Ackee: A Twist on Rapunzel
A long time ago on an island in the middle of the sea, there was a couple that was very much in love. The wife's name was Amancia and the husband's name was Damerae. They had wanted a child for some time, but had no luck. Each day they hoped and prayed that their child would come.
Their dream came true one day when Amancia discovered that she was pregnant. Everything was going well, except she had a horrible craving for ackee. They had none themselves, and no money to buy it at the market. So Amancia asked Damerae to get some from her neighbor.
"You must be crazy! That old witch hates trespassers! And she'll turn anyone who goes in her garden into a rat!" He exclaimed. He spoke of Fayarda, the sorceress who lived in a tower next to them. As long as anyone could remember, she lived alone in a tall, dark tower where she would brew potions and cast spells. Her garden grew all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and herbs from all over the world. It was as large as it was grand. She was fiercely protective of it. Anyone caught in her garden would suffer her wrath.
When nightfall approached, Damerae snuck into the garden and took the largest, ripest ackee he could find. He took it home to his wife and cooked it with some salted cod. It was the most delicious thing she had ever tasted! It was so good that the next day she begged Damerae to get some more of it.
Since he had snuck past Fayarda the first time, he was confidant he could do it again.
He made it in and out of Fayarda's garden once more. This time when he was cooking the ackee he made a fatal mistake. He accidentally left in one of the seeds of the ackee, which is highly poisonous. When he took a bite, he became very ill.
Amancia tried everything, but she knew it was only a matter of time before her husband died.
"Please someone! Help my husband!" She cried.
Fayarda heard the noise and came over to the cottage.
"What is the meaning of this?" She demanded.
"My husband needs help right away! He accidentally bit off some of the seed of an ackee, and now I'm afraid he will die!"
"Where did you get ackee? You hardly have enough to keep the roof from falling in,".
"It was all my fault! I asked him to take some from your garden. I'm so sorry! Please help him!"
"Do not worry, I will save your husband, but on one condition. You must give me your child,".
Amancia had started to cry.
"I promise I will give them the best care,".
Amancia knew it was the only way to save her husband, so she agreed to Fayarda's deal.
Fayarda made a potion for Damerae. He soon got better, but with the baby about to be born any day now, Amancia was worried. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl. When Fayarda came to take her away she cried and cried, but she knew that she must keep the promise she made.
The child was named Ackee, after the plant her father almost died getting for her mother. Ackee and Fayarda lived in a tower that oversaw the entire village. Every day, Fayarda would teach her magic spells and potions.
Day by day, Ackee grew into a beautiful young woman. Her skin was as dark as the night; her eyes were the color of oak, but her most striking feature was her dreadlocks. They cascaded down past her feet in long, ebony loops.
Every day, Fayarda would call to Ackee to let down her hair.
"Ackee, Ackee, let down your locks, so that I may climb this tower of rocks,".
While she waited for Fayarda to return to the tower, she would sing.
One day a princess from the nearby kingdom was exploring the forest, and happened to hear Ackee singing. Her voice rang as sweet and clear as a bell. The princess followed it all the way to the tower. She was shocked when she saw Ackee standing on the balcony, her dreadlocks flowing in the breeze.
Ackee stopped her singing at once and called out "Muma Fayarda, is that you?"
"I am Princess Cedella. Who are you?" She asked.
"My name is Ackee. Would you like to come up?"
"How can I get all the way up there? You don't have a ladder, do you?"
"I've got something better," she grinned. She lowered her hair down in long coils. Princess Cedella giggled. She could see the ground getting farther and farther away from her as she climbed the tower.
Once she was in she struck up a conversation. They talked as if they'd known each other for years. Ackee showed her spells and magic potions. They had so much fun together they lost all track of time. The sun was beginning to set on the horizon.
"I have to leave now, but I will visit you again soon," Princess Cedella said. So Ackee lowered her hair down once more.
This continued for some time. Their bond was as strong as steel. The day came when Ackee decided to tell Fayarda. She was nervous and even a little scared, but she loved the Princess, and knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life with her.
Fayarda called to her again "Ackee, Ackee, let down your locks, so that I may climb this tower of rocks,". She could sense something was off from the moment she touched Ackee's hair.
"What is troubling you my child?"
"Muma Fayarda, I got something I need to tell you," Ackee stuttered. "I'm in love with someone. And I'd like you to meet her."
"You? In love?! You're still a girl! You think I'm going to let years of work go to waste just because you're in love?!"
"But she's really a kind person. With her help, I've become stronger than ever. She's brought out things in me that I never knew I had."
"That is just your mind playing tricks on you. I forbid you to see her ever again!"
"Muma Fayarda, please! She's the most wonderful person I've ever met!"
"No Ackee! You're not going to throw away all your hard work over this!"
Ackee cried herself to sleep that night. She knew if Fayarda met Princess Cedella, her mind would change. So she set up a plan. When Princess Cedella would visit, she'd wait with below the tower with her until Fayarda returned.
The next morning when she woke up, not only had all her dreadlocks been chopped off, she was deep in the middle of the forest. Never having left the tower, she had no idea where she was. Still, she struggled to find a way out.
Princess Cedella called to her every day, but no one ever answered. She wandered the kingdom, searching for her. As she wandered she saw the suffering and pain of her people. Her already broken heart was shattered.
After months of searching, they found each other. Joy flooded them like a fountain. They embraced tightly and kissed passionately. Tears of joy ran down their faces. Together, they ruled as the empresses of the kingdom. With Ackee's magic and Cedella's kind heart, justice and peace reigned once more.
One day they got a visit. It was none other then Fayarda.
"You can throw me out and I wouldn't blame you, but there's something I must tell you," she said.
"Your birth mother was a very special woman, and will always have a close place in my heart. We were together like you and Cedella are together now. We had to hide it because we knew we'd become outcasts if anyone found out. Even though we loved each other, it didn't work out. I was so heartbroken that I didn't know what to do. I lost all my magic. I didn't want you to get hurt like I got hurt. I am so sorry. Can you ever forgive me?"
Now Fayarda had done something bad, but she was not the witch she had been made out to be. She had loved and cared for Ackee like she was her own child. Ackee knew this.
"We would be honored if you would be our advisor," Ackee smiled.
After years of separation her parents were reunited with her. It was a time of great joy. The old ways of hatred, prejudice, corruption, and suffering were gone. It was the dawn of a new day.