Waking Beauty by Lyn C. A. Gardner

The time they lose is not the same as mine.
No spell decreed they’d not decay with time
Like cheese and cherries, chocolate, even wine
That blackens to a sludge, drips free in slime ‘”
No life but mold within this cage of mine.

Our clothes thinned out with heat, with cold, with rain,
Till wind cleared final threads to clean my frame.
Friends, family crumble round me, long past pain
(I weep in dreams but slumber just the same) ‘”
My family rots ‘” statues of dust remain.

He sneaks in, spooked to see he’s not alone ‘”
But gray protectors’ shadowed eyes can’t roam.
He chuckles, knocks off heads, climbs on the throne
While gray dust flurries, falls on me like foam.
He sees me naked ‘” I can’t even groan.

He seals it with a kiss. I wake to spleen:
All that I’ve suffered bursts out in a scream:
The fairy, family, princeling libertine ‘”
I throw him off and brain him with a beam.
The worst is I’m awake ‘” alone ‘” the queen.

My family’s dead, land ravaged ‘” queen of none.
They’d live in dreams, but anxious sleep won’t come ‘”
Or brings slow deaths and prince’s cruel fun.
Insomniac, slept up a lifetime’s sum,
I’m trapped in waking nightmares. Evil’s won.

BIO: A catalog librarian by day, Lyn C. A. Gardner has had stories and poems published in venues like Abyss & Apex, Challenging Destiny, Cinema Spec, The Doom of Camelot, The Leading Edge, Legends of the Pendragon, Mythic Delirium, Not One of Us, Talebones, and Traps, among others. With Cy Dillon, she edits the journal Virginia Libraries. Visit www.gardnercastle.com for more.

IMAGE: Magdalena Fabius, Georges de La Tour, 1628-1645