Short Stories

Nursery Rhymes #2

Prompt: The story behind the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty.”

Prince Jonathan ran away from his nursemaid for what had to be the dozenth time just that day. And as always he rushed straight to the stone wall that divided the palace gardens from the rest of the realm.

But today was different because he’d finally found what he’d been searching for since he’d learned to walk years and that something was a way up the wall.

So as soon as he was out of sight Jonathon rushed to his hiding spot and pulled out the rickety old ladder that the cherry pickers had left in the orchard the day before.

Finally, after thirteen years of life and isolation, the little prince sat on top of the wall and looked out on the wide world outside the palace grounds.

Many people walked by below but no one thought to look above their heads so finally, when a group of teenagers his own age stepped near, he hollered out to them. “Hello down there!”

Jonathan tingled in excitement when the children stopped to look up at him and enthusiastically started to wave.

“What’s wrong with him?” one of the kids shrieked. That’s when they all started pointing and laughing at him.

Jonathan froze, not understanding. He didn’t think anything was wrong with his head but then again…he had always wondered why there were no mirrors in the palace.

“Egg head! Hunch back!” the kids chanted.

Was he deformed? Was that why his father had never let him out from behind the palace walls? Was his family ashamed of him? He scrambled away from the taunts and then he was falling off the wall and back into the yard.

First there was a blinding flash of pain and then nothing. He could see and hear everything but when members of the staff rushed towards him he couldn’t feel their hands on him.

In the days after the fall he lost track of how many physicians and healers visited but no matter what he was forced to drink or what was lathered onto his skin nothing helped. Jonathan couldn’t move, speak or feel anything but his emotions.

But he could still breathe so dozens of people were assigned to attend to his needs. They fed him, bathed him, read to him, and manipulated his limbs every day.

It wasn’t until years later, years after his younger brother had been made King and filled the castle with heirs and spares, that Prince Jonathan finally took his last breath.

And as he died the village children were singing a chant they’d heard from throughout town.

“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”


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