Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there lived a very average looking girl, who wasn’t quite a princess. Well she was a princess, in so far as all girls are, of course, princesses, but from royal stock she did not hail. For the most part, she was quite happy about that.
There was a certain beauty in perfect ordinariness that she couldn’t help but admire.
Now in most stories that begin with the description of a fair maiden, a villain soon enters the scene, hell-bent on the damsel’s imminent destruction.
It could be suggested that perhaps that was the case in this particular story as well, but as the very ordinary girl of quite average beauty and intelligence was hardly worth the concentrated efforts of such an enemy, it was not entirely clear that this fate, had, in fact befallen her.
Perhaps it would have been more noticeable if there had been a grand ball gate-crashed by a sinister serpent.
Or if she had been orphaned on a quiet mountain side and raised by kindly fairies.
Or, perhaps, even kidnapped by trolls, when as a small child she frolicked in the daisy laden meadows beneath the castle walls; captured and forced to live in a cold lonely tower for the rest of the foreseeable future. Wishing, hoping and praying that one day she would be rescued by a handsome prince. Or some equally well equipped female heroine who would be her best friend for life. Or even her sister.
But it wasn’t. Noticeable that is.
For it’s a fact that most of the not-quite-princesses are born in average homes, with lovely families and no nasty arch-nemesis lurking obviously in the shadows.
In the case of this particular young girl, this was the biggest problem.
Because there was no grand drama for the sound track of her life, she never noticed that she was in fact, remarkably like all the other great princesses in all the great fairy tales. Not in stature or beauty, or hair length, or any of those obvious things; but in the fact that one day she came to find herself completely imprisoned in the coldest room of the tallest tower in the creepiest part of the land.
Most shocking though, was that despite the draft from the wind, and the realisation that it was fact a prison, the room was beautifully furnished and wonderfully homely. It wasn’t the dark grey, windowless dungeon, with the narrow, hard cot and shackles that one would expect, had they tuned into this particular tale on the movie channel. Instead it was a beautiful home set amongst the most incongruous background.
And not in a very clever home ideas show either, if perhaps, you thought that was the television show you had just stumbled upon.
Her knowledge of her imprisonment occurred in such a peculiar way. One day she was carrying on, business as usual, (no longer the small ordinary child she had been, but instead a rather average grown up lady), when she suddenly thought ‘my goodness. I’m living in a tower.’ And just like that she poked her head out of the high arch shaped window, and gazed around at the world before her.
The crystal ocean glittered obviously in the distance, set beyond the vast meadows stretched out in front of her. Tall red poppies grew to the left, and to the right, there was a sea of yellow tulips, growing seemingly right up the ridges of the vast mountain ranges, the peaks of which, were encased in pristine snow. The sky was so blue; the bluest blue she had ever seen, with not a cloud in sight. Along the plains of her vision, she saw a wild deer darting in and out of a copse of trees. There were forests to her left, and the creature danced across the meadows with such grace, she immediately longed to jump out the window and join it.
Seizing the thought, she hiked up her skirts, and placed one solid boot on the window sill. There was a long knotted rope hanging from its edge, stretching far down, so that there was only a matter of feet between its bottom knot, and the grassy meadow below. It wouldn’t be hard to scale this wall; in fact it almost seemed as if that’s what it was meant for. She had no fear of heights, and the scent of freedom and the taste of the crisp, outside air was both intoxicating, and inspiring.
Pushing aside the euphoria of the moment, she stopped to think. ‘Why was she in this tower? When had it happened? And what was the reason?’
Maybe the outside world wasn’t safe.
Maybe there was danger.
Cautiously this time, she peered over the edge expecting to see a giant troll appear our of nowhere, but there was nothing save the gentle whistle of a friendly swallow, darting in and out of the trees.
It looked safe enough outside, but still…
She returned back to the centre of the room. She knew she hadn’t been born here, so she must have arrived at some time. Surely then, there must be a door somewhere, and if there was a door maybe there was someone to ask? Or better yet maybe a staircase that would prove a lot safer than that sturdy, yet terribly long rope.
She hunted and hunted, pushing on errant blocks, hoping for a door or, perchance, a secret passage way, but there was nothing. Just a cold castle tower, that seemed to be losing its homely appeal the more she looked at it. The brightness of the outdoors had made the light in here awfully dull. And the air had a smell, and a dampness to it that smothered her chest and made it suddenly hard to breathe. Even her bed seemed colder and harder; the sheets suddenly itchy and altogether dissatisfactory.
This was really no way to live.
So why did she?
To be continued…
thanks to Bridie for the images.