art by Jonathan Westbrook
A Hairy Predicament
by Melissa Mead
Mother Gothel heaved another load of hair-compost over with her pitchfork. Curse that couple anyway, with the mother's rampion cravings and their begging the Fae to give their daughter "an endless fall of golden hair." They'd gotten their wish, and then begged Mother Gothel to take the child away when they couldn't bear the neighbors' stares and whispers.
Soon the poor girl had to move into a tower so that, by hanging most of her fifty-foot mane out the window, she had space to move around the room.
Fortunately, even the Fae can't make something truly endless, but how that hair grew! Every day Mother Gothel chopped it short, then tried to think of ways to get rid of the stuff. Spinning and weaving was too slow. Mattress stuffing took almost as long.
The compost was Rapunzel's idea.
"If the vegetables grow the way my hair does, no one will ever go hungry again! Right, Mother?"
Mother Gothel had commended her generosity, but she knew that Fae gifts always came with a hidden price. The catch was bound to show up soon.
And it did, in the form of a furious woman as tall as the tower.
"You killed my husband!" she bellowed in a voice that shattered the tower windows. Rapunzel appeared at the nearest, looking stunned and deafened. Mother Gothel grabbed her broomstick and flew up to the giantess' eye level.
"You're frightening my daughter! Look, I'm sorry you've lost your husband, but why are you accusing me? We've never even met!"
"You gave your magic dirt to that boy's mother!"