by Ciaran Parkes
They're saying now it was aggravated rape and--news just in--they're throwing in first-degree murder as well.
It seems one of the palace guards, still groggy from his hundred-year sleep, tripped over the battlements on his way to rescue the screaming princess.
But how is that my fault? I ask my designated lawyer who, most of the time, still seems half asleep, just waking up long enough to grunt out replies.
Any death that occurs during a perpetrator's crime is their responsibility, he replies, a basic point of law.
His habit of referring to me as the perpetrator doesn't give me much hope of getting off.
I've long ago given up trying to insist that it was only a kiss. Not rape. That, after hacking my way through a few miles of rose thorns, it seemed, for some mysterious reason, the right thing to do. That if I hadn't stumbled along they'd all still be stretched out, snoring.
I don't say any of this. We just sit there, the walls dripping, the archetypal deepest dungeon beneath the castle moat. Me contemplating my imminent execution, or life sentence or whatever. The lawyer trying to stay awake.
His parting shot doesn't make things any better.
You do know she was underage, he tells me. Nobody likes a child molester.
It turns out she was about to turn eighteen the morning after I arrived. And eighteen, in this kingdom , is the legal age of consent.
She was only seventeen, he says, as he gets up to leave, shaking his head at me sorrowfully.
Only a hundred and seventeen you mean, I shout after him, but he's already gone, the massive oak and iron door thudding shut behind him.