disturb you, err, Miss.”

“Oh! You’re a different one,” the disembodied voice gasped. The lips of the princess remained motionless. The voice softened. “I’m so sorry…I just assumed that you were that blockhead of a fellow who was just here.”

“Actually, I’m his younger brother.”

“Well, before you run away, would you mind giving me your name, title, and age?”

“Why do you want to know all that?” Patrick asked, confused.

“I keep a record of every knight and prince who has entered the tower. It’s fascinating to track family lines. You’re number one-hundred and ten, in case you’re interested.”

“I am Prince Patrick of Menolaine, and I am eighteen years old. My older brother is Conrad, and he is twenty-five. I don’t expect that he told you that.”

“He was awfully spooked when I started talking to him,” Deirdre laughed. “Now, let me see…do you know a ‘Terrence Yorke’ by any chance?”

“I think my grandfather’s name was Yorke. He died before I was born.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Deirdre sounded sad. “He was one of the nicer ones. I imagine that you inherited your good manners from him.”

“Before I go,” Patrick said, “Could you explain to me what you’re doing up here? I’ve heard the legend, but it doesn’t quite fit.”

“Of course! When my parents first told me about the deadly curse that Morfea – who was a mean, jealous fairy -- put on me, I resolved to find a way to break the spell. I discovered that curses only last until the fairy dies and Morfea was already very old and couldn’t possibly live for over fifty more years. I could avoid the curse by outliving her. I have some fairy blood in me so I came up with the idea of casting a spell on myself and the entire castle to sleep for a hundred years.”

“Still,” Patrick said. “It’s very odd that you can talk.”

“That was a complete accident — an unforeseen side effect, and not an entirely a bad one, in my opinion.”

An awkward silence followed. Patrick was at a loss about what to do next. It felt wrong to just leave Deirdre there alone. He glanced out a window in time to see a tiny speck in the courtyard running toward the drawbridge. It must have taken Conrad all this time just to get down the tower. On an impulse, he said, “Would you like me to take a look around Acrasia? I could give you a report on how things are going. That way, when you woke up next year, you’d be ready to take up your duties as princess again.”

“Oh, could you? I’ve worried so much that once I wake up, I won’t even recognize Acrasia anymore!”

“It would be my pleasure, your highness.”
During the following weeks, Patrick spent his days traveling around Acrasia, his evenings reporting his findings to Deirdre, and his nights in one of the castle’s guestrooms. After he had visited all of the villages in the kingdom, Patrick found himself coming up with excuses to stay at the castle. One week he restocked the firewood supply and the next, he gave all the furniture a good dusting—anything that would help the sleepers live life as normally as possible once they awoke.

Time galloped by like a war-horse, threatening to throw its rider from the saddle and soon, autumn had turned to winter. Every time he made the journey down from the tower, Patrick felt more and more like he was leaving a part of himself behind.

And then the day arrived.

“I can feel the magic swirling around me.” Deirdre’s voice was soft with wonder. “I almost feel frightened. Patrick,” she faltered. “After I’ve woken up, are you intending to stay? Or will you go back to Menolaine?”

Patrick ran a finger down her delicate cheekbone. “I’ll stay as long as you wish.”

“Then I wish you’d stay forever.” Deirdre’s voice was a barely audible whisper.

Patrick’s heart leapt at the words, and without any hesitation, he bent over and kissed her.

For one eternity, Patrick could feel the beating of Deirdre’s heart close to his own, and then a great gust of wind surged around them—just for an instant, and then it vanished. The next thing he knew, a soft hand touched his wrist, and he was gazing down into the most captivating pair of sterling gray eyes he had ever seen.

Here They Are The Rest of the Awesome Entries

What a wonderful exhibition of talent is on this page! I have posted most of the other entries in the contest. I feel truly blessed to have been able to read such great work.
A few points to remember:
1) I did no editing for spacing, etc. I am back to teaching responsibilities and had to get this posts up today. Otherwise, the postings would have waited forever.
2) The posts are not ranked. Readers who do not read all the way to the bottom of this page will miss some really great writing. By the way, in a few cases, writers did not provide a specific title, so I gave the stories a name. I hope that is OK.
3) I have added comments on what I liked about each story. In keeping with contest rules, I will not be saying why any story was not picked.
4) Writers, this is a chance to get your work noticed. Get your family and friends to this site. You should all be bold show-offs! You all have writing ability, but if others don't read your work, the word won't get out about how great you are.
Thanks Everybody,
PS: The winner is on DiamondsandToads. Please click on the image at right to get there!
PSS: The contest and its process was meant to be a celebration of talent. Negative comments on any entries, including the winning one, will be deleted. Some situations warrant criticism, this was never meant to be one of those. Just enjoy!

Aurora Speaks, By Lisa Fu

Note: I love that we see some point of view from the princess. I also love that the hero is not perfect.

My name is Aurora. I was born in 1793. My father so named me because he loved the Aurora Borealis, which he saw on a trip he once made to Norway. My mother was the Princess Heir of Fairies who would inherit the queenship but abandoned her realm for earth because she had fallen in love with my father, a young naturalist searching through the grasses of the meadow with his magnifying glass.

She kept the secret of her origin from him, but at a party thrown in celebration of my birth, three old fairies who had been her godmothers, and now intended to be mine in my turn, came disguised as humans. They begged leave of her to bestow upon me one gift each, and she consented – touched by their encompassing generosity.

Magdalene, who was the oldest, gave me beauty, for she very well appreciated an aesthetic pleasure. She kissed me upon my tummy. Marjoram, who was the second oldest, with a wrinkled, brow, bestowed upon me wisdom, and kissed me once upon my forehead. Margaret, who was the youngest, kissed my cheek with love and imparted to me kindness. When they had all three blessed me, they quickly departed.

But a fourth fairy arrived, Millicent. A hard woman of about thirty, she resented my mother for her abandonment of the realms, and what she saw as betrayal of her race. Before anyone could stop her, she rushed to my crib and cast over me a powerful spell. Going to my mother, she crowed, “She will be cursed for the rest of her bastard life. When she is not yet grown she will die from the prick of a sewing needle – hah! – the symbol of your slavish devotion as a wife to this lowly man!” And she whirled off through the night.

When my mother begged her husband never to allow me to come within a yard’s distance of a sewing needle, he perplexedly consented to comfort her. Henceforth she would do no more sewing, nor the servants mend the clothing in the same room with me. The secret of the forbidden needle was the one mystery of my life she would never answer but with a smile.

I grew up with all the traits intended by my fey benefactresses. They visited me again at my tenth birthday; all three joined their powers to mitigate the damage of the curse as much as they could. For several days afterward my mother drifted along the halls in an agony of despair, uncertain of the efficacy of the charm.

At one point in my sixteenth year, when I was quite alone, I heard a strange laugh coming from one of the chambers on the uppermost floor, and when I shyly pushed open the door, saw a woman with a hard, lined face, of middle age, sitting at the desk sewing a piece of cloth. The needle glittered, flashing in and out among the white cloth.

The woman beckoned me forth, in a kind but slightly rasping voice, and showed me her work, a white lace handkerchief with an “A” embroidered upon the corner. “This is for you, Aurora of the dazzling dawn,” she said cheerfully, and smiled, crinkling up her whole face.

And she swiftly pulled out her needle and pricked my arm, which had been outstretched to receive the gift. I was dazed. “Why – why did you - ?” I murmured, and fell down on the floor. Laughing the same hoarse, haunted laugh I had heard before, she made her way over my body and left the room. I knew no more.

Of all this I have been told: I slept for a hundred years in my chamber. In my deathlike sleep, my rose-and-ivory beauty actually blossomed and grew, so that I looked as alive as I ever had awake. My mother sat at my bedside every day, and said, “And here is my sleeping beauty,” as she came. All my loved ones and people known to me withered and passed away. My mother, with grace, was laid in the ground; my father, inquisitive, unconventional, and distracted, alongside her.

Over time the old house became neglected, emptied, abandoned, and boarded up; no one entered it. As the years slipped by the curtains around my bed drooped down, matted with cobwebs, and decayed.

But one day a young man passed by the old, deserted-looking place, and having heard some curious rumors about a ghost woman there, doubled back his steps and went in. He wandered along the hall and went up the stairs.

There, in the chamber at the end of the hall, he saw a woman of a mythical beauty, lying upon the bed. She looked in the fresh bloom of life, as though just about to part her lips and wake up with a gasp, eyes wide open. He looked upon her a few moments, then, shyly, feeling somehow as though he were intruding, gingerly sat on the edge of the bed, and took her hand, which was as warm as his own.

In an impulse, he bent over the bed, paused a moment, and kissed her gently on her rose-red lips, knowing somehow that she would not wake if he did.

But unexpectedly she did; her eyes fluttered open and settled on him like hazy moths. He smiled, a bit cheekily, a bit somberly, half-abashed, and said, “I’m Philip. Who are you?”

It was 1909, exactly a hundred years since I first fell into the deathlike sleep, and I married Philip. He had a cocky attitude, not particularly genteel manners, and was not dashingly romantic; he had a pent-up sorrow. It was a…counterintuitive love I had for him. But I couldn’t resist the feeling, sitting of an afternoon when the sun just fell through the window, of an explicable, unparalleled, and half-shy joy, which had only to do with him; and nothing to do with my past, so far gone.

Lonely Beauty, By Elena Valeriote

Note: A princess protected in a dungeon? Now that was some creative thinking! I also love the seven brothers angle.

It had been fourteen years to the day since the king and queen of the forest Allendale had been married. The wedding had been extravagant, as all weddings of royal members in the family Arboresque had been in the many centuries of their existence. Shortly after, a boy was born to the queen, Amaranthe, alleviating any pressure that she and King Cypress had harbored about producing an heir. Truth be told, the king and queen never had trouble with creating a son. So, seven boys later, on the day of their fourteenth anniversary, the couple was elated to finally be given a daughter. The girl was named Oriana, as pertaining to the queen’s family tradition of being named after a flower found in perfect bloom on one’s birthday.
Amaranthe immediately began planning the baby girl’s christening, determined to make it the most decadent and beautiful affair imaginable to honor her daughter’s loveliness.
The family’s royal staff went to work, each servant doing more than twice the amount of work they were usually assigned, but no one minded, for all were delighted with the baby and filled with devotion and respect for the family.
As a tribute to the family namesake, Armanthe demanded that the party be held outside and all the trees decorated as extravagantly as possible. Lace was threaded through branches, diamonds were hung and delicate lanterns were placed among the leaves, so that they glowed in the evening light and sent the diamonds’ reflections spinning in a show of glittering beauty.
Armanthe was summoned by the head of the organizational crew to assist in the creation of the guest list, but she decided that the party was too wonderful an event to deny anyone the privilege of coming, and decided that the forest would be free to all.
After much ado, the night of the Oriana’s christening arrived. Countless beings of all shapes, sizes, mortality, and race came. Smaller creatures perched amongst the branches, due to lack of space; every so often, knocking down a diamond. The centaurs were banished to the edges after stepping on too many feet and a clan of gnomes were sent away after knocking over a punch bowl onto the dresses of three princesses, but Amaranthe was convinced that nothing could ruin the evening.
Maybe Oriana’s christening would have carried on perfectly, had the dark fairy Agate not flown over the tree tops that night and been curious as to what created such a sparkle in the leaves that could parallel the night sky itself. She came down and alighted just a few feet from the Oriana’s cradle, where her brothers cooed in at her.
Having been alone her whole life, Agate knew nothing of love or happiness, and upon seeing Oriana, so overwhelmed with both at such a young age, she grew furiously jealous.
At that moment Armanthe turned around. Seeing Agate she shuddered, but faked a smile, saying, “how nice of you to come bless Oriana.”
“Oriana?” Agate smiled and walked over to a bush of the flower and plucked a bud. Her smiled disappeared suddenly and her voice shattered the air as she screeched, “This flower now possesses the essence of your daughter. It is mine to keep and should Oriana ever be happy enough that it blooms, I shall crush it and send her into an endless sleep.” As poor Oriana began to wail, Agate flew off.

Oriana spent the next sixteen years of her life in the dungeon of her family’s castle. Her brothers were not allowed to visit her and she began to believe she had only imagined them. She wore plain clothes and spent her time reading from textbooks or embroidering. The reasoning behind the manner of her life was kept from her, and knowing no other, she accepted it, and did not resent her parents, although she sometimes grew lonely and wished they’d visit her more often.
The night of her sixteenth birthday the door creaked open and shut. Oriana looked toward the dark stairs, wondering why her parents were visiting so late. However, the face that smiled at her from the glow of a candle was that of a stranger. It was a boy, probably a year or two her elder. He had blue eyes and golden hair, both sparkling in the light.
“Happy birthday,” he said, handing her a slice of cake.
“What?” she asked, bewildered.
“I thought you’d like company. I’m Prince Damon, a friend of your older brother’s.”
“So I do have a brother!” Oriana exclaimed.
“Seven,” Damon laughed.
And he stayed with her late into the early morning, relaying information to her about everything in the outside world. Oriana asked why she couldn’t be out there, but Damon didn’t know. Finally, he had to leave, promising he’d be back.
“How do I know you’ll keep your promise?” She asked.
He leaned in and kissed her, whispering, “that’s how.”
It was at this exact moment that the Oriana flower bloomed and was instantly crushed in Agate’s angry fist. Princess Oriana fell to the ground.
Damon went to the king for help, but seeing Oriana asleep, Cypress impulsively banished Damon.
For two years Oriana slept while Damon and her family mourned apart. Finally Damon could stand it no longer. He had to see her.
He stealthily slipped through the forest and climbed into her turret. Seeing her beautiful face, he was overcome with love and leaned to kiss her. At the touch of his lips Oriana’s eyes opened. “I thought you’d never come back,” she smiled.
“I’ll never leave you again. Marry me.”
And she did. Oriana never spent another moment alone; finally able to do the things she’d never been allowed, she was rarely found without a smile, Damon, and a brother or two.

Keeping Beauty, By Barbara Knight

Note: Barbara Knight should keep on writing! This is highly entertaining and provides some very smart commentary on beauty standards.

Once upon a time, King Handsome and Queen Charisma ruled in the lovely Land of Vanity. All those who lived in Vanity were pleasing to the eye. There was beauty everywhere. Rows of pastel colored houses were perfectly landscaped and immaculately maintained. Organic gardens grew only unblemished fruit and vegetables. Long necked swans graced the clear ponds as feathery finned angelfish swam below the surfaces. And melodic birds filled the flowering trees.

Each time there was a birth within the kingdom, the baby was presented to the King and Queen. If he or she was worthy, they would be allowed to stay. But if the child was not up to standards, he or she would be banished from the land forever, forced to live amongst the plain. This happened rarely, as beauty usually begets beauty

Within Vanity, there existed Four Fancy Fairies. Each had special magical powers. Their role was to gift each baby with something that would eventually help contribute to the whole of the community. In this way, health, harmony, and happiness were sure to reign in the land of the beautiful forever.

Fairy Physical was in charge of health and bodies. Fairy Fruitful determined talents and kept the community productive. The Friendship Fairy was responsible for all the love and happiness among the subjects. And most important, of course, was the Face Fairy, in charge of how beautiful one would become. The Fairies came to every birth celebration to bestow their gifts upon the newborns.

One day rejoicing hit a feverish pitch after the King and Queen announced they were expecting a child. Everyone prepared tirelessly for the joyful celebration following the birth. When the baby girl was christened Beauty, each of the fairies was summoned by the Queen to sanction her with their special fairy dust. One by one they arrived anxious to offer their very best. Each fairy was so intent upon making her gift the most outstanding, that the presentations took hours. By the time Face Fairy was to greet and gift the baby, Beauty had been crying for hours and the Queen was beside herself.

“I hope you will forgive me Face Fairy” Queen Charisma said, “but I shall have to put Baby Beauty to sleep now. You may return tomorrow to greet her and give her your gift.”

This did not sit well with the Face Fairy at all. She was extremely put off and grew quite angry. Upon entering the Fairy Garden, the sister fairies gathered around her and immediately wanted to know what had happened.

“Why are you so angry?” the Fairy Physical asked.

“How do you know I’m angry?” she challenged.

“Well, it’s fairly obvious … your face is purple!”

“Well, because the THREE of you took so long with your gifts, the baby was in ill spirits and had to be put to bed BEFORE I could see her!”

“You don’t mean it!” offered the Friendship Fairy! “Why that’s not very fair, is it?”

“No, it’s not! And I intend to do something about it too!” She said angrily.

“What do you intend to do?” asked the Fruitful Fairy.

“I’ll gift that child – I’ll gift her right here and now! I don’t have to SEE her to bestow my gift upon her – as a matter of fact I don’t WANT to see her. Nor will anyone else … with the face I’m about to give her! Ha Ha Ha!” And with that, she began chanting this spell, drew out her purple dust and cast it upon the air:

Baby Beauty in the land of Vain,

Will be the only one who’s plain

From head to toe, right through her core,

So banished she’ll be, forever more.

From that moment on and many years afterward, Beauty was confined to the palace. So afraid were the King and Queen that if anyone were to see the royal child, they would be forced to follow their own harsh rules and banish Baby Beauty from the Land of Vanity forever. So they kept their child locked away from the world.

And in her loneliness, Baby Beauty spent most of her time asleep. King Handsome and Queen Charisma grew sad in their despair for their only child. They knew in order to keep Beauty in Vanity, they would have to keep her in hiding for the rest of her life. Searching for a solution, they summoned the fairies and swore them to secrecy. But the fairies, being true to their kind, never breathed a word of their sister’s spell.

Desperate, the monarchs finally sought help outside the walls of vanity. They had heard of a Prince from another land, who brought beauty to plain women. He was called the Prince of plastic surgery. And he agreed to come have a look at the lonely young woman. Once in her chamber the Prince gazed upon sleeping Beauty and knew at once he had seen the loveliest young woman in any land near or far. He fell madly and passionately in love with her. When she awoke, never having seen a Prince before, she was also love-struck. For the first time in all her life the young woman was happy and felt beautiful.

Later that same day, the Prince eagerly asked the King for her hand in marriage. Both the King and the Queen, although sad to see their child leave their kingdom for good, were happy for Beauty. So off they rode on a large white horse … into the sunset where they both lived happily ever after.

Beauty, you see, wasn’t plain at all, not to the Prince, or anyone else who laid eyes upon her thereafter. Because when you’re in love, everything is beautiful.

The Sleeping Beauty Mystery, By Carl Macek

Note: I am a total sucker for a mystery. I can truly say that I thought this story was great fun!

The package was delivered to my office, Charlie Prince Investigations, without a return address. I suppose somebody at the Post Office had finally decided to clean out a couple of their dead letter files and put some effort into delivering the previously undeliverable. But when I saw the ratty condition of the homemade cardboard envelope that was sitting outside my office door, I wasn’t all that eager to open it. I kept thinking about the people that I’d heard of who’d found out the hard way that what they thought was Aunt Agnes’ famous fruitcake turned out to be a letter bomb. The way I figured it, I had a fifty-fifty chance of coming out alive. I just closed my eyes and ripped the cardboard package apart.

What I found inside was an old VHS tape. I hadn’t seen one of those “antique” plastic cassettes for nearly 25 years. There was a piece of white tape along the spine with the words “Please Help” scrawled with a thick black marker pen. It took me almost two weeks to find someone who had an old video tape player that worked so that I could even watch the stupid thing. And by that time my curiosity was sufficiently piqued. But I wasn’t prepared for what I found recorded on that antiquated relic.

Sure the image was fuzzy and the sound was weak – that was to be expected - but there was no mistaking the hoopla and pomp that surrounded a royal christening. One thing was certain; it wasn’t some amateur homemade video. The cutting was too professional – It looked to me like a 3- or 4-camera set-up. I just couldn’t make out what language the crowd was speaking; but it seemed Cyrillic. And judging from the clothes everyone was wearing, I’d say the affair had been recorded at least 40 years ago, if not more. Most of those little Balkan principalities had collapsed when the world economy tanked in the mid 20’s. And this must have been one of the last gasps of glory for a now dead sovereign nation.

I was enjoying a sense of nostalgia when things took a turn for the worst. A bright flash of light near the center of the royal viewing station revealed a wizened old woman. She was dressed like some sideshow gypsy fortuneteller. A couple of guards tried to stop her as she moved toward the bassinette holding the child. She threw them aside like they were rag dolls. She tried to reach down and pull the child out but her hands hit some sort of invisible barrier. She started screaming insults and eventually zeroed in on a couple of well-heeled folks on the dais. I assumed they were the kid’s parents. They started arguing. It got ugly, but it never got physical. Eventually the hag left the way she came. That’s where the first section of the tape stopped.

Following that explosive bit of video there was a series of sloppily edited scenes showing the child growing from a toddler into a fine young woman. The well-heeled couple could always be found in the background. The scenes depicted in these clips should’ve been joyful. Unfortunately, they weren’t; there was an overriding sense of doom or foreboding that surrounded them. However, it wasn’t until the video tape’s last sequence played out that I knew I was going to be spending the rest of my time trying to find out what happened to that beautiful, young woman.

A small crowd had gathered to celebrate the girl’s birthday. It looked like they were having a good time until they started dropping like flies. Soon as the girl’s parents figured out what was happening they wheeled in some kind of hyperbaric chamber. Everything moved like clockwork as if they were following a well-rehearsed fire drill. Unfortunately, once the girl was secured in the chamber both parents succumbed. The last thing I saw before the tape went black was the girl pounding on the glass window of the chamber.

Seeing this last bit of tomfoolery jogged my memory. I remembered that the small sovereign state of Guernica had “gone dark” about 14 years ago. Somebody said it was because of a reactor meltdown like the one at Chernobyl. But nobody knew for sure. They just sealed Guernica off and threw away the key.

I started checking around and was able to put bits and pieces of the story together. The couple “starring” in the video was Duke Thanos of Guernica and his wife Natalia. Both Thanos and Natalia’s families were descendants from a long line of “royals” but Natalia’s sister, Margrit, claimed she was the true ruler of Guernica. Once Natalia’s daughter was born, the people sided with her; and Margrit was booted out. Things seemed to move along without a hitch until the blackout. One day Guernica was a legitimate concern, the next it was as if a dark hole reached out and swallowed everything up. From that day on no one heard a peep out of Guernica. However some controversy about the duchy lingered on to this day – unconfirmed rumors about dark magic and whatnot.

I figured it’d be worthwhile to take a trip to Guernica and check things out. I was stopped at the border by a U.N. peacekeeping force and told that the area had been quarantined. I drove out of sight; then went the rest of the way on foot.

The place looked dead, but my radiation detector showed nothing.

The Duke’s Castle was exactly like it was in the video. Everyone lay on the ground – preserved somehow. I found the chamber where they left it. I shined my pencil-light inside and saw her. She was still alive and as young and beautiful as ever. The hardest part was figuring a way to open the door to let her out. But that is another story. Suffice it to say I did, and it turned out to be the smartest thing I’d ever do.

Sleeping Cutie, By Hugh Neeld

Note: What do I have to say about this story? Just this: It is very, very good!
And fun!

The king and queen of the small country of Gotitmade had pretty much everything a couple could want; A three story beach front mansion (some said it looked more like a castle), a swimming pool, bowling alley, tennis courts, putting green and stables, big screen TVs, and a large staff. Yes, they had everything—everything, that is, except a child.

One day the queen was on her balcony getting her daily Swedish massage, when a seagull landed on the railing in front of her.

“What the heck,” the queen said, startled. The unflappable masseuse continued to twist and knead. The queen addressed the gull. “Where did you come from?”

“A long story, queen,” the gull replied. “Let’s just say that we were told about you and your husband wanting a child, and have been authorized by an anonymous source to tell you your wish will be granted.” And with that, the gull flapped away toward the sea.

Sure enough, after the usual amount of time it takes, a daughter was delivered. The king and queen were ecstatic. Nothing would do but to have a knock ‘em dead banquet to celebrate the event. In addition to the usual crowd invited to these major affairs, a special invitation was issued to the DGR (Daughters of the Gotitmade Revolution), one of the most respected and prestigious organizations in the country; reputed to have magical powers beyond the norm The DGR only had twelve members. The thirteenth member had been expunged a few years ago for conduct unbecoming a DGR member. It’s too long a story to go into here; suffice to say she was expunged.

Before the celebration ended, the DGR members, each in turn, presented their gifts to the newborn princess. One bestowed virtue, one beauty, one riches, and so on. Then, just before the last gift could be presented, the member that had been expunged, came barreling into the room, obviously well oiled, and seeking revenge.

“OK, girls,” she said. “Here’s my present for the little darling. When the princess turns sixteen, she’s going to have an unfortunate accident while surfing the web and die. So there!” With that, she left. As celebrations go, this one had turned into a bummer.

Fortunately, the gift of the last legitimate member of the DGR had not been bestowed, so although she couldn’t cancel the surfing wish of the ousted member, she could defuse it a little—and she did.

“The princess won’t die,” she said, “but she will fall into a deep sleep for a hundred years.”

The first thing the king did, of course, was to rid the kingdom of computers. That went over like the proverbial fly in the punch bowl, but the citizens understood the reason and complied. No more surfing no twitter, no face book. You can imagine what that was like.

Time passed, as it always does, and the young princess finally reached sixteen. One day, while her mother and dad were visiting friends in Monaco, the princess was wandering around exploring parts of the mansion she was not familiar with. In the basement, which was mostly store rooms, she opened the door of a room in which a wrinkled old lady sat at a computer.

After a few pleasantries, the princess said, “That’s a computer, isn’t it? I’ve seen pictures in some of the history books.”

“That’s what it is, dear. Come sit and I’ll show you how it works”.

The princess sat in front of the computer and the old woman instructed her in how to use the mouse. Excited to learn something new, the princess pointed to the picture on the screen and clicked. Oops! Not a good decision. She felt the prick of a pin hidden in the mouse, then fell into the deep sleep that had been predicted.

Not only did the princess fall asleep, but everyone in the mansion, too, including her mom and dad when they returned from their trip.

More time passed. Trees and thorny vines, with no groundskeeper to tend them, grew wild and after awhile hid the mansion from view. Word spread throughout neighboring countries and the sons of many kings, some in their private yachts or jets, came to Gotitmade and tried to force their way into the mansion. No dice.

As often happens in fairy tales, one day a king’s son heard an old man tell about the mansion surrounded by poison ivy and trees and the princess who had slept for a hundred years. Nothing would do but that he go and give it a try himself. And he did.

Now that the hundred years was up, the poison ivy had changed to honeysuckle vines and the prince found easy entrance to the mansion. Wow, he thought. Looks like everybody’s sound asleep; the servants, the kitchen staff, the king and queen, even the masseuse—they’re all out of it. Floor by floor he searched, until he finally worked his way to the basement and opened the door where the princess slept in front of the computer.

The princess, like most you’ve heard about in this kind of story, was a looker. The prince couldn’t resist. He leaned over and kissed her on the lips. That’s when she awakened. “No tongue,” she chided him gently, for she had been properly raised.

Hand in hand they made their way through the mansion, greeting the newly awakened staff and the king and queen. Everybody picked up where they’d left off as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. It was like a dream some said.

Within the week, the caterer had been contacted, the wedding gown purchased and the guests invited. Once again the banquet hall was the scene of a splendid celebration, this time the wedding of the princess and her prince. Best of all was the gifts the bride and groom exchanged—brand new matching Dell computers with all the bells and whistles.

Sleeping Beauty and the God of Death, By Emily Debenham

Note: This writer took the story into the realm of gods and myth, making it stand out.

Iktish, God of Death, wished for a child to call his own. The Father of Departed Souls longed for one living soul to mold beneath his Dark Hand. So he took to his side a fair goddess, Ameva, with flower-adorned hair.

The wheel of the sky turned many times before the Lord Sun shined upon the morn of the child’s birth. His subjects gathered on the bridge that spans across the River of Damned Souls and leads to the Fields of Radiance, awaiting the blessing of the Lord Sun, Lady Moon, and her lesser sisters, Stars.

Lord Sun announced, “This day a daughter is born to Iktish Lord of death, Father of departed souls. She shall be called Iritana. Perfect in form, sound in mind, whole in body and spirit, may he guide her feet to cross into the Fields of Radiance when her life-time is spent.” Only those that were good and great during life dwelt among the Radiant after death.

Lady Moon pronounced, “Protection in deepest hour, illumination in the darkest night so long as the sky shows my face. This daughter will be full of truth and grace.”

High Mistress of the Stars denounced, “In the Stars are written the laws that all beings must abide. Iktish, Lord of Death, no life is to belong to you that lives. When the Moon is born anew Lady Ameva her mother will take her to mortal parents.”

Iktish raged so that the Stars shivered in their places, but the law could not be unwritten, nor the sentence undone. So, on the eve of the new moon her mother, Lady Ameva came to collect her precious daughter, and sent the girl to parents that had prayed for a child for many years. Iktish and his Lady Ameva wept.

Sixteen years passed before Iktish claimed his daughter again. He watched her grow under the hand of mortal parents until he could stand his grief no longer. Longing to know his only daughter, he built a cottage on the edge of death, safe from the river and close to the bridge. He pulled her soul into the fringes of his realms so that she fell into a deathless sleep. Neither living nor dead, her soul wandered realms ruled by the Dark-Handed One, while her body rested upon a crimson death-bed. The body neither rotted nor decayed.

“A spell is cast upon her,” cried her mortal mother.

“We must consult the king,” said her mortal father.

So they traveled to the court of the King and told the strange story of their daughter’s death. He commanded the body to be brought. The death bier crossed the land until it arrived at the gates of the kingdom. The King found their daughter’s frozen sleep to be strange indeed.

He consulted Lord Sun, who answered with a silence.

He consulted Lady Moon, who answered with a whisper, “The matter rests with the Stars.”

The King consulted the Stars, who told him, “The maiden will lie in sleep until she receives a marriage offer from a man suited to her. Only then will she leave her deathless sleep.”

Many years turned, and many men tried and failed to rouse the maiden from her sleep with a kiss. They could not wake her for she was needed guiding dead souls to their rest.

In later days arose a Hero of unequaled renown, so that he was rumored to be a son of Lord Sun, Giver of Life. Alderik was he called, and his deeds were many and great. It came about he could win his own kingdom by venturing into the realm of death.

Iritana spent many years on the bank of death with her father, Lord of Death, and her mother, Flower-Adorned. She lived happily there, leading many souls who approached the bridge destined for good and bad ends. Many a soul went gently into death under her light hand.

She watched Alderik as he crossed into the boundary of death, handsome and strong. His countenance showed that he was still among the living.

“Leave this place,” she commanded. “Only the dead pass.”

“I cannot go back for I am on an errand. Who set you to guard?”

“My father is Iktish, Lord of Death. He brought me here to dwell with him.”

“Do you not wish to leave?” he asked.

She showed to him the multitude of the dead. “How could I do more good than by leading these hosts?”

When Alderik returned from beyond the bridge of death he found Iritana. “When I leave here I will inherit a kingdom. I need a bride who knows how to care for my people, for I will often be away helping those that call for my aid.”

When King Alderik kissed her Iritana called her father to her, “I must go. The Hero Alderik calls me to live again.”

“What of those you guided into death?” Iktish asked.

“Those living have more need of my help.”

“And so you will leave me daughter?” Iktish asked, pained.

“Until my feet cross into the Fields of Radiance.”

Iritana left the realm of her Father, Lord of Death and awoke from her sleep, putting her hand into Alderik’s. Together they went to his Father, Lord Sun for a blessing.

“Alderik my son, the life in her is heavy with the shadow of death.”

“I know she will care for my people diligently without avarice or ambition. Many years has she served the dead and now she will serve the living.”

“Then you will give up the immortality I have given you?”

“With her by my side there is nothing to fear in death for she shall lead my feet gently into the Fields of Radiance.”

Lord Sun nodded. “So, let it be done.”

Lady Moon nodded. “So let it be done.”

The Stars agreed, “So let it be written.

Sleeping Beauty, By Juliette Bowers

Note: This story had some intriguingly written sisters and an excellent hero, both qualities draw the reader in.

For twelve generations the house of Skye had named their first born daughter after morning light, for it was she who would one day lead their country into a new era. The royal family had passed the crown down to the eldest daughter since they had claimed the throne. The system was fine, the kingdom happy, until the birth of the thirteenth generation. You see, magic ruled the land and everyone who knows magic, knows that thirteen is an unlucky number and so it was for the thirteenth daughter eldest daughter of the house of Skye.

The problems started in the twelfth generation, not with the birth of Dawn, but of her younger sister, Rose. Rose, not being the future queen of the land, was sent to a highly specialized school, along with the youngest of the three, Violet, a school of magic. Their role in the family was to learn all that they could about the art of sorcery and use it to help their sister. Violet loved learning magic; she worked hard and absorbed all that she could. Rose, though, she was jealous that Dawn was so easily handed the title of heir; she made problems at school while quickly understanding how to manipulate the magic around her.

On the birth of Dawn’s first child, a baby girl, her sisters returned from school to aid in the traditional blessings to be bestowed on her. The child’s name was Aurora and she had a smile that could captivate the court and her laughter was filling the hall when her Aunties entered. Dawn started the proceedings:

“The morning light has again returned, to help our land anew. Our precious Aurora now we send our blessings onto you.”

The people looked on in happiness, which immediately turned to fear as Rose, stepped up to deliver her blessing. The air around her swirled cold and her words were spoken with ice:

“Baby Aurora you won’t be given the kingdom because you’re first born. Instead you won’t live, your life you will give when your finger pricks on a thorn.”

Shocked into silence it was too late to stop Rose as she swiftly walked out the door. Dawn looked to Violet with pleading eyes, while her sister sadly shook her head.

“I can’t undo the magic that has been done but I can try to give another that chance. Dearest Aurora the crown you will hold, despite what’s gone amiss, you’ll enter a deep and endless sleep until your love’s true kiss.”

The king and queen had grounds cleared of thorns from the day of the curse onward, but Aurora was not allowed on the grounds, she saw outdoors from her balcony and nothing more. Flowers without thorns were permitted to grow on the edge, the floral scent just making her want more. It was on her balcony though that Aurora met, Philip, the rambunctious son of the housekeeper, when they were both seven. He entered by sliding down the stone that covered the roof and plopping unceremoniously in front of her.

“Whoops,” he flashed Aurora his guilty smile.

“ Whoops is not what you say to a princess,” Aurora looked around to see who might be watching them.

“It is if I think you’re gonna tell my momma!”

“I won’t tell yours if you don’t tell mine.” From then on they were partners in crime. Philip would hide away in her rooms and they would play for hours on end. She would give him reprieve from his chores and he would tell her of the great outdoors. They told no one of their acquaintance for fear of what their mothers might say, thinking that a mother’s wrath was the worst thing that could happen. It was this secret that may have been Aurora’s downfall.

A gorgeous plant arrived for Aurora on the day of her seventeenth birthday. The card was signed from her secret friend. Having been warned about the dangers of her curse, Aurora should have been afraid, but her thoughts immediately went to Philip and his adventures on the outside. She brought it into her room without telling a soul, putting it to her nose to smell it. As she slowly placed it by her bedside table, her finger slipped slicing on an unexpected thorn. Time slowed as she fell to the ground, asleep.

Dawn was devastated when she heard the news of her daughter and called to the couriers to send out a message to the people all male nobles with true love in their hearts may try their hand at awakening the princess. Weeks went by and noble after noble attempted to kiss the princess to life again. With each successive failure, the hope of the land dwindled and whispers of who the next in line would be. For Aurora had no sisters and this left the slate to the next female in line: Rose.

It was not until seven weeks after Aurora’s seventeenth birthday that Philip did what no peasant should have done and asked the queen for permission to kiss her daughter. She laughed in his face for she believed that Aurora’s love could never come from anything but a noble. He asked two more times before attempting once more the climb he had taken when they were seven.

His land was graceful as he swung from the roof and through her balcony window. The sight of Aurora was breathtaking as she laid, a sleeping beauty, among her things. So Philip did what so many else had tried and kissed her across her red lips. Unlike her slow motion descent into sleep, her awakening was instantaneous. Aurora’s eyelashes fluttered open to reveal her savior.

“I hoped it would be you,” was all she said.

And so there was a wedding, with gifts and presents and oh so many flowers, for Aurora’s parents knew that there was no changing one’s true love, once he had been found, he would never turn away.

Sleeping Beauty, By Victoria Zhou

Note: This story had an extremely compelling villainess, which made it stand out among the entries.

Once upon a fairy tale, there was a beautiful baby girl that was born to royal parents, the king and queen of a faraway island called Royale. They named her Jazella and decided to throw her a celebration party, since she was their first child.

The day of the party, everyone was cheerful and happy. The king and queen were generous people so they invited everyone, including village peasants. People came with food and gifts and there was dancing and orchestras playing. However, when there was the ceremony of bestowing magic gifts to princess Jazella, everyone was interrupted by Jade, the queen’s sister. But she was also a wicked witch and when she received news of the party, she was terribly jealous. “My sister may have stolen beauty, and brains from me, but I can steal her happiness!” Jade said to herself as she evaporated into air and appeared in her sister’s castle. “Jade!” The Queen, Jarona, said, startled. “I’m aware I haven’t received an invitation to your party, isn’t that correct?” Jade asked her sister. Before she could answer, she saw the baby carriage and peered into it to see Jazella sleeping. “Well, well, isn’t this a lovely child?” Jarona scooped her daughter up. “My fairies were just bestowing her gifts!” An idea struck Jade. “Well, I wouldn’t mind if I bestow her a gift!” The king rushed to the queen’s side. “You will never!” Jade grinned and waved a hand over a glowing ring on her finger. “May you be locked up in a tower…” The Queen and King gasped. Guards rushed toward them to attack Jade, but she was too quick for them. She rose into the air and once more, waved a hand over her ring. “With the powers of evil, you will be cursed with the gift of obedience until your 16th birthday, when you will die!” And with that, she disappeared into the air. Panic started among everyone and frantically, the 3rd fairy bestowed her gift upon Jazella, trying to reverse the evil curse. “You may have the gift of obedience, but on your 16th birthday, you will not kill yourself, but fall into a deep slumber until you find love...”

After the incident, the devastated Queen and King made sure no one gave Jazella orders. They even hired maids for Jazella, but the parents’ 3 trusted fairies decided it would be safe to raise her up on their own and took Jazella to a faraway tower in the mountains. It was a nice place with a small forest surrounding the tower where many animals lived. But one day, Jazella didn’t come home from the woods for hours and the 3 fairies dashed after her and found her ankle stuck in a tree root. It was an imprisonment after that, and she wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. Every day, Jazella grew older and more beautiful. She would gaze out her window and wonder what it was like to break free and explore the mountains.

One day, though, she had an idea. The fairies had told her a few years ago about the curse, (but not the fate), so she knew exactly how to get outside. She waited until nighttime, when the fairies were all tired. She whispered into the tree fairy’s ear, “May I go outside?” She watched as the fairy’s eyes opened slightly and fluttered. “Yes…outside.” The fairy said and then turned toward the other side and snored. Jazella smiled and then tiptoed downstairs toward the front door. She turned the doorknob, but it wouldn’t budge. She tried it again, but then found it glowing. “Lock spell!” Jazella grumbled. But then she remembered her bedroom window! She went back up and glanced down from the window. It was terribly high, but she was willing to take the chance. Jazella slowly crawled out of the window and then grabbed a vine covering the outside of the tower. She let herself down and finally reached the ground. She hurried toward the front of the tower and reached up for a lantern tied to a vine. She hooked it off and then hurried into the forest to see what would behold her.

Later, as Jazella entered the mountain valley, it got terribly cold. She shivered under her scarf and felt something hit her on the head. She scooped it off and stared at white snow. She turned back toward the woods to go back to her tower, but found that she was lost. “Oh no,” Jazella said as big snowflakes blew around her, turning into a horrible blizzard. She quickly ran toward a cramped crevice in the mountain and stayed in there and watched snow billow around her. Unfortunately, Jade’s pet eagle flew through the snow and spotted her. He let out a squawk and flew off. Just then, a young man riding a horse passed by and saw Jazella. “Excuse me,” He yelled over the howling wind. “Are you lost?” “Yes!” She said back. He offered her a ride and she hopped on and they rode for a while through the snow, all the while talking and getting to know one another. Finally, they reached the forest, where dawn was beginning to shine through the clouds. “Oh no!” Jazella said as she jumped off the horse. She started running toward her tower, which showed its peak right above a bit of trees. “Wait!” The man called. “When can I see you again?” “Um,” Jazella hesitated. “Meet me at my tower tomorrow!” And she took off through the trees and out of sight.

But before Jazella could reach her tower, Jade appeared with her eagle grinning on her shoulder. “Oh!” Jazella fell to the ground, startled. “Why, happy birthday, princess.” Jazella frowned. “W…what?” Jade stroked her ring, the one that hadn’t been active since 16 years ago. “Isn’t it your birthday? And aren’t you a princess?” Jazella swallowed. “I’ve never heard of being a princess all my life! And my fairies told me that I didn’t have a birthday.” “Well…we will have to fix that.” Jade touched her ring and they both disappeared, just as the fairies were rushing out of the tower and toward them.

Meanwhile, the fairies were panicking. “Today was her 16th birthday,” The fire fairy said, worriedly. They were about to evaporate themselves into Jade’s castle when the man Jazella had been talking to. “Prince Philip?” The fairies gasped. Philip was breathless. “Have you seen a young woman?” He said. The fairies looked at each other. “You met princess Jazella?” They asked him. “That was the princess?” He breathed. “No time to waste!” The tree fairy touched the air with her wand and they all disappeared.

“Hurry!” The fairies urged Philip as they walked into Jade’s castle. It had a stingy smell and was nearly in ruins. They hid as yet another beasty guard passed by, scouring the castle grounds. They spotted a staircase and hurried up there. “Formation!” Fire fairy said and all 3 fairies turned into thumb finger size. They hurried even more to reach a room where Jazella was in a trance. The fairies hid from view. “Release her!” Philip said. “Well, well, isn’t it the prince?” Jade faced her ring toward him and suddenly, he was in chains. The fairies took out their wands, when Jade spoke fast words. “Kill yourself.” She whispered and Jazella fell to the floor. Jade laughed and disappeared. The tree fairy and water fairy quickly went to Philip to unlatch his chains while the fire fairy went to comfort Jazella. Philip broke free from the chains and went to Jazella. He kissed her hand and her eyes flashed open. “Hurry, we don’t have much time!” The water fairy said and they hurried down the stairs. “I don’t understand what happened!” Jazella said as they went down the stairs. “It was a spell that was cast 16 years ago at your celebration party.” The tree fairy said. “You were given the curse of obedience and you had to kill yourself on your birthday 16 years later.” “But we reversed it to falling to sleep until you find love!” The water fairy said. Jazella and Philip smiled at each other and they ran down the castle halls. Just then, guards saw them. “Go ahead!” The fire fairy gave her wand a wave and the beasts fell asleep.

As Jade was standing on her balcony, happy over her triumph, she saw Jazella, Philip, and the fairies escaping. She gasped. “This cannot be!” Her eyes blazed with fury and she waved a hand over a gigantic pile of rocks. They crashed over them, but narrowly missed. She lifted a rock toward a bridge they were crossing but the fairies pointed their wands toward it and it fell down the dense valley. As they were crossing a forest that separated Jarona’s and Jade’s castle, Jade waved her hand over the forest and a plain of fire appeared, burning all the trees. The water fairy pointed her wand at it, and water shot out at the fire. They were quickly crossing to Jarona’s castle and Jade decided to make her ultimate decision. She transformed into a dinosaur and blocked the path of the fairies, Philip and Jazella. The prince fought her with his sword. Soon, though, she led him toward the end of a cliff. The fairies chanted together:

“Make your sword one of steel,

Pain Jade will feel,

Kill her now,

It won’t be foul.”

Philip stabbed her in the heart and Jade let out a pained cry. She fell down into the valley and landed into the water.

After the death of Jade, everyone rejoiced. The queen and king had a party to celebrate the wedding of Jazella and Philip and the end of Jade. The evening ended in contentment, and Royale lived happily ever after. That is, until the next villain comes. And they’ll be ready.

Cinderella, By Tom Mollica

Note: Kookie aunts, beer, a sleeping beauty named "Cinderella" -- I enjoyed this irreverent tale.

“Another toast to little Cinderella,” Aunt Ruby voiced as she raised her frothy mug of beer in the air.
“One more then I have to go,” Aunt Beulah replied. “Lee Roy is going to be here any minute to pick me up.”
Four aunts had been toasting the newborn Cinderella and her mother, Queenie since they arrived and tapped a keg of beer. Queenie invited her sisters to view her new baby. A fifth aunt, Gertrude was there but not joining in the toasting. Aunt Gertrude believed alcohol was the root of all evil.
“You should stop your consumption of the wicked alcohol,” she preached. “The Lord frowns upon those whose lips touch the sinful brew. Consider yourselves lucky that he does not smat you down as you swill down the juice of the devil like thirty camels on the Gobi Dessert.”
“Oh chill out, Gerty,” Aunt Ruby said. “You have been a stick in the mud all night. Why don’t you make yourself useful and pump the keg so we can tap more beers.”
“We’re just having fun, right Cinderella?” Queenie voiced and touched Cinderella’s little hand. The baby curled her tiny fingers around Queenie’s thumb. “The kid’s got a good grip. In a few years she’ll be on my bowling team and drinking beers with us too.”

“She will do no such thing!” Aunt Gertrude barked. “This baby shall not drink alcohol like you four inebriated donkeys. I am placing a spell upon her. The first taste she has of the evil drink will make her go to sleep for a full year.”
“Oh brother, Gerty,” said Aunt Ruby.
Aunt Beulah circled her index finger next to her temple. “Cookoo, Cookoo.”

Cinderella looked at the ring her prince of a boyfriend, David had given her. What she thought was to be a dinner date to celebrate her twenty-first birthday also turned out to be a dinner where David had asked her to marry him. The ring, cleaned off as David had hid it inside her double baked potato to accentuate the surprise glistened.
“Of course I will marry you, David,” she cooed.
David motioned to the waiter who carried a bottle of champagne. “Let us have a drink of this bubbly to celebrate. Now that you are twenty-one you can have your first drink of alcohol.”
The waiter popped the cork and poured champagne into the lovebird’s champagne flutes. David raised his glass. “A toast to the most beautiful woman in Milwaukee.”

Raising her glass, Cinderella replied. “And a toast to the best guy not only in Milwaukee but in the entire state of Wisconsin.” She took a sip of the champagne and immediately fell fast asleep with her head dropping face first into a bowl of pistachio ice cream she had ordered for dessert.
David looked at the waiter. “Well she does not drink a lot.”

Cinderella lay in the rollaway bed in the middle of Queenie’s living room. She had been asleep for a month. Doctor Schuber looked in her ear with a small flashlight.
“There seems to be nothing wrong with her other than she is sleeping,” the doctor stated. “Has she ever had malaria?”

“No,” Queenie answered
“Has she ever eaten pork that was undercooked?” the doctor questioned.

“Does she wear a girdle?”

“Doe she belong to a civil war reenactment club?”

“Has she ever shot out of a cannon at the circus?”

“Fell off the flying trapeze at the circus?”

“Fell off an elephant at the circus?”

“She’s never been in the circus,” Queenie replied, getting a little impatient.
“Has anyone ever put a spell on her?”

“Her Aunt Gertrude put a spell on her when she was one week old. The spell stated if she ever drank alcohol she would go to sleep for a year.”
“Was the champagne the first alcohol she has consumed?”

“I believe so,” Queenie answered.

“Well that’s it then,” Doctor Shuber stated. “In eleven months she will wake up.” The doctor pulled out a pad of paper and scribbled on it. “Here’s my bill. Tell her when she wakes to take aspirin if she has a headache. Good day.”

“Wait, wait, Doctor Shuber. Is there anything we can do to make her wake sooner?”

Doctor Shuber scrunched up his face. “Let me think back to my days of medical school. I had a class, an introduction to spell breaking. He placed both index fingers on each temple, closed his eyes then opened them. “Yes, yes. Here is the cure. Her true love must kiss her on the lips while wearing a Mexican sombrero.”

“You learned this in medical school?” Queenie questioned.
“Either there or on a Bug’s Bunny cartoon when I was a youngster.”
“But her true love David is in jail,” Queenie voiced. “He has been there since their fateful dinner. The police think he poisoned Cinderella to collect her fortune.”

Doctor Shuber looked around the small, meager home. “I am not a lawyer but don’t you have to be actually married before you can collect your spouses fortune?”

That night with the help of her sisters, Queenie arranged a jailbreak of David. Tying a chain to the jail cell’s bars and the other to Aunt Ruby’s wood paneled Buick station wagon the women tore the bars off the cell’s window. Eager to escape after a month of captivity, David quickly climbed out the opening. Now he stood wearing a Mexican sombrero and looking at the sleeping Cinderella.
“Can I catch what she has?” David asked.
“I do not think so but would you like to wear these,” Doctor Shuber answered and gave David a pair of bright red wax lips.
David eyed the lips. “No. I do not need those. I will risk it for my little petunia.” He bent over and gave Cinderella a big smooch on the lips.

Cinderella’s eyes opened and she looked around the room.

Queenie smiled. “Well good morning sleepy head.”

Cupcake Princess, Jennifer Alberts

Note: How could I not love a story about cupcakes? A very yummy tale.

In a forgotten little town on the outskirts of France lay a bakery whose cupcakes were so delicious that people traveled from everywhere to get a taste. Without the bakery, the town would have been ghostly, and if the town were ghostly, the wizards and witches would have stayed away. Everyone desired to try the famous Red Velvet Lush, or the Chocolate Fudge Surprise, and even using magic, nobody could bake cupcakes that compared.

The Blooms were modestly arrogant, and everyone loved them because of the delectable treats they provided. After years of trying, Mrs. Bloom finally became pregnant, and the town had never been so ecstatic. The bakery of the heavens even shut down for a few days, an extreme rarity. This greatly upset a witch by the name of Grizel, who had promised a coveted Lemon-Drop Sunrise cupcake to her disapproving mother-in-law. Grizel begged the Blooms to bake her just one cupcake, for if she failed in this endeavor, there was no way her mother-in-law would accept her into the family. However, the Blooms, in all their bliss, didn’t budge.

When Nadia Bloom was born, the whole town celebrated. Anyone who had ever tasted a cupcake came to show their gratitude, and the quiet town turned cheerful. Grizel, however, was anything but. “If they won’t give me a cupcake,” she thought, “then their precious little Nadia shall never know the wonders of a cupcake either!”


When Nadia turned thirteen, she really started to hate the fact that she was allergic to her parents’ cupcakes. “But mom,” she would plead. “It’s not fair! All my friends say your cupcakes are the best, and I can’t even eat a tiny piece of one!” Little did she know that it wasn’t allergies her parents were worried about. She wouldn’t swell up like a blowfish if she had a bite, but she’d fall into a deep, dark, sleep that would be almost impossible to awake from.

Her parents tried everything to prevent Nadia from eating a cupcake. They never left the bakery unattended (which made the cupcakes even more delicious than usual), they made sure Nadia was always occupied with ballet lessons or academic work, and they tried to hide the cupcake smell from their house by getting three dogs.

Grizel was never a happy witch. Bitter at her own miserable life and hostility from her new family, she needed others to share her pain. On the eve of Nadia’s twenty-first birthday, the forgotten town sprung to life once more. Everyone gathered for a grand celebration, and just like on Nadia’s day of birth, anyone who had ever tasted the delicious cupcakes came to marvel at the grown-up, beautiful, and cupcake-free Bloom girl.

At the height of the festivity, Grizel, disguised as a young woman and bearing a Lemon-Drop Sunrise, presented it to the unsuspecting Nadia. Overzealous with happiness and glee, she took a bite of the wonderful cupcake. As soon as her teeth sank into the moist, crumbly base, she fell to the floor, still wearing her yellow party gown and still looking like the beautiful twenty-one year-old she was.

When people started realizing what had happened, uproar rippled throughout the little town. Witches and wizards of all shapes and sizes tried and tried to wake the beautiful Nadia up, but nobody succeeded. The Blooms were so devastated that they permanently closed their bakery, and the town fell into a deep depression.


It wasn’t for another 50 years, when the Blooms were plump and gray-haired, the bakery out-of-sight for so long, that Mr. John White came knocking on their front door. “I’m sorry to bother you,” the young man said politely, “but I’m trying to become the best baker in the world and rumor has it that your cupcakes are to DIE for.” The Blooms painfully looked at one another and told John that cupcakes were no longer their passion.

But John was a persistent man. His good looks and constant compliments gave him an invitation inside the Bloom residence, where he discovered a large dining room covered with pictures of a beautiful girl. She couldn’t have been much younger than him, yet she seemed so innocent, so fresh.

On the way to the bathroom, John walked past a beautifully-scented room. The aroma of freshly-baked cupcakes filled his nostrils, so enticing and different from the smell of dogs in the rest of the house that he opened the door. Lying on top of a huge bed was Nadia, still dressed in her yellow birthday gown, and sleeping deeply. She looked so peaceful and so breathtakingly gorgeous that John couldn’t help but stare. He walked over to her and gently stroked her perfectly combed hair. She didn’t budge.

After twenty minutes, Mrs. Bloom came looking for John. When she saw him lying next to Nadia, she grew flustered and started flailing about. John knew it was time to leave, but before getting up, he leaned down and gently brushed his lips against hers.

All of a sudden, Nadia’s eyes popped open: the spell was lifted instantaneously. There she was, beautiful Nadia, staring into the eyes of the stranger that just saved her life. “Guess I wasn’t allergic after all” she said shyly, and she kissed John passionately on the lips.


The darkness surrounding the town suddenly lifted and everyone gathered once again, for the wedding of Nadia Bloom and John White. Though young, neither of them had ever felt anything as powerful as the love they shared, and they decided to begin their life together immediately. To the pleasure of tiny town, the Blooms reopened their bakery. Once again, the smell of freshly baked cupcakes wafted through the air, and everyone was happy. The store was named Eternal Sunrise, and even now, hundreds of years later, the bakery serves the inhabitants of the town that was once forgotten, but will now never escape the minds of anyone who knows anything about cupcakes, greed, or true love.

Saving Beauty, By Heather Spiva

Note: This was intriguing because it involved fostering the endangered heroine, and I liked the dedication.

“What if they find her?” asks the father, sitting in a rocking chair. He was holding Katherine, who was wrapped in the softest silk, gurgling in her sleep, oblivious to her perilous future.

“They won’t find her,” says the mother, straightening her hair. She presses her coat down and adjusts the buttons. “It’s why the baby dedication is happening here, at our house.” The moonlight touches her earrings through the window with brilliance, like stars falling from the sky.

“But she looks so much like us,” he moaned, touching her jet black hair and eyes, “so beautiful.”

The mother lifts up the baby bottle in her hands, studded in diamonds and looking more like a necklace wrapped around a wine glass. “I know, and we’ll see her again, soon. But for now, she needs safety. Katherine may be the heir of our estate, but seekers of our fortune have ravaged our security. Katherine is another commodity… but the most precious of all. And she must be kept a secret until the vultures have left.” The father nods in agreement, but a tear rolls down his cheek. “Aunt Matilda made this for us,” she continues, eyeing the bottle, “the perfect spell to keep her safe while she’s living with her in Glenside Cottage. If Katherine can stay away from the here innocent and unpolluted until sixteen, then we have saved her from harm. And we can raise her later, when all is safe.”

Mother and father clasp hands, and with baby Katherine in a blanket of the finest cotton and wool, softer than a lamb and gentler than a downy duck, they leave her room. Katherine would never know her parents had to let her go. She would never know she even had parents… not for a long time.

They walk out to the back yard where one other family gathers; friends by the name of Geer: a mother and father, a little boy of three, and another baby wrapped in a blanket of equally fine material. There was no talk, no whispering, and no words of congratulations or happiness. They were there for a reason so dismal and sobering, hardly a word needed to be said.

The father puts the bottle in the baby’s mouth. Katherine’s lips eagerly find it and she drinks in bliss, amidst the sadness and friends. Aunt Matilda holds the child as the minister blesses her, dedicating her to God. And as he speaks, she speaks too, in a whisper so gentle it puts Katherine back to sleep.

“Katherine, you are mine to raise,

And to watch over until the time,

When normalcy returns to home,

Safe from thieves and safe from crime.

You’ll be secure, I’ll guard your heart,

Disguise you well, far in the forest.

Until you take your rightful place,

When sixteen years are spent before us.

With onyx eyes, you’ll return home,

From golden hair to locks of black.

But watch yourself, that no one may,

Trespass your fate, behind your back.

For if you see but an ounce of sin,

You’ll pay for it with a frozen death,

Ne’er to wake, unless finds you a Geer,

To kiss your lips and awake you from rest.”

Katherine’s dark hair turns to gold, her black eyes to blue as soon as she is whisked away that fateful night. Almost sixteen years pass. Aunt Matilda raises Katherine as if she was her own. And Katherine grows up. Now, she is nearly ready to return to a new and safe home.

On her birthday, Katherine takes a walk through the woods. She comes upon two men, brothers, dueling with swords and laughing the whole way through. She hides behind a tree and watches them. She’s never seen boys so up close before. They are young and handsome and having great fun.

But as the older brother turns around to adjust his foot, just sunk into a wet bog, the younger brother stabs him with all the strength he can muster. The older one falls to the ground, in shock and grief.

“But why?” he asks.

The younger brother replies, “Because, my whole life has been spent trying to be more than you; to surpass your God given, first born blessing. I can’t stand it anymore. The Geer household is mine to run now.”

With the deed now done, the younger brother leaves in haste. But Katherine has just witnessed a murder; something she’d only read about in the bible- like Cain and Abel. And having seen this, before sixteen, she is (unknowingly) doomed to die. She runs to his side- she has to do something to help. Is he even breathing?

And then she feels the pinch of a blade between her ribs.

“I thought I saw someone,” the younger brother sneers at her, sweat dripping down his face. “Well, you can join my brother if you want,” and with that, he stabs her too. Aunt Matilda hears screaming, and finds Katherine a moment too late.

But all is not lost! For the older brother isn’t dead after all, only wounded. As he lies in bed recovering in the cottage, Matilda watches the transformation, as Katherine’s blond hair turns to black, her blue eyes to deep onyx. And she weeps. For nearly sixteen years Katherine has stayed pure, innocent; awaiting an unknown future, and now her fate is sealed.

Later, when Aunt is asleep, the boy returns to Katherine’s side. She is pale with death, but her hair is beautiful, her lips so red. He kisses her gently. “Thank you for saving me,” he whispers. And in between tears of gratitude, and his head in his hands, Katherine’s eyes open. And with a flush in her cheeks she says, “You’re welcome.”

One month later both of them are at the altar, holding hands and exchanging vows, hopeful for a happy life together. With younger brother in jail, and two households united at last, their youthful expectations of a blessed future quiver full with excitement.

Sleeping Beauty 2009, By Tyffany D. Neiheiser

Note: This story was such fun, because it was set in the suburbs, and the author did some smart work with "Destiny."

Once upon a time in a nice suburban neighborhood lived Dr. Justice Brown and his wife. Dr. and Mrs. Brown had long wished for a child, and when Emily was born, they invited the entire neighborhood to a backyard barbeque. Dr. Brown gave a toast to his new daughter and to his sisters, Grace, Charity, and Faith. No one mentioned Destiny, who had gone her own way a long time ago.

There was eating, and drinking, and music, as should be at any good party. People from the town brought gifts for the new baby, and they were piled high on the table. Grace, Charity, and Faith announced that they had special gifts for the child. Grace wrapped the baby in her arms and announced to the crowd, “She already has beauty, so I bless this child with intelligence and wit.”

Charity rocked Emily in her arms, and stated, “She will be generous and kind.”

Faith held Emily and crooned softly to her for a moment. She opened her mouth to speak, when she looked up, and saw Destiny stalking toward her. “How dare you?! She’s my niece too! Well, I have a blessing of my own!” She laughed, and Faith turned her body away, trying to shield Emily from Destiny. “No matter. I don’t need to see her to give her my gift.” She laughed again. “I’m going to give her something that the good Dr. Daddy can’t cure.” Destiny muttered under her breath, and then said out loud. “By the time our little Emily turns 18, she will receive a phone call that will kill her. It could come at any time. You won’t know, until it’s the wrong call. Have fun.”

Everyone began talking at once, and gave Destiny a wide berth as she left the room. Emily’s mother began crying loudly as she reached for her daughter, but Faith said loudly, “Wait! I haven’t given her my gift.”

“You can undo this?” Emily’s mother asked frantically.

Faith met Justice’s eyes. “I can’t undo it. Magic doesn’t work that way. What I can do is soften it. I’ll give Emily my protection, such that when Emily receives that phone call, she won’t die, but will fall into an enchanted sleep until her true love awakens her with a kiss.”

“If she sleeps, I want to sleep too!” Faith nodded, and gave Emily and her family her blessing.

Emily grew up beautiful and kind. The family had only one telephone, a cell phone that Dr. Brown kept locked up when he wasn’t using it. He carried a pager with him for emergencies, and Mrs. Brown never let Emily out of her sight. Mrs. Brown home schooled her, and if Emily dreamed of being allowed to live like other children, she never complained.

Shortly after Emily’s 17th birthday, Mrs. Brown became ill and kept to her bed. Emily was a responsible girl, and her mother cautioned her not to leave the house for any reason. Although it was a beautiful day, and she would have preferred to be allowed to go outside, she did as her mother asked.

Around noon, a woman came to the door. “I’m so sorry, but your father has been in an accident.”

“Oh no!” Emily cried, reaching for the phone the woman held out without thinking. She never heard what the woman on the other end of the phone said before she dropped to the floor in an enchanted sleep.

Faith’s blessing had only been intended for the family, but when Emily slept, everyone in the neighborhood fell asleep too.

Drake had dreamed of the girl since he was very young. He wondered if she dreamed of him. One night, he saw her open her door to a woman, take the cell phone in her hand, then fall to the floor. Drake knew that he had to find her, but didn’t know where to begin. He looked in the newspaper and searched the Internet, but couldn’t find her and where she slept. His friends commented that he had become odd, but he knew that he had to find the girl. He no longer dreamed of her every night, but when he did, she was just as lovely as she had been before she slept.

In college, Drake majored in mythology, and studied myths and modern legends. He never heard anything about an entire town that slept until he talked to an old professor who told him the story. Although the old professor had given him directions, the town was hard to find, as it was shrouded in an illusion. Drake got lost several times in the fog and the forest surrounding the town. He spent night after night in the illusion, and knew that he went in circles trying to find her.

One night, as he dreamed, three elderly women came to him and showed him the way to the town. When he woke, he closed his eyes and walked in the direction he had been shown in the dream. Without his eyes to deceive him, he was able to find Emily’s house.

She still lay at the front door, as beautiful in sleep as she had been in his dreams. He picked her up and carried her to the couch, savoring the moment that he knew was to come. He took her in his arms and kissed her. Her long lashes fluttered, and she looked at him, confused at first. After a few moments, she smiled, “I know you,” she said simply.

The wedding day dawned clear and bright, and the town once again gathered in attendance as Emily received her gifts from her elderly aunts. As she smiled at Drake, she knew that she had received the best gift of all, and was even grateful to Destiny for bringing them together. She knew that things had turned out the way they were meant to, and that if she chose to, she would live happily ever after.

A Gift Returned, By Liz Chernov

Note: I loved this entry because it had a charming hero and a well-drawn villainess.

Old Ms. Slaugh walked ahead of the young students and their teacher, Findlay Milne. She was not Findlay’s usual guide but was available on short notice. She suggested they hike to Stourie Castle. In the cold rain they trudged, eventually reaching its enormous doors. It was gray, cheerless and disappointing to all except Ms. Slaugh.

“There’s something particular,” she said, “you must see.” She gestured for them to enter through a dark passageway leading to a bright room ahead. They vanished one by one into the passage. Findlay hesitated then stepped forward drawn by his students’ voices.

There in awe they stood, staring at a marble table, shocked by the life-sized sculptures seated around it. They circled the room, transfixed for hours, the moon rising overhead. A sharp light caught Findlay’s eye: a silver locket. He walked toward it.

“Mr. Milne,” Ms. Slaugh said, stepping in front of him. “We should go.” Findlay was relieved as they departed.

That night he dreamed of the locket and a woman with onyx black hair and violet eyes, whispering the beginnings of a story, “I was christened Ailsa. My doting parents celebrated my birth with seven festivals where gifts were bestowed upon me. Only one have I treasured, but it did not find me until many years later.”

Findlay reached for her but awoke when the floor slammed into his body. Bewildered, he made for Stourie Castle. His eyes clamped on the woman from his dream. A beauty in stone, the locket she wore, also stone.

“Bewitched by the fable of this unfortunate family Mr. Milne?” questioned the voice of Ms. Slaugh.

She startled him, but Findlay stayed fixed upon the Princess. “I’ve heard little of it really.”

“Seven nights of a festival,” her voice rang out. “Seven powerful sorceresses, each granted gifts to the daughter of a King and Queen and were honored in return. On the seventh night a storm gathered. The King and Queen ordered everyone to board up their homes, the festival dismantled, the seventh sorceress forgotten. Enraged, she cursed them.

“At age 21 the Princess would accept a gift. Once her skin was touched by it a sleep of stone would befall her and those she loved. Until....”

“Until...?” asked Findlay.

“Fairytales have loopholes,” her voice slippery as wet stone. “A word of caution before I leave you, Mr. Milne: stories may allow you into their pages, but tread carefully. Some tales do not let us go.”

The moon glowed through the Atrium. Findlay decided to sleep in the Castle that night. As his eyes began to close he noticed a glint of metal. He stood up and reached out. The locket felt cool in his palm. He opened it. Inside, a cameo of Ailsa on the left and two small words engraved on the right. “True loves,” it said. His eyes blurred as the words seemed to disappear. He could see his reflection in the locket.

Findlay’s hands trembled as he placed it down. Exhausted and confused, he went to the corner of the room and slept.

“You look sad, my love,” he heard his voice saying.

“If I tell you why will you promise to stop looking for me?”

“You don’t want me to?” he said, pained.

“You shouldn’t,” she said plainly. “This is all my doing, you cannot understand. My parents decreed that on the day I turned 1 and 20 no person was allowed to offer me a gift upon pain of death. That afternoon when the village children gathered around a peddler in the market I slipped away to join them.

“She wove silver threads into a lace necklace and attached to it a locket. It dazzled in the light. The children cheered as she placed it in my gloved hand. Opening it, I realized I could not let it go. I tried to pay her but she and the children had vanished.

“I joined my family for dinner adorning myself with the locket. Instantly its paralyzing affects anchored me to my seat. My family fell motionless and petrified into polished marble. I recall the peddler entering the dining hall, her eyes triumphant.”

Findlay awoke, mindful of fairytales. He’d read few but perhaps he recalled enough to find the loophole in this one.

“Ailsa,” he said, falling to his knees in front of her. “I love you.” His eyes glistened. “Will you take my hand?” His lips reached for hers, whispering, “True Loves….Kiss.”

“What grimm business is this...?” Ms. Slaugh’s voice slithered.

“Love,” he said, bravely facing the sorceress.

“You are a simple sort of man Mr. Milne so I’ll be plain with you. She can only be freed by her true love. Are you a likely choice?” she mocked. “And if you should succeed you relinquish your right to exist in the present. Would you sacrifice that to be with her somewhere in history or fairytale?”

Findlay smiled to himself as Ms. Slaugh walked away. He looked at the Princess. All his life he felt unconnected with the present, as if he belonged somewhere else. Slowly and gently, he pressed his lips to hers. A breeze spun around him. Colors were shifting across his eyelids. He heard the sound of rock pounding upon rock and plants coming through the soil. Then the rumblings of voices surrounded him.

He was afraid to open his eyes, but felt a hand take his. “I will,” she said, softly kissing him in return. He dared to look at her. She reached for the locket and opened it. Inside, a cameo of Findlay gazed adoringly at a cameo of Ailsa. “Since first I saw you, I loved you.” Their marriage vows were simple: to give one another a life lived…happily ever after.

500 years later in the midst of a storm, Ms. Slaugh led a group to Stourie Castle. Entering the dining hall, there was nothing more than a glass ceiling, marble walls, and a case baring a small silver locket… unopened.