Red Rapunzel: A Twisted Fairytale
A twisted fairytale titled “Red Rapunzel.” It’s not the Disney version. There is no happily ever after. Consider yourself warned.
“Red Rapunzel” is a guest post from Ingrid at Experiments in Fiction. We’re delighted to welcome Ingrid back to Voyage of the Mind!
From the moment she had started to bleed, she’d been locked up in the tower. She didn’t really understand why, at first. Her handmaid, Belinda, had said that it was something to do with the stuff between her legs. Belinda said she’d had the bleeding too, and that her mother told her it meant she could now have babies. But not just on her own: it would take a man to make them too. And then Rapunzel understood that she’d been locked up in order to prevent a man making a baby in her. When she’d first learned this, she’d felt relieved about being locked up in the tower.
Then Rapunzel grew older. She began to have swellings in her chest which Belinda told her were called breasts: she also told her that the men, the baby-makers, went wild with desire over breasts. At the thought of this, Rapunzel began to have stirrings in her breast also, and even between her legs. Belinda told her these were the desires felt by the men, which could also be felt by women. She told her these desires were dangerous.
It was around the time of swelling breasts that men started to come and visit Rapunzel’s castle. She would be introduced to them formally in the great banqueting hall. They would bow to her and offer her jewellery, and after they’d gone her father would ask if she would marry them. She had learned from Belinda that marriage meant being locked in another tower; a tower which belonged to someone else. So when her father asked this question, she would always reply ‘no.’ And thus she continued, locked up in the tower perpetually.
All this time, her hair grew longer, and Belinda braided it. The braid coiled round like a rope upon the floor. When she was alone without Belinda, she would occupy herself by reading adventure stories about the world beyond the tower. She longed to see it.
Then one night, outside her room, she heard strange music. She looked down, all the way down from the window to the castle grounds, and saw a man: young and handsome, wearing stockings and playing what she understood to be a lute. He saw her face at the high window and began to serenade her:
Of your forlorn beauty
Let down your long hair
I’ll enter your lair
And we will escape
To the mountains afar
Live the vagabond life
Sleeping under the stars
At the sight of his eyes and the sound of his voice, the desire grew stronger in Rapunzel’s breast; stronger than it had ever been before. She knew this was a warning sign, so she moved away, out of sight of the window.
She didn’t tell Belinda about what she’d seen: for this would be her secret, this desire. She longed to run away, live the vagabond life and sleep beneath the stars.
The next night, he came again. She grew bolder, and asked him his name:
‘Gaston,’ he told her ‘Gaston Luthier.’ It sounded like a poem from the depths of the secret desire which burned within Rapunzel’s breast.
Every night, he came, and still she held back, refusing to let down her hair. And by day, still more suitors came to the castle, and she refused them too, preferring to continue her imprisonment. Until one night, she felt that she was almost ready, so she asked Gaston:
‘If I let down my hair, and you climb up, then how shall we escape?’
‘You must make a parachute,’ Gaston told her, ‘stitch it together from the dresses that you hate to wear; vagabonds have no need of such attire. When the parachute is ready, we’ll escape.’
So every night, when all was quiet, and at the end of Gaston’s song, she stitched her parachute. And every day, she talked to Belinda, who told her she had a secret love all of her own. They planned to elope and marry in a land far away. Rapunzel did not speak a word to her of Gaston, preferring to keep her escape plan secret.
Then finally, the parachute was finished. The next day, Rapunzel planned to make good her escape.
That day, the day the parachute was ready, Belinda did not come. Rapunzel thought happily of Belinda’s elopement, until her reverie was broken by the cook, who brought the news at noon:
Rapunzel was too shocked to speak, at first. She sat down on her bed, took a deep breath, then asked the cook the simple question:
‘She was with child,’ the cook explained, ‘a vagabond named Gaston Luthier had made her pregnant, and when she’d told him, he had wanted nothing more to do with her. So yesterday she asked the medicine man to try and cut the baby out, but afterwards she bled so much she died a few hours later.’
Rapunzel was horrified. She felt the redness rise within her, and her breast was filled with an entirely new kind of desire.
That night, when Gaston came, she finally let down her hair. And Gaston climbed. She saw his face approaching, wild with his desire. She felt the pull of his whole weight upon her scalp. And when he had almost reached the casement window, she knew this was the time to act. She took out her scissors and cut her braid off just below the ear. Gaston gave out a cry of sheer surprise and helplessness. And seconds later, he became a red stain on the ground below the tower.
Rapunzel was not helpless.
Rapunzel took her parachute and jumped out of the casement window.
Rapunzel took Gaston Luthier’s horse.
Rapunzel ran wild and free into the night, seeking the vagabond life.
And legend says, she’s lived it ever since, seducing unsuspecting men and robbing them at knifepoint; piercing and releasing all the red within their hearts, full of desire.
We hope you enjoyed “Red Rapunzel”!
If you’re interested in reading more of Ingrid’s fantastic work, we highly recommend her blog, Experiments in Fiction, where she posts poetry, short stories, and more. If you’re a history buff, you might enjoy her previous two guest posts on Voyage of the Mind: the first about the ancient scripts of Crete and the second about the connection between the mythical Labyrinth of Minos and the Palace of Knossos.
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