Nov 4, 2012

Hair (Rapunzel)

By Fareeha Shah

A foul, menacing odor has filled the air, but you ignore it. You methodically, almost rhythmically run a brush through your heavy hair, hair that is the shade of a buttercup in the sunlight, hair that coils itself around your elbow in pleasure. The hair is alive; but of course you already know that. You never did before, though, Gothel made sure of that by keeping your head tightly bound in a blade-spiked helmet in case you tried to remove it.  That one fatal night though, when her cracked, wrinkled hands forgot to turn the lock that bound your head so tightly…

A slow, relishing smile spreads across your face at the memory of your inhumanly strong, golden hair wrapping itself around Gothel’s neck, until her face turned blue, until she stopped writhing like a worm on a hook.  The rush of endorphins through your veins wasn’t just because you were finally free. The power, the rush you got from killing her (so easy it was) as something you wanted to feel again. You put the brush down; your wrists have ugly grooves in them, ones that will remain permanent.  They still throb, and your silky hair soothingly wraps itself around them as if to comfort you. You remember your hair freeing you from the shackles that had bound them, effortlessly crushing them like weak twigs. You decide that you are ready to leave behind the tower once and for all.

You contemplate climbing down the shrubbery and vines, but your hair does the thinking for you. It wraps one end around your waist, and one firmly around the bannister of the balcony. You have gotten used to your hair thinking for itself surprisingly fast. It feels almost natural, you think, as you lower yourself down the brick tower. The stench of death, however, follows you down.  Your hair can smell it too, it seems. You can tell that it itches for another kill too. Your feet touch the ground.

It is like nothing you have ever felt before. You are used to the icy marble flooring within the tower, and have been for seventeen years now. This is completely new to you. The grass tickles your bare feet, the cool wind slips through your hair. You can hear the trickle of water nearby, and in the horizon, beyond the wildflower-covered meadow that you stand in, you see a stream. Gone is that feeling of suffocation, of confinement. You are completely free; you feel as liberated as the birds you can see in the sky.

What you do not know, however, is that with imprisonment comes a price. What you do not know is that in the very moment you killed Gothel, something within you, your sanity, snapped. You think that you have it all perfectly under control, but after seventeen years of being completely severed from human contact… how can you? You, however, are completely oblivious to all this as you wade through the shallow stream, gulping down water as if it is the elixir of life and emerge into a forest.

You gasp appreciatively as you take in the breathless majesty of the beauty around you. Emotions that you have never felt before start to rise up within you. This seems to agitate your hair, as if it wants to completely sever any humanity present within you. You look at the tall, green trees, but you see them as dark, menacing, looming, and even threatening.  The entangled mossy undergrowth and poison ivy intertwine with each other feel damp and spongy under your feet. It seems your hair has begun to affect how you think too.

There is a twitch amongst the leaves. You feel the entire forest go still when suddenly your hair lashes out, cutting as a whip, and returns holding a white, fluffy creature with long ears. You cannot place it, as you have only read one book in your entire life; a ridiculous tale about a prince and his grandeur. Your hair snaps the neck. You feel that rush in your stomach, the feeling of empowerment, of relief. But it isn’t as fierce as it was before. Frustrated, you stumble out of the forest into a whole other world.

This meadow is cleaner; it is fenced off. A man and a woman dressed in the most regal clothes imaginable sat sadly on a stone bench while a little boy played with a golden puppy. You recognize that boy as the prince; he wears the same clothes as the prince in your book, collecting dust somewhere in the tower.

What you do not know is that that man and woman are your parents. They have grieved your loss for seventeen years. Not a year goes by that they don’t light a candle for every year you aged on your birthday. This year, seventeen candles illuminated every household in the village. That little boy is your brother-it is after years of trying that your parents were finally able to have a child. After months of searching they found a dog with the exact shade of fur as your hair and gave it to him.

You are oblivious to all of this. All you see is the little boy, with the cornflower blue eyes, the fair hair. Your hair tells you to wait till the attention of his parents is diverted elsewhere before coming out of the shadows. They turn to the grazing horses. You walk towards him slowly, even deliberately until your hair can’t take it anymore. It reaches out (flies out, really) and grabs the boy. It enjoys squeezing the life out of him. Everything is quiet.

This time, the pleasure is even stronger than before. He was helpless. So helpless, and you had all the power. You are so engrossed in your ecstasy that you don’t notice the queen look up. You don’t hear her exclamation of surprise, her scream of terror. You don’t look up to see the horrified recognition in their faces. You only look up when you hear the deep, commanding voice that belongs to the king.



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