In their beds the princesses complained about pins and needles. The men collected all the cardboard, plywood, tissue rolls, and bubble wrap; installing it and packing it around them tightly.
The princesses slept better, but it was not perfect. At night their feet turned into ice, while their bodies burned. The men brought their axes and chopped off their feet. They curled up in bed keeping the feet secured between their chins and chests. In the mornings the feet would be lost in the sheets or fallen to the floor. It was still not perfect. The men gazed at the ceiling as the princesses spoke, wishing the men would listen to them. They used their knives to slice off their ears and wrapped them up in soft tissue paper. In the mornings when the princesses woke up, they presented their gifts. The princesses opened their offerings, the papers soiled and heavy with their blood, flitted their eyelashes and said, Thank you.
The men went into the woods to find a rabbit.
Finding one, they slaughtered it
Later, they learned the language of hands. In silence the women weaved tales airing out their grievances. They realized high up in their tower, unable to walk or clip away the ivy strands crowding the window view, they couldn't see the birds. They've been very unlucky and asked for luck. The men went into the woods to find a rabbit. Finding one, they slaughtered it. Leaving behind its body in the forest, they marched home to bring the good fortune. The princesses slept holding the rabbit foot in one hand and their feet in the other, but in the morning they woke up complaining of their dreams and nightmares; of how hands poked and probed them, of how shadows transformed into bodies demanding to be in their presence.
The men stretched the princesses' legs and arms
tying them tight to their bedposts
The men thought long and hard and finally decided that the hands must be cut off as well. The men stretched the princesses' legs and arms tying them tight to their bedposts. Then they tenderly laid the rabbit foot, their cold feet, and their hands around their heads on the pillows like a halo. The women, tired and worn out, decided it was not worth being princesses anymore and closed their eyes; not even bothering to hear the birds chirping just outside their windows.
ART BY NICOLA ROBSON
Nicola Robson is an illustrator from Devon, England. She finds most peace when surrounded by her husband and four pets, and, of course, with a sketchbook in hand. Primarily a digital illustrator, she is now branching out into the world of ink and paint on paper.
Xenia Taiga lives in southern China with a cockatiel, a turtle and an Englishman. xeniataiga.com