A Gentle Awakening

[WARNING: Sexual content and perversities.]

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"Come, night. Come, Romeo. Come, thou day in night,

For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night

Whiter than new snow upon a raven's back.

Come, gentle night; come, loving black-browed-night,

Give me my Romeo...

And give me dreams, mirrors, unrealities."

The dearest, the loveliest, the fairest, rose.

For hundreds of years has she lain dormant, a volcano heart encased in a veil of ice. Gossamer light glints along her brow, her lips, and her breasts barely palpable beneath the sheath of fragile lace. Her hands are folded across her chest like an Egyptian sarcophagus; but unlike their stolid forms, she is an artistic contour of the finest calligraphic brush, a painted angel of a cathedral's cloudy heights. As the prince moves closer, he can see that her womb is empty, her conscience is void, and that he, only he, can fill it - and bring her back to life.

Yes, the Prince whispers. My Sleeping Beauty, my lovely rose.

He is a handsome prince and he knows it, possessing a rare beauty only rivalled by that of seraphs. Golden curls wash along his pleated shoulders, and the lines of his back ripple like angel's wings. He wears armour of beaten gold laced in curlicues and silver in the pattern of gothic crosses. Indeed, he is a finest connoisseur of all things dark and artistic, with a love for poetry, Shakespeare, and odd anomalies: black-scarab rings, naked coffins, ruby-crusted corsets. These he bring back to his castle to display in glass cases. They are forbidden from ordinary people. Those who peek, unfortunate souls, are stretched on torture racks.

His armour is like the sun, and she, Sleeping Beauty, like the moon.

The sun shall eclipse the moon.

The Prince steps closer. How lovely is the light as it strikes her golden hair, the rich canopy of silk and tasselled embroidery! Yes, the golden cloth of tapestry: tapestries that tell ancient tales of old, where unicorns roamed and knights clashed and maidens waited to be claimed. His mother used to weave such lovely fabrics. He would bury himself into them, the falling skies of royal blue and purple rain, the golden sun-rays and brilliant white, and inhale her odour, her essence, the tender womb that had borne him. Mother. How he longed to approach this pale, dignified woman in her stark widow's gown and black wimple, not as a courteous son addressing an illustrious madame; but as his own father, gathering her into his arms and onto the royal bed. Sleeping Beauty is like her. But at the same time she is someone else.

He runs a finger down her marble front; her skin so soft and supple that his nails break the flesh and leave behind a palest path of red. He whispers:

"If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:

My lips, two blushing pilgrims stand,

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss."

Silence! And then the Prince falls onto his knees before the goddess-figure, places her arms above her. He slides his hands onto her ivory neck and kisses her. He hooks into the silky sinews of velvet, into the faint rose perfumes of dormant flesh, lapping his tongue along the curve of her jaw, her stem-neck. Does she live? Does she breathe? Yes, she trembles like a flower beneath his touch; the silken blankets rise and fall with her belly. He kisses her eyes. Then he slides to the cavern of her mouth and fills it, completely, with his moist and fervent love.

Does she stir? Only blankets and lace stir as he kisses deeper, curling his tongue into her surprisingly moist one, as he slowly raises himself onto the bed so he can feel his groin teasing against her skirts, the cream between her thighs on his hot hand. (She is not dead, merely asleep.) Dust swirls in the shaft of light that pierces through the solitary window. He leans back to look at her. She is so old she can be a statue; she is so raw she can be a stone angel, a child with frozen eyes and wings praying by a grave. She can be naked Venus by the waterfall, her flesh opalescent with the dew, seductive with its linen drapery slipping past her hips. But marble is ancient, stagnant. Statues bridge towards death. On odd days of repentant thought, he will weep by a statue of the Virgin Mary, touching her spidery veins and rain-worn surfaces; he will caress her open, motherly hand, and lean his head against her breasts. His tears will mingle with the rain. But where marble had been ancient, dead, Sleeping Beauty is a vessel of the purest spring and snow.

Her lashes quiver in the light. He does not see the slightest tremble in her white fingers, which he had threaded through her hair.

(And Romeo found sleeping Juliet one morning in a dead Verona tomb. Romeo held her hand and whispered poems in her ear. Did he ever fondle that dead body, so peaceful in its death-like slumber, while ancestral bones lay scattered among the leaves and perfumes? Did the dark, secret shade of necrophilia ever creep into his eyes?)

"-Ah, dear Juliet,

Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe

That unsubstantial death is amorous,

And that the lean abhorrèd monster keeps

Thee here in dark to be his paramour?"

The Prince shall be her death's paramour.

Her breasts rise and fall ever so slightly beneath its sheath of lace and ribbon. With an artist's touch, he strips apart the ribbon and massages the slight yet sculptured satin, the breasts opulently shaped by her whalebone corset. He bites apart the ribbons one by one until the bodice slips. He slides his lips to her nipples, the faintest taste of spring and lily in his throat, and he kisses them, moaning as he laps their bud-like innocence with his lust, as he bites into their hard points; and his hands stray into human, foreign lands below of downy valley. She trembles in the inertia of his touch; the contours of her breast rise and fall in quicker succession. He entwines his legs around her twitching ones. He smoothes over the cathedral architecture of her frame, as he adorns her slender frame and hips with heat, with scent, with nakedness. She is so young she is perfect, a virgin on the saturated cusp of womanhood.

Does she speak, this maiden awakening from her slumber, this girl awakening to the world? She stirs one arm above her. The Prince encloses her like a snake.

My angel, my saint. When I open my eyes, I can watch your innocent repose, as a father watches his daughter, my precious; and when I close them, I can tear you as an animal raking its juiciest, most tender cadavers; saving, for the last and most delicious meal, your ripe maidenhood, and you will become a different being altogether. As you become this new entity, your old will die; my burning kisses will strip the virgin veil from your rose-blood orifice, my fiery member will raise you on phoenix's wings. Tell me, will you shudder as I part your legs, as I stroke one last time the velvet flesh of your inner thighs, as I touch my lips to the warm, palpating diadem in between?

His name in truth is Death, Prince Death, though his curls are like the sun, and his armour is gold, metal pressed hard against her white palpable body. He in truth brings death and decay to this vessel of life. He will kill Sleeping Beauty.

She shudders more now, a chill that seems to rattle through her spine and to her very core. There is a different shadow altogether in the cleaving, saturated air, as though the ghosts of the castle, who watched silently over their princess, are awakening.

Prince Death knows just what to do.

Hands in her hair, hot and trembling hands, he thrusts his manhood into her, dragging her straight up from the bed or the grave. Her eyes fly open, creased in shock: a mirror of his Sun-soul, him. She stiffens; she is an enchanted wall threatening to close on its intruding angel, she moans. He thrusts deep to the hilt. And eyes closed in rapture, he pulses into her like one growing into her, hand to hand, limb to limb, flesh to palpating flesh.

I am going to awaken you, fair Juliet, from your peaceful dreams, your child's dreams of the past.

I am going to give you full, ripe breasts, a crown of hair on your virgin diadem.

I will stretch you like a violin string across the violin waves of your bed, and I am going to pluck this string and produce an infinitesimal stream of divine melody.

And I am going to kill you, Sleeping Beauty.

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Whiteness, ecstasy, the flame of a new dawn; a saturated metal fire of the apocalypse, burning, melding, dying day.

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The fire dies.

Blinking, he sees a cold and filthy apartment. In one corner there's a window covered with cheap plastic blinds that you can buy at any hardware store. To the right there's a bed, close and insignificant. Overhead there's a shitty bulb that gives hardly any light; it casts finger shadows on the concrete walls, and sometimes there are skeleton-shadows of beer bottles and screaming voices, all melding into one endless chaos. The city lies below.

What is real: the present, the castle, or his mirror-mind?

The bed may seem insignificant but there's a girl strapped there, a victim or nonentity perhaps of his most recent passion; strapped here for so long she has forgotten how to move.

Examine her.

She's starved on the soiled bed for days. The tape is merciless, it binds her aching arms and legs to each corner of the bed and glistens with sweat and tears. You can see her articulated ribs and ragged breasts through her filthy nightshirt; you can smell decay. The bed is stained in urine and feces and vomit because she has not moved for days.

He fucks her for long hours and does not notice.

(He whispers to her stories of castles and dragons and wild, streaming virgins. He says to her, you will be my Sleeping Beauty, forever asleep in this white bed, and I will be your Prince.)

Now she is comatose, dead or asleep.

When he shifts she falls against him with full unsupported weight; her eyes shut and her ragged hair flies around her like a doll's. Her expression is closed. He closes his eyes and he chokes on the taste of acid vomit in his mouth.

He will offer her bowls of ashes and flowers and vinegar water. He will say, "Arise, my darling,my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone." He will run a finger down her shoulder blades, her emaciated angel's wings, and perhaps break the skin once more and leave a path of red.

And will he weep? Perchance, in the fevered glare of his nightmarish mind.

THE END

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The quotes are credited as follows:

Romeo and Juliet: III, 2, Lines 17-23; I, 5, lines 104-107

Song of Songs 2:10