The Princess & The Ivory Tower

// October 8th, 2007 // Blog

Rapunzel dolefully stared at herself in the mirror, as she ran a golden comb through her long, silky locks.

“I'm lonely up here, in my ivory tower.”, she sighed. “I'd really like some company… or maybe, to get out more. But how do i leave a room with no doors, ten storeys high?”.

She gently placed the comb down on the dresser, slowly meandered over to the only window, and longingly gazed out onto a world she barely knew.

“Hey, Rapunzel!”

“Oh, hey Doreen! How are you?”

Doreen was the princess next door. She, too, was locked in a tall tower, with no feasible means of escape. In fact, this whole area was littered with princesses, stuck in towers. The funny thing was, no-one knew how they got there. They all woke up one morning, alone, imprisoned in their lofty cells, with no recollection of their previous lives. It was a blessing that they had one tiny window each, from which to communicate with one another, else they surely would have all gone mad by now.

“I'm fine, sweety, just, y'know…”

“Yes, i know. Don't worry, honey. Any news?”

“Well, Moira from two towers down is getting married!”

“Wow! Great! How did that happen?”

“Well, you know she has a really great Fairy Godmother. Fixed her up with a nice prince from the next Kingdom.”

“I see, well, good for her i say!”

“Yes, wonderful isn't it?”

Rapunzel and Doreen both paused, exchanging a brief moment of silent self-pity.

“Anyway, Ra, i better get back inside. I'm learning how to cross-stitch. It's really… fun.”

“OK, dear. Take care of yourself.”

Doreen disappeared into the darkness of her private cell. Poor Doreen. She was such a great girl. So pretty, and intelligent. Rapunzel could never figure out why she hadn't yet found her Prince Charming. Of course, the Prince Charming had already been snapped up by Princess Helena from the block of towers, in the opposite valley. But apparently he had two younger, single brothers: Prince Playa, and Prince Non-committal. She hadn't heard such great things about them, admittedly, but surely anything was better than this…?

“ER, EXCUSE ME!”

Rapunzel suddenly broke out of her trance. What was that?

“I SAY, YOU UP THERE! YOUNG GIRL!”

“That's a man's voice”, Rapunzel thought to herself. She hadn't met that many men, but she distinctly remembered their call. She carefully peered over the window sill.

“Yes? Who is it?”, she meekly responded.

“WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU FROM DOWN HERE!”

“I said: WHO IS IT?“, she beltered out, her voice echoing through the surrounding enchanted forest. She clearly didn't know her own strength.

“WOW… ERM, MY NAME IS RUPERT. PRINCE RUPERT. ARE YOU THE MAIDEN NAMED RAPUNZEL?”

“YES, I AM.”

“SPLENDID, SPLENDID. I WAS WONDERING, RAPUNZEL, COULD YOU BE A SPORT AND LET DOWN YOUR HAIR?”

“MY HAIR? WHY MY HAIR?”

“WELL, YOU SEE, I WAS HOPING THAT I COULD CLIMB UP AND HAVE A BRIEF CHAT WITH YOU! THIS SHOUTING ISN'T VERY CIVILISED, WHAT.”

“I DON'T SEE WHAT GOOD MY HAIR WOULD DO. IT'S NOT THAT LONG. BESIDES, THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLY PAINFUL! HAVEN'T YOU GOT A ROPE?”

“OH, A ROPE – Yes, that would make sense – ERM, OK, BE BACK IN A JIFFY!”

“OK THEN.”

“What's all that shouting about?”, Doreen hurried out to her window, cross-stitch in hand. “I swear i heard a man's voice!”, she squealed, her eyes sparkling wide with excitement.

“Yeah, it's some guy”, Rapunzel retorted, “Wanted me to let down my hair so he could climb up for a chat.”

“Your hair? Why your hair? It's not that long…”

“I know! That's what i told him! What is this, a fairy tale?!”, Rapunzel chuckled, rolling her eyes.

“Where is he now?”

“Told him to get some rope.”

“Why, don't you have any?”

Rapunzel glared at Doreen.

“Oh right… if you had some, you wouldn't still be in the tower. Sorry. All this excitement has gone clear to my head!”

Rapunzel was beginning to question her friend Doreen's supposed intelligence, when once again the sound of a booming male voice interrupted her thoughts.

“GOT IT!”

Rapunzel gestured at Doreen, “That's him. Prince Rupert. What do you think?”

“He looks OK… can't really tell from up here, but he has nice features… i think!”

Rapunzel and Doreen locked stares, and promptly burst into giggles.

“Shhh! He'll hear us! I better go, D.”

“OK, Ra, but you better tell me everything. EVERYTHING!”

“Fine, fine, now shoo!”

“I SAY, ARE YOU STILL THERE?”

“WELL, I'M NOT REALLY GOING ANYWHERE, AM I?”

“OH YES, I GUESS NOT! HA-HA”, he snorted.

Rapunzel was fast losing her already weary optimism, but what choice did she have? Besides, the guy had ROPE! Maybe this was her ticket out of this ivory dump?

Prince Rupert looked down at the rope in his hand, and proceeded to scratch his head: “SO… HOW SHOULD WE DO THIS? I MEAN, HOW AM I GOING TO GET THE ROPE TO YOU?”

“Hmm…”, Rapunzel pondered. “Good question”. She lightly rubbed her chin for a few seconds, before receiving a flash of inspiration.

“RUPERT, DO YOU HAVE A BOW AND ARROW?”

“YES! I'M QUITE THE HUNTER, ACTUALLY. IN FACT, ONLY LAST WEEK I CAUGHT A…”

“YES, YES, WONDERFUL, COULD YOU PERHAPS TIE THE ROPE TO ONE END OF THE ARROW, AND SHOOT IT UP THROUGH MY WINDOW? WOULD IT REACH?”

“OH RIGHT! GOOD IDEA! VERY CLEVER. I CAN TRY!”

Rapunzel wasn't very pretty, nor cultured, nor a snazzy dresser, but she did have a knack for the odd good idea. Plus a PhD from her studies into the molecular mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of orally induced amphibian-to-human metamorphosis – but she did wonder whether that had been a good use of her time. Frogs were slimy, cold-hearted and irritating, and frog-derived humans didn't turn out much better, in her well-informed opinion.

WHOOOOOOSH!

“Woah!”, Rapunzel instinctively ducked as an arrow came zooming two centimetres past her pale, sun-deprived face.

“YOU COULD'VE WARNED ME, RUPERT! THAT NEARLY HIT ME!”

“SORRY! MY HAND SLIPPED!”

“FINE, JUST CLIMB UP, ALREADY.”

Rapunzel slumped onto her bed. This wasn't going well, but she was determined to get the heck out of this place, even if she had to lose an eye in the process, God-forbid. The sound of Rupert straining and grunting up the side of the steep tower traveled through the air, into the emptiness of Rapunzel's room. She didn't go to check on him. What she had failed to mention to dear Rupster was that this wasn't the first time a man had tried to reach her in this manner. In fact, several princes had attempted the ascent in the past three years, ever since she found herself trapped in this place. They each tried in their own way to make it. Most gave up after a few steps, when they realised that Rapunzel really wasn't worth the effort, especially as other much fairer, sweeter princesses had far shorter towers, which they could jump out of, into the loving arms of their knights in shining armour. Rapunzel wished she could also jump, but she didn't need a PhD to tell her that there was nothing but a broken neck to be found at the end of that gamble. Besides, she'd seen it happen to too many of her fellow princesses to make that same mistake, no matter how lonely and desperate she was.

It had been several minutes, yet Rupert was nowhere to be seen. She wasn't even sure how far he had made it. She knew she was being rude not to speak to him, especially with all the effort he was making, but she didn't want to distract him at such a crucial time. Nonetheless, she made her way back to her window, to make sure that he was okay.

“Rupert, are you there? How's it going?”

“Oh, fine, fine. I just didn't realise how tiring this would be. The tower didn't look so tall from the bottom.”

“Where are you?”

“I'm just sat in a crevice in the wall here. Need a break.”

Rapunzel could tell from his voice that he was close. A lot closer than any of the other princes had ever reached. She was impressed, and felt bad for not being more helpful.

“Rupert, can i get you something? Some water, perhaps?”

“Do you have any tea? I could murder a cuppa!”.

Rapunzel smiled to herself. She wasn't sure why, but she was beginning to like this strange Rupert character.

“No, sorry… i'm not really a tea person.”

“You're not? Shame that. No, it's fine. Just give me a moment, and i'll get my strength back eventually. You know, you have a lovely view from up here. You can see for miles across the Kingdom.”

Rapunzel looked up; he was right. It was a pretty great view. She had many times seen the sun set over the distant lake, filling the sky with beautiful hues of orange, yellows and pinks. And the enchanted forest that formed a barrier around her residence, contained trees with every shade of green, that never shed their leaves, even in the coldest of winters, when the deep snow turned the whole valley into a giant, shimmering pearl. She'd never really appreciated it before. This was her prison. Any beauty she witnessed from within has always been a curt reminder of her solitude. She never thought that happiness was to be found, alone, within these walls.

Suddenly, a strange feeling began to brew inside her stomach. No, it wasn't her lunch. She felt… sad… sad at the thought of leaving her sturdy, dependable fortress of ivory. Yes, it was her prison, but it was also her home. What if it had protected her from the outside world, rather than keeping her from it? Rapunzel was confused. What was happening to her?

“Rapunzel?”

“Er, yes, Rupert, i'm here. Are you ok?”

“I guess… the thing is. I'm really quite tired, and, no offense, but, i'm not sure what i'm getting myself into by climbing into your room. I thought it was a good idea at first. I had heard some nice things about you from some people i know.”

“You had?”

“Yes, that's why i came here in the first place. But, well, i've never seen you up close, and if i make it to your room, that's a form of commitment, right? It's my duty to rescue you, and take you away from here.”

“I suppose…”

“But, what if…?”

“What if, what?”

“Just, what if?”

Rapunzel's heart began to sink. “What if?” was a good question, which she had no answer for. A part of her was now even scared to leave the ivory tower at all, never mind with a man she hardly knew, even if he was kind of sweet.

“I don't know what to say, Rupert. It's up to you. You don't have to save me. I've been here for quite a while now, and i've survived so far. Maybe i'll figure a way down by myself, eventually. Thanks for trying though.”

Rupert wasn't sure what to do, himself. He had already climbed up so far, was he really going to descend empty-handed? Was that fair on poor Rapunzel?

“We better make our decision soon, Rupert, before the sun sets.”

“Yes… we better.”

Rapunzel resting on her window sill, and Rupert in his crevice, both looked out into the distance, losing themselves in the captivating view from the ivory tower, each engaged in their own thoughts of “what if?”, yet neither really knowing how the story would end.

37 Responses to “The Princess & The Ivory Tower”

  1. piniyini says:

    Hmmm, a nice read but a cliffhanger endind which me doesn’t like … did you write all of this?

  2. mummyjaan says:

    Hmmm… if it’s a fictionalized account based of a real-life situation, I wish Rapunzel and her prince well…..with their decision…..

    You will post the ending, won’t you?

    Eid mubarak in advance.

  3. Duh! It will be a Happy ever after!

  4. iMuslim says:

    piniyini: funny question, but yes, i did.

    mummyjaan: welcome oh sister of such cute nameness. :) I’ll make sure both Rapunzel and Rupert keep me informed. Not sure if the sun has set on them yet. Enchanted Kingdoms exist in an altogether different time zone. In fact, time has been known to stop completely for some, e.g., Sleeping Beauty.

    OM: Another princess who is soon to escape her own tower. Do share your tips with Rapunzel, now won’t you? She is quite hopeless.

  5. LOL. You need to go over and read my blog missy :D

  6. Sumera says:

    May they think long and hard and reach a solution that’ll benefit them both” :D

    I liked the way you wrote this! Was amusing in parts :)

  7. Just remember, when a prince finds his princess, nothing will keep them apart. Life is about choices and only they can choose to be apart.

  8. AnonyMouse says:

    I love it!
    Deep thought, and salaatul-Istikhaara are always the things to depend on for such serious situations…

    While some may hope R & R are perfect for each other (their dialogue hints that it may be so), I’m not so sure – I don’t think that we have “one true soul mate”; rather, there are numerous people out there in the world with whom we could get along with and love… it just depends on such things as the circumstances and the effort put into it.

  9. piniyini says:

    Well it was very touching and beatifully written, I thought maybe just maybe it was a pass along email which you could relate to but I guess not.

    Inshallah you’ll find your Rupert (all in due time).

  10. iMuslim says:

    OM: You’re such a sucker for a happy ending… :P

    Sumi: Jazakallah… glad you were amused. My attempt at comedy tends to be quite cheesy, so not sure what that says about you. ;)

    Mousey: Aww, such wise words from such a lickle person… hehe. I do agree with you in one way, but it’s obvious from the fact that i just penned a fairy tale (well, a mutated version of existing tales) that i also have secret notions of “the one”, and “happily ever after”. I’m just a walking bag of contradictions…

    piniyini: Jazakallah for the compliments. I’m actually quite bad at story telling, usually. I mean, i never got good grades for Creative Writing at school. I probably subconsciously stole the whole idea from someone else, so you are right to question the source. :)

  11. hema says:

    she should just stay in her tower, the view is so pretty and it’s so safe.
    plus princess Helena probably wishes she is still iers, but now feels she has an image to uphold.
    (i do realise i”m an eternal cynic)

    ps Fairy tales with a modern twist? this reminds me of Angela Carter:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bloody_Chamber

  12. AnonyMouse says:

    To tell the truth, fairy tales are one of my guilty pleasures… for all my scorn of sappy sexist romance, I can’t help curling up with my big “Favourite Fairy Tales” book that somebody gave me when I was 6 (although I wonder why I was given such a thing at such a tender age – it’s the original grim, not-so-happily-ever-after versions, with Snow White’s stepmother being forced to wear red-hot iron shoes and dance in them ’till she dropped dead!).
    If you feel bored to death one weekend and have absolutely nothing better to do, look up “The Storyteller’s Daughter” by Cameron Dokey. It’s meant for the young-teen crowd, but hey… aren’t we all young teens at heart? :p

    Hema, that book looks totally up my alley!
    I’m trying to recall which other author wrote an anthology of grimm (hehe, pardon the pun! :p) twisted fairy tales…

  13. iMuslim says:

    heeeeeeema… why so cynical, my love? Though, i am prone to cynicism just as easily… it depends on my mood, which in turn depends on the weather. ;)

    Mouse: i remember reading the real Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales when i was young, and they were nothing like Disney made them out to be! I don’t remember much of it now, but i do recall being quite saddened by the real ending to the Little Mermaid… sniffle.

    Those Angela Carter stories look… freaky. Especially the Bloody Chamber. Though talk about spoiler site; what’s the point of reading it now, i know the ending?! humph.

    Has anyone seen The Picture of Dorian Gray? Kind of like a modern day (well, released in 1945) fairy tale… very freaky.

  14. Alefyah says:

    wow! Nice way of expressing your current situation. I think this is the first time a story has got me excited wondering what will happen. All the best before the sun sets ;)

  15. hema says:

    ok i dind’t want you to read them, i just said it reminded me of it!
    some of them stories are really rude!

  16. iMuslim says:

    Alefyah: I am really flattered by your comment, mashallah, cos i luuuuurve your stories – so it really means a lot coming from you! :D

    hema: if you didn’t want me to read them, why did you link to it?? Anyway, i just read the first three… :)

  17. Faraz says:

    Allegorical Absurdity?

    Rapunzel should enjoy the tower for now. There’s nothing worse than escaping, then realizing later that she was happier within the confines of the tower.

  18. iMuslim says:

    Faraz! I was waiting for your comment… yeah, i guess this was a subconscious homage to your famous A.A.s. :)

  19. Shan says:

    Very well written. There must be something better than waiting for rescue though. I mean, life doesn’t stop just because the princes are busy playing chess, right? Rapunzel can do so much of value while she waits. I don’t think the stone walls of the tower need be a prison, let alone a boring one. There’s so much straw that can be spun into gold, in the meantime.

  20. iMuslim says:

    Like, hello? Rapunzel was brushing her hair at the start of this story. And you claim she doesn’t do anything of value! Pfft… ;)

  21. xj220s says:

    if you are the real princess of the ivory tower? what name did you tell me
    when i first asked you?
    only the REAL princess would know this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    also if you are the REAL princess you would know that i made it into your room!!!!
    if you get this answer right then i will take you out for dinner and we can talk further.
    my num +60142407016

  22. zhaid says:

    hey you..

    how are you!!!!

    hasn’t anyone come to get you out of the tower yet?

    you know if someone does come to get you out… i hope you are nice to them??!!!

    anyways hope you are o.k?

    take care

    xj220s

  23. zhaid says:

    If anyone REALLY KNEW the TRUTH about this story and how it UNFOLDED you would cry your eyes out!!! (even the heavens cry in this as do the birds sing!)

    I have to admit that if the real story is ever told in all its entirety…
    it would without doubt be one of the GREATEST ever told since the beginning of time..

  24. iMuslim says:

    Hmm, I wonder why this ancient post is still getting attention?

    I think the original story of Rapunzel is quite sad, as are most fairy tales before being remoulded by Disney.

    Thankfully my own story wasn’t so sad, alhamdulillah.

    And xj220s, you’re quite brave leaving your phone number on a random blog…

  25. xj220s says:

    people….

    i think i need to make something very clear to you!

    this story is not a piece of fiction!

    read between the lines??

    and believe me!! when i tell you, that this is a REAL MODERN DAY ACCOUNT of something which is going on right now 6000miles apart!!

    maybe one day the TRUE ACCOUNT in all its ENTIRETY will come out.

  26. AnonyMouse says:

    *Is thoroughly weirded out by the above commentator*

  27. xj220s says:

    It would appear that we have many non-believers gathered here!!
    I always thought muslims were believers!!
    anyway please spare a thought for the two people who take centre stage in this sad story.
    Fate has dealt them a very cruel hand..
    they are seperated by over 6000miles and a whole army of people who dont wish them to be together.
    this story has shades of romeo and juliet but i pray to god it doesnt end like that.
    If you guys want to do something constructive pray that this story has a happy ending!!

  28. xj220s says:

    Im smiling a million smiles at the moment as I remember my fondest memory of you….
    The first time I ever noticed you!!
    It was late one night I had just returned to the hotel..
    As I walked past reception I noticed someone staring at me!!
    I looked up and it was you!!
    I remember thinking “my god thats a big smile”,”I wonder who she is looking at?”.
    I looked around but it was only you and me, much to my surprise….
    At this moment something magical happened to me, I suppose this was the moment when that cupid guys arrow had pierced my heart, smack centre in the middle!!
    I pride my self on knowing I see alot of things before they happen but my god did I not see this!!
    This is my fondest memory of you.

  29. iMuslim says:

    I do not doubt that you are indeed a prince caught in a tragic fairy tale – however I must emphasise: NOT MINE. The story I wrote above is allegorical but it is also over, finito! I that pray yours has a happier ending.

  30. xj220s says:

    Thankyou imuslim..
    Youn know my story is by FAR the much better story!!
    But more importantly, its 100% true!!!
    If you guys knew HOW the two stories are connected, it would blow your minds!!
    I know im beginning to gather a cult following here and for you guys and dolls, do not fear for xj220s is here!! and I will keep you posted as to how this one pans out.

  31. xj220s says:

    People, im very sad to report that there is no news on the princess!
    I have searched everywhere for her, sent her millions of text messages and even left my heart in her last known whereabouts but….
    I keep drawing a blank!!
    I swear the “not knowing what has happened to her”, is the absolutely worst part of all of this.
    This year would have been a very special year for both mine and the princess’s birthdays fall during the holy month of ramadan.

  32. piniyini says:

    dude, get the message

    she doesn’t wanna know

  33. xj220s says:

    piniyini you miserable old git.

    shut your cake hole!

  34. iMuslim says:

    Umm, play nice, guys…

    Sorry to hear that xj220s.

  35. xj220s says:

    thankyou imuslim for your understanding in my time of great sadness.
    You are genuine unlike that twit piniyini.
    One more word out of him and part 3 of this story will need to be titled “piniyini flies out of the ivory tower!!”.

  36. piniyini says:

    I’d love to meet you in the real world, honestly I would.

  37. xj220s says:

    And so would about a hundred thousand people!
    what makes you so special?
    you can wait your turn just like everyone else!

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