Awake

Awake by Claudia Wair

Everyone knew the tale of the beautiful princess, Briar Rose. She, along with everyone in the castle, languished in a cursed slumber. Some said that she was fated to sleep a hundred years. Some said she could be awakened with a kiss. But no matter the truth of these claims, a Prince from a neighboring kingdom set out to find, awaken, and win the hand of the sleeping beauty.

He fought his way into the vine-covered castle and wandered its eerily quiet halls in search of Briar Rose. In room after room, he found people who had fallen asleep where they stood. At last, he came to a chamber high up in the castle where he found an ancient spinning wheel and a sleeping girl—the most beautiful girl in the world.

He gazed at the loveliness before him before stooping to kiss Briar Rose’s perfect lips.

Suddenly he was pushed off balance and fell to the floor. Briar Rose had awakened and shoved him away.

“Who are you?” she asked, wiping her mouth with her sleeve. “And why were you kissing me?”

“I…I was—” the Prince stuttered. “To wake you from your enchanted sleep.”

Briar Rose looked around the room. “Yes…I pricked my finger on that spinning wheel and then I felt so tired.”

Just then the pair heard the sounds of the castle’s inhabitants waking. Briar Rose stood on shaky legs and headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” asked the Prince.

“To find my parents.”

“Wait!” the young Prince cried.

She waited as he got down on one knee.

“Briar Rose,” he said, one hand upon his heart. “Will you marry me?”

Briar Rose looked at the stranger as if he were mad. “No,” she said and left the room.

The young Prince, shocked by her refusal, rose to his feet to follow her.

“But I woke you from your hundred-year sleep!”

“A hundred years! So long?” she said, not slowing.

“Yes! And…and I’m a Prince. Surely that gives me a right to expect—”

Briar Rose did not look at him. “I have no control over what you expect, but I will not marry you. I don’t even know your name.”

He told her his name.

She sighed, walking faster now. “I still will not marry you.”

“But the legends say that only one man would be able to enter the castle and find the sleeping beauty and wake her with a kiss. I am that man!”

“Yes, you are. And I am grateful to be awake, but my gratitude does not extend to agreeing to spend the rest of my life with a perfect stranger.”

At last, they reached the throne room, and the King and Queen, just awake from their own long slumber, received their child with great joy.

The Prince waited patiently by the door until he was introduced.

“He kissed me,” said Briar Rose. “To wake me, he says.”

The young man bowed low before the King and Queen.

“You kissed my daughter,” said the King.

“Yes, your Majesty. To break the curse. And I humbly ask that, in reward, you give your daughter in marriage to me.”

“No,” said Briar Rose.

“No,” said the King.

“But…I saved the kingdom! I woke the princess!”

“Yes, yes, and you have our gratitude. But no, you cannot marry her.”

“May I be so bold as to ask why?”

“Well, for one thing,” said the King, “she’s just 15 years old.”

“Many girls marry at that age, sire,” said the young man, hopefully.

“Perhaps, but not my daughter.”

“Aside from her age, do you have any other objections?”

“Many,” said the King. “And chief among them is that she said ‘No.’

“Now,” continued the King, “we are sincerely grateful to you for waking the Princess and therefore the rest of us, and I am prepared to reward you richly for that service.”

“But not with the hand of your daughter,” said the prince.

“That is correct,” the King nodded.

“But the legend says—”

“I have no idea what legends have cropped up while we slept, but I can tell you this: Until my daughter is old enough, we will consider no offers of marriage, certainly not that of a complete stranger. Do I make myself clear?”

“Perfectly, sire.”

“Good,” said the King. “Now, let us celebrate our release from our long slumber!”

With that the dejected Prince, not waiting for any reward, nor feeling in the mood for celebrating, took himself home to find a more amenable bride.

“Bring wine!” called the King.

“Tell the cooks to prepare a feast!” said the Queen.

“And music! We must have music!” said Briar Rose.

And so the wine flowed. There was hearty food and lively music and dancing as everyone in the castle celebrated the breaking of the curse. The festivities lasted well into the morning as the whole kingdom rejoiced.

“Now,” said the King when he woke the following day. “Where is that witch?”

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About the Author

  1. Avatar Claudia Wair (2 stories )

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    Claudia Wair is a Virginia-based writer and editor whose fiction has appeared in such publications as Writers Resist, Dread Naught but Time and Fantasia Fairy Tales. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her reading, camping, or catering to the demands of her feline overlord.

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