best when viewed in low light



[Here's another shot at a fairy tale retelling.]

Rapunzel! Rapunzel! her mother called from downstairs.

What is it, mother?

Come down and eat your breakfast! Big day ahead, dear.

I’m not coming!

Rapunzel, really! Why must you resist the simplest things?

I told you, mother, I am staying in my room!

Alright, Rapunzel, you win. But I am going to town, and I am not going to tell people you’re sick again. They must think I take such awful care of you when all the while…

Rapunzel turned again towards the window and resumed her combing. She let her mother’s grumbling die into an unintelligible mumble, and began to hum to herself. As she hummed and combed, she admired her long, long, luxurious hair and smiled.

I have the most beautiful hair, she thought. It is golden, with streaks of nearly-white and shadows of almost-brown. And the way it sparkles in the sunlight! She ran her hands through the mass of it, letting each strand fall through the bright light angling in from the window.

She put down the comb and grabbed the ends, searching through each perfect tip for the beginnings of a split end. She gasped. Not one, not two, but three split ends! She reached for her brush and began furiously to brush out the tips of her seemingly endless locks. After she dealt with the splits, she calmed herself and went back to her careful preening.


She sighed. Who was it now?

Rapunzel! I can see the light off your hair, I know you’re up there!

She giggled a bit to herself, and leaned over the sill.

Rapunzel! There you are!

Osgood, what do you want?

I saw your mother and she said you weren’t coming to town today…but you know that today is the dance!

I do. So?

Well, ya see. Well, Rapunzel, I was hoping you’d come with me! To the dance, I mean.

Did I tell you I would go to the dance with you?

Well, no.

Then you can’t be disappointed. Anyway, I’m not coming.

And why not?

I’m washing my hair.

Osgood’s face crumpled into an angry disappointment. Ya know, Rapunzel, with anyone else I’d never believe it, but with you… Well, see ya.

Rapunzel went back to brushing, and passed a pleasant afternoon in her room, admiring herself, and especially her hair. Towards sunset, she heard a hearty laugh and giggle on the path, and leaned over to see Osgood walking home with a bright, amiable girl around her own age.

Hmph! She thought. That girl is no prettier than I am! And look at her short, mousey brown hair. Why, there’s nothing so special about her!

But a twinge of jealousy wrinkled her nose, and made her brush all the harder. It was easy to put Osgood out of her mind – he was so cheerful and good natured, she hardly had the patience – but she did sort of want some young man to admire her, and especially her beautiful hair.

As evening darkened into night, she heard her mother come home and busy herself downstairs. Rapunzel was a bit miffed when, after smells of fresh goose and vegetables began to waft to her window, her mother didn’t call her down to eat. Nor did a plate of food appear at her door as she expected.

Humph! Rapunzel thought, Who cares about that mean old woman and her goose!

And just to spite her mother in case she changed her mind, Rapunzel gathered up the many yards of her hair into braids and hefted herself into bed.

She woke the next morning to the sound of the front door shutting, and heard her mother’s solid footsteps walking away from the house.

Good! she thought, at least she won’t pester me to go to town today!

She spent all that day up in her room, combing and brushing and admiring her lovely locks. But when evening came, there was no sign of her mother. And now she was getting hungry. Frustrated and hungry, she cried herself to sleep.

But when she woke up the next day, still her mother had not returned. And so it was the next day, and the next.

By this time, Rapunzel was hungry and a bit worried. Perhaps her mother had abandoned her, a possibility she was only too ready to accept. As she pondered her next move, she heard horse hooves on the road near her house, and she got to the window as fast as she could, pushing and shoving and lifting the long hanks of hair out of her way.

Mother! Mother! she yelled.

Just then the horse came into view, and riding it, the most elegant and magnificent looking young man Rapunzel had ever seen or imagined.

He waved to her from the horse, and rode a bit closer.

Were you yelling, young lady?

Oh! Yes! I was.

And why, may I ask, were you yelling?

Oh, well…I thought perhaps you were my mother coming home.

He chuckled. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you. When do you expect her?

Oh, I couldn’t be less disappointed, she cooed. But, she added, I don’t know when my mother is coming home! She left some days ago without a word, and I’ve been left here all alone!

My goodness! I’m terribly sorry to hear this. You have no idea where she went?

No, I don’t.

I’d like to help you, but before we set off to find your mother I must ask you for a drink of water for my horse, and perhaps a bite of something for myself.

Oh! she cried. I’d be happy to give you a drink and some food, but, you see, I have had no food or water myself for all these days. So I have nothing to offer you. But please, do come in!

What kind of a girl sits at home in her room without food or drink or a mother for many days and does nothing?

Why, I was busy combing and brushing my hair.

Your what?

My hair! And she pushed the great mass of hair over the sill and out the window. It fell in great heaps on the grass and rolled in a mass just to the hooves of the young gentleman’s horse, nearly carrying little Rapunzel with it.

Hmmm. I see, he said. This hair has kept you busy for all these days and nights?

Why yes! And for many more than just these past! Isn’t it beautiful?

It is beautiful, but no wonder you’ve been stuck in your room. Even if you had the will to do for yourself, how far could you go carrying such a mass of the stuff?

Well! cried Rapunzel. She could not help but be hurt by this young gentleman’s rude dismissal. After all, she had worked so hard on her beautiful hair hoping that someone just like him would love her.

I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, called the young man, but your hair – however lovely it may be – is long past the point of being beautiful. Now it’s just a heavy inconvenience. And, I might add, it’s done nothing to aid in the development of your personality.

Rapunzel had heard these words before, but coming from her mother they had no effect. But here and now they hit her differently, and she couldn’t stop the tears from falling.

Sniff. That’s just what my mother says, she admitted quietly.

He considered her for a moment. He wondered what she might be like without all that hair, and all that hassle. She was lovely, and she needed his help. And after all, he had come this way seeking adventure.

He unsheathed his sword, and yelled at Rapunzel to hold still.

Oh my! What are you doing? she called, just as he swung his sword through the thick ropes of hair hanging from her window.

I’m saving you! he called. From yourself!

She stood up immediately, feeling a great burden lifted from her shoulders. She ran – for the first time in many years – lightly down the stairs and out the door. As she rushed to him, she could feel the tips of her hair brushing the backs of her heels.

He met her with a laughing embrace, and looked into her eyes. As he held her, he ran his fingers through her golden hair.

Now that’s a beautiful head of hair!

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