The Spindle's Spell
1220 words long
When the witch sent her into a hundred-year sleep, the princess and her palace entered the wild country...
Notes from the author:
I always had a hard time with the fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty." I couldn't picture the spindle on the spinning wheel that sealed her fate. Learning to spin didn't help, because most modern wheels don't have spindles at all. The only spindles I knew were drop spindles and supported spindles, neither of which are wheel-powered. And in the Disney movie, what the princess pricks her finger on isn't even a spindle at all, but a distaff, the spike that holds the unspun fiber from which one drafts the thread.
Not being able to visualize a story as I read it is an itch inside my skull I have no way to scratch. The problem of the weaponized spindle really bugged me.
Eventually I sat down and did some research and found out about spindle-style wheels and how they work. It was such a relief! Finally I could visualize that climactic moment in "Sleeping Beauty" and the placement of the titular doodads in Robin McKinley's Spindle's End. Mystery solved. Now I just need to learn how to use one.
The princess woke, still panting from the nightmare. The witch had walked through the palace—no one could stop her—the witch had taken her by the hand—she couldn’t refuse—the witch had led her into a room that did not exist, full of people who couldn’t be real, had set her to tasks no one ever requires of princesses—she had hurt her hands, she had pricked her finger, she had bled upon the flax—
She looked down. Her hand was whole. It had to have been a dream.
She rang the bell to summon her maid and stretched luxuriantly while she waited. And waited. The maid did not appear. Growing impatient, she rang the bell again. When this second attempt yielded no better results, she huffed a sigh and alighted from the bed. She shivered; the room was cold. No one had been in to tend the fire. It had gone out.
She dressed herself, having no alternative, and soon found additional evidence of the servants’ neglect. No breakfast tray awaited her in the antechamber. No footman stood to attention outside her door. The halls were empty of attendants, the curtains had not yet been drawn back, and the wall sconces still held the remains of last night’s candles. The wax had been allowed to puddle on the floor. By the time she found her absentee maid in the kitchen wagering at cards with the bootblack and the porter, she was half-blind with fury, and half-missed the wretch when she slapped her across the face.
“Oh! And what was that for?” cried the maid, rubbing her face and glaring hot daggers at the princess. Her table companions bristled too, rising from their seats.
The princess, expecting her to cower and curtsy, was rendered momentarily speechless. The only words she could find—and it took some searching to find them—were, “How dare you?”
The worthless girl laughed. She did! Right in the princess’s face! “I should ask you the same, your used-to-be Highness,” she said. “Have you not noticed where we are?”
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for May 6, 2016. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1220 words) from Patreon in PDF or MP3 format depending on their pledge tier.
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