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by Stefan Slater
Read by Kaitlin Bellamy
Listen to the audio version
I asked the Lady once why I needed to stay locked up. She only laughed and stepped on my
"Isn't it obvious?" She yanked my hair with her heel, pulling me to the cold floor.
I am all sorts of things, the Lady told me. I was broken. Unnatural. A walking crime.
The proof was my hair. The roots are golden, but it's so long, and never stops growing. It
crushed spiders wherever I walked in the tower, and gathered so much dust and filth it darkened
to mud-brown. My neck ached constantly from dragging it.
She never helped me carry it.
Whenever the gnarled Lady visited my tower, she brought food and sharp words. Cursed, she
called me. My parents had been thieves and fate had punished them -- they gave birth to me.
The curse turned me rotten. My bones went crooked, and my nose fell off and my hair kept
growing and growing and growing.
"Your mother never hesitated," she told me once. "She saw you that first time and paid me in
silver to take you away--easy as breathing."
If the villagers down in the valley ever saw me, she said, if I ever wandered from my tower
with my twisted face and my terrible hair dragging across the forest floor, they'd shriek and beat
me until my bones turned to powder.
When the Lady visited, she shouted my name, and I dragged my hair to my only window and
pushed it out. She yanked hard when she climbed. She made a great big show of saying her hands
smelled sour after touching my hair.
She never brought me water for washing.
And the Lady always laughed.
She laughed when I tripped on my hair. Laughed that one time when I found all those
smothered mice in my hair and I screamed. Laughed when I tried to cut my hair and the curse
broke all the scissors and knives.
And she laughed when I said, one day, that I would jump from my tower and let it end.