In a village near our village but a long time ago lived a little girl with her parents. As any child of that time, she helped her parents with everyday work. Even when working she was playing with children of her age because those children were working there too and children always find the time for playing.
One day in that region came a sprite. His fame preceded him and all the grown ups were expecting his pranks. No one knew why was he behaving like that and no one tried to find out. They labeled him as such and accepted him just the way he was. Among all the children of that region, he liked to be cruel towards our little girl. He used to turn into a bird during the day and follow her around, pecking her whenever he could. And he could do it all the time, as long as no grown ups were around. At night he would turn into his sprite form and leave the girl alone.
One day he was particularly vicious. He made a high tower in the middle of this girl’s yard. The tower had no steps, it’s walls were slippery and it had one window small enough only for a plate or a bird to come through. He turned little girl into a bird and forced her to enter the tower through the window. When she entered, he turned her back into a little girl. Above the window, on the outside wall, he placed a pulley which her parents were allowed to use to deliver her plates of food. He would sometimes get in the tower to peck her, just like he did when she was free. At some point he moved to another region leaving her to her tower.
Girl’s parents often went to talk to him but there was nothing they could do to set her free. People tried to break down the walls of the tower but all their efforts were in vain. In time they all got used to her living in that tower. She had teachers at the bottom of her tower yelling her lessons and testing her knowledge. They were all very proud of her.
Years passed and our little girl grew up. She never let the tower to bring her spirit down. Once she learned how to make her mind busy, most of the time she used her mind to go wherever she wanted. And she always wanted to go to green meadows or high mountain peaks – places where nothing and nobody could limit her movements. After her parents death, she used to visit their graves in her mind. Even there, in the cemetery, she felt more alive than in that tower.
Her most valuable friends were birds that would keep her company. She used to share her bread crumbs with them. One day she heard a bird’s song she never heard before. It was a cheerful song that made her mind stop wandering. Suddenly she realized all her time is consumed by listening and playing with that bird. This bird was unusual in one more thing – instead of eating bread crumbs, bird was pecking material between bricks in the walls of the tower.
It took him months to peck out enough bricks for a girl to squeeze through the hole in the wall he made for her. As soon as her feet touched the grass that grew beneath the tower, the bird turned into a man. Girl realized she loves him as much as he loves her. Soon they married and moved into a house where she used to live with her parents. They had to look at that tower every day but it somehow turned invisible for them. They weren’t aware of it and when children came, they forgot it ever existed.
One night the man woke up in the middle of the night. He noticed his wife is not beside him and he went searching for her. She wasn’t in the house nor in the yard nor in the streets of the village. When he got back home, to change into something warmer, he found her sleeping in their bed. He laid beside her, hugged her, and fell asleep.
For the next few nights he was very careful not to oversleep her disappearance again. She wasn’t going anywhere, she was sleeping in his arms. A week later it happened again but this time he was awake. He saw her sneaking out of their bed and he followed her. She went to the yard and stopped when she reached the tower. The way she was climbing the rope was amazing – he never knew she is that fit. She disappeared through that hole he made for her to escape the tower.
It took him far more time to climb that rope than it took her. By the time he got there, she was already sleeping on that ragged bed in a fetus position. He laid behind her and hugged her. In the morning, when he woke up, she was gone. He climbed down the rope and entered his home. He could smell the pancakes she made for breakfast.
She was smiling as if nothing had happened. Children were running around the kitchen, trying to steal a pancake or two. Before he could say anything, she stuffed a pancake in his mouth. It was coated with his favorite jam.
After the breakfast, the children went outside to play and he helped her wash the dishes.
“How long have you been going there?”
“For a few years now. Not every night, but often.”
She helplessly shrugged her shoulders.
“Each time you go up there and I notice it, I will climb up, lay beside you and keep you warm.”
She kissed him and smiled as she always does.