Alexis was unaware of the time when sleep had claimed him. Perhaps it had been the moment he had relaxed into this fairy-tale, perhaps it had been later; but he was very much aware of the coolness of the sheets, and the emptiness beneath his hand. He opened his eyes slowly, much like a child who is afraid of a sound in the dark.

Unlike the child, his initial thought was true:

She was gone.

He caught his breath, yearning for her like he should not yet have learned to. Was she gone for good? Had that tiny blue butterfly flown from his grasp...and taken the princess with it? Perhaps this wasn't meant to be his fairy-tale after all. He sat up, wiping at his eyes as though he could chase away the scene before him, but the emptiness remained. A heart-felt sigh, and he was standing. Jeans, shirt, shoes; a hurried glance in the mirror at the pallor that had become him; the bluish circles beneath his eyes...He was gone.

But the room wouldn't miss him.

The End

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