RAPUNZEL

 

Simone was proud of her hair. It was blond and lustrous. She often admired it in the mirror, and accepted wryly that it was what made her attractive; for the most part, her looks were workaday. When she occasionally over-estimated herself, she recalled Yeats’ lines as a corrective: “Only God, my dear/Could love you for yourself alone/And not your yellow hair.” Never mind: it was her. And it was not her.

 

Her hair had always grown fast. Once day she noticed there had been a rapid acceleration. It seemed to be getting longer before her very eyes. She decided to monitor it, and put a tape-measure beside the mirror. To her astonishment, her hair was indeed growing, and at an unconscionable rate. It was growing a foot a week.

So far so good. Within a month, it had grown to her waist. Within six weeks, she could sit on it. It was impressive in a long plait: she looked like a Valkeyrie, perhaps. As it grew to her feet, she’d loosen it and luxuriate in it, like a bird in a golden nest.  But soon Simone found it an inconvenience and began to cut her hair herself. She hacked it into an approximation of a Louise Brookes bob, but within a week it was like Laurel Bacall’s shoulder-length style. And that was not all. When she cut the hair on her head, her body hair was galvanised into action. Her pubic hair was soon down to her knees, her armpit hair to her elbows. Her eyelashes were an inch long,  and her eyebrows hung over her eyes. Even the stray hair on her chin sprouted with extra vigour, and was six inches long.

 

To manage this took Simone a lot of time. She now felt as if she had been born with scissors in her hands.  Neither lasers nor electrolysis would do the trick. Clearly, something had to be done to quell this rebellious, outrageous growth. In desperation, Simone undertook a really radical shearing, and carried the hair down to the bottom of the garden in a  large sack. As she emptied it and  tumbled it to the ground, it seemed to glint mischievously. No, she thought, I will have the better of you: and she put a match to it.

 

The smell was terrible, and the smoke rose to the sky like a sacrifice. The curling and crackling went on for a long while, while Simone was torn between triumph and regret. When nothing was left, she went indoors and went to bed. Next morning, she was surprised to find a lot of hair on her pillow. When she had a shower, the plughole was blocked with fine blond strands. This went on for some days. Finally, Simone looked in the mirror and saw with a shock that it was all gone. Her head and body were totally bald. She looked  like a very odd Venus who had risen not from the sea, but from her hair. A baby, an alien, an angel: she looked like all of these.

 

She would never admit to it, though. She bought a wig and false eyelashes, and even considered a merkin. She decided against that, as it was quite fashionable to be hairless below. So no-one ever learned her secret.

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© 2020 by Sue Harper

feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | supernatural | fantastic and paranoia | literary female gothic | gothic narrative | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest | portsmouth university | emeritus professor sue harper | feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | outstanding achievement award | british association of film, theatre and television | professor of film history at portsmouth university | film, media and creative arts | british academy and the arts and humanities research council | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest |