After finishing my book, I watch the world outside for a while longer. The trees wave in the slight breeze: beckoning me. Some are close enough that it feels like I could just reach out and pluck the shrivelled leaves off them. Autumn is my favourite time of year. The grass seems almost bronzed: the leaves mingling on the ground, the sun duller. I close my eyes, and smell pine. It’s refreshing.
Next, I decide to sweep my tower. It is past noon-the sky is darkening, and soon I know the cover of darkness will fall. I don’t know how I managed to spend the whole day just reading and looking at the view. The broom makes a scratching noise on the floor, which makes me wince. Once it looks like all the dust has been moved, I replaced the woven rugs back to where they belong.
Well aware of the fact that Mother will be home soon, I begin to cook dinner. I begin to prepare the vegetables that Mother left a few days ago; cutting the carrots into perfect cubes and deciding I shall leave them raw. We have pre-cooked chicken, from yesterday, so with a few greens I decide that we shall have cold chicken and vegetables. It’s plain, but Mother says it’s all we can afford. I get two elaborately decorated china plates from the cupboard and put the food down on the table, breathing in the fresh smell of food. I pull out on of the chairs from the table, sitting on the edge of the rickety chair that creaks under my weight. I run my fingers up and down the dry wood table surface, puffing out my breath in boredom. I’m not supposed to start dinner without Mother, but I give in and pick apart one measly slice of bread: chewing as slowly as a carthorse. I stare outside, watching as the stars begin to appear. Night is beautiful.
“Rapunzel! Rapunzel darling, let down your hair!” The musical voice brings me out of my stupor, and I push aside my chair and run to the window. In the darkness, I can just make out Mother leant against a tree that grows near the bottom of the tower. I lean out, craning my neck. The sudden cold makes me shiver.
“Stop gaping Rapunzel, and help me up.” Mother says indignantly, flicking a curly black lock. I nod, “Of course, sorry.”
I gently loop my hair around the hook, bringing my hair around until it is knotted, while enough to reach the ground remains. I throw it down, listening to the dull thump it makes on the ground. I wince a little as Mother grabs a hold and begins to climb her way up the ivy-scaled tower, trying to remain still. Eventually, I walk forward: pulling Mother up the tower. Elegantly, Mother appears in view of the window; my hair looped around her shoulders. I run forward and take one of her cool hands, helping her in the window. Mother undoes my hair from the hook, and I run forward and embrace her. I hear her breath escaping her in a whoosh and let go a little.
Mother holds me at arm’s length; her eyes scanning me. Suddenly, her grey eyes warm. “What’s this all about?” She teases, prising me off her.
“I missed you,” I say bashfully, aware I sound like a child.
“Rapunzel,” Mother says, “I saw you only yesterday.”
“I know, I know…” I blush a deep red. I’m supposed to be convincing Mother I’m ready for the outside world! “I made dinner!” I make a gesture towards the table.
Mother smiles passingly, as if this small piece of information is beneath her. “I already ate.”
“Oh. Well, I am not hungry.” I lie, pushing down the mingled hunger and a smidgen of betrayal.
Mother closes the window by pointing her finger at it: and the tower suddenly gets warmer. Clicking her fingers, my hair is suddenly plaited in a complicated way, just reaching my feet. “Oh, I do hate all that hair around my feet. This is much better.”
“I could cut it,” I say hopefully. I can imagine my hair just reaching my shoulders in a golden wave-it is much more desirable than the state it is in now.
“Oh, no. You know how rare blonde hair is! You must keep it!”
I bite back a retort, smiling. Mother sits down on the one good chair and dotingly I sit across the table from her. “Oh,” Mother blurts, “That reminds me. I got you something today! Go on, check in the bag.” Unable to supress hope and excitement, I run to the bag and delve my hand into it.
I bring out an embossed book: it’s thick and looks very old. Praying it’s my first magic book; that would mean soon I can go outside, I turn it over.
A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing.
My stomach seems to plummet, but I try to smile and thank Mother over and over again. She beams at me: looking extraordinarily beautiful, her glossy curls shining in the light.
“I know you’ve been finding it hard to keep yourself entertained while I’m gone,” Mother explains, “So I found you a new hobby!”
I swallow the tough taste of annoyance. How do I tell her I am not a child, and that I wish to go outside?
I am still a coward; and I quash the part of me that screams for attention. I will wait, for a while longer.