A Towering Spectacle

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“Oh, Rebecca, are you there? If you are, let down your hair!” Father would call before I’d let my 77 feet-long hair fall to the ground below my tower window. After watching him change my hair into a braid at the snap of a finger, making it easier for him to climb, I would pull him up before helping him climb through the window. As soon as he was inside, I’d watch him sit on a nearby chair before I rested on the windowsill, where I’d pull in my hair as we’d talk about many things. When he would ask if I had broken any of his rules (call for help or let in any heroes), I would say that I hadn’t done anything wrong before he’d say that he believed me, and we would continue talking before he’d have to go.
Allow me to introduce myself: as I previously stated, my name is Rebecca, but I don’t know my last name. You see, I have been under the caring wing of a man who I called my “Father” since I was a toddler, after he saved me from a bear when I wandered from my real family on a hike. Father’s visits happened either every few days or once a week, and even though I was always thrilled to see him, I was bored and lonely whenever he was away. You see, Father is a wizard who mostly used his magic to become a circus ringmaster, and he would tell me tales about his job. His stories made me want to see a circus, and even though he’d say that the world’s corruption would cause his show to close, I still wanted to go to one someday.
When Father visited me on what he claimed to be my 25th birthday, he gave me a parrot named Patricia and enough food to last a month, which he said would last how long he would be away to get me a “special present.” As much as I told Father that he didn’t need to go so far out of his way for a gift, he said that it was something unforgettable, so I caved in before wishing him safe travels. After exchanging a hug and letting my hair out of the window, I watched him slide down before pulling my hair in and playing with Patricia. As soon as night fell, I put Patricia in her cage before changing for bed and unbraiding my hair, the latter always left me exhausted. Even though I was thrilled to have a friend while Father was away, I wanted some company other than Patricia, so I went to my window with a wish in mind.
With my hands folded in prayer-like form, I searched the sky for a star before finding one close to the moon, and I closed my eyes before wishing for a friend to come. When I realized that Father might not be very pleased about me having a visitor (he might suspect that the guest was a hero incognito), I added on to the wish that the companion didn’t need to be a hero, but someone that Father would like if or when they met. After closing my window’s shutters and climbing into bed, I said goodnight to Patricia before falling asleep, dreaming of what my visitor would look like. The next day passed in a dull blur without anyone to talk to, but I passed the time by playing with Patricia, who I even let fly around in the nearby woods while I took a nap.
When I realized that Father had given me Moondrop grapes (my least favorite kind), I decided to tie a rope around both the fruit and Patricia’s foot, after which I sent her out. Since I didn’t fasten the string around the grapes well enough, I hoped that they would slide out and become food for forest animals, so I was quite surprised to see Patricia return at sunset with a note. After letting Patricia back into her cage, I took the paper and read that it was a thank-you letter from a man named Matteo Griffith who lived by himself in the woods, and I was so touched that I searched the basket for the next parcel of food to deliver. This exchange of letters and food continued for a couple of days, and I couldn’t help but smile when I would receive another message from Matteo, especially since I was making another friend.
A couple of nights after my first letter from Matteo, I had just washed my hair when I decided to braid it by myself, so that’s what I did before sitting on my windowsill and letting my newly-fixed hair fall to the ground. After reading the latest letter that Patricia retrieved from Matteo, I started singing a song that I had written about my wish for someone to visit me. I must have been so focused on my song that I didn’t notice someone tugging on my hair, because I was resting my voice when I looked beside my spot on the windowsill and gasped at the sight of a dapper-looking young man, who was in a grey and black vest over a white short-sleeved shirt over black pants and shoes. As the man steadied himself on the windowsill, he was about to apologize when Patricia started squawking, “Intruder! Stranger!”
After running to Patricia’s cage and covering it with a blanket, I returned to the windowsill and let the man in while apologizing for my bird’s response, to which he assured me that I was alright and introduced himself as Matteo. Amazed that I was finally meeting the man I had been writing to for the last few days, I smiled as Matteo helped me pull my hair in through the window, during which he apologized for possibly ruining it with his climbing, but I was quick to forgive him. While we spent quite a long time talking, Matteo told me that he gained the courage to visit me after hearing me singing for years, to which I giggled at how shy he was. When I told him about Father being away, Matteo promised to visit me every afternoon and leave before bedtime, to which I smiled at him being my newest friend.
I don’t recall what the two of us were talking about at one point, but when I realized that Father would ask me if I kept my promises when he got back, I was about to nervously ask Matteo for help when I had an idea. After I told him that I would give him the other name of “Father,” Matteo gave me a confused look before I explained that I would use it to fool my actual father when he returns, especially since he might ask me how I’ve handled Patricia when he returns. If he would ask to prove how I’m treating her, I would ask Patricia a series of questions for her to answer in a word, complete with one about the most frequent visitor before she’d say “Father.” As unclear as my explanation was, Matteo said he was beginning to understand what I meant, to which I smiled before we lowered my hair outside.
“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, Rebecca,” Matteo sighed as he steadied himself on the windowsill, where I told him what to say when he arrived (the same words that Father would call). With his legs wrapped around a part of my braid, Matteo brushed a couple of strands of hair out of my face and patted my cheek, to which I sighed as we planned to see each other the next day. As his Nordic-blue eyes shone like the stars, Matteo told me that he would dream of me that night, and I giggled before his lips touched mine. Since I had never been kissed by anyone other than dad, and that was on very uneventful occasions, I gasped before sighing as I ran my fingers through his smooth brown hair. As much as I didn’t want to break away from something so incredible, we pulled away before Matteo wished me goodnight, and I returned his greeting before watching him slide down my hair.
The next few days became an exciting routine, from teaching Patricia words and commands in the morning to visits from Matteo every afternoon, and I still had time in the day to look forward to my real Father’s return. The moment I first heard Matteo saying the same phrases that Father would say, I giggled at how timid he sounded before letting down my hair for him, and I even helped him climb up to my window before letting him in. Patricia and Matteo grew accustomed to each other over the next few days, and he marveled at how well she was understanding the tricks and words that I taught her, complete with calling him “Father” – to please my real dad. Not only did Patricia have a growing friendship with Matteo, but the two of us developed a friendship that included us using silly names for each other, with him calling me “Brownie” and me calling him “Romeo” (especially since our bond was a secret).
During one of Matteo’s first visits to the tower, I told him about my dream to see a circus thanks to Father’s stories, and my excitement when he promised to take me to one stopped when I realized something: how would we travel anywhere with my long hair being in the way? Even though leaving the tower wasn’t one of Father’s rules, I was sure that he would end me if I even attempted such a thing, but I didn’t want to break his heart by leaving him. Seeing the mixed-emotion tears coming to my eyes, Matteo dried my tears and told me that we didn’t have to see one right away, but he hoped that Father would let us see one in the future. Glad that Matteo understood and respected Father’s rules, even though they had never met, I smiled before embracing him with all my might.
The night before Father was to return, I was scared when Matteo said that he wanted to meet Father the next day, so I nervously told him that I wanted to spend the day with Father before they could meet. Understanding my uncertainty about things, Matteo patted my cheek and nodded before we sat at my windowsill, where we rested with my head on his chest and him playing with my hair. If it weren’t for my fear of being caught by Father, I would have loved to keep Matteo in my tower with me, but we both knew that he should go. After exchanging a farewell kiss and a promise to reunite someday, I watched Matteo slide down my hair before being lost to sight just as Patricia returned, who I let back into her cage before going to bed and trying to not worry about getting caught by Father.
Due to a long time of struggling to hit the hay with thoughts of Father punishing me going through my mind, it’s understandable that I overslept the next morning, but I wasn’t expecting to see Father shaking me awake. As he said that I didn’t hear him calling for me, I was so startled by his sudden appearance that I didn’t catch him saying that he had to get into the tower his way, but he accepted my apology before helping me climb out of bed. After showing him all the tricks I had taught Patricia, complete with her saying “Father” when I asked her about the tower’s most frequent visitor, Father asked if I kept his rules before I nodded. Seeing no reason to doubt me, Father smiled before giving me a necklace with a pendant shaped like a wishing well on the end, complete with a working crank. After Father said that it was just part of my birthday present, he had just said something about making a wish while turning the crank, but that’s when I said, “Oh, I can’t wait to show him this!”
The moment Father asked me to repeat what I just said, I knew that I was in danger, but I couldn’t lie to him. Instead of being a damsel in distress, I told Father as much as I knew about Matteo, leaving out his promise to take me to a circus. Even though I made sure to inform him about Matteo being only a friend, since he didn’t want me to let in any heroes, I gasped when Father grabbed my braid and told me that he hoped to keep me as his ward forever. Before I could tell Father that Matteo wouldn’t take me away without his consent, I gulped before feeling most of my braid disappearing, causing me to gasp at the sight of Father holding at least 85 percent of my hair! After taking my hand and saying that he’d send me some food once in a while, Father apologized for keeping me away from my real family and wished me luck, after which he snapped his fingers before I found myself alone in a desert.
As I tried to collect my thoughts and understand my surroundings, I couldn’t stop wondering about Father’s last words, especially the part about my real family. Since I had been under Father’s care since I was a toddler, I had no recollection of anything about my true family; even my parents’ names or faces were unknown to me. After deciding to start searching for anyone who knows of my family’s whereabouts, I picked up a nearby stick before starting to walk out of the desert, hoping that Matteo wouldn’t be hurt by Father. I don’t remember how much time passed since I last saw a human face, even if Father sent me food every couple of days, but I was far away from the desert when I heard peppy music somewhere in the distance. Intrigued by the sound of people having fun, I followed the music before finding an area filled with tents, which looked similar to Father’s description of a circus.
“Welcome to the wonderful Dreamscape Circus!” a well-dressed middle-aged gentleman chuckled as he tipped his hat, to which I nodded and curtsied before wandering towards a nearby canopy. The moment I entered the tent, a woman welcomed me with a hushed voice and invited me to sit down at her table, which I did as I noticed the shiny orb she had in front of her. After the woman looked at my hands (and even cleaned them with a tissue), she told me to give her my name while focusing on a question and looking at the ball, and I’m sure she was surprised when I told her that I didn’t know my last name. Nonetheless, the woman told me that she would answer my question, after which she made a series of weird noises before saying “the answer you search for has more joy than you planned in store.” Since my question was about finding my family, I thanked the woman and stood up before taking my stick and leaving the tent, filled with a new amount of courage to locate my family.
It was at that moment that I crossed paths with the gentleman that welcomed me to the circus, who asked if I needed any help with anything before I shook my head, but that was before he asked if I wanted to see the show. Thrilled about my wish to see a circus coming true, I nodded and started searching my pockets for money, but that’s when the man stopped me by taking my hand and saying that he’ll pay for my ticket. Touched by the man’s generosity, I thanked him before he pointed towards a large tent in the middle of the area, which I walked into before sitting in a chair near a ring inside the tent. The show that I saw was incredible, and it was while watching it that I learned the identity of the man that let me in, who happened to be the circus’ ringmaster: Lawrence Lancaster. As soon as the show finished, I wanted a chance to meet Mr. Lancaster, but I decided to wait until the crowd around him faded.
As soon as Mr. Lancaster wasn’t surrounded by fans, I got up and nervously walked over to him, and he smiled as he saw me approaching. After I told him that the show was amazing and surpassed all my expectations, Mr. Lancaster asked me to call him “Lawrence” before I asked him why he paid for my ticket, and that’s when he signaled for me to follow him. I was soon led to a trailer behind the main tent, where Lawrence showed me a picture of a woman and a child, which he said were his wife and daughter. Pointing to the picture with a trembling hand, I learned that the daughter disappeared at a young age and the wife died of a heart attack a few years after, causing him to create the circus as a source of joy. When I asked Lawrence why he was showing me the picture, he told me that he overheard me giving my name to the lady in the tent, and he said that my name sounded familiar.
As I gave him a confused look, Lawrence pulled out some type of document before handing it to me, which I took before reading a part of and asking what it meant. While Lawrence explained that I was looking at a birth certificate for his daughter, whose name was Rebecca Elizabeth Lancaster, I looked at the birthdate and started making connections in my head. Since Father said that the necklace was a gift for my 25th birthday, I added 25 years to the date on the paper and realized that I was looking at my certificate, and I felt a lump in my throat. Hearing me gulp at what I’m learning, Lawrence asked if I was alright, and I turned to face him before hugging his neck. As I tried not to choke him with my arms, I burst into tears and cried onto his uniform, during which he returned the favor and welcomed me home. As we pulled away and dried our tears, I looked at him and stuttered, “Thank you, daddy.”
After several hours of updating each other on what happened since we went our separate ways, I asked Lawrence (who now wanted me to call him “papa”) how he kept the circus alive compared to Father’s, and he said that he hired new acts and didn’t hurt any animals in his show. It was at that moment when I looked out the window and saw a bird approaching the trailer, and I gasped when I realized that it was Patricia, who I hadn’t seen since she last delivered food to me. I pulled papa outside before calling for Patricia to land on my arm, which she did before I introduced her to my dad, who was amazed at how well-trained I was with birds (which he said I was scared of as an infant). After taking the basket of food from Patricia, I kissed her and sent her back to Father before bringing the food into the trailer, where papa noticed my necklace and asked if the wishing well pendant worked.
Since I was about to try it when I spilled the beans about Matteo, I shrugged before thinking of what I could wish for to test it out, and I smiled as I turned the well’s crank. After a few rotations, I waited for anything to happen before Papa asked what I wished for, but I refused to tell him in fear of it not coming true. I tried turning the crank again while thinking of my wish, but nothing seemed to happen when I waited for a second time, so I decided to rotate it a third time before being disappointed by the wishing well. I guess good fortune was starting to smile on me, because just as I was telling Papa that my pendant didn’t work, we heard a knock at the door before I stood up and went to answer it. At the door stood a man wearing a grey and black vest over a white short-sleeved shirt over black pants and shoes, and as I wondered why his eyes were both so dreamy and familiar, the man beamed.
“I’m sorry to bother you, Miss, but…” was all the man could say before I threw my arms around his neck and cried tears of joy, for I immediately recognized him as Matteo. Amazed that my necklace worked, I pulled Matteo inside before introducing him to Papa, who was delighted to meet my latest friend. When I asked Matteo what happened after we said goodbye, he told me that he was quite surprised to visit the tower and find Father in my place, who used my hair to trick him into thinking that I was there. Even though I told him that Matteo wasn’t a hero, Father was impressed when Matteo told him the same thing, after which he apologized for scaring him in any way. Matteo was about to explain how Father had let him go when Papa asked if we wanted dinner, to which the two of us nodded before heading to a local restaurant, where I sat between Papa and Matteo and couldn’t stop smiling.
The next few months were full of exciting times, complete with getting to take part in Papa’s circus, and I became engaged to Matteo near the end of a show on the night of my 26th birthday. We were married about half a year later, but it was a couple of weeks before the ceremony that I started feeling nostalgic, complete with wanting to visit the tower. As luck would have it, the circus had moved to a location near the same forest that surrounded the tower, so Matteo and I told Papa where we were headed before walking through the woods towards my old home. As we approached the side of the tower that had my window, I was surprised to find a door on the same side, so I (wondering if this was what he was referring to when he entered the tower “his” way) knocked on the door and waited for a response. When the door soon opened to reveal Father, we all gasped before embracing and crying some more happy tears, and I was thrilled to see my caretaker again.
Needless to say, we invited Father to our wedding, where he – much to everyone else’s surprise – performed a beautiful solo at the ceremony. As part of our honeymoon, Father joined us on our way back to the tower, which we destroyed before using the bricks to make a house for me and Matteo to live in. I guess the lady with the ball was right about the answer containing more joy than I planned, because I had a lot of fun reuniting with people I hadn’t seen in a long time, including my now-famous Papa. When he died of old age, I offered Father the role of ringmaster while I raised a family with Matteo, and he was delighted to have his old job back. As you can probably guess, we all lived happily ever after.

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