Written by Nolan Hicks
Dear Workshop. This is a nine page retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story. This would be my first submission I have ever sent. I found your workshop online and decided to try out with publishing my story with you. Enjoy my story.
The world has become a very cruel place. It is filled with strife and pain caused by reality. I stare out into the villages seeing men and woman lying, stealing, and gambling. How gut wrenching it is all to bear witness to. There are also the children, the poor children, whom I pity because they are born into this cruel world of suffering they don’t deserve.
It is all terrible. I can’t stand to be in one place for long. I stay only ‘til the sight of man revolts me and then I move. I know how to stay out of sight. I walked a great way through towns whose names are long forgotten and stopped only to eat and rest.
One night I rested by a mill and when I awoke I found a girl looking at me. I was not surprised. Children are the only ones who notice me the dwarf thing that limps and hops and only exists outside adults’ understandings. She is little with red hair and green eyes looking as if she has seen my kind before; she smiles and waves shyly at me. She couldn’t have been more than twelve at the most.
Innocence, I thought, was coming soon to the time of corruption. Still she has to have some child’s wonder so that she can still see me. I reach with what appear to be a hand and plucked a stone from the ground. I rubbed it together in my palms and it became an opal all bright and shiny. She clapped her hands and grabbed at the trinket. So innocent I thought, so uncorrupted.
I visited her at the mill where her father worked. She laughed when I showed up and clapped at every new trick I showed her. As I kept seeing her, my shape grew more solid even though my face was still a blur. The girl even gave me a name to hold on to in this real place. I have never had a name that any human could remember.
One night I saw her by her spinning wheel trying to make yarn. She was very clumsy. She looked at me when I appeared before her. “Look at this,” she said as she held up a lump of tangles. “I was supposed to make a beautiful blanket for Papa, but I can’t.” She looked as if she was about to cry. “Oh, what’s the use?” She said, “It would’ve been awful anyway.”
“Nonsense,” I told her, “I can help make your father a great gift.”
I took the spinning wheel to the barn out back. Inside were some bales of straw. They were piled high polluting the air with their chaff dust. I set the wheel and grabbed a handful of straw. I spun the wheel and turned the straw into a wonderful gold thread.
I later wove it into a beautiful coat. By morning the girl had a beautiful coat to give to her father.
Years passed and I began to see my flower start to wilt. The cruel world began to change her; magic was becoming a fairy tale. I was beginning to fade from her life. When we talked, her eyes would wonder away from me. When I showed my tricks, she saw only rocks, flowers, and mud. How my heart ached for her to stay and remember me. Sometimes she would notice me and we talked of the times we played. Then there were the times she ignored me and sat by her spinning wheel humming to herself.
I decided to leave. There was no child to know and love me. It was time to move on. However, that night, men came to the mill and took her. Unseen by them, I followed them as they went up to the castle.
We came to a room where everyone was eating. There was the miller sitting on his knees in front of a man in purple robes. It was the king of this land. I moved to the shadows of the room and stared at the king. On his lap was the gold jacket that I helped make for the miller’s daughter. The king stroked it lovingly.
“The weaving is exquisite.” the king said looking at the gold thread. He looked at the girl. “Your father has told me a very interesting story about this coat.” He said, “I was walking down the streets in a parade when I saw your father. I thought he was with us but was informed that he was just the local miller.” The king looked down at the man in question. The miller just stared at the floor looking at no one.
The king continued and said, “He told me his daughter made this coat for him,” the king looked at the girl, “out of straw.” The girl’s cheeks went pink and she looked at her father accusingly.
The king felt a sleeve of the coat. “It feels soft as feathers and has no smell of hay on it, only flower.” He looked at her, “How did you make this coat, girl?” he demanded.
I saw the girl’s face clinch as if trying to remember something… trying hard to remember me. “I spun it sir… straw.” She sputtered. I buried my face in my hands she could not remember me.
The king sat back in his chair and looked at both the miller and his daughter, “Very well then,” he said, “since you both claim such a talent then you must prove it.” He turned to one of his men and said, “Have a room filled with straw and lock the girl in it. “
The men came and took the poor girl and her father away. I came forward unseen as the king took another man and stated, “I do not appreciate being made a fool.” The king told him, “Have the executioner ready at dawn.”
“My fault,” I thought to myself, “This is my fault.” I then ran after the men and the girl. She was indeed locked inside a room, but I was able to forge a key from a stone on the ground. A heap of straw lay in a corner of the room with a spinning wheel where sat the poor girl who wept into her hands and saying, ”How…How…?”
“Stop please, stop.” I said trying to comfort her.
She looked up at me. I tried to find some recognition in her face, but all I got was a blank look drenched with tears. “I can do it,” I told her, “I can spin the gold.” Then ever so slowly a smile of recognition spread across her face. “You,” she whispered. She felt the stone that hung on her neck. The same stone I made on the day we met. She remembered me! I smiled. I spun the wheel and gold started to fall.
The next day the king was dumbstruck as he walked into the room. His mouth gaped open and his eye bulged; he was at a complete loss for words. He and his men staggered around looking at the gold as if for the first time seeing the metal. Again I was unseen by these men as they tried to make sense of this miracle. I couldn’t help smiling at myself looking at the buffoons trying to believe what was in front of them.
“Impossible,” the king said, “This can’t be real.” He looked at the girl. She looked up drowsily at him. “All this gold must be someone else’s,” said the King. The King turned to his men.
“Tell the men to fill this room with more straw. “This gold could have come from anywhere.” The King turned and looked at my girl and said, “We will see if you can repeat this again.”
I sat on the spinning wheel again that night listening to the gold as it fell on the ground. The girl came over to me with more straw to spin “Do I know you from somewhere?” she asked.
She was rubbing the ring on her finger as she looked at me.
“Yes, I’m your friend,” I said. She frowned and was confused.
I knew my time with her was almost complete.
The next day the King just stood there staring at the gold. He ran his hand along it and even stared at his hand as if that too couldn’t be real as he touched the magic gold.
“R-r- real?” He closed his eyes and held his hand to his forehead. Then he looked up and stared at the girl with new amazement. The king suddenly smiled and he turned to his men. “Fill this room with even more straw for her to spin,” the king said as he went and picked up the girl. “If you succeed again,” the king said,
”I will make you my bride. Who could be wealthier in all the kingdoms than you.” I was taken aback by this statement. If she married him, then she would be truly lost to me forever.
I would be nothing but a figment of her imagination if she becomes a woman. I would be that thing that no man wants to admit exists. No! I couldn’t go back to that time when I finally found light in the dark. After having saved her I will have to find a new child, and I will have to stop the world from destroying this one.
That night as I sat at the spinning wheel again the girl spoke, ”How can I ever repay you?” I looked at her and saw that she would soon forget about me and fall asleep to wake up a woman. I said, ”Give me your child so that I can stay.” As she closed her eyes she mumbled, “Yes, of course.” Yes I would take her child for I wanted a piece of her when I leave.
Years passed and once again I faded into the background. My child was now a woman, now a queen, who lived a life without magic. Already the gold was just a story. No one believed in the magic plant metal. I spent my nights in the forest; I couldn’t stand seeing my girl corrupted. I came only once a year to see if my new child was born yet.
Exactly two years later, I snuck into the new queen’s room I saw her with a baby in her arms. She looked with wild devotion at the small babe. “Mine,” she crooned, ”you’re my little babe.”
“No, your majesty, he is now my child,” I said as I felt myself reappear. The queen gasped and clutched her child to her breast.
”Who are you?” she screamed. There was no recognition in her face and I knew I was forgotten. “I’m the one who spun the gold to save you,” I replied. “Now I have come for the child as payment.”
“No you can’t,” she cried as tears fell from her cheeks.
“You can’t take away my child from me. Please d-don’t!”
She fell on her knees crying. Her baby cried, too. Hearing the shrieks, wails and the sobs made me remind her of when she was a child before the corruption. If only she could remember me.
“There is a way for you to keep your child,” I said. She suddenly became very attentive. “Yes!” she said “Yes anything! What?”
“If you can remember my name within three days time, you can keep your child.” The queen looked confused, “What? Remember your name, but I don’t even know you.”
“That’s the problem,” I said. “You don’t remember at all.”
That night I looked at the situation. I figured this was a win, win. If she did remember me I would get my old friend back, but if she didn’t, I would get a new friend in the deal. Still I kept asking myself over and over again, “Would I want what I get?”
The next day when I went to see the queen I saw that this was harder for me than I thought. The queen was in torture trying to figure out my name.
“No,” The expressions on the queen’s face went as follows; first, deep concentration as she searched her memory. Then when she thought of one, she looked hopeful, then shattered with disappointment. As I got up to leave, the queen cried, ”Who are you?”
“That’s what I’m asking you,” I answered.
The second day the queen was bent over a scroll. It had names scribbled all over it. She started to read off the names to me. Halfway through this I said” Are you even trying?”
She looked up “What?” she sputters.
I stood up, “Are you even trying to find my name?”
I grabbed her list and threw it in the air.
“Of course I’m trying I’m not going to let you take my son.”
The queen quivered. “So you are going to take every name you can guess and hope that you get lucky.” I snapped at her waving my arms. “My name was thought up and belongs to no one, but only me. I was named after no one and no one will be named after me.”
“Balderdash,” she said.
“No I’m not kidding I’m…”
“No, I mean is your name Balderdash?”
That night I visited the mill. It was abandoned. The place was filled with nothing but silence, memories, and cobwebs. I didn’t even bother to look inside. I went down to the stream and I was haunted by memories of her. Not of whom she was now but who she was as my friend. Tears welled up in my eyes and I shouted to the sky, “Don’t you remember Rumpelstiltskin?”
This world is too much for me. As I made my way to the castle I realized I had enough. My friend no longer remembered me. I would take the child and go where no adult and reality could corrupt him.
The queen was in her room sitting in a chair with her son in her arms. Her arms squeezed tightly over her son. “All right then shall we start?” I said.
She sucked in her breath and asked, “Is your name Albert?”
“Is your name Midas?”
“No,” I said stepping forward.
“Robert, is your name Robert?”
I put my arms around the boy. I only shook my head. The queen started to sob, “Please, Please don’t take my son.” I take the boy and started for the door. “Please,” the queen screams, “Don’t’ take away my Rumpelstitlskin!” I stopped surprised and glanced back, “What did you call your son?”
“Rumpelstiltskin,” the queen sobbed. “I named him after a friend from my…” she stopped and looked at me past her tears, past the unreasoning and logic, and stared at me.
“After you,” she whispered.
From that day forward the queen’s family always had a “special friend,” as long as she can remember me. I spend the rest of my life now playing with her son now and his brother and sisters. Then when the children are asleep or outside playing, I would be with my friend and we would talk of old time remembering what was and what will be.