|Henry Meynell Rheam's "Sleeping Beauty", from Wiki Commons|
"Sleeping Beauty" is one of those folktales whose roots are more disturbing than its more modern iterations. The earliest versions of the tale had no fairy godmothers and no enchanted castle. There was only a doomed princess and a prince who was all-too-eager to take advantage of her. When he stumbled upon her sleeping form, he raped and impregnated her; it was only after the birth of her twins that the spell was broken.
More than any other fairy tale, this one has always seemed, to me, to be profoundly sad. I always felt bad for the princess, waking after her hundred years of slumber to realize that everything she once had loved had changed or disappeared. The love of a prince seems like a poor consolation -- and that's never minding the troublesome issue of her surprise pregnancy.
I wanted to write a story about growing up, and that unnerving feeling you get when you realize that things around you have changed without your knowledge or consent. I also wanted to write a story about pregnancy. When I was a pre-adolescent, I was unreasonably afraid of getting pregnant -- fearing that I could become pregnant by having a sexy dream or kissing a boy. This story was the perfect place to examine some of those fears.
Here's a snippet:
In the dream, he comes to my bed, and his footsteps sound heavy against the cold stone floor. He takes my hand and kisses it, touching my limp fingertips to his lips before returning my hand, carefully, to my blankets. Then he bends over my face to kiss me, full on the lips. And even though I'm asleep – or paralyzed, or trapped within my body – he parts my lips with the tip of his tongue and presses his tongue against my teeth until they open and let him inside.And with his kiss, I wake up, and see that the world has changed.
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