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A Fantasy of Hope

by Jonathan Wood

“Do you believe in magic?” The old crone cocks her heads on one side.
The princess shakes her head, reaches out, and pricks her finger on the needle defiantly.
Narcotics, she thinks as she slumps to the floor, do not a spell make.

“Do you believe in magic?” the bird asks her. It is blue, a puffball of feathers--bright orange beak, wide yellow eyes.
This it is just an effect of the isolation, of the drugged food. It is just the fraying of her reason. It is getting hard for her to keep track of things up here, up in this tower. She counts the days in the millimeters her hair grows. It is down to the back of her knees now, but already the ends are frayed, split, strands snap each time she tries to drag her fingers through the knots. No-one could climb up these strands.
She shakes her head until the bird is gone. Whether it flies from the window or from her mind she cannot quite tell.

“Do you believe in magic?” the prince calls up. “Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you believe that tonight you will be riding by my side, answering the sunsets beckoning call?”
She looks at him and tries to imagine how he sees her. The tower is very tall. She must be little more than a pink speck to him. He cannot see the truth, only the story, the legend. He does not see her.
But if magic will get him up here, she will believe.
He falls less than half way up the tower. His neck snaps like an autumn twig--dry and brittle.

“Do you believe in magic?” the princess asks herself. She crouches upon the window sill, the wind pulls at her, at her bare feet, her nails grown to brown talon. Her dress billows, ragged as feathers.
“Do you believe?” She whispers the words aloud. She thinks she has been saying them for a long time. Her lips are dry and chapped, her tongue a rough wood block jammed into her mouth.
“Do you believe?”
“Do you believe?”
She jumps and waits to see if gravity believes in her.

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