The Jack’s in Germany series: Part II

Words by Bronte Coates

Published on October 12, 2011

As the title suggests, Jack is in Germany this month and so we’ve dedicated our October series to sauerkraut, hot blondes, and hilarious heavy metal bands.

This piece of micro-fiction comes from Bronte, and is inspired by the Brothers Grimm’s first version of the Rapunzel story.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair to me.

In the mornings I hear Mother Gothel’s call and throw my thick buttery rope of hair out the window. I lie stiff and flat with my two palms braced against the wall, a pillow wedged above my skull to soften the pressure. My eyes tear as Mother Gothel pulls herself up and I try guess what she will bring today. Perhaps some cheese and bread. Perhaps, if I am lucky, marzipan. Sometimes she brings stories and after each one I am hungrier than before she came.

Mother Gothel says the woman who carried me had a terrible hunger. Two months pregnant and she was gnashing her teeth and demanding roast chicken wings slathered in gravy. Four months and she was stuffing whole apples in her mouth, followed by pork knuckles. Six months and her hunger was so that she had no time for to wait for food to be cooked. At eight months she waited for icecream to melt so she could drink it down in one gulp. This woman claimed I was gnawing away at her from the inside. She cried that my teeth must already have grown as she could feel them scraping at the wet flesh of her womb.

The husband watched his sweet wife swell up-he had to tie her legs and arms to the bed to stop her rolling away in the night-and as soon as my hair appeared he dragged me out, toes and all, and sold me to a witch for a box of vegetables. Mother Gothel later heard that the wife gobbled him up bones and all while the vegetables were left to rot.

When Mother Gothel is telling me stories I coil my hair around my neck and head and nestle in the fur. I haven’t tended to it since I came to this place and it smells of the farm, of sweet damp hay and manure. I bathe my limbs and between my legs with the cold water Mother Gothel brings but I don’t even drag fingers through my hair to brush it. I leave the knots to gather in peace.

After Mother Gothel leaves I sit by my window and sing to the birds. When one comes near I trickle tiny crumbs along the ledge in to my tower. Then I stuff the tiny creature in my mouth, bones and all.

I am picking flecks of these bones from my teeth when the prince first calls to me. His voice echoes through the forrest. The tower trembles. As he climbs up I feel sure my hair will finally be ripped out. I think he must be a hundred times the size of Mother Gothel and then his face appears, his shoulders. His feet. I stand and begin to coil my hair into loops, watching him the whole time. That, he says, is nothing like silk. Then he puts his lips to mine and it is nothing like in stories.

After the prince’s visit Mother Gothel doesn’t come back. I wait each morning; I sing to the birds and throw my hair over the ledge like a fisherman. But the only thing I catch is a prince. He brings no stories, no food. I fill bowls with snow and wait for it to melt. I drink greedily. The thing inside me is growing teeth and when winter is over I will cut my hair off-snip snip, cut if off, and fly where the birds fly.