The Sleeping Mistress

– Based on a true story –

Once upon a time, Saline was born in the small kingdom of Sobra. She was beautiful, kind, and capable of thought.

Too much kindness can be a burden and so it was for Saline. Her kindness prevented her from competing for fame, fortune, and power. When a sister requested coins from her piggybank she would give. When a friend wanted her toy, she would let him have it, and when her mother asked her to do an unnecessary chore, she would do so without complaining.

Saline’s wishes remained unfulfilled since she did not want to fight for them. By the time she turned into a young woman, she surrendered to melancholy, but she didn’t want to bear her troubled heart. She visited Sobra’s archmage and asked him for the magical spade. First, the old wizard refused, but when she threatened to take her life on his doorstep he gave in. He was a wise man and knew when to respect a person’s path, even if it lead into darkness. He worked all night. At dawn he handed Saline the magical shade that glowed with a somber promise. She thanked the old wizard and went home where everybody was still asleep. With the magical spade, she dug a deep hole in the garden. In that hole she laid her heart, covered it with earth, and crowned it with a large pebble. She mourned her heart for an hour and then left Sobra to never return.

Saline travelled from kingdom to kingdom to find life to be the same everywhere. Struggle for survival and success was the order of every single day. Though heartless, she was still kind, and when she passed by a beggar she would give in to his pleading. She even lend her body if someone so desired. When she missed her heart, she sought oblivion potions that witches sold in the dark alleys. And so she turned into a living ghost, a soul lost in daydreams, while her body was tossed back and forth between men.

One day, Saline ended up in the arms of a rich man named Rasmus. He noticed her brightness and kindness and fell in love with her. He took her to a tower and made a residence for her in the top chamber. “You deserve a safe haven,” Romulus told her. In that chamber they became lovers.

He did not allow Saline to drink the oblivion potions she grew accustomed to. So, she dulled her mind with sleep and dreams. She resented dawn which called her to life. She covered the windows with thick curtains and slept through the day to wake up at dusk. That’s how she got her nickname ‘sleeping mistress’.

Saline grew lonely in the chamber at the top of the tower. Rasmus was a man of life and fulfilled his duties. He could visit her only a few hours at night. She asked her lover to buy beautiful and rare things. But since she was heartless, Rasmus’ presents could make her happy only for a short while and she would soon toss them into the corner.

As time passed, Rasmus couldn’t find new things for Saline anymore. She demanded a pet that should keep her company. Pets are happy, maybe it can make me happy too, she thought. Pets are creatures of life and like to roam, but Saline didn’t allow her pet to leave the chamber. Much too soon, the pet’s heart gave in and it turned into a sleeping pet. And so it happened with all other creatures Rasmus brought to keep Saline company. This is how the first year passed.

It so happened that at the summer solstice of the second year, the sun was exceptionally strong and Saline woke up in the middle of the day. She tried to go back to sleep, but this time she couldn’t escape. She sat up in her bed and looked around her chamber to find something to distract her mind. She rummaged through the pile of luxuries in the corners, but found nothing that spurred her interest. She tried to wake up her sleeping pets, but they just glared at her and went back to sleep. The entire afternoon, she sat at the window and stared down at the busy kingdom, waiting for Rasmus, but that day he didn’t come.

“Life or no life, that is the question,” she mumbled. “Heart or no heart, that is the question.”

After the sun set, she took her cape and left the tower. She went to see the archmage of the kingdom to request a magical potion. First, the old wizard refused, but when she threatened to kill herself at his doorstep he gave in. He worked all night. At dawn he handed her the potion that glowed with the sweetest promise. Saline held the potion tight and rushed home. In her chamber she sat on the bed, surrounded by her sleeping pets. She winked at the dawn who called her to life and drank the potion. She laid down and closed her eyes to slumber evermore.

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