Maybe While I’m Asleep

Once upon a time, the story of Sleeping Beauty ruined my life.

I get that the fairy was just trying to do a good thing, making the entire kingdom fall asleep while the princess was cursed so she wouldn’t have to wake up alone, but leave it to royalty to never consider the little guy. You think the scullery maid was pleased to find that a century had passed her by, while the stable boy she loved was out in the country on an errand when the spell came down? He was long dead by the time the spell was broken.

Not to mention, when it became known that such a spell was possible, there was an explosion of copycats. Again, I’m sure some of those sprung from noble intentions. Maybe in some cases, it was for the best, and ended up fine for everyone.

Not so much for me.

The spell has been cast, and pretty soon, there will be no staying awake in this house. This isn’t going to end well for me.

Lord, I’m so tired. But I’m not ready to sleep yet.

Fear drives me on. Sleep for a hundred years? What will happen in the world while I’m asleep? What am I missing out on? How is this any different than dying? Will I dream? Will I wake up weak with starvation?

I run to the pantry and start shoveling food into my mouth. I have no idea if the spell affects food. Will it spoil? I can only imagine the stench when we all awake and the cheese has molded.

I check the larder. What cheese we had is already molded. I leave it. What’s the point?

I fight with a yawn. I can’t succumb. Not yet. Please, not yet.

It’s not fair. I don’t deserve this. I’m just an orphan. I was adopted by the Thieves’ Guild and put to work. I didn’t know any better. But our new leader—a terrifyingly giant man who goes by Duff the Gruff—ran out of options. Better to sleep for a hundred years and let the kingdom forget about us, let the bounties expire and our reputations fade into myth, than to face the penalties for his crimes. I’m sure he’d take us all down with him, so I suppose I should be thanking him for my life.

I break into Duff’s strong box and take what I can, redistributing the wealth across all of my secret caches throughout the house. When I wake up, I will flee with his riches. It’s the least he can do for me after this.

The last bag of gold feels so heavy, and I drag my feet. My bed—really just a pallet of thin blankets on the floor—looks so inviting. I shake my head. Not yet.

I’ve tried all the doors and windows. There’s no escape. He spared no expense and ordered the forest of thick trees and deadly brambles to go with the curse. How does he expect for anyone to get in here and break the spell? It’s not like we’re an enchanted kingdom with a beautiful princess to rescue. We’re a den of thieves. We’re doomed.

I fight with my fear as much as my exhaustion. I have to believe he found a way to ensure we’d wake up.

I hide my go-bag by one of the secret exits. Duff knows all of the secret exits, but it’s the door he insists all of the apprentices use. He is too good to acknowledge that we exist. Of course, once he realizes his treasure is gone, it’ll be the first place he looks. So I’ve disguised it to look like a bag of rags. It has some food in there, too, although I’m not sure it’ll keep.

I smirk at the thought of eating hundred-year-old bread.

My stomach is full, my bags are packed, and Duff’s treasure is mine. I am amazed that I’m still awake. Everyone else fell asleep almost right away. Nobody wanted to be the first one asleep in a den of thieves. Duff and I stared at each other as the other thieves fell asleep around us. He had his knife pointed at me. I had my palms on the table, in plain sight.

He’ll know it was me, of course.

But I didn’t kill him. He’ll know that, too. I should kill everyone in this place while I’m still awake. The world would be better off.

But I don’t. For all their ills, these people have been my family for my whole life.

And she’d never forgive me for it.

Even if she won’t be alive to find out the truth.

I don’t let myself cry as I lay down on my bed. I can’t fight off both sleep and my tears at the same time, so it’s time to say goodnight.

I’m glad she got out. I am glad she can live her whole life free of Duff the Gruff and his stupid den of thieves.

And who knows? Maybe she’ll get her happily ever after. Maybe she’ll make sure the spell is broken, so that in a hundred years, I can have a happily ever after, too.

Maybe while I’m asleep, I’ll dream of her. I think that would make a hundred years of sleep worth it.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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