Not quite what the Prince expected.
|The young prince, just thirteen years of age, stood at the base of the doorless tower. He had been told of the ravishing beauty locked within, and that it was his destiny to rescue and love her.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!”
Far above, Rapunzel responded. “Woah, cool. Hello down there. Any chance of getting me out of this bloody tower?”
The prince exulted. Her tinkling voice was more stunning than he had imagined. “It is I, my princess. Your Prince! Let down your hair so we may be together.”
“Seriously?” she said. “You didn’t bring a ladder?”
In spite of her protestations, she complied. A golden curtain tumbled from the tower—her lavish locks, the stories were true! It shone as it caught the sunlight. At its beauty, the prince knew that all the stories were the epitome of accuracy, and that he was destined to love the hair’s dazzling owner.
There was a hitch in his plans, however. Although Rapunzel’s hair was indeed glorious in its magnitude, and far longer than any he’d seen, it only reached midway down the tower. And although he stretched and jumped, he could not even brush the ends with his fingers, let alone find a good enough grip to climb it.
With sorrow, he conceded it was out of reach.
“I will return, my darling, when I am taller and your hair is longer. I will scale this tower, and we shall be together!”
He turned away. Above the slithering of hair being pulled back through the window, he could hear Rapunzel’s sigh.
Ten years later, the prince returned. He was indeed taller, and also broader and more muscular than before. Though he had missed the princess terribly and wished they could have been together sooner, he was, contrarily, glad it hadn’t been so. He was a man now, and truly worthy!
“Rapunzel!” he cried, his voice deeper and more powerful than before. “I have returned! Let down your glorious hair!”
“Finally!” came Rapunzel’s reply, even as she lowered her hair down from the window. “But seriously, a LADDER, mate.”
To the Prince’s delight, the hair fell further and further, and, by the time it stopped, was well within reach.
“Your hair is longer and I am taller, and today we will finally meet!” The prince stretched upwards and took firm grasp of Rapunzel’s hair. It was every bit as soft as he’d imagined. But his delight could not last. Even before his toes left the ground, a piercing scream rang out above. “Stop! Like, OW. ”
The prince was wracked with guilt, and immediately released his hold.
“My dear Rapunzel,” he called. “You must wrap your hair around a column, and protect your sweet scalp from my tugging.”
“What do you mean, my ‘scalp’?” queried Rapunzel, but the hair was pulled back through the window. She disappeared for several long moments. The prince imagined Rapunzel finding an appropriately sturdy column, and wrapping her hair twice around it, or maybe thrice for good measure. Then she’d swing on it herself, to reassure herself supporting weight would bring no pain.
Again, the hair was flung out that tiny window far above, and it hurtled heavily down the wall. Alas—it stopped just a meter out of reach! The winding had used up too much of the length, and there was simply no chance reaching it now.
“My dear!” called the prince. “No matter how I jump I cannot reach! But do not worry, when your hair is longer and I am lighter, I promise you I will return!”
In the two years that followed (he could not bear to wait another ten) the prince dieted stringently, making himself as thin as possible to cause as little pain as possible, even though he knew she shouldn’t feel him through the windings. He allowed the muscles in his legs to waste away, unnecessary baggage that they were. He exercised his arms, though, by climbing ropes of horse hair and yarn, and knew that when he saw the princess next they would finally be united.
Finally, the prince returned. His cheeks were hollow, his legs were shaky, and he called to his dear Rapunzel.
“Rapunzel! I have returned! Please let down your beautiful hair!”
At once, hair tumbled from the window. Even as it fell, the prince could tell it was thicker and longer than ever before. It landed at his feet and coiled—there was even length to spare!
“Come on, then,” came Rapunzel’s voice from the tower. The prince rushed to obey. He rushed to shimmied up her hair.
Hand over hand he scaled the tower. In each breath he inhaled strands, but he didn’t mind. It tasted as it smelled: of strawberries and sunlight. As he reached the apex his forearms trembled with exertion, and he’d all but given up. All that kept him going was the sight of red-painted nails reaching down to help. With one last burst of energy he sprung upwards. He clutched the hand, and it hoisted him up over the granite windowsill and into the tower.
He lay on his back, catching his breath. His princess, all that he had strived for, lent anxiously over him.
And he could not draw her eyes from her shinning, perfectly bald head.
“Hey,” she gasped, in her beautiful, husky, and slightly muffled voice. “How’re you going?
She was bald. She had no hair. The thoughts bounced around in his head, unable to find purchase against his expectations.
“You right mate?”
Her voice drew his gaze to where her mouth should be, but horror of horrors! He could not see it! There was only hair, the hair that was not on her head, but sprung, luscious and volumous*, from her face. The prince touched his fingers to his own sparse goatee, and felt, in a word, resentful.
“My princess,” he said, and though his words were respectful his voice was choked with revulsion. “I had assumed the hair was from your head!”
The princess set her jaw as stone, and he could hear the grinding of her teeth. Suddenly the prince could not bear to hurt her. Yes, she was bald, and yes, she was bearded, but still, this was his princess.
“Rapunzel…” He parted the beard with his hand and exposed her red and waiting lips.
He kissed her, and in that moment knew they would live happily ever after.
Written for "Distorted Minds Contest"
Prompt: Picture: A young boy stands next to a creepy santa with black eyes and a long, matted beard.