Let’s say that not long after Prince Orsini returned home from years at war, his wife, Giulia Farnese, passed away. Let’s say instead of building her an austere family tomb, Orsini commissioned a sculpture garden full of monsters and mythical beings for her ghost to play in, where every sight and every angle was slightly off kilter. Let’s say Orsini conjured a place where each turn posed a riddle, and each grotesque carving held a secret. Let’s say that after the prince died, his spirit joined his wife’s and they chased each other through the rooms of the slanted house, and around the tips of Pegasus’ wings. Let’s say their ghosts lay down together upon the cold skin of the reclining woman.

Let’s say Orsini’s descendants thought the garden odd and eccentric, and let the bushes spread wide and the brambles grow tall. Let’s say this Sleeping Beauty space waited centuries for the kiss of life from Dali himself. Let’s say Dali peeked through the dense thicket and found himself gazing up at a towering basalt siren. Let’s say that his passion, and later, the labour of the Bettini family, who had acquired the land, set the monsters free and opened up gardens for all.

Let’s say I’m wandering around the Sacro Bosco today, cowering at the feet of fighting giants, laughing at a screaming mouth, cooling my fingers in Neptune’s pool. Let’s say the sunlight dappling the path is Dali winking at me. Let’s say the faint breeze playing in the conifer fingers is the whisper of the lovers: the prince and his princess. Let’s say this is my kind of happily ever after. Let’s say I hope my ghost and that of my paramour will make their way here someday.

Bayveen O’Connell has words in Ekphrastic Review, Maryland Literary Review, Reckon Review, Fractured Lit, Janus Literary, Bending Genres, The Forge Lit, and others. She came third in the Janus Literary Spring Story Prize 2021, and received a Best Microfiction nomination in 2019. She lives in Dublin and is inspired by myth, history and folklore.