41. Life May be a Bed of Roses, but Memory Foam has Fewer Thorns

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Dearest Reader,

Because I care so deeply for you, I try not to include many dreams in my stories. For me, as a reader, I find them very disappointing. Either they get your hopes up that some great thing occurred, and then you find out it didn't. Or you're horrified and spend a lot of emotional energy being upset, only to find out it was a nightmare that never happened.

So manipulative!

That being said, I am going to include a short dream here. It won't get your hopes up or let them down.

But it serves a purpose, which will soon become apparent.

I hope you enjoy it!

So ... without further ado, we now fly through the narrative, into an alternate universe, where we traverse the sky, trees, glass, flesh, and bone, and find ourselves inside the unconscious brain of our heroine, Princess Ashley.

Watching the velvet-draped dancers spin and dip beneath the dais, Ashley gripped the gem-studded arms of her gilded throne, even as her palms bled from the sharp facets of the diamonds, rubies, and emeralds.

The air was redolent with wine and summer roses, and Ashley's pulse matched the swell and ebb of the music—her heart obeying the strings' rhythm.

The music sped, and the ladies' gowns swirled in hypnotic pirouettes.

No one noticed that blood seeped from the dancer's shoes, streaking the white marble red. Ashley wanted to rise from her throne and warn them, but she could not move. She could not speak. The throne was a prison, and she was merely another sparkling bauble fixed upon it.

A lump swelled in her throat, threatening to cut off her air. She saw fear in the eyes of the fevered dancers. The music controlled them as well.

A ghostly voice spoke to her in shivered whispers, confiding that she alone could stop the madness, but ghosts make poor messengers. They never tell you how anything is to be done.

The dancers crushed toward the stage, looking up at her, pleading. This was when she recognized faces—Layyin, her guards, Gerald, Terrowin, her ladies-in-waiting, the court, the villagers.

The room slowly filled with blood, and still, she could not move.

Laughter drifted down from the string players stationed upon the balcony. Ashley looked up and caught the glittering eyes of the musicians—Druscilla, Marveloni, and Charming. She tried to look away, but they gripped her in their gaze.

She woke, sweaty and shaken, pulse rushing.

A dream, only a dream, she told herself before the memory scattered like autumn leaves.


Here's what's sad—the fact that Ashley found herself in a glass coffin on a bed of roses was by no means the worst part of Ashley's day.

Not that being entombed in that old standby of fairy tales—the glass coffin—was much fun. Ashley's hands lay demurely on her chest, clutching a single rose, the bloom brushing against her chin.

The rose fragrance was fine, but beneath her, thorns stabbed into her back.

It turns out that life was like a bed of roses—sweet aroma, velvety petals, and bursts of color, but sheathed in thorns. You cannot have one without the other. The important thing was to be cautious and gather some joy while avoiding as much pain and blood as possible.

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