The second free short story that i’m going to share with you was actually the second assignment on my Creative Writing module at the University of Northampton, when I had just started writing again as an adult.
You can read more HERE about how I came to studying creative writing at university, under the tutelage of published author and The Guardian columnist Alan Smith, as well as read my first ever short story as an adult: A Rainy Day in Paris.
Rapunzel’s Lament was set as an assignment to rewrite a fairytale, in our own words. Having just started writing again I was both keen and melodramatic!!
It makes me cringe to read it now, but at the same time I don’t want to edit any of it. It shows my progression and journey as a writer. It reminds me of how far I have come, through hard work and a lot of practice over the years.
So here it is, a free short story. Enjoy!!
I wept again today. Droplets of loneliness rolling over my cheeks, occasionally wetting the stone floor of my prison home. How long have I been here? I do not know. What use is an age when there is none to tell how old. None except the false mother who keeps me here against my will, the old witch. I am but a pet that is doomed to live a life of comfortable captivity, I fear my shelter shall be my coffin. I do not remember my real mother and father. The old witch told me tales of greed that have lead to me repenting my mothers’ sins. But they must not know I am here weeping so or surely they would have come for me?
I recall younger days, before these trees, before this tower, before the mistake. Sometimes when the old witch was away I would venture into the west wing of our stately home, only a little way at first but as the days past I grew bolder with each successful step until one day I climbed the spiral staircase that lead to the top of the turret and there I found a tiny window peering out upon the world. I would sit there for hours gazing out over the high walls that surrounded my childhood home, longing to run through the fields of wheat that stretched as far as the eye could see or on a hot day dip my feet in the cool waters of the little stream that glided through land. A little house lay just beyond the high wall and on occasion I would see a woman much older than I looking out the window, staring over the wall into the garden where I was forbidden to play, her eyes darting from bush to tree to house to wall, as if searching for something she had lost and once, just once, she appeared to look at the little window where I sat and for a moment we looked into each others eyes. There was a deep sadness set in those eyes.
It was late summer when I made the mistake. The sun was high in the sky that day, I sat at the little window and got lost in the beauty of its rays playing on the surface of the stream, lighting up the fields of wheat, turning the world to gold with a delicate touch. I did not hear the old witch return. She flew into the room in a terrible rage and I was banished to this stone tower with neither door nor stairs, buried deep inside a darkened forest. That was so very long ago. I miss those fields, that stream and the woman with sad eyes. Now all I see is the occasional hare or fox that flees when I call for company.
The old witch brings food and water that I may not die, but never love or freedom that I may truly live. Today she called as I lay silently weeping. I slowly rose from my bed, wiped my eyes with the sleeve of my dress and began to unfasten my braided hair, I could not let her know that I had wept for fear of punishment even greater than my lonely existence. Once unwound I wrapped my hair around the hook on the window, wiped my eyes one last time, removing all evidence of sorrow and then let my hair fall the great distance from the window to the ground. The old witch climbed the tresses and entered the cell that would call itself a room. I feared she would see the sadness in my eyes as I had seen in the woman at the window, I looked down at the sack she carried and she appeared not to notice. She then unpacked the contents of the sack, water, bread and a handful of berries. Once I had received them graciously she was off, clambering back down my long locks, leaving me once more to my solitude. I had looked out the window after she had descended, my eyes following her to the edge of the trees. “Nothing for you out here my dearie,” she had cackled and with that she was gone, her form vanishing into the tall trees and thick bramble, the sound holding for a moment more and then nothing. I was alone once more.
I felt the sting of tears start to form once more in my eyes when a lark emerged from the dense forest and rested on the top branch of a nearby tree. Oh how good it must feel to soar above the forests, free to roam the world at will with none to claim you as their own. The lark began to sing a beautiful melody that lifted my spirit and carried me far away from this wretched tower. I sang along. A mournful duet that told of past sins and freedoms lost. Singing was my only pleasure. The lark bowed out soon after but I continued to sing long and hard until the great sun that had once lit up the golden fields of wheat began to descend beyond the trees. Tonight I would sleep well. Tomorrow is another day.
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Aaron Mullins (@DrAaronMullins) is an award winning, internationally published psychologist and bestselling author. Aaron has over 15 years experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. He started Birdtree Books Publishing where he worked as Editor-in-Chief, partnered with World Reader Charity and taught Academic Writing at Coventry University. Aaron’s book How to Write Fiction: A Creative Writing Guide for Authors has become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in a publishing career. Find out more.