The Sleeping Princess
Everyone talked about the castle behind the high, thorny hedges. For as long as anyone could remember, it had been there, vaguely discernible above the hedge which was as tall as a man. It was said that in there, a beautiful princess was sleeping. An evil fairy had spoken the words that had made the princess and everyone else in the castle fall asleep.
Now and then, over the years, adventurous youths had attempted to penetrate the hedges, but they had all failed – until the day the fearless young prince had arrived. He stood, torn by the thorns, but still more or less intact, above the beautiful princess.
Eagerly, the prince bent to kiss her. Slowly, she opened her eyes, which were blue as a summer sky.
“No! Let me sleep a little longer. I’m tired.”
Mouth agape, the prince stood, staring down at the young, beautiful princess, who was turning away from him and going back to sleep.
In the end, he turned and left the way he had come. He never told anyone what had occurred inside the sleeping castle.
At the Ball
The room was lit up by flickering candle flames. The light cast reflections on the shiny surface of the candelabra, dancing across the floor below. A gently fluctuating susurration could be heard from the groups of guests, who were standing or moving slowly across the floor. A faint fragrance floated on the air, diffused by the air stirred up by the ladies’ fans. The lady seated at the spinet struck a chord and the young people hearkened. The conversations faltered and the ladies lined up by the wall, facing the gentlemen, waiting to begin the dance.
In the eye of the beholder
The house most resembled a rectangular box: even the roof was completely flat. The palette comprised beige, brown and orange, and the interior decoration consisted mainly of rather worn plastic, but the light fell prettily through the windows that afternoon and the house had a safe friendly air. Above all, it was cheap. It was in need of ‘some repair’, according to estate agent’s ad. Their joint income was just about enough, and so they came to be in possession of their first home of their own.
Life or Death
Even in the corridor I heard it. Someone was fighting to draw breath, was choking. By the time I was level with the open door, the hospital staff were already working on the patient. It was nothing to do with me, yet I lingered there, watching the febrile activity. It almost made my own throat constrict. Any time an efficient nurse would be asking me to leave, or simply close the door on me. In any case the victim was waiting for me in a room further off. I, too, had a job to do. As I was walking away, they were still working on the man on the bed. I slowed down, recalling the scene in the room I’d just left. So close – life or death. But that’s no way to be thinking, particularly in my profession. My thoughts turned to the case I’d be investigating and was already beginning to forget the ward I’d passed by.
I remembered her well. Her sharp smile, the look that stung you, though you really didn’t want to care what she said. But you did anyway. She had a knack for making you feel small, stupid and ridiculous, with just a few, short words. And now, here she was, sitting on the steps outside the store, holding her offspring in her arms. If only I hadn’t come. She was smiling as smugly as ever, and I, who couldn’t make myself move, just stood there, returning her smile, though it was the last thing I wanted.