Intermission 1C (Telling Tales)
You Should Close Your Eyes
In celebration of her safe return, the king and queen threw a feast. The princess was bathed by her maids and garbed in her most billowy dress. It was not the dress that her maids had picked out, but the princess knew that she would need to hide food up her sleeves. She wasn’t sure what the spider would like, so she took a piece of everything while visiting wizards, witches, princes, and heroic thieves proclaimed their delight in her health.
After dessert, the princess yawned dramatically, announcing that it was time for bed. This was the first time the princess had ever mentioned bedtime in anyone’s memory. Her parents sat astounded as she kissed them each on the cheek and the crowd of ambitious helpers could only stare in disappointment as she pranced off to bed, confident that the spider would keep its word.
Alone in her bedchamber, the princess laid out a tiny feast on her bedside table. A piece of mutton, a chunk of bread and butter, a cooked parsnip, and a few bites of chocolate cake. The spider lowered itself from the ceiling.
“Oh my, my, my!” the spider exclaimed, “thank you, princess!” It ate with a lusty appetite.
The princess was astounded and a little disturbed at how quickly the spider ate up all the food.
When it was done, the spider sat back and patted its abdomen with the end of one long foreleg. “That was satisfying,” the spider declared. “Now, you go to sleep. Lay down in your bed, put your head on the pillow, and close your eyes.”
The princess agreed, although her experience suggested her doubt was entirely reasonable. Climbing into her bed, the soft sheets and warm blankets of which the princess had not touched in so long, she glanced at the spider crawling along the wall beside her. Her friend had grown larger since they had met, the size of her two hands next to one another. She did not close her eyes.
The spider crawled to the ceiling above her head, hitched a thread there, and swooped down inches above the girl’s face. The princess didn’t flinch.
“You should close your eyes,” suggested the spider.
“I’m not tired,” said the princess, and this was true. She was exhausted and restless all of the time, but she was used to not sleeping.
“Try,” suggested the spider, as it crawled from the princess’ shoulder to the edge of her bed, connecting the first thread there.
Instead, the princess watched as the spider crawled back up to the ceiling. Again the spider swooped down, crawled to the same corner of the bed, and connected a thread a short distance away from the first one. Then back up to the ceiling, and again down to the edge of the bed. The steadiness of the work and the repetitive motions made the princess’s eyelids heavy.
Although it seemed that only moments had passed, the princess realized that a tent of threads now covered her bed from her ceiling to the floor. The spider crawled between the threads, weaving. Another blink and there were spiral designs as delicate as any lace layered between weft and warp. A dreamy thought suggested itself to her that perhaps the spider was not working so fast, but perhaps her eyes were staying shut for longer than a moment.
This was the last thought she had before drifting off to a deep, restful, much needed sleep.