Those of you who are interested enough to post long detailed comments and such might be interested enough to enjoy reading a second version. It's up to you! (Obviously.)
The Life of Briar Rose
This book is the property of Princess Briar Rose, whom you may have heard called Sleeping Beauty.
I’m so scared. I don’t want to die. Not yet. I want to live a full life. I want to have children. I want... why, I don’t know everything I want, not yet. I guess I want a chance to find out who I am. To find out what kind of queen I would make.
Mama doesn’t know I’m writing this yet. She will have to, I guess, sometime. So she can pass it on after I fall asleep.
I can barely get myself to write those words. I’m so terrified of sleeping. You know, sometimes I can’t sleep at night. I just look at the ceiling thinking, Maybe this time I won’t wake up. Or sometimes I think, How can I sleep now? I’ll get all the sleep I need when I turn 15…
They already make jokes about it. They laugh about the Sleeping Beauty. Sometimes the knights look at the dark circles under my eyes and ask how it is that the Sleeping Beauty could get such ugly marks of sleep deprivation. Or they mock me, ask me if I’ve found my true love yet.
It’s not nice. They just like to see me flinch. It’s not funny. If I don’t find my true love, or I guess I should say if he doesn’t find me, I’m as good as dead. Life over at 15, just because my fairy godmother gave me the worst gift ever. Why couldn’t she just have given me something simple like Elly’s fairy godmother? Elly’s godmother gave her the gift of getting dishes clean just by touching them. Ewan’s fairy godmother gave him a stupid toy and gave him the gift of always enjoying it. To be sure, Elly and Ewan have problems with their gifts sometimes too. The boys make fun of Ewan for carrying his little gyroscope around so often, but he enjoys it so much he really wants it. He leaves it behind pretty often these days, but he always seems a little sad not to have it. And Elly, well, Elly’s godmother really tried, but she needed to be more careful when she said the words. When Elly touches her plate by accident before she’s done, all the food disappears right off it. She always has to wear gloves to eat. It’s so tiresome. She’s learned to be happy about her gift, mostly. It took her a while, though, especially since she’s never experienced what it’s like to slave away over the plates. We appreciate her gift more than she does. So yeah, Elly and Ewan have problems and all, but at least their godmothers didn’t get so stupidly ambitious!
I had thirteen fairies come to my christening, and almost all of them were stupid. Still, twelve of them were at least stupid in ways that didn’t matter too much, or wouldn’t have, if not for my fairy godmother’s triumph of idiocy. Why couldn’t she have been like the other fairies who came and gave me wishes at my christening? Twelve of them, and they all gave me something small. To be sure, they were also remarkably senseless. They nearly all had to do with my physical appearance. One gave me straight, white teeth, another gave me long wavy blond hair that never tangles, another gave me a clear complexion, another gave me large blue eyes, another gave me dimples. The sixth gave me a graceful walk and the seventh gave me a clear, delicate voice. The eighth gave me something a little more worthwhile (and dangerous) – the ability to think of kind things to do for people. Of the others, only one gave me something really worthwhile – the ability to remember whatever I read. That has helped me out immensely. The other three gave me more stupid physical gifts. Soft, pale skin. A slender waist. And finally, “harmonious features.” By the time they were done with me, well, God only knows what I would have looked like without their precious gifts.
My fairy godmother thought it would be a good idea to sentence me to fall asleep at 15 and never wake up until my true love came for me. She was right about one thing, at least: My parents certainly would have bartered me away into a political marriage if not for her, and as it is they are totally helpless to do so. Only my true love can awaken me.
Words matter terribly with fairy wishes. So I’ve thought about her words so many times. But I just don’t see any way out. No one did. There’s nothing I can do except hope for love to save me…
Good grief, I sound melodramatic even to myself. But it’s just the truth.
So. My fairy godmother’s words:
“Since she is the heir to this kingdom, I know that you will want to barter my goddaughter away in marriage. You will give her to someone you want to rule after you are gone. But I am her godmother, and I say that I want my goddaughter to find true love. So this is my wish: On her 15th birthday, Briar Rose shall fall into a deep sleep. Her body will not age, nor will it need anything. She will exist in a timeless state. She will awaken only to the kiss of her true love.”
It makes me so sick. How could she have been so thoughtless? How could she have dreamed that a fairy could safely wish about something so large? But she did mean well. One thing to be said for Godmother Ficienne, she always meant well. People are already putting about this rumor that I was cursed by a malevolent witch, but that’s just not true. I was cursed by a benign fairy who meant well. Maybe it will even turn out well. In my happier moments I imagine what it might be like, waking up to a kiss, knowing that’s my true love…
But I’m so terrified that it won’t turn out well. Can someone find true love when they’re asleep? What if I don’t have a true love, what if no one ever comes? What if someone stops him from kissing me? I’ve got to find true love or my life is over, over at 15. Why, oh why, didn’t she come up with a time limit or something? Anything so that I don’t just… just lie there in a comatose state until the world ends.
If you’re reading this, I’m probably already asleep. This journal is my last hope. I’m praying that if I can’t find anyone in my 15 years whom the magic will accept as my true love, if I can’t find anyone who can awaken me when I fall asleep, that maybe someone will read this journal and fall in love with me.
I know, I know. It’s not fair to you. It’s too much pressure on you. You’ve never gotten to meet me. How can you guess what I’m really like? I’m trying to tell you – I’m really trying – by now I suspect that the magic will never count it as true love unless you see the real me, so I’m sure trying with everything I’ve got to show you the real me – but I’m not so sure I know what I’m really like. Maybe I’ll try to get Elly or someone to write in here too. For another perspective. But even then, it’s still not fair. I’m begging you to save my life by falling in love with me. To try. But it’s not right to try to force someone to love you. “Please love me – no one else will – my life is ruined without you.” That kind of plea has always disgusted me. By golly, it just ain’t right unless both people want each other just about the same amount, I think. Still – my life is ruined unless someone comes. Maybe you. I guess I really am desperate. But maybe, just maybe, you’re desperate too. Maybe you’ve been hurt. Maybe people have been unfair to you, have demanded that you fulfill responsibilities that you just aren’t cut out for yet. There have got to be other people like that, somewhere, sometime. Right? Please, all I ask is that you think about it, that you give me a chance, that you really look at me as best you can and that if there’s any chance that I will make you happy too, that you will come and kiss me. And if you know you couldn’t fall in love with me, but you know someone else who might, please, please give him this journal and let him try.
September 11th, 530 A.F.: 375 days remaining
But who’s counting?
I’m almost 14 now. Just ten days left. Then just one year until… that day.
I wonder when it will happen. At the beginning of the day? At the end of the day? Will I never wake up that morning? Will I make it through the whole day and then fall asleep for good? But I doubt I’ll sleep a wink either night, except for the magical part.
Maybe I’ll find my true love this year. It is possible. In which case I’ll be sure to burn this diary promptly. Well, as soon as he’s woken me up. It never pays to take chances with magic like this. I know that at least, even if Ficienne doesn’t. Oh, never mind, I probably won’t burn it… but I will treat it more like a normal diary. One which strangers shouldn’t read.
I’m rambling. Sorry. It’s a fault of mine. More so on paper, oddly. I would think that the extra time it takes to write things down would help to control it, but quite the reverse. I guess I just like the feel of the flow of ink. I always have. And you know, thanks to the one and only fairy benefactress whom I really consider to be a benefactress, I remember everything I read. So I like to write a lot down so that I’ll remember it all. Normally I don’t care about the notes afterwards, since I’ll always remember them, so I just use them for kindling or something. But this is more important, obviously.
Wow. I apologized for rambling and then kept rambling. I meant to say that there might be some things you want to know about me. I can’t eliminate the possibility that you’ll be reading this hundreds of years from now. I hope it won’t be necessary… but if it is necessary, I sure hope this journal will last that long… And I guess if that happens, I’d better rely on more than hearsay to tell you the first thing about myself. If you’re one of my close relatives or friends, sorry, I know this’ll get a bit tedious, but you see why I’ve got to go through this, I hope.
My given name is Princess Briar Rose of Middenheim, only child of King Reginald and Queen Auriel. That means that theoretically, whoever marries me is heir to the throne. Practically speaking, I’m not sure anyone knows what to do about the possibility that no one will marry me for another few hundred years. If King Reginald and Queen Auriel are still alive when you read this, that could certainly add another incentive to try to fall truly in love with me, couldn’t it? I’m beautiful – the fairies saw to that – and I can make you heir to a throne besides. Peh. That’s part of what makes it so hard to find true love, you know. There are too many things to distract from me. Now I almost wish I hadn’t told you those things. But I guess there’s no harm in giving you a reason to read the rest, really. It makes it hard for me to sort through who truly loves me and who just loves my face or my crown, but I guess the magic will sort through it right enough. Probably. But then again there might be harm. Do you know your own heart? Do you know what it is you love when you love someone? Does anyone know until something happens like a catastrophic accident which badly scars your loved one’s face, or a sudden disaster which takes away all their wealth? And until you know, how can you attack the misdirected love inside yourself?
Well. I’m not really one for crossing things out. And I tend to think it’ll help to tell you as much as I can. To give you a good honest chance to understand everything that’s going on in my heart as I write this. I guess now you’ve gotten a good dose of my fears and my obsession.
For it is an obsession. But wouldn’t it be an obsession for you too, if you were in my situation?
I think I was five years old the first time I asked someone what they thought true love was. Since then I’ve asked again and again. I’ve watched every happy couple I could find and a number of unhappy couples too. I’ve heard about as many different opinions as there are people willing to give them. Even within the same couple people have different ideas. Who knows what the magic will decide? All the same I’ve come to have a number of definite opinions on the matter. But they’re just opinions, and not really personally informed, for all my relationships have been a disaster.
Still, I think real love must be built on real understanding, don’t you? Understanding what makes the other person tick, what they like, what drives them insane. And I think you should both enjoy being around each other all the time. Not that I think you should never be apart or anything disgustingly clingy like that. I think true love should be built on more than beauty or a throne.
I’m too desperate, you know. Practically every eligible male under the age of thirty I see, I think, Could he be the one to save me? And they always look back, for I am the beautiful princess, after all. And no matter how my heart misgives me, I try to love him… only to discover, time after time, that he may be happy enough to kiss me, but he’s not willing to commit to me first, and he’s practically incapable of taking the time to try to understand me.
I tell myself I won’t be so foolish next time. But when the next time comes, I’m never sure. All I need is one success. Does the number of failures really matter? Is it really right to refuse to pursue a possible relationship just because of a vague misgiving, a suspicion that here once again is a man who is just too different from me?
But then again, it can’t really just be anyone. It has to be someone who would make a decent king down the line. Whoever marries me becomes the heir. That’s a lot of responsibility.
Maybe if I can find my true love, though, he can kiss me and then I can marry someone who would really make a good king. Just because he kisses me and wakes me up doesn’t mean I have to marry him. I suppose it does mean that I will really, really want to. If he’s my true love. Gah. Can I even truly fall in love with a man if all along I think that he would make a lousy king and so I don’t dare ever marry him?
If only I knew what true love means. If only anyone knew.
September 13th, 530 A.F.: 373 days remaining
You know what the worst part about my fairy godmother’s gift is?
She took away my choice, and in doing so, she may have destroyed the kingdom.
She could have set off a war of succession after I’m asleep and my parents are dead.
She could have handed the kingdom to someone who’s never been prepared to rule.
Let alone that she could have as good as killed me. Don’t I have the right to sacrifice true love if it’s necessary? Don’t I have the right to keep my kingdom safe?
No man will ever be the only love of my life. I love my parents. I love my kingdom. I love Elly and Violet and Sunrain. I even love Godmother Ficienne, angry as I am. If I fall asleep and wake up to discover that my kingdom has torn itself apart and my parents, Elly, Violet, and Sunrain are all dead, what will I do? I won’t become happy just because I have true love with some man I never knew before. She will have torn me apart, and who knows how many others into the bargain.
Please, please, please rescue me quickly, while my parents yet live.
But if it’s too late, just rescue me. But be prepared for me to do whatever I can for whatever may be left of Middenheim. I was raised to make it my first priority – Middenheim, not myself, not you, not anyone.Again, I’m sorry. This is so grim, and so unfair to you. I don’t know if you care a thing for my parents or Elly or Violet or Sunrain or even for Middenheim. And how can I ask you to love me, beg you to love me, and then tell you flat out you won’t be my first priority? But you won’t be. You can’t be. I guess it’s more fair than it could be because I’m not asking to be your first priority either. I hope you love Middenheim. Barring that, at least I hope you have friends and family and a country which together mean more to you than I will. Some people think true love is all-consuming. I hope not. Because if so, I really am doomed. I can’t and won’t seek it at that price. So I have to assume it’s not all-consuming. In which case I hope you have other loves too. I don’t need you to be my all in all. I just need you to awaken me and be prepared to help me help Middenheim. In return I’ll help you as best I can.