Rumpelstiltskin is a renowned fairy tale of a little man making a deal with the miller’s daughter to stop her from being killed by the king. To catch the king’s attention, her father had claimed that she could spin straw into gold. Said king brought her to piles of straw and threatened to kill her if she could not turn all the straw into gold by the next morning. As the girl cried, Rumpelstiltskin came and offered to help. But with something in return. Most would agree that he is a villain taking advantage of a poor damsel in distress. Yet, what is constantly overlooked is the true depth of the little man that is Rumpelstiltskin.
Most nights, he would hold a celebratory festival for his greatness. This was one of them. Amidst the clutches of the grasping branches was a lone, solitary cave. Around it, winds howled and the moon remained vigilant. Stark trees shied away from it. No animals dared to approach it. It was as if they all knew there was a malevolent presence in the cave, of which they were not wrong.
Inside the cave was a little man in a little tunic and a little hat. Little he may be but his ego surpassed that of any man. The roaring, blazing fire in front of him cast sharp, ghastly shadows on his face, painting him as the dark villain he was.
“Ho, ho! I did it again! Brightest fellow alive, this little clever man!” He cheered joyously.
He clapped his hands and danced around the fire, celebrating as if he was in a party. It was a party with no festive decorations, no food and drinks, and no guests at all. The only sound of his little party was his sole voice which resonated in the hollow cave with the acoustics of an empty grand hall. His reply was none other than his own echo. This is the only kind of party he knew and it is this same party that he has held for the past decades.
“Yes, I am invincible! Fooled the miller perfectly! It is only a matter of time before I show up before the miller’s daughter and make deals with her to save her life! Oh, joy, the deals I can make! And then I would say ‘you can get out of this deal but only if you can tell me my name’! And she will cry in hopelessness! I will always, always, always win! For no one knows me name, the great, wonderful, marvelous, Rumpelstiltskin!”
He mimicked the distant cheering of crowds, cupping his mouth and excitedly swayed from side to side. His mirthful visage quickly turned into a grimace the moment he started choking on his own saliva.
“Oh, you silly goose!” he cursed himself as he coughed incessantly. He started feeling immense stinging in his eyes. He found it harder and harder to breathe. It was as if a thousand needles were punctured into his lungs. The physical pain of his little carelessness greatly reminded him of a particular pain which was not driven by physiology but rather, emotion. A single line of thought dawned on him.
“No one knows me name, the great, wonderful, marvelous Rumpelstiltskin,” he whispered quietly, his voice breaking at the mentioning of his own name. A name which would never be called. A name which would only pass his own lips. A name which has never and will never be acknowledged.
The coughing stopped. Silence filled the desolate cave and it was loud in his ears. Just from hearing this silence, associated memories flashed before his eyes like a rapidly flipped photo album. Countless nights of his celebratory festivals appeared, along with their tragic endings.
He felt something warm run down his face. This was the only warmth he knew. Nights are cold. He is cold. Someone else’s warmth? What a joke. He would not even dare to dream of it.
Whose fault was this, though? Well, no one but himself, of course. He was the one who desired the ultimate weapon. He was the one who chose to never get acquainted with anyone. He was the one who decided he would be able to live his life in solitude as long as he was invincible. He was miserable and it was all his fault.
Sometimes the thought occurs to him, “Is it too late now?” Alas, it seems like he has fallen in too deep in that ego of his that he could not afford to risk losing the invincibility he had had for so many years. After all, it was the only thing that has kept him sane and alive his whole life. Maybe it did not kept him alive. Maybe it just kept him surviving. But he made it all the same.
He shrieked disconcertingly in the struggle to thrive in spite of the pain renting his very core. He screamed in vehemence and despair. His eyebrows were tightly knitted together in a flagrant endeavor to stop the deplorable action of weakness he was doing. He wanted to believe that he was stronger than this. However, tears of undisguised denial streamed down his defiant face. He fell to the cold ground and curled into a ball, as vulnerable as a new-born baby. His trembling hands arduously gripped his chest. The eyes which just minutes earlier radiated pride and joy were shrouded with a dark veil of trepidation.
Just that night, he would allow himself to mourn, he promised himself. In the morrow, he shall again be the great, wonderful, marvelous Rumpelstiltskin. But that night was one of those nights where his bottled feelings burst out and came tumbling down like raging waves. Those nights had come and passed by, waiting for the next breakdown like a time-bomb.
His desire to become strong made him weak.