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Once upon a time

Woohoo – I’ve made it back for Tuesday in the first time in ages, go me!

Today I found out that I unfortunately didn’t win a trip to Germany from a competition that I entered.  The competition was to rewrite a fairy tale but set in modern day New Zealand.  Since I didn’t win I thought I’d post my story here, a modern version of Rapunzel, set in down town Auckland.

Once upon a time a beautiful young woman lived in the top floor of a tall, old building at the bottom of Queen Street.  Hardly anyone knew the girl lived there, because no one knew the floor was there, neither lift nor stair reached this floor, the building plan showed one floor less than there actually was and enchantments hid the top level of the building from the rest of the world.  The only person who knew of Rapunzel, and her penthouse prison was the woman who placed her there, the rich old woman who had taken her from her parents and locked her up in the centre of the city and cast enchantments so that no one could find her.

 

Rapunzel stared out the window and watched the rain trickle down its tinted outer, she hated rainy days like this; when the rain and the clouds crowded in, blocking her view of the harbour and making her feel more trapped than ever.  She sighed, if only there was some way that she could rescued from this place!  She longed to walk the streets of the city below, to walk in and out of the brightly lit shops, to stand by the harbour and feel the sea breeze on her face!  She knew none of that could happen; she had lived here alone for most of her 16 years, her only company the television and the radio in the corner of the room and visits three times a week from the woman who was her captor and guardian.

 

From watching TV she knew her life wasn’t normal, everyday she saw other people living other lives in other places, places she could only imagine.  But the world inside the television was like a fairy tale for Rapunzel; I may as well wish to be on the moon, she thought.

 

Rapunzel sat quietly and read for the rest of the afternoon; she knew better than to play music and sing when the old lady was expected.  The old lady would beat and starve her if she made too much noise; so despite the fact that she adored music and loved to spend her days singing, she made sure that she made as little noise as possible on the days she knew the old lady was visiting.

 

Time dragged slowly, it always did for Rapunzel on days when her captor visited, but eventually Rapunzel heard a call from the floor below:

 

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair.”

Rapunzel rushed over to the eastern wall of the building and pulled up an almost invisible trap door.  Below she could see the office her captor rented to allay suspicion and the lady herself standing on a desk, waiting for Rapunzel to lower her long thick plat to enable the old lady to climb up.

As always the old lady was pleased to see Rapunzel – her life sized doll, in a life sized doll house.

“My dear Rapunzel! How well you look!  I do love that dress on you, I shall buy you more dresses in just that colour, as it brings out your eyes.”

The old lady dressed Rapunzel like a fairy princess, she always wore full length dresses made of heavy brocades and fine silk.  Rapunzel had never seen anyone on the streets or on the television dressed as she was; she never saw anyone with hair that dragged on the floor as hers did either.

Rapunzel and the old lady ate the meal the old lady had brought, the old lady talking brightly of her life in the outside world, of places and people visited, of people who no longer visited and were the cause of her loneliness, the reason she kept this girl captive, away from the world.

Eventually the lady left and Rapunzel was alone again. As she lay in bed that night she wondered again if she would ever know freedom, little did she know that her life would change completely in just a few hours.

The next day Rapunzel awoke to a bright, clear day. She smiled as she looked out the window, towards the sea; it was her favourite sort of day – a sunny day when the old lady wasn’t coming to visit.

Rapunzel spent the day with the radio on, singing along with songs she knew, looking out the window at people going about their day.  But later that day something happened that had never happened before, there was a knock on the trap door and a male voice called out to her.

“Umm… Rapunzel? Can you let down your hair?”

Rapunzel froze for a moment, who could it possibly be? Had her moment of rescue come at last? Her mind a whirlwind of different thoughts, she made her way over to the trap door and opened it.  Standing in the office below was a tall, handsome young man only two or three years older than Rapunzel. He stood on the desk and pulled himself up into Rapunzel’s apartment and smiled at the stunned young woman.

“Hi I’m Josh.  My Dad owns this building and I work for him checking the building, I’ve heard you singing a few times when I’ve been here but my dad insists this floor doesn’t exist.  I put a hidden camera in the office last week and saw that old lady come here and visit you. Is she keeping you here? Have you always lived here?”

Josh looked at her, his stunning blue eyes full of concern.  Rapunzel blushed, she had always dreamed of being rescued by a handsome young man, she never thought it would happen!

Rapunzel made Josh a cup of coffee and told him her story, that she didn’t remember her parents, how she’d lived with the old lady when she was very little but had lived in this apartment for many years, of how she wanted a normal life – like she saw on TV and through the window.  Josh told Rapunzel about his life – about his family, their large house near the water, their dog, their holiday home by the beach and the subjects he had taken in his first semester at university.

“You can’t stay here any longer Rapunzel.  I’ll take you home with me, we’ll call the police they’ll arrest her.”

“No! We mustn’t! I want to leave here more than anything but she is cunning and an enchantress. Unless we do this the right way I will end up locked in here forever.  We must be even more cunning than she is.”

Josh agreed to wait until they’d come up with a plan, he also agreed to come back and see her every day that the old lady wasn’t expected and it was in this way that they fell in love, drinking coffee on the invisible top floor of a building in Queen Street and planning Rapunzel’s escape and all the places Josh would take her to once she was free.

A week later the plan was ready, Josh had gone to the police with his father, taking the video evidence with him, as well as a copy of the building plan and a statement signed by Rapunzel recounting her time held prisoner.  The police, Josh and his Dad waited in the office next door to the old lady’s, the police had linked up Josh’s camera to their lap tops so they could see when she arrived which she eventually did, they waited until they heard her say:

“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair”

Just as she finished calling to Rapunzel the police stormed in.

“No!”  Shouted the old lady from on top of the desk, “I’ve done nothing wrong! You’ll pay for this! All of you! I’ll curse every single one of you!”

But before they could arrest her she moved too quickly trying to get away from the police officer and lost her footing.  There were several loud crashes as the old lady fell hitting her head first on the desk and then on the floor, an officer crouched by her side but she was already dead and Rapunzel was free to live her life without the fear of curses.

After they had taken the old lady’s body away, Josh stood on the desk and lifted Rapunzel down.

“Welcome to the real world Rapunzel.” He said softly, and with his arm still around her waist he kissed her, before helping her down off the desk and out to the world beyond, where they lived happily ever after.

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