In a Tower (1 of 3)

I first wrote this story in English. Then I changed it a bit and translated it into Danish. Then I changed it a bit more and changed it back to English. Ralph, the protagonist, when from in his twenties to seventeen and then to twelve. This is how it ended up 🙂


Reschensee (copyright: Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash)

‘I expect you to be diligent,’ said Ralph in his deepest voice while he wriggled the vial about on the windowsill. It wore a pointy hat made from his clothes.
‘Of course, master,’ Ralph answered with another hat-less vial.
‘And you will have to concentrate twenty-four seven,’ said the deep voice and hat.
‘Yes, master, I will,’ said no-hat vial Ralph.
‘I will be back eventually.’ The hat-vial turned to look out the window. ‘And when I return I expect you to be able to do a basic life spell or your days as my apprentice are over.’
‘Don’t you worry master,’ said Ralph. ‘I’ll be making growing things before you can say Jack Frost.’
‘Yes, of course,’ said the vial version of his master. ‘I was only kidding. I have complete faith in you. And you will get your own hat as soon as I find one. Oh dear, now I ruined the surprise. I’m only leaving to find you a hat.’
‘That’s alright master,’ said vial-Ralph. ‘I’ll act really surprised when you return and give it to me.’

Ralph put the vials aside with a sigh. If only that had been how it happened, but his master had not been kidding, and the amount of faith he had in Ralph could fit in a thimble.

Ralph knew he should continue his studies. Although he could make pebbles out of nothing, the life spell kept eluding him. He had tried so many times over the last two weeks, but every time he tried the spell, nothing happened, and there was no help to be found. There was no one to talk to, and the book described it in a really strange way.

In fact, he really wished that he had someone to talk to, even if it was not about the spell. Just anyone who was not his master. Sometimes, he felt so trapped. If he could just go outside for a while, the fresh air might help his brain. But if his master came home and found him outside, there would be hell to pay. His master might even throw him out, and then he would have to go home to his parents and tell them that they had been right. That he would never be a wizard, and that there was never any future in wizarding anyway. He rubbed his face.

Also, his parents would probably still be angry with him for running away, even though it had been almost a year. He traced his finger around the windowsill in a curly pattern leaving a glowing trail. Party tricks, his father had called them. He would show them.

His face set, he stood up and marched to his desk. The desk only had four things on it. One was an enormous book simply called ‘Life’. The other things were three small pebbles in a pile beside the book. Ralph sat down and began for the umpteenth time on the part called: ‘Simple Life – an Introductory Chapter’.

‘The need for life must be present in the wizard’s heart,’ mumbled Ralph. ‘The need for life? What does that mean, the need for life? And you promised to stop talking to yourself, what happened to that promise?’ He messed up his hair. Perhaps it meant that he had to let the universe know that he really needed to do this life spell.

‘Alright.’ He picked up a pebble from the desk. ‘Please universe, I need this pebble to become a seed, a living, growing seed.’ Ralph did the signs and said the words of the spell.

And nothing happened.

‘Stupid book,’ he mumbled. And that was alright because he said it to the book, not himself.

Then something landed on the windowsill and Ralph jumped to his feet. Was that his master back already? But the pigeon who had landed took off when he moved, so it was probably not his master. He sighed and slumped back in his chair. It was strange to think that that pigeon had been the first living thing he had seen since his master left. But then he supposed that that was the point with building a tall tower in a barren mountain range.

‘No contact, no distractions,’ as his master used to say. Still it would be nice with a bit of company. Ralph took some dry bread from the day before and broke it into crumbs over the windowsill. Then he stepped back and waited.

And waited.

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