Dressed in all her finery, she ran towards the gates.
She believed that beyond them lay hope, prosperity and love.
Up till this point, her life had been a struggle, pain and despair.
As she drew near, the gate sellers tempted her, warned her; it was a folly.
It will be doom, they crowed at her
Your beauty will wither, and you’ll be more crone than girl.
Your pretty dress will be torn to shreds; your clothes will rags.
Stay here; take this trinket, drink this wine, it’s medicinal.
She hesitated a moment, knew the risk,
But it couldn’t be as bad as the world she lived in.
As she stepped through the gates, there were hands pulling her back,
Ignoring the voices, the advice, she took her leave and entered the dark valley.
A man in black appeared, looked down on her from the height of his horse
Hand her a card, then rode off.
The card gave her directions to the castle
She assumed that was where she was to go.
The castle had similar gates, similar sellers,
But they welcomed her, clothed her, fed her.
What was this place she wondered?
It took time for her to grasp the comfort she felt,
Her despair lingered on her shoulder
She suspected, anticipated, disaster at any second.
She wandered the crowded marketplace
A man in white took her hand,
Said he had shelter for her
She’d heard this story before
She was ready, defences were up.
Her new room was clean and tidy,
The locks were on the inside,
The man in white said to come to the castle office
He would give her work.
She slept well for the first time in ages
No thought of intruders, of violation.
She awoke thinking it was all a dream
But the room was real, the bed a comfort.
There were clothes for the day, food to eat
An invitation to the castle.
Her door was still locked.