Rescuing Rapunzel

Rescuing Rapunzel

A Story by Katherine P. Haley

Twelve years ago, a young girl was taken from her parents and locked in a basement. Now, as her curiosity about the outside world has grown, she finally gets to see the light of day.


It is so dark in here. The only light that escapes is from a tiny crack in the boarded up window. That is the light I use when I fix my hair. It’s so long by now that I can see mostly all of it when I put it into the braid that it goes in every day.

            I hear footsteps on the floor above me. She’s back. Hopefully she will bring me food today. Yesterday I didn’t get anything and my stomach growled and rumpled all night. The light flips on and the door opens. Footsteps pound down the stairs.

            “Mother!” I cry when I see her. She is carrying a bowl of soup and some bread on a tray.

            “Hello, my dear,” she says. “Have you been good today?”

            I nod my head and say, “Oh, yes, Mother! I’ve been very good today. I haven’t even moved out of this spot.”   

            She puts her skinny finger under my chin and lifts it so I could look her in the dark green eyes. “I’m glad, dear. You know I don’t like it when you try to look out that window or try to hear

under the door.”

            I look down at the ground and say, “I’m really sorry about that, Mother, I promise I will never try anything like that again.”

            “I hope so, too,” she says, “because your punishment will be great if you try anything foolish.”

            I can feel the coldness of her gaze fixed on me. I don’t say anything and I believe that is a good response because Mother turns and walks back up the stairs. When she closes the door, I let out the breath that I didn’t realize I was holding.

            I tear a piece of the bread off and dip it in my soup. I finish my bread and soup very quickly.

            I hear a deep voice come from outside. I’ve heard the voice before. I perk up and go to the window. I know I just promised Mother that I wouldn’t look out the window again, but I’ve made the promise millions of times before. I know I won’t get caught again.

I rise slowly and pick up the hem of my long dress. I move the plastic bin that sits close to the window so I can step up on it. I put my eye against the crack in the boards that cover the window. I can’t see much, but I can see a figure that stood about 6 yards away in front of the house next door. That’s when I decide to try to remove the boards that cover the window. There is a nail that sticks out about a centimeter. I try to pull it out. I know I have to be quiet, or else Mother will get angry. I just want to look out the window. That’s all I want, to see out the window.   

My finger nails are bleeding by the time I get the nail out. It took so long that I was sure the boy wasn’t out there anymore, but I didn’t care. I bend the board away from the window and peek out. The light hurts my eyes, but I don’t care. I can see grass and houses and trees… and the boy. It was his voice I had heard. I know it. I just know it.

He looks toward me and I duck away from the window. Mother would be so mad if she knew someone had seen me. I slowly lift my head so I can look out the window again. The boy is still staring and this time I know he saw me because I see him mouth the words, “I knew it.”

I grab the wooden board and cover up the window again. I jump down from the plastic bin and move it back into place. I sit back down on my bed and bring my knees up to my chest. He couldn’t have seen me, I think. He can’t have seen me. That can’t happen. Mother would be so angry with me. Maybe he won’t tell.

• • •

A week passes and nothing happens with the boy. I think there is a possibility that he didn’t see me and I was overreacting. I kept the window boarded up like it was supposed to be.

I lay on my bed staring at the cracks in the ceiling when I hear a tapping sound. I sit up quickly. It sounds like it is coming from the window. I get up from the bed and move the bin over to the window. I slowly remove the board from the window and let out a little shriek when I see what is on the other side. I cover my mouth quickly hoping Mother isn’t home to hear me.

The boy on the other side of the window says, “Open the window.” I shake my head no. And he says again, “Open the window.” He pauses and says, “I’m not going to hurt you. I’m here to help.”

I hesitate. Help is a good thing, right? But, I am having trouble understanding what exactly I need help with. He doesn’t seem like he is a bad guy. So, I reach through the slot that opened with the one board being removed and I open the window.

The boy smiles and says, “Hi, I’m Emmett. I brought you a hammer so you can remove the rest of the nails from those boards.” He hands me the hammer and I take it. I don’t know why, though. Mother would be very angry if she found out about this. I see him look at my finger nails. They are still bloody because I haven’t had the chance to clean them.

I start to remove the nails, but then I stop. Emmett must know why because he says, “That woman who is holding you here left about 10 minutes ago. I don’t think she’ll be back any time soon.”

I continue to try and take out the nails. I get all four of them out and as each board comes off of the window, I hand them to Emmett. I have no idea what I am doing or why I am doing it, but it fells right somehow.

“I’ll help you get out of there,” Emmett says. He reaches his arms in the window and pulls me out. I’m sure it is an easy task because of how small I am.

I fell my bare feet on the grass and it fells nice. I block my eyes from the brightness of the sun. I smile. And Emmett smile.

“What’s your name?” Emmett asks.

“Rapunzel,” I say. “Like the plant.”

“That’s a very pretty name,” he says. “Would you like to come over to my house and call the police or someone like that?”

“The police?” I asked. “Why would I call the police?”

“Because you were being held captive.” Emmett is gentle when he says this. “Don’t you have family that you want to be reuniting with?”

“I… I don’t know. I should go back, Mother would be very angry if she knew I was out here taking to you.”

“Wait a second. ‘Mother’? That woman cannot be your mother. There’s no way. I think you have a very severe case of Stockholm syndrome.”

I shake my head. “I don’t know what that is, but I don’t have it. Mother isn’t my birth mother, but she’d been my mother for as long as I can remember. She used to tell me the story of how she found me and saved me from these awful people who lived in a big house. She doesn’t tell me that story anymore though. I guess she knows I know it by now. I really should be getting back inside,” I say.

He gives me a strange look, “Then why aren’t you moving?”

I don’t know how to answer that. I just love being outside some much, I almost want to risk mother catching me.

Emmett grabs my arm and says, “You’re coming with me. You are not safe in this house.”

I don’t want to protest. He seems like a nice person and that he sincerely wants to help, so I let him pull me across the lawn and into his house.

Emmett tells me to sit down on the couch, and I do. He sits down on top of the coffee table across from me. “Are you okay?” He asks me and then corrects himself with, “Of course not.

You’ve been kidnapped and locked in a basement for twelve years. You do understand what’s happened to you, right?”

            I’m a little confused.  “I wasn’t ‘kidnapped,’ I told you Mother rescued me. But, I didn’t tell you that this happened twelve years ago. How did you know that?”

            He pulls a rectangular device out of his pocket and says, “I Googled you. There’s a reported case of your kidnapping written twelve years back. It talks about how your parents were offering… but anyways, I looked up your parents and they’re still alive. I’m sure there is a way that we can find them.”

             “Googled?” I ask. “I don’t know what that means.”

            “It’s a search engine, on the internet; you know what that is right?”

            “Yes, I know what the internet is. That’s been around longer than twelve years. So does

that mean that that little rectangle you’re holding is a computer?”

            Emmett shake his head, “No, it’s a cell phone. It has the internet on it, though, so it’s kind of like a computer.”

            “But it doesn’t have any buttons! How is that a cell phone?”

            “It just is,” he answers. He slides his finger across the screen and then keeps tapping it with his thumbs. I am in so much awe that I don’t even question what he is doing. Then all of the sudden Emmett says, “Alright. It’s printed.”

            “What is?” I ask.

            “Your parents address. Come on. I’ll drive you. I’ll take a little over 4 hours, so we better get moving.”

“My… my parents’ house? No, no. I don’t want to go there. Mother always told me how

awful they were.”                  

            Emmett looks me square in the eye and says, “Rapunzel. Did you ever consider that she was lying to you?” I don’t say anything. “Here,” he says, “I grabbed you some of my sisters clothes. You can change and then we’ll go.”

            I oblige to his request and then the next thing I know, I am in Emmett’s car driving to West Virginia. We are both quiet for the first half hour, Emmett had put on some music that I had never heard before, and we listen to that.

            I look out the window as we drive. Everything is so beautiful, even the things that most people wouldn’t consider to be.   

            After a while, Emmett says to me, “I bet you’re excited to take a shower. No offense, but it looks like it’s been a while.”

            “A shower?”

            “Don’t tell me you don’t know what that is. You were six when you were taken. I’m pretty sure I knew what a shower was when I was six.” I stared at him blankly. He laughed a little. “Okay. Okay. A shower is like a bath, but instead of sitting you stand, and the water is falling on you.”

            “Oh,” I say, “That doesn’t sound very pleasant.”

            “Trust me,” Emmett says, “it’s a lot better than it sounds.”

            I smile and laugh a little, something I haven’t done in a long time. “I’ll trust you.”

            Emmett is quiet for a little longer and then says, real seriously, “You know that woman isn’t your mother, right? She is your kidnapper. She is a bad woman and I need you to understand that.”

            I don’t say anything and I think he took that as a yes. Neither of us says anything else.

            We have been in the car for about two and a half hours and Emmett needs to get gas. After he fills up his tank, Emmett asks me, “Do you need to use the restroom?”

            I shake my head and answer, “No.”

            Emmett tells me to wait in the car while he goes into the store to use the restroom.

I tap my foot on the floor of the car quickly while I wait for him to come back. I pick at my already broken nails. Where is he? What’s taking so long? I wonder. I look out the window to see if I could see Emmett in the store. I do. He is at the front counter talking to the man behind it. I lean back against my seat and close my eyes. I try to get my mind off of the subject, but all I can think was: Mother is going to be so angry.

All of the sudden, the car door on my side opens and I am pulled out of my seat. I struggle as strong arms wrapped around me. “No!” I shout. The person spins me around and I am looking into those cold, dark eyes once again. I can’t speak.

Mother makes a tisk sound with her mouth and says “I told you not to disobey me, my dear. There will be great consequences this time.”

            Tears sprout from my eyes. “Oh, Mother,” I say, “I am so sorry. I just wanted to see the outside. It’s just so beautiful! Can’t I just be free?”

            “You’re coming with me,” she says, “I drove a very long way to find you and I’m taking you home.”

            She starts to drag me away and I scream, “Emmett! HELP!”

            A towel that smells funny is pressed up against my mouth and my eyes get heavy. The next thing I know I am in a small, enclosed space and I can hear a car running. Memories from twelve years ago flash in my mind. It is happening again. I don’t want this to happen again. I bang my tied up hands against the roof of the trunk and scream as loudly as I can. I think that maybe if I make enough noise, someone else on the road might hear me. This goes on for about twenty minutes, but then my voice gets hoarse and my arms get bruised and tired.

            So then, because I can’t scream anymore, I cry. I cry and I cry. I cry until the car stops moving and the engine turns off. The trunk opens and I see that the sun is starting to set. Mother pulls me out of the trunk and mutters, “I’ll have to get you some new clothes. Can’t have you wearing this monstrosity any longer.”

            She drags me down stairs and throws me on my bed. “If you move again, I will cut off your legs.” She isn't over exaggerating. I know that, so I don’t move. I barely breathe. Mother lets out a huff and goes back up the stairs.

            I lay on my back on my bed. I attempt to brush the hair out of my eyes, but it is difficult because the restraints are still on my hands. I look at the ropes that are tied around my hands and I start to naw on them. I need to get my hands untied. I need to get free. I need to be free.

            I work on the rope for about twenty minutes until I hear the doorbell ring. I sit up on my bed. I hear Mother’s footsteps go across the floor. She opens the door and I hear muffled voices. I start to scream. I scream and scream as loudly as I can. Two heavy sets of footsteps run across the floor and Mother’s lighter footsteps follow behind them. I keep screaming.

The door is busted open and I see two men come down the stairs. When I see them, I stop screaming. They’re  policemen. I remember what policemen look like. The older one asks me if I’m okay. I nod my head yes. He starts to untie my hands, but then Mother comes down the stairs with a gun in her hands. Both men draw their guns.

“Put your gun down,” the younger one says.

“No!” Mother shouts. “She’s mine! You can’t have my Rapunzel!”

“Miss,” the older man says, “Please put the gun on the ground and I won’t shoot. If you refuse to put the gun down I will have to disarm you.”

Mother shakes her head; tears are streaming down her face. She moves the gun up to her temple, and fires. She collapses to the ground and I let out the breath that I have been holding for twelve long years.

The policemen takes me up the stairs and walks me outside. I am free.

I see Emmett and run toward him. I wrap my arms around him and he does the same in return. I kiss him on the cheek and whisper, “Thank you. Thank you so much,” in his ear.

He pulls away and says, “Don’t thank me yet. I found two people who would very much like to see you.” Emmett turns me toward a man and a woman who look like kind people.  I’m scared because I think I know who they are, so I grab Emmett’s hand and hold it tight. 

We walk over to them together and the woman says, “Jenny? Is that you?”

I am confused for a moment before I remember that that was my name a long time ago.

“Yes, Mom,” I say, “it’s me.”

Right then, the policeman walks up to me and tells me that I would have to come down to the station and make a statement.

“Okay,” I say, “but can I take a shower first?”


© 2017 Katherine P. Haley

Author's Note

Katherine P. Haley
Hey, guys! I am completely open to constructive criticism. I just want to know what you guys think!

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I absolutely love the story of Rapunzel! Your modern take on I it is very creative quite humorous, especially the last line..."Okay," I say, "but can I take a shower first?" Great work!!

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Added on June 12, 2015
Last Updated on January 28, 2017
Tags: rapunzel, stockholm, kidnap, taken, escape, rescue, basement, stuck


Katherine P. Haley
Katherine P. Haley

Naperville, IL

Hey everyone! I am currently in college working towards a degree in English and planning many impossible things for my future. I have been passionate about writing since the fifth grade when I started.. more..