[Chapter Two, Mother Knows Best]
"Rapunzel!" cried a voice outside the tower window, "Let down your ha~ir!"
She took a breath in, "It's time!"
Pascal lept up, as though a proud golden retriever encountering her on, before hiding behind a curtain higher on the wall.
"I know, I know," she whispered, stuffing the letter into her pocket, "Don't let her see you!"
"Rapunzel?" the voice cried again, "I'm not getting any younger down here,"
She ran excitedly to the window, "Coming Mother!" and threw a fistful of hair out.
The woman at the bottom made a loop, put her foot in, and Rapunzel pulled her up though the window.
"Hi," she gasped, "Welcome home Mother,"
"Oh Rapunzel," the women said stepping onto the floor, "How you manage to do that every single day without fail! It looks simply exhausting darling,"
"Oh, it's nothing," Rapunzel replied.
"Then I don't know why it takes so long!" the woman, her mother, said tapping her on the nose and chucked, "Oh, I'm just teasing darling,"
"Alright," Rapunzel said turning to face her mother who had walked over to a mirror. "So, Mother-"
"Rapunzel, look in that mirror," said mother, pulling Rapunzel to her side, "Do you know what I see? I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady."
"Oh look! You're here too!" Mother laughed, "I'm just teasing, stop taking everything so seriously!"
"Ok, so Mother as I was saying-"
"Rapunzel, Mother's feeling a bit run down, would you sing for me dear? Then we'll talk."
"Of course Mother!" Rapunzel darted off to get her Mother's favorite chair, her stool, a brush, and placed her hair in Mother's lap.
"Flower, gleam and glow, let your power shine, make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine!" she sang as quickly as possible.
"Rapunzel!" Mother huffed as a jolt of golden magic flew into her.
"So I've been getting these letters-"
Mother sighed, "I thought we'd dealt with this? That letter was a mistake, there is no Ms. Conera here."
"But you did say I was adopted," Rapunzel said, "Maybe that's my birth name?"
She sighed, "I'm eleven. That's when you got your letter."
"And I don't think you're magic darling." Mother said, "Yes, your hair is, but that's the only sign we've seen. If you were really magic, then a lot more would be happening, don't you agree?"
She began to unpack the basket she carried up with her.
"But you said they never get it wrong!"
Mother sighed, closed the window and began to sing.
"You want to go outside? Why, Rapunzel! Look at you, as fragile as a flower, still a little sapling, just a sprout. You know why we stay up in this tower~"
She gestured above her.
"I know but…"
"That's right, to keep you safe and sound, dear. guess I always knew this day was coming! Knew that soon you'd want to leave the nest!" Mother closed the shades,"Soon, but not yet!"
"But-" all forms of protest were silenced.
"Shh! Trust me, pet! Mother knows best!"
It was now pitch back inside the tower.
"Mother knows best! Listen to your mother! It's a scary world out there! Mother knows best! One way or another! Something will go wrong, I swear! Ruffians, thugs! Poison ivy, quicksand! Cannibals and snakes! The plague!"
She continued, each presenting each new fear with a little demonstration.
"Also large bugs, men with pointy teeth, and stop, no more, you'll just upset me! Mother's right here, Mother will protect you. Darling, here's what I suggest! Skip the drama! Stay with mama! Mother knows best!"
Mother laughed as Rapunzel tried to use candles to light up the room, putting each one out as soon as they were lit.
"Mother knows best! Take it from your mumsy! On your own, you won't survive! Sloppy, underdressed!"
She noted Rapunzel's bare feet.
"Immature, clumsy! Please, they'll eat you up alive! Gullible, naïve! Positively grubby! Ditzy and a bit, well, hmm vague! Plus, I believe! Gettin' kinda chubby! I'm just saying 'cause I wuv you! Mother understands! Mother's here to help you! All I have is one request!"
She paused. "Rapunzel?"
"Don't ever ask to leave this tower again."
"Yes, Mother." Rapunzel sighed, clearly giving up on ever leaving for school.
"I love you very much, dear."
"I love you more."
"I love you most." Mother kissed Rapunzel's temple.
"Don't forget it, you'll regret it! Mother knows best!"
And she used her daughter's hair to climb down the window.
He wasn't sure how or why he was running from a horse. All he knew was that the thing wanted his satchel and he wasn't about to let it win.
And then the satchel wound up on a tree hanging over a cliff.
And then he and the horse had a mad dash for it while on the darn tree.
And then he got it!
And then they were falling.
This was so bizarre that the usual voices in his head had been completely silent.
Then he was back on the ground, hiding in a cave.
FROM A HORSE!
He peeked out from the ivy covering his hiding place. Was that horse sniffing him out?
Ok, so I'm hiding in a cave. From a horse. That doesn't seem to realize, it's a horse. He thought to himself. REALLY? A HORSE? WHY NOT A BEAR? I can fight a bear and not look like I'm completely nuts! It HAD to be a horse!
That was when he noticed the light coming from the other end of his cave. And, like every other thirteen year old running from a crazed horse, he went toward it. Maybe there was someone on the other side. Maybe they had horse repellant. With the way his day was going, it probably existed.
But instead of a person, or a town, or the crazy horse, it was a tower.
In the middle of a clearing with high rock walls.
A FREAKING TOWER?
Well at least he had a place to hide where the horse couldn't get to him.
Unless, you know, it could climb!
He really hoped it couldn't climb.
Once he had approached the tower, he pulled out some arrows he happened to have in his satchel, and began his accent. Only after reaching the top, opening a window, and climbing safely inside, did he think to check to see if his prize was still in the bag.
It was still there.
"Alone at last," he sighed.
Rapunzel had taken refuge behind one of her sewing mannequins. Whoever this person was, it couldn't be good that they'd found her! What if he wanted her hair? He couldn't have her hair! That was the whole point of living in the tower, so she would be safe from people who would use her for her power. Like Mother said, she might not be magic, but her hair definitely was.
And he couldn't have it!
So she hit him with her frying pan.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now she had an unconscious person on her floor and didn't know what to do with him.
She tapped him gently with the frying pan twice, just to make sure he wouldn't wake up before she had a plan. Pascal shrugged. All the commotion had brought him out of his hiding place.
Rapunzel then used the edge of the pan to turn his face over, he couldn't breathe if he was lying on it, and she didn't want to kill him….just make sure he was knocked out.
Pascal pointed to the painting Mother's had made on the floor during her song.
What if he had pointy teeth?
She checked. They were blunt. Every last one of them. Well, he did look to be only a few years older than her...Maybe his teeth didn't become pointed until he was older? She flicked the bit of hair covering his eye away. Good, it was closed. He wasn't awake. He….was actually kind of nice looking. Like the princes from the books Mother had read to her when she was younger.
Then his eye opened.
Well this wouldn't do. Mother could be back at any minute! She had to hid him, but where - her closet! Mother would never look in there! Once she had used her hair to drag him over to the closet, Rapunzel tried to push him inside.
It didn't work.
She tried to throw him in from the ceiling with her hair.
That worked! But now her hair was stuck inside.
After untangling her hair, she tried to push him in again. He was mostly inside this time.
That worked for about a second.
She tried to push him in with her broom.
Ok, so a few of his fingers were pointing out, but he stayed inside once they had been pushed in. It had worked. Just to keep the doors closed with a chair -
"Ok, ok," Rapunzel said to herself, "I've got a person in my closet."
She looked in her mirror. "I've got a person in my closet, I've got a person in my closet!"
Brushing off her frying pan she said, "Still think I'm too weak to handle myself out there Mother? Well, tell that to my frying pa-"
Rapunzel had hit herself with the frying pan. Rubbing her head, she noticed something on the floor. It looked like a kind of bag for carrying things, and it was open. Something glittered inside. She pulled it out so she could examine it better. It was bronze, gold maybe? It was hard to tell because it had been rusted with age, and it was hard to tell, but the little point piece at the top looked like the head of an eagle with the rest of the metal acting as wings. There was white gems all round it, and a big blue one in the center.
Now to figure out what it was.
Maybe, a bracelet?
Nope, too big.
Maybe you were supposed to look through the gems?
No, that just made everything blue.
She looked at it again.
Well, it was about the size of her head, so maybe-
Mother was back!
She tossed the shiny thing and bag in a pot on the floor before going to fetch Mother.
"Let down your hair!"
"One moment Mother!"
"I have a big surprise!"
"I do too!"
"Oh, I bet my surprise is bigger!"
"I seriously doubt it," Rapunzel muttered to herself, pulling Mother up.
"I've brought back parsnips!" Mother said, sitting on the ledge, "I'm going to make hazelnut soup for dinner, your favorite. Surprise!"
"Well, Mother-" Rapunzel began.
"Oh dear, you know how I hate leaving you after a fight. Especially what I have done nothing wrong."
"That's what this is about!" Rapunzel rushed to get out, "I've been thinking about what you said earlier-"
"You're not still talking about that school, are you darling?"
"Yes! I'm leading up to that," she said, walking towards the closet.
"Because I really thought we dropped the issue sweetheart."
"No Mother, I was just saying you think I'm not strong enough to handle myself out there-"
"Oh darling, I know you're not strong enough to handle yourself out there."
"But if you just-"
"Rapunzel we are done talking about this."
"ENOUGH RAPUNZEL! YOU ARE NOT LEAVING THIS TOWER! EVER!"
Mother sat down, "Great, now I'm the bad guy."
Rapunzel backed away from the door. "All I was going to say Mother is that I know what I want for my birthday now."
"And what is that?"
"New paint." Rapunzel said quietly, "From the white shells you once brought me?"
"Well that is a very long trip Rapunzel," Mother sighed, "Almost three days time."
"I just thought it was a better idea than going to the school,"
Mother sighed again, "You're sure you'll be alright?"
"I know I'm safe as long as I'm here."