The prince didn’t really climb up my hair, of course. I mean, sure, it was long enough, but can’t you just imagine how much that would hurt? It’s a ridiculous idea. I don’t know how that rumor got started. Well, actually I can guess, but that comes later.
Anyway, he actually flew in through the window.
I didn’t know he was a prince, of course, or even a human. It was just a large black bird that had accidentally flown into my tower. I didn’t mind. I knew that I should shoe it out, but I rather liked the company. I was very lonely back then, though I didn’t know it. I’d never felt otherwise. But the only living creature I was able to interact with was her. So even though it was just a bird, as far as I knew, I felt as if I’d made a friend. I gave it some crumbs and watched it fly gracefully around the room. I left the window open, and wondered if the bird knew where the window was and could fly out whenever it wanted, or if it couldn’t figure out how it had came in and was as trapped as I was.
It hid, when she came in. She didn’t climb up my hair either, of course. She flew in too, on a broomstick. She was a witch, after all; why would she need to climb in? The bird stayed hidden while she was there. I kept expecting it to fly out. I don’t know what her reaction would have been, whether she would have been angry, or not have cared, or have put it in a cage as she had done to me.
Once she’d left, I looked around for the bird. It had been on top of my dresser, but as soon as she was out of sight it swooped down onto my bed. And suddenly, it was a man.
I was surprised, but not scared. I hadn’t seen another human, besides for her, for years, and he didn’t seem threatening or anything. He was about my age, and sitting casually on my bed. “Hi,” he said.
“Uh, um, hi,” I managed to say. I wasn’t used to talking to people, especially people who had been birds a few minutes ago.
“I’m Kaleck,” he told me, but gave no more introduction.
I wanted to ask him who and what he was, but wasn’t sure how to phrase the question. “I’m Rajira.”
“Do you know what it’s like to be in a cage, Rajira?” Kaleck asked.
The question filled me with rage. How could he be asking me that? I’d lived most of my life in this cage; he could literally fly.
He must have seen it in my eyes, because he said quickly, “I didn’t mean it like that. I guess what I’m asking is, do you want to be free?”
“Of course,” I snapped.
Rather than saying anything else, he did something. I can’t explain it any more than that. I felt it, whatever it was. Nothing seemed any different, but it was.
And I was able to turn into a bird.
It wasn’t that Kaleck turned me into a bird, whatever magic he’d done just allowed me to make the transformation. I don’t know how I knew what to do, and I can’t explain what I did, but I did it, and was soaring around the room. All I knew was that I was meant to be free, not trapped inside this room. I would have flown away, just like that, if the window had been open. As it was, I had to become human again to open it.
Kaleck stopped me. “Do you know where you’re going?”
“Come with me,” he offered. “You don’t know how to survive on your own yet, especially as a bird.”
“Fine. Let’s go.”
“Try this,” he suggested, and took his bird shape but kept his human head. “Then we can talk while we’re flying.”
Since I longed not only for freedom, but for companionship, that sounded like a wonderful idea. I changed my form, and was suddenly dragged to the ground by my excess of hair. I was a bird trapped in a long, flowing, blonde web.
Kaleck burst out laughing. I glared at him, but I had to admit it was funny, and soon I was laughing too. I changed back into human form, rummaged around for some scissors, and cropped off my hair. I guess they must have found it, after we left, and made up that ridiculous rumor that he’d climbed up it. So I assume, anyway. We were long gone by then.