The Tower Princess

Fiction By Clare // 10/10/2012

Holy huckleberry! I apologize for having neglected to come on here in many eons, but I do have something to post, so I hope you all enjoy it :) This is a story based on the fairy tale Rapunzel that I wrote for an online story contest. I did not win (not even close) but I got some very good feedback.

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Once Upon a Time, Rae could leave her house.

Rae could ride in cars.

Rae could talk to strangers.

Rae could get in the elevator and go all the way down from the 11th Floor to the 1st Floor, and walk out the revolving doors of the Hotel Tower, and be just like everybody else.

But one day, someone tried to hurt Rae. He attacked her right on the street. He would have used her and left her for dead if a stranger hadn’t helped her get away.

When Rae finally got home at the end of that long, traumatic day, she ran into the Tower, took the stairs to the 11th Floor, shut herself in her room, and never came out.

“I will never go outside again,” she vowed fearfully. “Ever.”

Rae’s mother’s solutions for herself were always temporary, like a Band-Aid. Her solutions for Rae were no different. She thought she could ‘fix’ Rae’s problem by trying to force her to go outside, to be normal again. But all she did was wound Rae deeper. Rae couldn’t leave the safety of the apartment. She suddenly wanted nothing to do with a world that had once meant everything to her.

Slowly, Rae’s friends, even her closest friends, abandoned her. It was as though they feared her broken, isolated condition was contagious, and they left her. Even Rae’s mother, living in the same apartment, distanced herself and liked to pretend there wasn’t a lonely, sad girl behind the door to Rae’s room.

Rae was all alone.

Meanwhile upon a time, I was the stranger.

I had always been curious about Rae. I was working for my BA in architecture at the same college where she was taking art classes in the city, and even though I never had the nerve to say hello, I started following her from time to time. I tried to be subtle, but when she daringly strode into shiftier neighborhoods, I hung around just in case.

And that one day, I was there to save her.

During the twelve hours we sat next to each other in the police department, I managed to talk to her.

“Hi. My name’s Patrick.”

She didn’t answer, but I knew her name. Rae. Rae Elizabeth Ponce.

“Are you alright?”

Then, she looked at me, with those beautiful eyes that were suddenly so full of tragedy. She shook her head slowly. “No.” she murmured. “No, I’m not.”

When Rae disappeared, I knew she had gone up to the top floor of the Hotel Tower. It broke my heart to hear her closest friends write her off at school. I could only guess how lonely she was, and I decided to contact her online, offering her support.

At first she was suspicious of me, even resentful. But I gave her time, and gradually, she accepted my offer.

Years passed, and I graduated from college. Rae and I became close friends and we talked on the phone frequently. But Rae stayed stuck in her tower. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.

I wanted to see her again.

So I walked to the back of the Hotel Tower building, and found the fire escape. I had to jump onto a dumpster to reach it, but then started climbing up without thinking. I didn’t stop until I’d gone as far as I possibly could. Then, I gave Rae a call on my cell phone.

“Hello?” she said quietly. Her voice was always a little hoarse from underuse.

“Rae, it’s me. Patrick. I’m under your window. Let down your fire escape.”

“What?”

“Let down your fire escape. I can’t go any higher until you do. I’m coming to see you.”

“You mean… open the window?” Rae asked nervously.

“Yes. You can do it, Rae. I’ll be waiting for you.”

It took a while, but finally, I heard the rattling and clattering of metal stairs unfolding, and the long, unreachable section of the fire escape tumbled down until it stopped at my feet. I climbed up two more stories, and I found my princess waiting for me at the top, sitting on her balcony. She had her arms wrapped around her knees, and looked a little bit like she might blow away in the wind.

For a moment, she just stared at me, afraid and unsure.

“Rae,” I said gently.

Rae started to cry. She leaped up and embraced me in a tight, desperate hug. She hadn’t seen anyone but her mother in two years.

And so, our worlds, our very distant ‘once upon a times’, collided.

Rae was so afraid, and I didn’t blame her. She didn’t invite me into her room for a long time, but when she did, I could tell how sacred it was to her. It was the only place she felt safe.

A year went by, and Rae’s mother never knew I was there. She was gone most of the time, and when she was home, she was usually recovering from drugs or drinking. I was afraid for Rae, but she begged me not to tell anyone about her, or her mother.

One night, Rae and I were lying side by side on her floor and gazing at the very few stars and helicopter lights out her window. We’d just finished watching a movie together, and it was almost one in the morning. I knew I should leave, but I hesitated.

Rae suddenly pulled away from me. “This will never work, Rick. It never will.”

I looked in her eyes. I watched them glisten in the semi-dark.

“No. It will. Even if you never leave this place, Rae, I’ll make it work. I’ll be here for you. Everything will be okay, I swear.”

Finally, Rae let herself fall for me. She pulled me to my feet and kissed me. It was the most beautiful, innocent kiss any girl ever gave me.

Suddenly, the door to Rae’s room flew open. Her mother stood in the doorway, breathing heavily. She had a half-empty bottle of beer gripped in one hand, and she advanced on us quickly.

“Get out!” she slurred. “Get out of my daughter’s room you—”

“Mom, no!” Rae cried, as her mother grabbed me with surprising strength, and pushed me out onto the balcony.

“Stop!” Rae sobbed, trying to pull me away from her mother. “Let go of him!”

The last thing I remember was Rae’s mother breaking her beer bottle over my head, and shoving me over the balcony railings.

I fell eleven stories to the ground.

I woke up in excruciating pain, barely able to move, and unaware of my surroundings. Slowly, I became aware of sensations other than agony.

Sirens wailed somewhere, echoing in my ears.

“Rick! Rick please, wake up, please speak to me!” a familiar voice sobbed above my head.

As I slowly came to, I found that I was lying on the hard, cold cement surface of a sidewalk. I opened my eyes, and saw my Tower Princess looking down at me, her tears dripping from her cheeks onto my forehead.

“I… I’m alive,” I breathed in amazement.

“You better be,” she replied, kissing me in relief. “I came out of my tower for you.”

Comments

First of, WELCOME BACK!!!

First of all, WELCOME BACK!!! I've always loved your writing. You're seriously one of my AP favorites. :)

I liked this story. The beginning was great. I did feel like the middle was too rushed, that we didn't get a look inside their relationship, or their online conversations, or why they really liked each other--which I think would have helped. I loved how you made this a modern-day Rapunzel. :) My only complaint is that it was rushed. But I did love the ending.

Will there be more?
-Homey :)

Madeline | Sat, 10/13/2012

everything was better when/you would call and I'd be like/yeah babe, no way

:)

I agree with Homey. You have a great story that's different. But I wish you deepened their relashionship because when Rae's mother pushed Rick out of the balcony, I didn't really have any feelings for the character. I was not connencted to them, there was no reason for me to sympathize with them but only, "Oops. He's going to get hurt." But the ending was fanastic and it wrapped everything up well. But only if you had a more developed middle.

Lucy Anne | Sat, 10/13/2012

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hey, I haven't seen you

Hey, I haven't seen you before! Welcome to AP! I did like the twist of the modern day. Yes, it was a little too rushed; maybe you should put something in about the mum hating Rick for some reason. But I loved the ending! Looking forward to more of your writing! :D

Maddi | Sat, 10/13/2012

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

I agree with all your

I agree with all your comments, and that was the only criticism I got before; it was too rushed. There was a 1200 word limit, and since I didn't win, I want to expand it. I don't know if I could gracefully make an entire novel out of it, but I would definitely make it longer :)
Maddi, I'm actually not new so much as I've been gone for a LONG time, so welcome to you, too :D

Clare | Mon, 10/15/2012

Lol! Welcome back then *slaps

Lol! Welcome back then *slaps on back*. Even better! Thanks. I love being here. :D

Maddi | Tue, 10/16/2012

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

Oh my gosh....

....I had serious shivers running all down my body at the last few lines. That so rarely happens, when I read something. O.O

Sarah Bethany | Wed, 10/17/2012

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