She wasn’t a special princess; there was nothing in her looks or her demeanour that made her noticeable. There was nothing worth capturing about her. No obvious gift that could be capitalised on. No talent worth stealing.
She was, in fact, the very example of ordinary.
Almost useless really.
Certainly having very little value.
A not-quite-princess who had never been born worthy, and would probably live a completely pointless life before dying a quiet, unassuming death.
Why would anyone take her captive?
As she pondered this puzzle, letting her not-quite-princess heart take a beating from the internal dialogue, she noticed something strange. The castle appeared to be growing, shooting further into the sky like a sun-flower in the height of summer.
That couldn’t be possible?
She poked her head out the window, and yes, sure enough, the ground was further away. The knotted rope now hung several feet higher, the air felt thinner, and most startling of all, there were several builders encamped at the bottom, lifting the tower to place more bricks underneath.
Completely incredulous and not understanding either their strength or their reasoning, she called down to ask would they please consider not building her tower, and in fact, would it be possible to make it at all smaller?
But the worker men did not answer her, and in fact moved faster; pushing as many blocks underneath the building as possible, and, from this view, barely breaking a sweat whilst doing so.
The not quite princess was quite disheartened, and yet, sadly, not at all surprised.
They had no need to listen to her; she, of course, had no real value. It was probably better that they put her further away.
As her heavy thoughts weighed her down, the castle tower rose ever higher, and the disheartened not-quite-princess sank down on to her hard, cold, scratchy bed and fell into a restless sleep. There she dreamt of running through the poppy laden fields, a giant troll chasing her down, intent on capture. She was the most beautiful princess in her dreams, and the cleverest, and most talented. The exact opposite of ordinary, and the trolls and all the people of the land knew her name.
When she awoke, her eye was immediately drawn to the setting sun outside her window. How had she never noticed if before? The sky was painted the most brilliant shades of pink and orange, with tinges of yellow alighting on the clouds that were floating in over the ocean. A beautiful landscape so perfect and unadulterated; an amazing world that she longed to touch, and feel and be a part of.
She looked down to see if the builders were still performing their super human feats of strength, but they had left. The castle rested firmly on the grassy earth below, and once again she was alone.
A pity. She would have liked the company.
She would have also liked to give them a piece of her mind. Now she had awoken from a nap, she was almost indignant. She may not be a princess with any great value, but she was a lady, and as such deserved at least acknowledgement of her requests. Honestly, didn’t they care that she…
The not-quite-princess fell backwards as the castle literally sank into the ground. With a start she jumped up and raced back to the window to see what was going on, and noticed that she was a little closer to the earth again. The knotted rope hung lower than it had. Clearly the work of the builders was sloppy; either that or the entire world was sinking. She was not concerned too deeply either way; just relieved she sat closer to the earth.
But what has become of the builders?
And why had the castle sunk?
And why had all these questions suddenly arisen today, when she had lived her life so blissfully unaware before?
The sun was sitting low now, so the not-quite-princess reached into her cupboard and recovered a candle and matches. Lighting the stick, she sat on a rug on the floor gazing into the flickering flame that grew ever brighter as night encroached. In not too long, the light from that lone piece of wax was all there was, and the not-quite-princess treasured it for keeping the darkness at bay.
Retreating to the kitchen table, with a hastily constructed meal, she set the candle in its holder next to the stone wall, and picked up her fork, when she noticed something. A flicker in the stone. As if it was not quite smooth, but etched with something.
A drawing maybe?
Or was it a word?
The not-quite-princess took her lonesome flame and held it as close to her captive walls as she could without snuffing it out; shifting it up and down, avoiding as best the shadows, in order to read the words.
Yes, they were words.
But not just one. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Each block inscribed with writing identical to that from her own hand, and etched in such a way, that it appeared that the very words had formed the walls themselves.
But this was not anywhere near as disturbing as the uttering themselves. For they were uttering. The more she gazed, the more she became aware of the quiet hum of the building.
The walls spoke.
The blocks called their names, and the constant refrains that she had used to create them unknowingly in the first place, burrowed into her heart.
Not worth it.
And there was the final blow; her name itself inscribed over and over again, not only defining who she was, but holding her captive in a castle she had built herself.
To be continued