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art by Jonathan Westbrook

A Hairy Predicament

Melissa Mead lives in Upstate NY. You may have seen her stories in DSF before. She's a member of SFWA and Codex, and her Web page is carpelibris.wordpress.com. Go to Twisted Fairy Tales to read the other stories published so far in Melissa's series.
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!"
"What boy?"
"That thieving boy that stole our gold and harp and hen! He climbed this ridiculous beanstalk, and when dear Hubert chased after him, the scoundrel chopped down the beanstalk, and poor Hubert..." The giant widow sobbed thunderously.
Mother Gothel was glad to see that, from the girl's frustrated expression, Rapunzel couldn't make out a word. The girl was so tenderhearted.
"How do you know it wasn't the beans, and not our dirt?"
"There are no such things as magic beans!"
"True enough. Well, let me think..."
It took most of the day, but eventually the giantess calmed down. Unlike her husband, she was fond of uncooked, living children, and didn't blame Rapunzel for her hair's part in the tragedy. Rapunzel's sympathy, once she'd regained enough hearing to learn that their oversized visitor was a widow, helped tremendously.
"But we made the compost to help widows and orphans! You can take it all home with you and grow a giant garden. You can come back to visit, and show us the amazing things you've grown. Right, Mother?"
Mother Gothel sighed. "All right, child."
The giantess took the compost with her, but Mother Gothel doubted she'd be back. Time to come up with something else to do with all that hair.
Maybe it was just as well. Between the rampion and the beans, she'd had enough of vegetables.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

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