Note: This blog post is about the second half of Sun, Moon, and Talia, an Italian version of Sleeping Beauty. You can read about the first half here.
You are a queen. You have no children. And what is a queen good for, if she’s not producing heirs?
Your husband travels a lot, these days. You see him seldom. After all, what could he be expected to do with you, as useless as you’ve proven to be?
You used to love each other, you think. Things were better than this, at least. But you are too old now for children; even if you had been useful in your youth, it would all be over now.
One day your husband returns, after a journey of many months, with a young girl and two infants in tow. The children have his eyes, his nose, and the girl is a child, fifteen at most. She is small and frightened and confused, but she looks at your husband like he hangs the moon.
You could feel pity for the child. You should, perhaps. She still has baby fat of her own, as well as the lingering traces of the pregnancy. You ask her how it happened, between her and your husband. She tells you she doesn’t know, she was asleep at the time.
You should feel pity.
But you have lived too many years alone, and this is not the first time your husband has chased after children to give him what you can’t. And this one, this one he brought into your home, sat her across the dinner table like it was nothing, her own gorgeous suite of rooms, a thousand beautiful jewels and dresses. All the things he gave you when you were young, as if you were not still here to stand by his side. He leaves your marriage bed cold to visit her every night. You should feel pity. Instead you feel anger. Instead you feel fear.
Perhaps you go mad. Women in your position often do; stories of it date back to the Greek tragedies. Perhaps you go mad. Perhaps you are simply evil. Certainly you are jealous. And this is Sleeping Beauty’s story—there is no room for you as anyone but the villain.
You decide to boil the children, and feed them to their father for dinner. (All right, so you’ve probably gone mad.) The cook is kinder, saner, less invested in this drama than you are. He hides the babies away, and serves your husband lamb.
For the girl herself, sleeping little girl who stole your husband’s heart, and your whole life along with it—for the little girl you take matters into your own hands. The water boils. The child screams. Foolish, selfish girl, her children have been missing for days, but it is only now, as the heat rises around her, that she thinks to be afraid. She screams; your husband comes running.
You burn. You boil. You die. Perhaps the little girl eats you, as you intended to eat her. You don’t know; you’re dead.
You’re dead. You’re dead, and your husband marries the little girl. He raises a family with her. She’ll live happily ever after, perhaps. She doesn’t know any better.
More likely, ten years from now, her husband will bring home another pretty child to replace her.
You burn, you boil, you die. She marries the man who raped her, because what else does she know to do? At least this one can bear children to keep him happy.
You die. It isn’t fair. None of it is fair.