A/N: Thanks so much for clicking on my story! This is my first time writing a short story so I'd appreciate any feedback you could give me. Hope you enjoy!
Once upon a time, there was a princess who lived in a tower. She had golden blonde hair that came down to her waist, skin pale as moonlight, and a dark green gown that shimmered when she walked. Or at least, that's how she was described, stuck inside that tower. Her hair was tangled and frizzy; she brushed it out as best she could with her fingers, but there was only so much she could do. Her hair hadn't been cut in years, and so it was full of split-ends. Her skin was only so pale because she hadn't been outside in as long as her hair hadn't been cut. You wouldn't be able to tell that her skin was pale from looking at her, though. It was grimy and dirty, just like the tower she lived in. Her skin had streaks of dirt and grit across it. Any time she ate she could taste the grime. Her gown, if you could call it that anymore, had tears and loose seams all over. It was honestly a miracle that it was still in one piece.
The princess hadn't seen anyone in years. Anyone that she would like to see, at any rate. Which was anyone, anyone at all, other than the one person that had access to the tower in which the princess was held captive.
"Roooossaamuuunnnndd! I have breakfast ready!"
She hated the sound of her own name the way that man spoke took a deep breathe in, then let it out slowly. The way breakfast went determined how the rest of the day went. At the sound of a knock on the door she sat down at the small table that sat in the middle of the grimy entrance room.
"Guess what I've brought you today, my Rooosamuund?"
"Something delicious as always, my dear humble knight."
"You are correct! I've brought you up to be so smart! You really should be appreciative," he said as he ladled some sort of porridge, with chunks today Rosamund noted, onto her plate.
"Ah, I see that today's breakfast has a bit of texture today."
"Doesn't it always?" the tone of his voice suggested that a wrong answer could lead to trouble.
"Of course, your breakfast always has lovely texture. I simply meant that this is a bit different, which is perfectly fine," she added as his eyebrows drew together.
"Oh, well of course it's different. I was trying a different style today," he said, laughing as he leaned back into his chair. He looked over at her, waiting for her to try it.
She looked at the plate, then glanced up at him. He was looking at her expectantly. He's forgotten the silverware today. She could take this one of two ways. The first would be to comment, carefully, oh so carefully, on the lack of silverware, and hope that he would bring some out or tell her how to eat it. The second would be to just go ahead and try to eat it without any utensils. The best course of action depended on his mood, and she wasn't sure what his mood was more tolerating of today. Not that I'm ever really sure, she thought to herself. His mood changes as quickly as a hummingbird's wings flap. She started to lift up her hand to the plate, then gently ran her fingers along its edge. She cleared her throat lightly before she spoke.
"The chunks are a perfect size for picking up, wouldn't you agree?" she risked a glance up at him. He did not look pleased with her observation.
"For picking up? What, are you planning on eating like a barbarian?"
"No," she quickly tried to mollify him. "I meant that they are a good size for either a spoon or a fork. They would sit well in a spoon's dip, and would be a good size for a fork to pierce," she looked up at him again to gauge his response. He sat back again, thinking it over.
"Yes, I suppose you're right," he let out a short laugh," I'm even smarter than I thought I was!"
"Yes, you are highly intelligent."
"Well then, go on and eat and then praise my intelligence some more!"
She cleared her throat a little. "My knight, I do not have the proper utensils with which to eat your intelligent meal."
The knight sat there for a moment. Then his face clouded over. He looked around the room. Then, cursing, he stood up, knocking back the chair he had been sitting in. With only a glance in her direction, he flung open the door, slammed it shut, locked it, and left.
He left the food behind, she thought to herself. I guess he went to get silverware. And hopefully nothing more, she added as she looked at the plate sitting in front of her.
He was back not long after the puffs of steam had stopped coming from the mush on her plate. He opened the door triumphantly, as though he had just defeated a foe and was returning with the spoils of his conquest. She looked up at him and smiled, mentally bracing herself yet again to cater to his whims. He set a spoon down beside her plate and waited expectantly. She picked up the spoon and scooped up the mush, capturing a chunk along the way. She lifted it to her mouth, and glanced briefly at him before dumping the spoon's contents into her mouth.
It was horrendous. The mush tasted like liquid grime, and the chunk, whatever it was made from, tasted like it was some sort of meat, something that had lived once, but then had crawled into this liquid horror and died. It was better than yesterday.
"This is even better than yesterday's breakfast!" she scooped up another spoonful.
"Ha, it should be. I found a surprise ingredient this morning," he said, laughing heartily.
Supporting evidence to my theory, thought the princess. The knight watched excitedly as the she finished her meal. Once she was done, he picked up the bowl and spoon, and left. The princess would have a few moments to herself before he returned. She looked up at the only window in the tower, far above her, near the ceiling. It was a clear day outside, from what she could tell. She frowned. She had been hoping for rain. Not that it's guaranteed to come inside the tower if it does. But at least if it was raining there was a possibility, if the wind was blowing right, for it to rain down inside the tower. It was a rare opportunity. The tower had a working sink and toilet, but no shower. In-between the occasional rain that fell into the tower, the princess had to make due with splashing the water from the sink onto her face, or cupping the water in her hand and attempting to clean herself with the water. If she made too big a puddle in doing this, however, the knight was sure to get angry.
"Wasting water, are we? Washing your hands after you've soiled them is one thing, but to try and wash off the glamour of living here-," here he would gesture to the squalor in the tower, "the glamour of it all. That is unacceptable." Then he would run his hand along a particularly dusty and grimy ledge, or stoop down and wipe the floor, then grab her by the wrist and rub the dirt into her arms.
"This is what you should be thankful for. You won't get this from living somewhere else. I am keeping you here, under my supervision, and you have the gall to think that any part of this is not wonderful? Where would you be if not here? Where would you be?"
Anywhere, is what the princess would like to answer, but she says, "Nowhere," instead. To placate him. To calm him down. To get him to let go of her arm before he bruised it again with his grip. He would always leave his red grip behind, if nothing else. Then she would have to endure his lecture on why everything from the "slight amount of dirt" and "occasional vermin" were really for her own sake and so she should just be thankful. She would be hoping that her dress would be dried out by the time he was done talking so that it wouldn't re-remind him of what caused him to get so angry in the first place.
So, no rain today, she thought, pulling herself back to the present. She continued looking out the window for a moment longer. Just as she was about to turn away, something caught her eye. At first she thought it was a bird in the distance, and so she almost dismissed it, but something about it made her take another look. Upon a secondary inspection, she found that the flying creature had a long tail. She stared at it for a long time, and she eventually realized that it was getting closer. It kept getting bigger and bigger, much bigger than a bird ever was. Eventually it got close enough that she could start making out the details of its body. The leathery wings, the scales on its body, a long snout. As the creature got closer, she could see its scales glint in the morning sun, and she watched its eyes roam the earth below, looking for something. She could see the intelligence in its eyes. Then those eyes cast a searching glance her way, found her eyes, and captured them. She could feel herself getting herself lost in them, like the dragon was seeing through everything she was and wasn't, reading her situation in life like looking at a mural on a wall. The dragon flew closer, changing its flight path slightly to fly more head-on towards the tower. The dragon cast its eyes over the whole of the tower, casting its head from side to side as if to look for a place to land.
The princess was shocked when the dragon actually did land on the tower. She felt the building shake with its landing, hear the scraping of the roof tiles as the dragon gained purchase. The dragon brought its head down to the open window, its eye alone taking up most of the window. She stepped back a bit. Her mouth fell agape when she heard a voice in her head say,
"Who are you?"
The dragon's eye never left hers.
Her mouth opened and closed uselessly, unable to form any coherent sentence. The dragon did not move. Just as she thought she might be able to form a sentence, the dragon turned its head away from the window. She could hear the scraping of the tiles as it apparently shifted its stance. It returned its head to the window once more, briefly looking at her then looking away at the horizon.
"Don't leave!" she exclaimed, stepping forward and reaching out her hand, as if she could hold the dragon near by wishing it.
The dragon turned its gaze back to her, then slowly turned its head away and scrambled off the roof, sending tiles falling past the window as he jumped into the sky and flew away.
"No, please.." she begged to the retreating form. Only after the last loose tile had fallen past her window did she begin to hear the screaming. She instantly froze. Apparently the knight had returned.