The Maiden in the Tower
1.A man promises his unborn daughter to a witch.
He can see the tower as it is built. It ought to take a hundred men a year, but the witch touches the stones, and they grow up to the heavens.
2.In her prison, the daughter lets down her hair for the witch and a prince to climb.
Sometimes when the witch arrives, she tries to say no. Her eyes fly shut from the pain as she’s climbed. But the witch is the only one who feeds her, and once they’ve become tangled in her hair, there’s no way of saying whose hands they are.
When no one is around, she sometimes feels the ghosts of fingers tugging at her scalp. Her head is too heavy to hold upright, so she keeps her eyes lowered to the floor.
3.The witch, learning the truth, blinds the prince and exiles the girl to the desert.
A desert in the midst of the woods, empty of anything to pray to except for the thirsty sky. The trees close in on all four sides. They look like home, feel like a pair of arms holding her tight. It’s hard to say whether this is an embrace or a restraint.
Her hair has been chopped unevenly, so she finishes the work, removing each strand from the root until her head is bare.
4.The couple is reunited. The woman’s tears restore the prince’s sight.
In the mornings, she wakes up with a head that is far too easy to lift. It would be wrong to say she misses the weight, so she doesn’t.
About the Author
Hailey Spencer has an obsession for fairy tales and a tattoo of Baba Yaga’s house on her calf. Her poetry has been published online and in print. She appeared in Episode 24 of the Mytholadies podcast to discuss Tale-Type 510A, commonly referred to as Cinderella. She lives in Seattle with her wife, Elizabeth.