Friday, October 22, 2010

Syracuse Woman's Life Without Food

Another short story from my intro to fiction class! For this piece, our assignment was to bring to school a recent newspaper article. Then, we were to write a short story based on the article. The professor said that we could base it on any part of the article we wanted, even just the title, so when I saw the article on the front page titled "Syracuse Woman's Life Without Food", I knew that would be my prompt. The article was actually quite sad, as this woman who is the same age as me has a gastrointestinal disease that makes it so that she can no longer digest food. She has to be hooked up to an IV to get nutrients and all sorts of other things she has to do.

Anyway, I wrote my story based on the article title. My professor admitted it was the most creative story from the newspaper article prompt:)

The Princess Who Would Not Eat

The pale morning sun washed over Syracuse, covering her with light. She sat on the stone floor, her legs crossed, facing the window. She took a deep breath. This sunrise marked the one-hundred and twentieth day she had gone without food.

When King Aitor had informed his daughter Syracuse that he had arranged for her to marry Prince Maitiu from a far-off kingdom, Syracuse had run to her room and bolted the door shut. She declared that she would neither eat nor sleep until her father revoked his decision. King Aitor declared that he had never heard of such a stubborn, bull-headed daughter, and that she could stay in there until she was ready to be reasonable.

So time had passed, and the palace had grown ever quieter.

“My Lady!” cried the maid through the door. “Prince Maitiu was here, at the palace.” She paused to draw a deep, shaking breath. “But he has been taken! The monster Gashadokuro stole into the palace itself and took him!”

Syracuse felt herself trembling at the news. Gashadokuro was the monster that fed on the bones and souls of those who died of starvation. Why had he taken Prince Maitiu? It was Syracuse who should have died a long time ago. She couldn’t let the monster take someone else. Once the stubborn princess made up her mind, there was no one in the entire city that could stop her.

She left her golden horse at the base of the mountain and began to climb. Higher and higher, up through the clouds, past the waterfall of human regrets, until she was nearly to the peak. Syracuse paused, exhausted from her journey. She felt dizzy, and for the first time in months, hungry. Just as she was about to lay down and give up, the sun broke through the dark mountain fog, and she felt its light rejuvenate her. Looking up to the peak, she saw Gashadokuro waiting for her.

He was tall, probably five times as tall as Syracuse, and looked like a black human skeleton. His empty eye sockets stared through her, chilling her. He opened his mouth, and emitted a soft sound, like the ringing of a bell. The sound grew louder and harsher, until it was a terrible painful shriek, and Syracuse had to cover her ears with her hands.

What was she to do? She had not actually thought about what she would do when she got here. Tucked into her sash was only a small knife, a hand-mirror, and an ivory comb.

Suddenly, Gashadokuro moved, and Syracuse saw that he held someone in his thin hand, probably Prince Maitiu. Slowly, the black skeleton raised the Prince to his gaping mouth.

In a panic, Syracuse threw the first thing that came to her hand, the mirror. It flew through the air, and shattered against the monster’s ribcage. Immediately, Gashadokuro dropped the prince and bent to kneel on the ground. Much to Syracuse’s surprise, the giant skeleton began very carefully picking up each piece of glass and trying to put the pieces back together. She rushed over to the unconscious prince and tried to wake him.

Gashadokuro screamed again, his frustration evident as he tried to puzzle the glass together. To the princess’ horror, the mirror was already beginning to reform. She turned her attention back to the prince, trying to figure out why he wouldn’t wake. Finding a sliver of black bone in his arm, she used her knife to help pry it out.

Prince Maitiu’s eyes immediately opened. He looked at the monster, looked at Syracuse, then said, “We need to run.”

They did run, away from the giant, from the dark clouds of the mountain peak, past the waterfall of regret, through trees that snatched at their ripped clothing. They had the golden horse in sight when down the mountain rolled a deafening scream, and looking back they saw Gashadokuro descend the mountain in three steps, landing crouched between them and safety. The monster rushed at them, and Maitiu swung his sword, but even the enchanted blade could not cut through the unnaturally hard skeleton. The monster rushed again, and this time Maitiu barely was able to turn the attack away. For the third time, the black skeleton came at them. Without thinking, Syracuse rushed towards it, the last thing she had, her ivory comb, in her hand.

For an awful moment, Syracuse was sure Gashadokuro had bitten her arm off. Then she saw that he hadn’t. The comb had grown into an ivory sword, bright white in the sunlight. The sword pierced the roof of the skeleton’s mouth, up through his head. The handle sat in his mouth, keeping him from closing his horrible sharp teeth on Syracuse. With a final, ear-splitting shriek, Gashadokuro fled back up the mountain, unable to close his mouth.

On their return to the city, Princess Syracuse and Prince Maitiu were greeted with cheering throngs lining the streets, draping necklaces of flowers around their necks. That night, King Aitor held a feast, and Syracuse ate three platefuls of food.

Maitiu turned to Syracuse. “You have saved my life,” he said. “You have the right to ask anything of me. Do you wish for all the silks of the east, or all the fine horses of the west? Do you wish for the sun to be a jewel in your crown?”

Syracuse was silent for a moment. “It may have been my stubbornness that endangered you in the first place,” she said. “But if you still insist on a reward for me, then reward me by forgiving my hard head and taking my hand in marriage.”

Three months later the two were married, and though Syracuse retained her stubborn nature, she never missed another meal in her life.


WildBound said...

Cool! Way to go!

DreamPacker said...

Good job! You are a very creative writer. Keep it up.