A beautiful girl laid in a glass coffin with eyes open but unseeing and ruby red lips open but not breathing. A tiny bottle on a silver chain laid upon her chest drained of the elixir that had kept her youthful and beautiful for many years. She had taken it from a witch who lured her and many other children from their homes, transforming them into flowers to be part of her personal garden deep in the forest. The girl understood the witch’s need for beautiful things because she herself always desired beauty and sought it everywhere.
During her time as a flower, the girl developed a profound sense of life, realizing that it was ultimately a sum of every small moment and could be fully appreciated in the stillness.
The witch was eventually seduced by a handsome man who killed her, revealing himself to be a religious zealot from the village seeking to eradicate the evil lurking in the forest. He was praised for his victory especially after returning to the village with the missing children who transformed back into humans after the witch’s death.
The girl did not join in their celebration. Instead, she stayed behind to mourn the witch, understanding her loneliness and honest desire for love. Why else would she fall for the deception of the handsome man? That was when she noticed the elixir around the witch’s neck and took it as a keepsake before burying her where the flowers used to grow.
She took a sip, curious as to what affect it would have on her but there was none. It was only when she tried to leave the forest did she realize that she made a mistake. Just beyond the tree line she could see the houses lit warmly from inside where all of the families enjoyed the warm embraces of home. She walked the edge of the forest until nightfall and realized that any attempt to leave was futile. But the despair disappeared as quickly as it set in. She knew that there was no home for her in the village anyway. Orphaned at a young age, no one rose up to claim her so she was sent from the city to live with her grandmother who withered away, barely a whisper always collapsed in her chair. The other children teased her for being a city rat, telling her she had no place in their village.
Living in the forest might not be so bad.
Years passed and the girl realized she wasn’t aging. She knew the witch was old but always wondered how she maintained a young and beautiful appearance. One day, an old woman visited the witch’s cottage and sat on the bench beside the garden, staring at the scenery. Even with the witch dead, no one from the village dared enter this far into the forest much less an old woman. Only very few knew where the witch’s cottage was – the old woman was one of the missing children from so long ago. It was a strange feeling, to see how long time had passed and not see its affect in herself.
The girl continued drinking the elixir, but upon drinking the last drop she feared the decay of time and collapsed upon the witch’s grave in a fit of tears.
She didn’t want to age.
And she didn’t want to die.
The girl’s cries reached the witch’s bones, which emerged from the ground and with their last ounce of magic, fashioned an ivory coffin. The girl could feel the witch’s last wish to preserve her beauty and heard a whisper on the wind thanking her for her kindness.
The girl continued sobbing, her cries reaching the moon, which knew the witch and pitied the girl, because it too understood the need to be beautiful. So it cast an ancient spell that would preserve the girl throughout eternity in a deep slumber by sealing the coffin in glass. The spell had an underlying side to it however as most spells do and condemned any who would try to move or awaken her with death. For if she left the glass coffin then the spell would break, and she would become subject to the unforgiving nature of time.
After a long while, a great tree grew around the princess, its roots snaking around the glass coffin until only the faintest glint from the sun hitting the glass surface could be seen, if one looked closely enough.
One day a lone traveler entered the forest on his way home despite the wary warnings to stay away from it. Many claimed it was haunted by the witch killed many years ago and trapped any humans daring enough to enter it.
He thought it would be a quicker route so he made his way through, but when he grew tired he rested beside a large tree. A faint glimmer caught his eye and he looked down on the root he sat on. The roots were wrapped around an object he couldn’t quite see, though the closer he peered through the dense mass of roots he glimpsed a glass surface.
Curiosity piqued, he wanted to know what hid within the roots, so he withdrew his axe and began to cut them away. The tree groaned loudly as he did so and the eerie sound echoed throughout the forest.
Finally, he uncovered a glass coffin with a beautiful girl within it. He placed his hands on the side and tried to push it open but it wouldn’t budge. She looked serene but she didn’t belong in there. The witch’s ghost he’d heard about could have trapped her.
He remembered the stories his mother told him when he was young about princesses under curses awoken with kisses by the princes who came to rescue them. He was no prince, but she looked like a princess so perhaps he could be the one to rescue her. He swung his axe in an attempt to rupture the glass but right as his axe reached the surface he was struck with a fiery sensation that coursed throughout his body and he fell down dead. However, a small crack marred the glass surface, which the roots immediately concealed.
Other travelers passed through and discovered the glass coffin, and their bodies were added to the remains that piled around it, which decomposed into the earth and resurfaced as beautiful wildflowers. One after another left a mark on the glass surface until it became a splintered cobweb of cracks ready to break under the slightest pressure.
One day a prince rode through the forest in a desperate attempt to flee a political marriage. He was a confused and disquieted prince who felt burdened by the weight of his crown but dearly loved the people. He thought the journey would help him clear his head. On his way through the forest he noticed the mass of wildflowers surrounding a large tree, which he thought looked like bones. He knelt and collected a few, placing them in the breast pocket of his coat.
A gleam caught his eye and he approached the tree noticing upon a closer inspection a glass coffin covered in roots that were brittle and mangled. He brushed them aside and saw a beautiful girl asleep in the coffin. He envied her serenity; to be at peace forever felt like a dream to his wearied heart.
The glass was covered in cracks looking like it would shatter any moment. He delicately placed his hand against the surface and it gave way under his palm. Even as the glass shards fell all around her, she remained still and he would not dare disturb her peace.
Instead, he decided to crawl into the coffin beside her, the glass shards cutting into his palms but he didn’t care. The moon took pity on his restless heart, so it resealed the glass and cast a spell that put him in a deep slumber where he would remain at complete peace for eternity beside the beautiful girl.