Well, here’s a nice turn of things. The bed’s gold and silver and ivory, the coverlets are glass. They may as well be ice. This wasn’t my idea: beds should be welcoming. There’s a piece of flax under my nail, a piece of apple in my mouth, a poisoned comb in my hair; the spindle lies next to the bed, bloodied. I am very beautiful, but this is not sleep, and I hate to think what I’ll dream about.
I am not safe in this bed. The briar hedge, the crystal coffin, the locked room, won’t protect me. I can feel the eyes out there. My lord will dig down through the fairy hill and demand my silent body. My prince will come. The falcon will find me, the old women betray me at every turn. The stranger will bed me, kiss me, carry me away, lie with me for forty days and nights. Insensible, I’ll bear him children. This is not sleep. You can keep it.
How’s this? I will consent to wake up when the prince has wrapped himself in seven winding sheets and sleeps in his grave in the garden. When he bites the apple. See how he likes the spindle. It’s a test. Princes should be tested.
But I’m only pretending. While he lies here, pale and silent, I’ll be elsewhere, safe as nut-meat in a softer bed. Cotton sheets and a fire in the grate, or maybe tender grass and the moon through trees. Alone. Unwatched. Sleeping.