It is not wholly myself, this shadow tugging itself loose  as though it knew better where to go from here what to do and see before the ship leaves with the tide. Not a thousand ships, you understand, just the one. Tall and proud, I suppose, and in a dreadful hurry, what with the wind so uncertain.   But we are not near the sea, my shadow and I, we are in a high, quiet place, one of those improbable towers — Rapunzel’s, if you will — and the prince is nowhere to be found, he is perhaps out sunning himself on a rock, like a gecko with destiny in the flick of his tail.   Every love story ends badly: we know this, as we know that leaves will grow toward the sun, that the gods will die,  and the floodwaters rise.    I recall meeting a prince once or twice, and a few princesses, slender and lethargic, casting about for something to do. One of them made luxury backgammon boards, boxes  of fine walnut wood inlaid with bees and cicadas.   Well. I will stand at the window, counting myself lucky. It is dark here,  and peaceful. Out flies my restless shadow. Let it.  You can only leave the tower if a prince climbs up your hair, and this is a challenge because you know princes are quite heavy, heavy as earth,  they come bearing happiness which swells as they climb, takes on its own shape, like a herald  riding the prince’s shoulder.

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