Once upon a time, a long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a princess lived in a tower. We shan’t bother going into too much detail regarding what the princess looked like, because let’s be honest, you’re all going to imagine her differently anyway.
Maybe she had golden hair that floated like a halo of afternoon apricot delight around creamy white skin and cornflower blue eyes. Maybe she was a brunette, and had ravishingly exotic almond shaped eyes that always looked quizzical as she popped cherries with her rosy lips. Maybe her close cropped rainbow mohawk showed beads of sweat, muscles rippling as she slightly smudged very thick eyeliner doing her five hundreth push-up of the day. Maybe her long red curls tumbled down her naked body and back, feet resting on plush carpet as she drew back her curtains to take in a brisk morning breeze.
In any case, take your pick. I don’t mind in the slightest which princess tickles your fancy, the point is that she is beautiful to you. Irreplaceable, irresistible and irritatingly attractive.
The tower, on the other hand must be described precisely. This is non-negotiable.
Slate and limestone high walls are decorated with lanterns on the outside, lighting the way home for errant princes and knights who might need a warm bed for the night. Green plants and a red chair create a contrasting but not distasteful tableau on the balcony, sadly there’s often some laundry there somewhere too.
On the walls, creatures of the forest peer in on her business, deer and birds. There’s an ebony and gold clock above a well-loved guitar, pendulum swinging back and forth as sure as the sun rising and setting. There’s a magic window that shows her every dream that she might have coming true, and a few that she mightn’t as well. There are bookcases swollen with love, tomes on every subject imaginable, from anatomy to Mr. Darcy and The Art of War. For some reason, although the whole dewey decimal system is definitely represented one way or another, there is definitely a preponderance of entries related to nourishment from only the green things of the Earth. There’s a grey throne and a green velvet armchair, a wooden table perfect for propping feet on. There’s the smell of roses in the air, well actually, the smell of a lot of different flowers. And lemon fudge.
There’s way too many scented candles burning, and dimmer lamps in the bedroom. A creaky old bed that has memories of happiness in it, soft pink blankets and round Egyptian cushions of all colours.
There’s croissants, chocolates and ice cream in the kitchen. A tea towel saying that you are loved cherry much and a bowel of cherries laid out for lucky visitors in love.
Another room is just tree tops and tradewinds. There’s a magic glowing box with a traveller far away imprinted on it that shows her glorious and learned things. A place to rest weary small heads on yellow quilted bed sheets. There are plenty of dinosaurs and tiny things too, for little princes who might want to stayover on school nights.
So from within this very specific tower (trust me I will know if you aren’t imagining it properly so I hope you were all paying attention, and yes there is a quiz), the princess started dancing. Thump, thump, thump went her feet on the floor. Swish, swish, swish went her hips in time to the music. Sway, sway, sway went her hair as it flew around her. Twirl, twirl, twirl went her hands over and above her body.
She stepped on the balcony and started singing. At first breathless, then stronger and sweeter. With every verse she summoned another traveller, and with every chorus she enchanted another soul. Until there was a veritable army laying at her feet, dying to hear just one more song. For a time, all was well, ferocious and fearsome alike tamed by her beauty. An idyllic festival of harmony that obviously wasn’t going to last.
Jealous rhymes and hymns of whispered hatred started amongst the devoted, some of whom were seeking to have the princess sing only for them. For men are selfish, small-minded creatures when the mood takes them and let’s be honest, the mood takes them most of the time. The flickering fire of hatred transformed those men into a dragon, snorting fire and chasing away any good people who might have been tempted to stay to hear her song. This horrible green monster, born of the lowest impulses of humanity, wrapped itself tightly around the base of the princess’s tower, cutting her off in truth from the world that she loved so much. Then, the princess saw that she was in danger, and she stopped singing and dancing from the fright. In stunned silence with bated breath she asked her heart what the right thing to do was?
Should she fight the scary dragon, since she had all the training and time in the world to do so, armed with the knowledge that defending her home was a noble and just cause? Or should she run away in shame, feeling horror that she had brought such an awful thing into the world, abandoning her beautiful tower forever?
In the end, she did neither of those things. She sang a soft and sweet song to that dragon, and it got sleepier and sleepier, transforming from an angry and wild beast to only a lonely and unloved creature with oddly pointed ears. “KnifeEars,” the princess whispered in the dragon’s ear, “I shall call you KnifeEars. Thank you for rescuing me.” and she mounted the dragon’s back, hands grasping tight onto warm scales, and she adjusted things so they were balanced and just. With nary another word, they flew away into the starlight, her song rippling into the night behind her as the princess rode him along the river of life.
Now I’m not going to lie here and say that she lived happily ever after. I mean, the princess didn’t even bring provisions on this impromptu dragon-ride-into-the-night adventure. She probably thought they were just going to eat the fruits of passion or some other totally impractical though wholly enjoyable notion. Pfft. Princesses am I right? So no, she didn’t live happily ever after. She almost fell off like a dozen times, then felt like her toes were cold and realised she’d forgotten to wear stockings. Honestly, see this is why planning is important for dates. Pay attention, boys.
Eventually though, she figured it out. Because she didn’t give up. She kept going, and first they stopped at a town and they learned how to busk as a dragon and singer (thumping from a dragon’s tail makes for a great backbeat as it turns out). After a few weeks of this, they decided to part ways due to artistic differences mostly related to whether or not the drum section was perhaps getting a bit too loud. That was just as well though, because the princess decided that she was maybe tired of roaming around aimlessly and wanted to travel the world in a more organised manner. The dragon ended up becoming famous for his bacon and camembert pie-making skills, which is a whole other adventure that I’ll have to tell you some time.
You see, the princess and the dragon might not have lived happily ever after, but they did live. The princess wasn’t stuck in some magical pretty tower for all eternity anymore, waiting for princes to visit her. The dragon wasn’t trying desperately to snarl at passers-by, guarding someone that wasn’t his to begin with. Friends were toasted to on their birthdays, frowning librarians summoned for their expertise and sick children cheered up with the judicious application of face paint. Life went on, and even though the tower might have felt a little lonely now that the princess was off gallivanting around the countryside, for the most part everything was going to be just fine.