Microfiction – monsters and maidens – for Jane Dougherty.

For how many years has this been happening? So many that the original story has been half forgotten. All that remains is the monster in the tower, and the price of peace – a girl who draws the wrong ticket in the lottery, and is left as payment. For too many years mothers have wept and fathers have raged, and then accepted that this is the price that must be paid.

And in all those years, nobody has attempted a rescue, until now. This young man battled through those ancient spells of protection, scaled the tower wall, forced his way through the bars of crumbling iron, until he stood before us.

I was sure he had come for me.

He looked at us both – her: young and beautiful, golden hair spilling over her white dress, blue eyes filled with fearful tears; me: wizened and ugly and obviously evil. Too vile to trust, too pitiful to kill.

He knelt before her, dazzled, and she smiled at him.

“Have you come to free me?” she asked, and he, of course said yes, and kissed her out-stretched hand. That kiss broke all the spells. He led her out, into the twilight, forgetting me, never seeing my chains, or all those other wrinkled husks piled round the edges of the tower room. The husks that once were girls who drew the wrong ticket in the lottery.

Just like me.

If I could reach the window, I would call to him, tell him how she drained me of my youth and beauty and left me lying here like this. I’d warn him of what he has unleashed. I’d tell him that sometimes beautiful maidens can be monsters, too.
This is the story I tried to write yesterday, but got really wrong. This is closer to what I was hoping to get across. It’s the same picture as yesterday – Lovers by Felix Nussbaum, and it’s for Jane Dougherty. lovers_1928

Microfiction Challenge #16 – monsters and maidens – for Jane Dougherty

lovers_1928There is always a monster in the tower. There is always a maiden to be rescued. These are the rules of stories.

Look at her, then, leaning into him, so fearfully. He has his arm around her, protecting her. She’s beautiful and delicate in her white dress. See how they turn, looking back to the tower. It’s alright. Nothing is following you – no wicked witch, no angry ogre, no fiery dragon.You’re free.

When he climbed up here, torch in hand, it was obvious who the monster was. Everyone had heard the story of the beautiful girl brought here by night, all those years ago, and the foul witch who kept her imprisoned. And just as everyone had said, there was the girl – long hair still shining gold, blue eyes swimming with tears. And just as everyone had said, there was the vile thing that kept her there, that wizened, ugly creature cowering in the corner, afraid of the flame. Too ugly to pity, too pathetic to kill.

So he led her out into the twilight, as the first stars appeared, not questioning anything. Not asking the obvious question – why was it so easy? Why didn’t that wrinkled wicked creature fight back?

Not asking which of us was really the monster.


This is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. The image is The Lovers, by Felix Nussbaum. I’m not sure I’ve got this right. I might have another go at some point.