A piece of flash fiction by Lynda Collins based off fractured fairytale writing prompts.

“For God’s sake, wake up.” Sleeping Beauty came to with someone shaking her hard.

“What is it?” Sleeping Beauty sat up, momentarily disorientated.

“We’re wasting the whole day. C’mon, get up! I want to get out and see the city.”

With a groan, Sleeping Beauty got out of bed. She hadn’t slept well at all regardless of the last part of her name, and looking at herself in the hotel’s slightly wonky mirror she wasn’t sure the last part of it was accurate either.

“Come on!”

She sighed again. The Little Mermaid really could be so childish sometimes. She was bouncing on the bed, excitement written all over her face. “I’ve been up for hours.”

“Aye, using up all the hot water, no doubt”

Ariel pouted, flapping her tail a little dismissively. ”I’m a mermaid, you don’t get hot water at the bottom of the ocean. I’m enjoying it while I can- got to strike while the iron’s hot.”

Sleeping Beauty felt a little ashamed at that. Ariel only had two more weeks before she had to go back to the sea, this time for good. After her divorce, King Triton had put his foot- or rather- tail down. His daughter was coming back home to the sea, no arguing.

“It’s the Tower of London today,” said Ariel. “I’m so excited.” She waved a brochure in Sleeping Beauty’s face.

It was a little hypnotic- Sleeping Beauty had to shake her head to stay awake. She sighed- if nothing else she owed Ariel a really good couple of days in London. “Give me two minutes.”

After breakfast they headed out into the city, Sleeping Beauty pushing Ariel’s wheelchair, her tail fully covered with a couple of layers of blankets. The weather wasn’t great, sea fog had rolled in off the Thames, shrouding the buildings in grey. It was nothing like her native country of Freedonia, where the sun shone 18 hours a day and blue birds bred like rabbits.

They paused at a bus stop, Sleeping Beauty having bought a cup of the strongest coffee that Starbucks had to offer, but she still nodded off just for a few seconds.

When she woke up Ariel was nowhere to be seen. She looked around in a panic, finally finding her friend staring in the window of a shop, a Kawasaki dealership.

“Why did you wander off?” Sleeping Beauty tried to keep her voice steady but it quavered somewhere halfway between anger and relief.

“Look,” said Ariel, her nose pressed up against the window. “The motorbikes, they’re so beautiful. Would it- would it be weird if we went inside?”

“Well yes, a bit,” it was hard not to laugh. “I don’t think that either a narcoleptic or a mermaid would be safe on a motorbike.”

Ariel’s voice went whiny. “But I need one.”

“Yeah like a fish needs a bicycle.”