Readers, it seems something of a tradition for me to write a story for these blog events and so I couldn't resist having another go this year. Inspiration came from the event itself for surely there was a tale to be told in the girl riding a bird...
Welcome to One World One Heart 2011. A BIG thank you to Lisa Swifka for organising this event for the 5th year running. Last year I made so many new friends, had a whale of a time and even won a little something! Who knows what this year will bring - I know I can't wait.
Now, before you start, I should warn you that there's a bit of a twist coming up - all might not be what it seems...
Once upon a time a Princess was imprisoned in a floating tower that drifted aimlessly across the enchanted Kingdoms. There was no way into her prison nor exit save for a barred window where the Princess was apt to sit and watch the clouds and treetops drift past. Her food was brought every day by feathered couriers who provided her only companionship. After dropping off her meagre rations of bread, cheese and dried fruits, the birds would often stay a while to nibble at the crumbs she shared and listen in one-sided conversation as she dreamed of the life she had known.
For the story goes that the Princess had been set to marry the most handsome of Princes whom she loved with all her heart. But after their engagement had been announced a wicked witch had captured the lovers and imprisioned them in matching enchanted towers just visible to each other in the distance but so tantalisingly out of reach. The witch had loved the Prince, but her advances toward him had been rejected (it was hard for him to see past the warts and green skin). In a jealous rage, the spurned woman had decreed that if she could not win his love then nobody should and certainly not a beautiful young Princess. She cruelly tore their hearts apart and doomed them to a lifetime of loss.
As the months went by the Princess grew weak and sad as she pined for her lost love. The birds, sensing her distress spent more time keeping her company, the cockiest and most handsome of which became her true confidant. It was as one day, she poured her heart out once again to the poor beast that a clever idea began to form. Grabbing pen and paper (with which the tower was fortunately equipped - handy that, as there was not much else), she penned a love note to her sweetheart and begged her winged friend to deliver it to the distant tower, just as did her the food.
And so the romantic correspondence between the Prince and his Princess began. It was at least some small comfort to share words of the heart and dream about their future should fate intervene and put them back in each other's arms once again. Yet as the seasons drifted past it seemed as though they would be trapped beyond reach for eternity.
Until... one Spring morning, the handsome bird arrived with his regular letter in a state of extreme agitation. He chirped and sang until the Princess awoke and pushed the letter towards her with his wing. When she read the words it contained, she understood his excitement for they spelt out nothing short of a miracle.
A fairy had visited her lover and promised to perform magic beyond their wildest imaginings. By eating the small seed contained within the envelope, the Princess would shrink to the size of her feathered friends. She would then be able to climb upon the handsome one's back and fly across the clouds to join her lover. But there was a catch (isn't there always?). There was only enough magic for the Princess to shrink and once with her Prince she would be forced to remain tiny forever. The Princess didn't think twice. No matter that she would swap one prison for another and shrink to the size of a bird, she would be with her Prince.... She would sacrifice her life for him if need be.
She popped the seed in her mouth and swallowed.
The world span and pain racked her bones, light flashed and thunder clapped and everything seemed upside down. The Princess collapsed in a crumpled heap before being roused to consciousness by the gentle stroke of... a wing... a very large wing. Looking up into the bright eyes of her avian friend she realised the spell had worked.
Climbing aboard the soft feathers was harder than it looked and she gripped the coloured barbs in terror as they took off across the sky. Keeping her eye fixed on the twin floating tower was all that kept her safely aboard her unusual mount. However, the closer they came to the tower, the more something seemed awry and as they reached touching distance the Princess let out a cry of fear, for the tower was nothing but illusion and they flew straight through it. As she screamed the bird swirled and plummeted earthward. The wind rushed and the ground grew closer. Again the Princess blacked out.
This time when she awoke the touch was one that brought tears to her eyes for she recognised it instantly. She was in the arms of her Prince! In a storm of confusion she tried to make sense of what had happened and where she was. Who on earth were all these people cheering and why was she wearing what looked like a wedding gown?
The Prince set her on her feet, took her hands in his and told his story. As heir to the vast Kingdoms, he had always known he should choose his bride wisely. She would be kind and beautiful and an adored future Queen, but above all he must be sure that she loved him, for without true love the trees would surely wither and enemies break through defences. The truth was that there never was a jealous spurned witch. There was only one tower and one prisoner. The handsome bird had been the Prince - every day he had eaten one magic seed to grow feathers and then another to return to a man. To be sure of her love, the Prince had tested the Princess and when, after all she had been through, she still chose to be with him, as prisoner and shrunk in size, then he knew her heart was truly his.
As the marriage ceremony and feasting concluded, the citizens of the Kingdom rejoiced into the night and the Prince and his wife made their way to their honeymoon bedchamber.
"So," laughed the Princess. "I passed the test then. You realised I did indeed love you. Do you love me too with all your heart?"
"Of course" implored the Prince. "I am yours. I will do anything for you." As he moved to kiss her, the Princess became shy. "I am too used to talking to your bird self" she sighed. "He was my best friend. Will you change for me just one more time?"
The Prince, happy to oblige took one of the last remaining two magic seeds from the pewter pot by the side of the bed and with a tiny chirp became once again the handsome bird. He hopped onto her finger and gazed lovingly at his wife.
At which point the Princess popped the bird into a gilded cage and fastened the catch securely. "LOVE ME?" she cried at the startled creature. "LOVE ME? What lover locks me up alone for months on end until I go insane and start talking to wildlife? What lover half starves me on dry bread and fruit, shrinks me causing excrutiating pain, tricks me, drops me from great height AND doesn't let me arrange my own wedding, let alone pick out my own dress? What were you thinking - meringue is just so last century..." She gave one last glare at the startled bird before uttering her parting words..."I told you I loved you a thousand times. You blew it sunshine...."
And with that she filled a bag with the crown jewels, wrapped herself in a cloak and let herself out down the fire escape (for this was a health and safety compliant Kingdom).
The following morning Granny Bains, needing a new companion after her husband of 40 years had run off with a scullery maid, bought a handsome bird in a gilded cage from a pedlar in the market and took him home to talk incessantly to for a few years (until an unfortunate incident with the cat... but that's another story).
And what became of the last seed? Well, dear readers, seeds get planted...
Thank you for reading and visiting my blog. If you're a new visitor and have time, do take a browse around. I usually write about my art, creativity and anything else that might take my fancy - usually injected with a dose of humour, for I do struggle to take life seriously, as you may have gathered! If you would like to win a giclee print of this mixed media painting I created just for this event (the Princess and the bird at the top of the post), then leave me a little comment. The original painting is made up of many layers of collage, painting, fibres, stamping and different paint mediums. It was a pleasure to create.
4 runners up will win some large postcards of the same artwork.
Please post your comment by 17th Feb when the winner will be drawn.
The other two drawings are some quick sketches I did to break up the text a bit - I was trying to be short in my storytelling, but as usual I got carried away!