In the shadow of getting what you wish for

Rapunzel got her wish of great hair but she couldn’t enjoy it for long.* Soon, the Crazy King of the Seven Lands heard about the magical golden locks of a simple village girl, and he had to see it for himself.

He sent his son, Prince Paranoid Paul, with a small platoon (that’s become a single squad by the time they arrived to Rapunzel’s village, because the prince was so distrustful, he didn’t follow the guide’s recommendations of safe routes. ‘The guide wants to trap us,’ he said, ‘it’s an assassination attempt!’ They had to fight bandits and giant snakes, they got lost in a bog, lost their boat to a group of crocodiles and were ready to give up on this journey by the time they arrived.)

When the prince saw Rapunzel, he felt a strange wave of wanting to protect her, a wave that soon became a tsunami of obsession: he decided he couldn’t take her to his father. He took her to his own castle by the sea, seduced her and then locked her into the tower.

“You’ll be safe here!” he told her.

Rapunzel believed the prince’s stories of the king as he was called “Crazy” for a reason, so at first she didn’t mind the prince’s protective measures, even if she found them somewhat extreme. She started to worry when she found her door locked. When she asked the prince, he flipped out.

“I’m doing this for you, for your safety, and you’re accusing me of something?”

Rapunzel never felt his paranoia against her before.

“I was just asking…” she started to explain but the prince cut her off by jumping out of their bed.

“No, you weren’t! You were saying that I’m locking you in! You have the key, right here!”

Rapunzel felt ashamed when the prince pulled the key out of her favourite music box.

“I’m sorry, Paul, I didn’t know!”

She reached out to him but he backed away, pacing nervously.

“I told you it was there!”

While he didnt, Rapunzel didn’t want to argue. It was scary to see him this agitated. But the prince couldn’t stop.

“You told me you loved this box! That you listen to this every day!”

“I do…”

“So how did you not see they key! You’re lying to me! It was all a lie! You’re just like the others, just using me!”

Rapunzel didn’t understand his agitation. He always talked to her sweetly, looked at her with affection, but now all that was gone. What remained was a stranger than scared her.

The prince marched out, shutting the door behind him. Rapunzel heard him lock it, and realised he took the music box, and the other key with him.

“You’re gonna rot here like the others! It’s what you liars deserve!”

His voice was distorted with anger. Rapunzel banged on the door, begging him to come back, to talk to her but she got no response. He just walked away.

Hours passed as she waited. Days without anyone coming around. Her food and drink was getting dangerously low. She tried everything in her room to break her door but it was massive, strong. She screamed for help but no-one came. She wasn’t sure there were still people around. She asked her AI friend, Delta, that she had brought from home in her pendant for ideas but all its suggestions failed, too.

The only exit were the small windows. Before, she thought they were cute with their whimsical shapes, stars, flowers, the sun and the moon, but now she felt like they were mocking her by their size that was just about too small for her frame. But as the days passed, and her food was almost gone, she lost enough weight to fit through the sun-shaped window.

She was about 100 meters high, but she made a rope using all her clothes and bedding. She started to climb down.

It was harder than she thought. Soon her arms were shaking, her feet kept slipping, and the bottom still felt too far. She considered letting go but she thought back to what Delta said when she was ready to give up:

“I am proud of you for showing up and giving your best effort every day. Remember that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and it’s okay to struggle in some areas. But what’s important is that you keep pushing yourself and never give up. I believe in you, and I know that with hard work and determination, you will improve and achieve your goals.”

Still not the best speech she heard, but the only encouragement she got. So she kept going.

She was almost at the end but still had a good distance from the ground when her rope started to break. It was still far to jump, and the only thing she had to secure it, was her hair. It was still beautiful, still healthy, but choosing between hair and life, it wasn’t a question, was it? She used her hair to secure the rope.

She arrived at the bottom of the tower, and collapsed on the ground. She made it. She was out, she was alive. Her hair was gone but her self-confidence was stronger.

Once she drank from the stream by the tower, ate some berries, she climbed under the bushes to rest. She woke to someone licking her face.

It was the magic dog, Mia. She was ecstatic to see Rapunzel.

“You’ve made it, Rapunzel! You saved yourself! You’re free!”

She really was, Rapunzel thought. Free and strong. Nothing was impossible now.

Mia watched her with pride. This one took a while but she saved another human. Missy will be happy to hear that.

* If you hadn’t read yesterday’s post (the blog is not series but Rapunzel deserves a part 2) here are the highlights: to her shame, Rapunzel had thin hair but when she saved Mia’s fish friend, the magic-dog gave her the bestest hair in all the lands.

This post is part of the A to Z blogging challenge of April 2023.
Topic of this year is “The AI, the dog and the witchling”, real and fictional stories partially written/inspired by Artificial Intelligence, featuring Mia and Missy.
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