Chapter 1: One Day
The sea was vast and filled with evil, or at least that was what the six year old girl with golden locks was constantly told growing up. Men with sharp teeth lurked beyond their reef, with even sharper weapons and malicious intent.
That’s why she had to stay on the island, in their little safe haven where nothing bad could ever happen. Where the only danger waiting for them was the occasional poison oak, wild boar, and vicious storm.
“But why do you get to go?” The child would ask as her mother readied her sailboat to return to the lands beyond. “You can take me, I’m a big girl now! An-and you’ll be there with me.”
Her mother would smile at the little girl as if she had just said the cutest little joke in the world.
“My dear, I go because we need supplies. As for you, they will see your hair and think horrible thoughts. They will want it all to themselves and will steal you; then we will never be together again.” She explained, drawing her daughter into her arms. “I can go because I’m immune to all of it, having lived there for so long and being, well, normal.”
She patted at the young girl’s head as the child panicked. “But you can protect me!”
“My precious flower, don’t you see I already am? By keeping you here, where it’s safest from ruffians, dark magic, and worst of all, the plague! That would kill you minutes after meeting one of those filthy mongrels.”
Her daughter gasped and hugged her mother tighter, deepening the woman’s smile. She kept the joy out of her tone when continuing, “Trust me my dear, mother knows best.”
Eleven years later
The current pushed in and out violently against the white sand beach while the clouds above began to grey. As unfortunate as the weather looked approaching the lonesome island, the girl with the long golden locks watched it form with a grin from where she was seated at her treehouse windowsill.
“It’s going to rain!” She exclaimed in joy, moving away from her spot to journey up the wooden staircase. Her heavy hair trailed behind her across the floor, unraveling from the bundle it was in on the windowsill.
“Mother, a storm‘s coming!” She blurted happily as she burst through the doors at the top of the staircase, gesturing down towards the window below.
The room had little furniture, and unlike the rest of their treehouse, it was bare of colorful paintings done by the golden haired child. Instead there was a large bed, vanity and matching chair, a wardrobe, and a full body mirror propped up against the wall. That and the woman the child had just called mother.
The woman had long dark curls that was corrupted by a few wild silver locks, a much different look in comparison to her bright and youthful daughter. Before the golden hair child entered the woman was seated at the vanity applying makeup to herself. With the unexpected disturbance she jumped, smearing the lipstick she was applying down her chin.
She turned to her daughter with a look of anger, snatching what joy the girl previously held and replacing it with fear.
“Rapunzel dear, what have I told you about knocking?!” She scolded as she stood up, putting her tube of red lipstick down onto the vanity as she moved towards the child.
The girl’s face paled, anxiously shaking her head as she spoke, “I-I’m sorry mother, but a storm is coming. You won’t be able to leave for awhile, a-and we have to better bind the boat before the wind picks up.”
“That does not excuse you from your manners Rapunzel! You know better than to just storm in with. . .” The woman paused for a few seconds as if just barely considering the child’s words, a more pressing look taking over. “Yes yes thank you Rapunzel, hurry along while I get my things.”
With that another smile took form on the golden haired girl as she rushed out of the room, nearly tripping on her 70 feet of hair as she hurried to get to the door. Moments later her mother stepped out wearing a dark blue cloak, the hood pulled over her brown locks and lipstick completely removed from her face. She hurried to the front door and threw it open, not caring to look back at her daughter who followed her like a duckling would it’s mother. Together they journeyed across the beach to a small sailboat tied to a wooden rode dug deep into the sand, the boat pulling against the rope as the current called it in.
“Come on Rapunzel we must hurry.” The mother demanded and stood to the side while the young girl grabbed the rope and loosened it from the wood, pulling with all her might to bring to boat in. Her mother watched on, waiting until the boat was completely out of the water before moving to help push the boat through the damp sand.
Together they brought the boat closer to the house and tied it to a nearby tree.
“Good work dear,” her mother offered as praise before returning into the house, the child remaining near the boat awhile to catch her breath.
Her hands ached with fresh burns brought on by the ropes but at this point she knew better than to rub at them. She would have to wash and bind them later so they wouldn’t swell, something she had learned to do overtime after completing this chore without proper gloves.
After a minute of heavy breathing she straightened her posture and returned inside. Her mother was out of sight when she reentered their house, most likely in her room which left Rapunzel to finish with her rainy day chores in silence.
After fixing her hands she quickly went about placing buckets and cups around the house in particular locations she knew would leak.
Once she was certain she was finished, the girl moved to start a fire in the clay pit and began to make her wild mushroom stew she knew her mother especially liked because it used so little ingredients from the far away lands.
As she stirred the pot her gaze wandered over to the portrait she had painted years ago of gold flying lanterns, smiling softly as she thought on those lanterns seen once a year brought by the mysterious lands. The ones that flew on her birthday every single year.
“One day mother will take me to see them.” She whispered and a squeak sounded from her dress. She looked down to see her pet chameleon crawling out from her dress pocket, climbing up to seat itself on her shoulder. With a smile she looked back up at the painting.
The storm lasted for two days, much to Rapunzel’s mother’s dismay. Rapunzel on the other hand was thrilled to spend this time in her company, speaking and playing games with her every chance she could get.
On the morning of day four Rapunzel was met by the sound of birds rather than thunderous rain. She sat up in bed and stretched her arms out, releasing a loud yawn before rising from her cot. When she left her room she found her mother already roaming about, a cloth bag in her hand which only meant one thing.
“You’re leaving so soon?” Rapunzel frowned, stepping into the kitchen that her mother was currently raiding.
“Oh Rapunzel, you know I was meant to leave days ago. We need more supplies my dear.” She mused as she opened a cabinet and pulled out the last few pieces of fruit. This meant Rapunzel would have to go to their garden to pick more for herself, but her mind was occupied on her mother instead.
Rapunzel stood a few feet from the older woman, her hands nervously playing with her hair as she began with a nervous tone, “You know, my birthday is coming up-“
“You know I hate when you mumble dear, you really do need to speak up.” Her mother scolded as she loaded her satchel. Rapunzel exhaled, taking a few moments to calm herself before saying, “My birthday is coming up, and I’m almost an adult now. I was just, er, well-“
“And now you’re stuttering! I don’t understand where you got these habits from. I surely did not teach them to you.” The woman chided. She closed the cabinet and turned to her daughter with one raised eyebrow as if encouraging her to continue.
“I’m sorry mother. I was just wondering if you think it’s time you let me accompany you.” Rapunzel asked, flinching as her mother’s expression took a dark turn. “Wow I just used ‘you’ a lot, didn’t I?”
Before her mother could speak Rapunzel quickly interjected. “Please, those lanterns that fly every year on my birthday, can’t you show them to me in person? Up close? It would just be for one day, then we can come right back! A-and we don’t even have to speak to anyone- and I could hide my hair even!”
Her mother glared for a few moments before sighing, putting her bag down so hands were free. She stepped forward and collected her daughter into a hug, resting a hand on her nape.
Her other hand patted at her daughter’s golden hair and softly exclaimed, “My precious flower, you know it isn’t safe for you out there. Others would want to take you and use you for your powers, so you must remain here on the island where it is safe.”
She pulled away from her and pushed a few loose strands away from her defeated face so their eyes could meet.
“But I can’t just stay here forever. I’m nearly eighteen, mother-“
“And what is that to villains with sharp teeth? No dear, you are to remain here. I will take care of you like I always have. Now listen to your mother and please stop this nonsense. Go get the boat ready, okay dear?” Her mother said before moving around her and up the staircase to finish getting ready.
“Yes mother.” Rapunzel said numbly, doing as she was told. It took her no time to unbind the boat and push it down towards the water, waiting patiently for her mother to come. In a matter of minutes she was there, her cloak on and her satchel slung over her shoulder.
“Alright Rapunzel.” She smiled, carefully setting her bag into her boat before kneeling down to fish an item out. Rapunzel did her best to smile and approach her as though she already knew what was coming. It happened every time her mother would leave, after all.
Her mother pulled out her wooden brush and sat herself on the edge of the boat, taking her daughter’s hair in her grasp before beginning to brush at it.
“ Flower, gleam and glow
Let your power shine
Make the clock reverse
Bring back what once was mine .”
They sang together and Rapunzel’s golden hair slowly began to glow, sending a ripple of light over her mother’s skin. Any major wrinkles in sight dramatically shrank in size and most of her random grey hairs reverting back to it’s youthful shade of dark brown.
Both women smiled at one another. Within minutes the older of the two climbed aboard the boat and was being pushed into the sea, waving at her daughter before lowering the sail and using her ore to help her over the rift.
Rapunzel stayed there looking on as her mother disappeared into blue, her chameleon only leaving her pocket when the coast was clear.
The animal squeaked when he made it to her shoulder, drawing her attention from the ocean to her beloved pet. It’s wide eyes and excited grin told her everything.
“Don’t worry Pascal, we still have hours before the sun begins to set. Enough time to see what the storm brought in and restock the pantry.” Rapunzel assured her friend warmly.
The young girl conversed with her chameleon friend, walking along the beach shore with her long hair trailing far behind her. Her green eyes scanned the sand for any treasure that might have washed up during the storm. Her calm demeanor was not shared with Pascal, who was squeaking with excitement as Rapunzel walked along.
His excitement was not unwarranted, afterall Rapunzel and Pascal’s favorite items have been found after storms. After the last one she was able to find a cloth doll, a few wooden boards, some old rope, and half of a fishing rod. Pascal now sleeps with said doll.
An hour had gone by and all that was found were a few wooden boards, to which she dragged back towards the treehouse her and her mother took lodging in. She was just about to give up on her search, which by now had taken her to the opposite side of the island, when she saw the glistening object up ahead.
Pascal squeaked with anticipation and together they rushed over to it. As she drew nearer she was able to make out a piece of glass sticking out from the sand, the sun's reflection on the crystal being what had caught her eye. She kneeled over and began to carefully dig it out, gapping at the foreign object.
It was a beautiful ring of gold with white and pink glass embedded into it at one peak of the elegant piece.
“It’s . . . Beautiful. But, uh, what is it,” Rapunzel muttered as she lifted the large golden band to eye level. Pascal gazed at it in awe, watching as Rapunzel turned it in her hand to see it at all angles.
“What do you think it is?” She finally asked, glancing down at her friend. He shrugged before gesturing at his wrist.
She slid her arm through it and let it rest on her elbow for a moment before removing it.
Pascal squeaked to get her attention, this time pointing it at his head.
So Rapunzel followed suit. She raised the unfamiliar object to her head and rested it there; the band sat on her golden hair perfectly, bringing another noise from Pascal and a grin from her.
“I think it’s a headband of some sort Pascal.” She smiled, glancing down at him. Pascal grinned, giving her a thumbs up before climbing up to get a better look at the object. Once he was out of sight, however, he began to squeak with urgency.
“What? What is it?!” Rapunzel panicked, raising a hand for her friend to jump on. He did, and once she brought him down to eye level he frantically gestured further down the beach.
Her gaze followed, narrowing her eyes to get a better look at the large, unmoving mass further down the shore.
“What is that?” She frowned and stood straight. With caution she began to walk towards the treasure. It was less sparkly than what was currently on her head. A lot less sparkly.
She stopped a few feet from the mass, lips parting yet no words were able to escape for a good minute.
What she had found she had never found before, similar to her new headpiece.
It was a body.