I dreamed in darkness, cold and alone. Phantasms shifted around me, frightening me, but I was powerless to escape them or even move, as I was sealed in a casket.
I thought of the Queen, my Stepmother, and tears dripped from my eyes as I considered the quasi-poignant moments we had once shared, when we might have been considered to be close, when the Queen had nearly been a mother to me, and the face of love had shone radiantly upon me, before eclipsed again by the storms of Venus.
I thought of the huntsman, stung to consider that my only friend had been poised to betray me, to kill me, and again in my mind I felt the horror of his shadow, of waiting while he came behind me, knowing there was no escape for me from a death he would inflict.
My heart lifted as images of the Prince entered my mind, his grace atop a white-maned horse, always out of my reach, just beyond the words I longed to speak. If only there had been more time for us to fall in love. He might have saved me from those catastrophes.
But this was death, this powerless waiting. I dreamed of the world into which I had been born, and I dreamed of the world I had made for myself, with the help of my friends. It was a clear, practical world, but without the love for which I had longed, it was not a happy one, and perhaps this darkness was better.
I drifted through dreams and saw things I never saw in life. I wandered through the halls of my castle home and saw the Queen standing before her mirror, adorning herself as she always did. But her face was harder, colder. For the first time, I saw misery in her eyes. I longed to run to her and press my face to her skirts, and promise to make her happy.
But the Queen wanted me dead. It was impossible for me to return. The Queen did not want me.
Then the castle changed, became lighter. I saw cobwebs and rubble vanish before my eyes. I scarcely recognized the place where I walked. The old paintings of my ancestors in the corridors were bright, cleared of grime and smoke stains, and stared down on me with benevolent eyes, reminding me that we were part of one another.
My steps were light. I felt as though I were floating as I drifted into the Queen's chamber and there saw a young maiden, poised in the window, looking out onto the snow-covered courtyard with a beatific expression. Her long, dark hair flowered nearly to her knees, and her pale brow was adorned with a royal diadem.
She pressed one hand to her abdomen. The hand glimmered with a radiant diamond ring. "I wish that she might be as white as this snow-covered ground, as black as the ebony frame of this window, and as red as blood."
I realized then that in the window I beheld the image of my mother, and that through some magic I was being allowed a private moment of my mother's life, when she had learned she would give birth to a child. My heart swelled within me at the sight of her simple beauty. I felt too that I saw a more womanly image of myself.
"This," I whispered, "is what I long to be."
What corruptive evil could have ruined the simple, perfect beauty of this moment? What was death, to corrode this picture of perfect happiness and commit it to dust?
I knew a burning desire to make what was wrong, right. I had never had a mother to love me this way, but could it be, that my mother's dreams lived in me, that I could carry on her goodness and light?
It could not be, if I never awakened. And there was nothing for me to do but wait.
He came for me on a white-maned horse, drifting through the woods like a phantom from a dream to the glass coffin adorned with flowers.
The seven dwarves had laid me to rest with the best riches they possessed, constructing for me an elaborate platform with their precious metals, and announcing my name, Snow White, when my identity would no longer be a threat to my safety. Indeed, now, I was beyond the wrath of the Queen.
The Prince beheld me tenderly as he dismounted and rushed to my side. The dwarves drew back in astonishment, and they knew that this must be the love of my heart, of which I had spoken so briefly and poignantly.
"In life, she was never mine," the Prince mourned, removing the lid of the casket to caress my coal-black tresses. "Let me have her now."
The dwarves could not dispute the Prince's power, and while they felt a certain ownership of my remains, they were forced to stand by as the Prince ordered a cart to transport the coffin to his castle.
The coffin was strapped to the cart and began the rocky journey to the Prince's mountain-top castle.
The apple which had closed off my life and cloaked my mind in darkness was dislodged as I found myself bumped and jostled indecorously on a steep incline.
My eyes flew wide and through the glass of the coffin I was able to look at the vastly-changed landscape around me.
I knocked furiously at the glass until the guards around me were brought to attention. The procession was halted immediately, and the Prince came around to see the cause for commotion.
The guards unstrapped the coffin and I opened the lid in short order, frantic to leave the stifling box. When I fell into the arms of her Prince, I gazed into his eyes, wondering if I had left one dream for another.
"She lives," he whispered. "My Snow White lives."
I looked around, taking in the procession, the coffin, all that had occurred. "Can it be that you have chosen me, even in death?"
He held me close. "I have looked for you for weeks, months. There were rumors at Court that your Stepmother had found a means to dispose of you. I was determined to find out the truth, for such a deed could not go unpunished, and I alone have the power to subdue the Queen. She cannot harm you now. To the end of your life, you will belong to me."
No words were ever sweeter to me. "Take me, then, to the place that is to be my home."