Thursday, August 6, 2009

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.

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