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Sleeping Beauty (Part 5)
“And so they all lived happily ever after? She didn’t die.” the angel pointed out to God.
“No. She didn’t,” God replied. “Yet.”
“Wait. She survived. And she’s not going to be able to dance again. Her beauty is gone. Isn't that enough? Isn't that what you wanted?”
“She was supposed to die. This year. Today. Your pleading and begging granted her a little longer. “
“ Please God. She deserves to live. To live forever. You already made her life hell.”
“And now I’ll make it heavenly.” The angel didn’t laugh. “There is no point in her living past this point. Her life mission has been accomplished.”
“And what exactly was her life mission?”
“She changed his life. Forever.”
“One boy’s life? She could have impacted millions. Give her one more chance. You’re big on second chances.”
God sighed. “I cannot. This is one story that is not meant to be changed.”
“The story hasn’t ended yet.”
“But it will. And it will end how and when I choose for it to end.”
From his dreams, she came to reality. She came back, different, changed, but still Jenna. Part of her was gone, left in that cold artificial hospital. Her dreams, her life, her dancing. Half of her body was gone. She wore baggy pants and very few people noticed. Rafi noticed. She didn’t walk with the same aliveness, the same joy. She wore hats every day. Yet life went on in the slow dismal fashion that it does. Senior year was almost over; their lives were just beginning. Rafi sometimes wished he had something to look forward to, something in life to hold on to, other than the hypothetical Karen of his imagination. He had Jenna though. He had half of Jenna.
He missed late nights at the ballet studio, just the two of them, divided by a thin wall of glass.
They walked to the studio one night in February, their feet crunching on ice. They peered in, breathing on the windows until they fogged up the glass. They traced their names in swirls in the cloudy glass. They walked around the side of the building. Rafi pulled out his pocketknife, but Jenna had the key. She pulled it out from around her neck, inserted it into the lock, and twisted. A wave of dust cascaded on them. No one had been here for a while. The floor was covered in a layer of fine dust, hushing their footsteps to oblivion. The mirrors were coated so that they couldn’t even see each others reflections. All that was left was reality. Yet Jenna it seemed, saw something far in the distance. Her green eyes were far off, seeing something greater. She began to move. Slowly, she began to dance. It was clunky and awkward and nothing like before. Rafi sat down on the dusty floor and watched her, as she used one leg, moving around the room, darting from place to place. Her movements caused some of the old dust to fall from the mirrors. For both of them, there was clarity. For both of them, there were tears. Jenna’s movements became slower and slower. Her arms drooped like wilting flowers; her artificial leg dragged behind her, something left behind in the ruins. Her fingertips were uplifted to heaven. A silent scream, and she fell into Rafi’s lap. She fell hard. Her eyes were blank, staring into infinity. This time, her chest was still, her heart frozen over. He carried her in his arms. Out the door, down the street. There was a park there, a park he remembered well. He sat with her on the bench, and her legs fell limply out of his lap, dragging on the ground. Gently, he shut her eyes. Gently, he kissed her. Gently, he willed for her to come back to life. He prayed for a fairy tale ending. Gently, God said no. There was a harsh snow falling, and he turned to it for help. In all its delicacy, it turned away. He turned away from her then, laid her down on a bed of ice.
He looked to the sky, to the slowly drifting snow. “You win,” he whispered.
He turned to Jenna. His breath was soft on her cheek. “You are the fairest of them all,” he whispered.
He turned his back on her then. He turned his back on the world and said good-bye to perfection and happily ever afters.
“And so they all lived happily ever after,” whispered a boy in heaven.
And God murmured, “The end.”