Sleeping Beauty

The night loves me.

I walk in the summer dark, my heartbeat slowing every night that I do, and the blackness doesn’t touch my cold-stone-smooth-slow skin.

I stalk by the house where I once lived with her, my hyacinth girl, though the building is now as empty as my bloodless veins. The windows glimmer like onyx and reflect the full trees behind me. I do not see myself, but I know what I look like, because someone screamed it at me once.

I turn from the streetlights, now. Unlike the sun, they do not hurt my unblinking eyes and my pupils wide as the moon. But they hide the night from me. And I want to stay in this careless nighttime, ceaselessly dreaming.

There are footsteps on the sidewalk across the road. I alight on a bench, halfway up a streetlight, a phone pole, a rooftop, to get a better look. She is warm, alive, awake, unlike me. The blood under her skin smells of salt. Smells like the dried layer behind my teeth, sharp as memory.

I smell hyacinths then, and I fall, scrabbling, losing my balance. My fingers are slow to respond – slower than I’ve grown used to – and my heart beats twice, fast and hard. Then I catch myself and my breathing vanishes into the night.

She has heard me though, and she looks up towards the sky. She says into the darkness, “If there’s someone up there, I have a gun. A very large one.”
    
I slip off the roof, behind her, in front of her, looking, smelling. I see her eyes, pupils large as mine in this darkness, flicking this way and that as if she can sense my movement even if she cannot follow it. She has no gun, no knife, nothing to protect herself.

Her lips part to speak, and then I am in front of her. Eyes to eyes. Her heartbeat racing; mine long ago dormant. Her blood pumping, mine abandoned, traded away for the luxury of forgetting.

She says, “Evan.”
   
She looks at my mouth. At my teeth.

A memory flashes, of her in blood, of flashing lights and sirens.

“I didn’t die,” she says, and lays her hand on my cheek. Her fingers burn my skin; she flinches at my iciness. But I am no colder than a stone in the night. I’m no colder than a rippleless pond under a full moon. “They lied to you. Dad lied to you.”

I see her pulse in her neck. I can feel her pulse in her wrist, laying on my cheek. I am a slow-fast-eternal-dead thing.

“Evan, I still love you,” she says, and she kisses my unmoving lips.

My heart stirs in my chest, a fragile new thing, waking up.

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Author’s Note: This is because Tess challenged me last week to write a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, which I despise. And because I told her I’d never write about vampires.

Photo courtesy of funadium.

10 thoughts on “Sleeping Beauty

  1. I like it when you use hyphens almost as much as when you use double parentheticals.

  2. I have irrational love for the line “I want to stay in this careless nighttime, ceaselessly dreaming.” Don’t know why, but I do.

  3. OOOO! Thanks for posting. I love, absolutely love your opening line: “The night loves me.” It just totally drew me in. Great job, wonderful imagery here.

  4. Hyphens, mmm, I love hyphens. “I am a slow-fast-eternal-dead thing.” ” … a fragile new thing, waking up.” This is how I feel when I read the stories here.

    “Smells like the dried layer behind my teeth, sharp as memory.” This is how I want to write. I don’t know what to call this. A metaphor? I’ve gotten into the habit of writing words down I don’t use to give me more variety.

    Beautiful. Cheers, Simon.

  5. This is Brenna’s doing! She’s got me thinking in metaphor all the time!

    Thanks, Simon.

  6. Too many great lines to choose from. Um… Maybe this is my favourite (at this particular moment):

    I stalk by the house where I once lived with her, my hyacinth girl, though the building is now as empty as my bloodless veins.

    Just… fabulous.

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