The woman lived in a tower on a small rocky island off of tip of a curved bay on the coast of X country. From the top of the tower, she could watch the ocean or, more often, watch the happenings of the small fishing village nearby. Although she couldn’t see the expressions on the villagers’ faces when they interacted, she could guess, and often imagined, their feelings based on their body movements.
For example, there was the older woman she’d named Agnes, who always wore a pale yellow dress and prim white hat, who disliked fish. When she purchased fish from the fish seller, Curtis, every fourth day, she would cover nose with a handkerchief and step daintily over whatever lay at the foot of the merchant’s stall. Fish guts, in all likelyhood. She’d pay for her fish and hold the wrapped package away from her as she scurried away, frequently kicking the dock’s feline out of the way. Why would Agnes purchase fish if she didn’t enjoy them? Curtis fished for them daily. She’d watched him set out on his small boat just as dawn’s light crested the hills surrounding the bay. He’d returned with his catch a few hours later and offloaded them, with the help of his son – perhaps it was his son? It was hard to determine their familial relationship when she only saw the two men together on the dock. Agnes appeared at the merchant stall a short while afterward.
The woman put down her spyglass and stretched her arms to the sky, imagining spreading her wings and floating on the air currents. She’d float away, maybe over the land or further out to sea. She’d find a nice cave, perhaps, or another tower with a different view.
But she had no wings. Some days she imagined she was a princess trapped in a tower and that some handsome knight would rescue her. Some days she remembered who she was and why she was there. Those were dark days. Some days she just was and moved through her days repeating her reutine, watching the shore. She turned to check her charge, the burning light at the top of the tower that alerted passing ships of the hidden dangers at the edge of the bay.
As she turned to go inside, movement at the edge of the village caught her eye. Her spyglass extended with a snick. A collumn of riders had crested the hill and wound down into the village. They carried blood red banners that reminded her of something unpleasant, worms perhaps? Movement on the dock caught her eye and she saw a man, probably Curtis’s son or helper, rowing a boat out toward her tower. She remembered it was supply day.
As she hurried down the stairs to the bottom of the tower, she remembered who she was and why she resided in a tower alone. Her enthusiasm faded. She openned the trap door that led to the room at the bottom of the tower, which in turn led outside to the dock. The ocean was in the process or retreating from the room, leaving the hewn stone wet and sandy. Soon it would retreat far enough for her to step out on the dock and receive her monthly create of food. She’d have less than a minute to run outside, grab the create, and run back in and up through the trap door before the door magically sealed and left her outside, where she’d be stranded as the tide returned. She could feel the waves wash over her face, stealing her breath every few minutes, and the salt of the water stinging her eyes. She couldn’t swim as her wrists and feet were manicled to the rock.
The sound of a boat hitting the dock interruped that memory? dream? and she climbed down the ladder and went out to meet her supplier.
A stranger waited for her.