The saw-edge screech of a lone crow razors the silence. Tangled in her hair from neck to ankles she awakes, screaming. Struggles violently in the dirt, fighting against the hanks of fine filaments soft as silk, fine as gold.
They form cruel knots about her, squeeze the air from her lungs, raise red welts on wrist and ankle. Needling shards of pain pierce the soft flesh of her scalp as she thrashes, howling, against the bonds of her own beauty.
Above her, through the sheltering bower of trees, clouds draw in like brows over a furious blue eye and in the distance the muted rage of thunder threatens.
Desperate, she concentrates on just the one arm, tearing with teeth, her tears soak the hair to stubborn wet rope. First her fingers, then wrist, then forearm, are slowly freed from the seaweed grip of long blonde fibres.
Gritting her teeth, her face a savage mask, she pulls her arm and it rips loose with a sound loud enough to drown the clap of thunder close on the horizon. Clutching her head, trembling, she pauses to listen. Surely, under the retreating grumble of thunder, hoof beats?
Yes. Hoof beats. Fierce now, driven, eyes closed to slits, teeth bared primal as a wolf, she claws away with her free hand, mindless of damage. Leaves long, lifeless hanks strewn about her limp as fallen leaves.
She frees just her legs all the way to the hip and then stands in the wreckage of her once glorious mane, one arm still clenched tight to her side by bonds of hair tight as chains. She cocks her head to listen. They are near, those beats of hoof, she hears them thud thudding on the ground like war drums.
One last long look at the tower, at the long rope of hair, half torn, flying in the breeze brave as a tattered pennant, then she takes to her heels. Laughing despite the throbbing torment of her skull, the deep ache of bruised bones from the fall.
She is free, free, and no prince, no witch, will have her now. She belongs only to herself.
© Ren Warom 2011