Friday, April 26, 2013

Rapunzel's Curse

Story by: Krystalyn

The witch dangled out the window, holding tightly to my hair. My prince drew his sword. She spit curses between jagged teeth as he chopped off over seventy feet of my golden tresses and sent her hurtling to the ground.

It took the prince and me about a half an hour to find her secret hatch, a moldy smelling grain chute, and we slid out of the tower. He took my hand, and with a smile as big as the countryside, we jumped on his horse and clip clopped across the barren fields. I leaned back against his strong chest as we rejoiced in our victory.

It wasn't until we were a half a league away that I noticed my itching scalp. A tingle started somewhere around my crown and crept its way to my hairline. I scratched, hoping it wasn't lice. The tower had been infested with them, and there were many days when the witch spent hours picking them out of my hair. I shouldn't have worried about the bugs.

I scratched, and the itching grew worse. Then it grew unbearable, rolling and swelling beneath my fingertips. I sucked in several deep breaths, trying to calm them away, but the oxygen only fed the itching. It was like I had a pox, a plague, and a million mosquito bites all rolled into one.

“Stop,” I said with a twinge of panic in my voice. “I need to stop.”

My prince yanked on the reins. His horse skidded to a halt.

I jumped off and ran into the middle of the field. “Ow. Ow. Ow! Ow! OW!” I bent over double and clawed at my scalp. My hair thickened into rope-like tendrils, then wrapped around my knuckles, trapping my hands and squeezing until I thought my bones would shatter. Through the pain, I whimpered, “No, please.”

The prince ran up to me. His scarred cheeks told of how many battles he'd fought. I was willing to bet, he'd never fought a battle like this. “What can I do?”

The sky rumbled in response. Lighting split the sky and thunder shook the earth. I understood everything that was happening.

Once, when I was twelve, I worked up the nerve to climb out of my window. I couldn't stand living in that tower with the damp, stone walls that seemed to close in tighter every day. And if I couldn't live there, my only choice was to die.

I clung to the window sill, wanting to drop, but not having the courage. As the minutes wore on, my bones began to ache. If felt like rats were gnawing on my insides – my skull, my ribs, my legs. Two fingers slipped, then three. I was afraid to let go, but I was in so much pain, I looked forward to the fall. There was thunder then too, the kind that rattled my eardrums and caused more fingers to slip.

The rumbles were a siren to the witch. Just as my last finger lost its grip, she used her magic to draw me back in through the window. I collapsed to the floor. She held me tight and stroked my back. Her body shook with sobs.

“Promise me you'll never do that again,” she said. “Promise me you'll never leave.”

“Why? Why do you keep me trapped here?” The pain had stopped, but my heart ached with longing for the outside world. I had failed in my escape.

“I've told you again and again, you're cursed. Bad things will happen if you try to leave. You'll hurt yourself and others if they get too close.” She cupped my cheeks in her hands. “But you're my daughter. I love you. I will always be here for you.” And she pressed a gentle kiss to my forehead.

She sounded so sincere that I believed her, and I settled in for a few more years. But I stopped believing the day the prince appeared below my window.

He said there was no curse. The witch had lied to me because she had been banished from the kingdom. She was nothing but a lonely old hag who wanted to keep me locked up forever. He said nobody deserved that fate. He promised me dances and flowers and splashing in the rain. He climbed the tower just to kiss my hand. He told me that he loved me. He vowed to protect me from all the bad things in the world.

Neither one of us knew that I was one of those bad things.

“My love!” My prince grabbed hold of my elbows and pulled me to my feet.

“No! Stay away,” I cried as my hair tangled around his waist. The tendrils weren't golden anymore. They were the cracked brown color of tree limbs. They snaked down around our ankles and rooted around us. I screamed as one of them burrowed into my foot, planting me into the ground right along with it.

My prince curled his arms around my body, even as the limbs threaded and wove their way around us, cocooning us inside the tree that was once my hair. This was my fault.

“The curse.” The witch had never lied to me. I had lied to myself. “Everything she said was true.” The roots bore through my calves and up my legs. The pain was nearly too much to bear. “You should never have come.”

Still, he didn't try to escape. I doubted he'd ever walked away from a battle. “There is another truth that she didn't tell you,” he said as he looked into my eyes. “A kiss of true love can break any curse.”

My vision grew hazy. He was wrong before about the curse. Could he be right about this? I needed him to be right. “Kiss me.”

“I love you. I'm here for you.” He bent down and gently pressed a kiss to my lips. It was warm and tender, and filled with every promise he had ever given me.

The roots continued their assault of my body, but I held on to a tiny sliver of hope that they were slowing. I envisioned them reversing and releasing us. I fell deeper into his touch and imagined my life of dancing and flowers and splashing in the rain. The prince had to be right.

When the kiss ended, we wrapped our arms around each other and held tight. He murmured softly into my ear. I closed my eyes. I believed every word. And I waited for the curse to break.


Author's note: I always seem to be the one twisting fairy tales with Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid, and now, Rapunzel.


PHOTO BY: Gillian Woods


  1. You do the retellings well! I like the twist here and the ambiguous ending. NICE.

  2. I agree with Amy. This retelling is really cool and I love the description of the curse taking hold and the Prince's scarred face.