LET DOWN YOUR HAIR • by Damien Walters Grintalis

The girl, Elle to her friends, looked down from the single window in her high tower and grimaced. Another one? This one was a little long in the tooth with grey hair at the temples, and she sighed. Was this her fate? To be ‘rescued’ by a man old enough to be her father? She thought not.

He called out to her again, and she extended her hand and her middle finger. Would his eyesight even be good enough to see it? She smiled at his muffled curse. Obviously, yes. Her smile grew even wider at the sound of his horses’ hoofbeats. Thank God for small miracles.

Elle took three steps and plopped down on her narrow, albeit comfortable bed. Someone, somewhere had started the rumor she was here against her will. Probably Helena, the fool, convinced only a man could save a woman from the woes of life.

“Give me a break,” Elle muttered, tapping her foot on the floor.

She kept the braid of hair the men so fondly desired in a box under the bed. Chopping it off was the first thing she’d done after locking herself in the room. Contrary to popular belief, she could leave at any time; she wore the key on a long chain around her neck.

Elle didn’t know who started the trapped by a witch rumor, but she could guess how it happened. The tower housekeeper and cook, a little old woman with a stooped back and a wild tangle of hair, resembled one, at least in the way they were portrayed in stories. Elle knew a witch or two, and they looked nothing like her housekeeper.

She’d fire the woman and hire someone else, but she made kick-ass lentil soup and didn’t ask questions. That was the important part. She did her job, collected her pay, and went home. If any of the men had bothered to wait until after dark, they could have easily met up with the housekeeper, asked her a few questions, and saved themselves a lot of time and energy, but a girl locked in a tower gave them all delusions of princely grandeur.

It didn’t matter though. A few more weeks and she’d rejoin the land of the living. Elle could see her return clearly. Helena would freak out over her hair, her mother would pop another Valium and ask if she’d had a nice time, her father would ask if she needed any money, and her brother would nod his head in her general direction and go back to his video game. Elle could say the hell with all of them and stay in the tower, but she had a serious craving for a soy latte from Starbucks.

Pushing the latte out of her mind, she opened up her laptop. Despite the daily interruptions from her ‘rescuers’, her novel, the reason for her sabbatical, was nearly complete. Three months to write the first draft (she could have done it in two, but instead took her time), one month off (with no peeking at the manuscript), two months to edit, another month off, more edits, and then a few more. One final read-thru and she could call it done. She’d never be 100% happy with it, but 99% was good enough. Then of course, she had to find a literary agent willing to look at the thing, but–

“Let down your hair.”

The deep voice drifted up through the open window, cutting off her thoughts. Elle sighed. Really? Twice in one day? Maybe she should have had a ‘Dragon on Premises’ sign posted at the gate instead of ‘Keep Out’.

Damien Walters Grintalis is a writer of dark tales and a poet. Her short fiction has appeared in Crash and Liquid Imagination; future works will appear in Bards & Sages Quarterly, Murky Depths, Everyday Weirdness, Every Day Fiction, Weirdyear, Emerald Tales, Copper Wire, and The Stray Branch. Her poetry has appeared in many publications, including Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Day Poets, The Cynic Online, and Baltimore’s City Paper.

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