Wild Hair

It wasn’t like her to have a wild hair day. It simply wasn’t.

Rahel had been a compliant child and was a well behaved adult. And if sometimes she was a little impatient with herself, if she felt lonely or locked into a life that was predictable and ordered and dutiful, at least she was safe.

Being safe had been her goal since she was very young, and since mom had told her what happened. And what her father had been.

So the last thing she expected herself to do was dye her hair a strange and artificial gold. And she’d never be able to explain it. It was, she supposed, a combination of things. For one, two days before, she’d found a white hair amid her mousy brown mane. Not that it mattered. Why should it matter? She supposed at 28 she was not so young. Women in the middle ages would be dead by her time of life, right?

But the white hair had bothered her. Like it was unfair. White hairs should come when one had lived a long life and done a lot of things, not when all one had done was study and work, live at home, and then in a very clean apartment in the big city.

So she’d put her hair up, as she always did, and pinned it, but it seemed to her like it screamed for attention from the mirror.

It didn’t, of course, and even if her hair went white overnight, like Marie Antoinette’s was said to have, it didn’t matter, because she worked from home. She’d moved to the city mostly …. well, mostly because it was easier to be alone and to keep to herself in the city than to be alone and keep to herself in the small town she’d grown up in.

If what mom had said was right, sooner or later, people back at home would notice. They had already noticed that she had stopped dating in 10th grade, and distanced herself from all her friends.

This story is now part of a collection for sale here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09W3WBJYJ

78 thoughts on “Wild Hair

  1. But she should have opened the Window!!!!!! [Crazy Grin]

    Very nice read. 😀

      1. But if you consider a magical time loop of sorts happening because of her father, Rapunzel (the story) was actually inspired by Rachel…Very good story….good enough to trickle back through the ages.

  2. I’m just waiting for you to make these into a collection so I can buy it. 🙂 I’m liking the theme a lot. But then, I’ve read and reread all the Lang fairytale collections. Fairytales are fun.

  3. He’s from the other place that we saw in last week’s right? THat was lovely. I was rooting for Rahel.

  4. I’m glad it wasn’t necessary for the love of her life to pull in her roots. Life throws enough follicular challenges our way. Beautifully done!

      1. I “knew” that laundry was hard– but I hadn’t integrated it.

        I’m looking at the old photographs, going “yeah, those guys look so NICE in their suits, so classy-”
        I even know my dad’s suit he was married in hasn’t been washed since. (Between funerals and She Will Kill Me weddings, it has been worn MAYBE one work day’s worth of normal wear, always put on after a boiling level scrub, so not as impressive as it sounds)
        and never once did I connect it enough to go “Wait, those clothes aren’t clean. The underclothes are, probably, but they’re wearing DIRTY CLOTHES.”

        1. My mom thought my dad was nuts. Why? He demanded a clean shirt and clean underthings EVERY DAY. And he showered every day, not once a week. (in freezing water, but hey). So you might want to revise the clean underthings. One of the first conversations I remember overhearing was our laundry lady arguing with mom that “these don’t even smell” and mom saying “Yeah, I know. He’s crazy.”

          1. We are incredibly wealthy by the standards of pre-WWII. HAVING HOT AND COLD RUNNING WATER is so normal that people don’t think about it. Our cities don’t STINK (unless they are being horribly mismanaged). Our poor are, for the most part, overweight. We take the electric grid so for granted that most people have no grasp of how much of a miracle it is.

            The poorest person in subsidized housing has amenities middle class people of the ‘20’s would consider the marks of the Rich.

            The Fascist Left, for the most part, considers this wealth the Natural Order. Those that have some inkling of it believe that when the crash comes THEY will still enjoy it.


            I’ve been watching this idiocy for some time. While I was in High School, the election of the next Mayor hinged, in part, on the Left obsessing over ‘Muny Light’, as in “Don’t sell Muny Light!”. Now Municipal Light was a Depression era installation intended to “ Keep the local private companies honest”, which was bollocks from the start as it was supposed to sell at cost, never had to maintain its grid, and NEVER had an adequate maintenance budget. By the late ‘70’s it hadn’t produced one watt of electricity in years; it ‘bought’ power from the private companies, and sold it at a loss. It also never paid its bills, and owed the power companies millions. And what nobody on either side of the election EVER asked was if the local private companies wanted the damn thing. If they had any sense whatsoever, they would have offered to write off the back bills in return for not getting stuck with the thing.

            That introduced me to what passes for thinking on the Left.

              1. I remember when the house in Ireland first got hot running water. Before that, I remember them boiling up a huge kettle to give us all baths on Saturday night. This would have been 1971 or so and ours was the “big house” we had running water and an indoor toilet. Posh eh? I also remember them putting a shilling in to the meter to get the gas going.

                I suspect Ireland and Portugal could have a competition about who joined the modern world last. You had commies though, we managed to avoid that.

                1. Oh, they weren’t OFFICIALLY commies…. I think. But yeah. :/
                  Well, mom and dad had running hot water in the new house. Sort of. They turned it on once a week. We couldn’t afford it every day.

                2. I remember in the 70’s I was helping the Cincinnati Jewish Federation with getting Jews that had gotten out of the Soviet Union get established in the States. I was talking to an engineer, helping him put together a resume. I asked, just in passing conversation, what he found most striking about the United States. “Two things” he said. “One, if I wake up at 2 in the morning, and want an orange, and there aren’t any in the house, I can go to the supermarket. It will be open, and they will have oranges. Every Time!”.
                  “And the other?”
                  “There are no poor people in the States.”
                  “What do you mean, no poor people?”
                  “Geoff, people drive their cars to pick up their food stamps! Everywhere else in the world, if you have a car, you are rich.”

                  1. To be completely fair to the American ‘poor’, having a car is a virtual necessity pretty much everywhere in the country, outside of a very few places where public transportation Isn’t so grossly mismanaged as to be useless for getting anywhere in less than an absurd amount of time. Are our ‘poor’ wealthy by world standards? Yes. Are the programs that are supposed to help them total train wrecks? Yes. Would many of them be in very serious trouble WITHOUT those programs? Very probably.

                    Yes, something needs to be done about programs for the poor that are mostly ‘full employment for Public Servant Union drones’ measures. But it ain’t gonna be simple.

                3. One of my husband’s good friends when we were young was a guy from Munich who was an exchange student for a year at husband’s high school. Husband and I got the chance to visit him in 1990, when he was living in an apartment his grandparents had. The only way to get hot water in the kitchen or the bathroom was to fire up the wood-burning boiler connected to the sink, and another one to the tub. His grandmother also found it hilarious when Mr. BTEG drank water out of the kitchen faucet, as drinking water that came out of the faucet wasn’t a thing, probably dating back to poorer water conditions.

            1. If you’re talking about Cleveland I remember that quite differently.
              Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI) wanted to buy Muni light. The mayor didn’t want to sell.
              CEI went to Cleveland Trust Bank and got them to call the city’s loans to force the city to sell or go into bankruptcy.
              I lived in the suburbs so I never was a customer and can’t dispute your assessment of Muni light as a business. It may have been stupid to keep it – but at the time I was pissed at CEI for it’s crony capitalist tactics and somewhat pleased that the mayor didn’t cave to them.

              1. I remember the talk about one of the private companies wanting to buy. It was a big talking point. My father somehow dug into it, and said the company had simply asked to be paid some of the money it was owed, or that it be allowed to write it off as a bad debt. The ‘they want to but Muny Light’ talk was election year twaddle.

                At least that’s what he was told.


                1. Here’s from the NYT archives, too:

                  The Municipal Electric Light and Power System, once proudly called Muny Light but now jokingly known as Puny Light, owes Cleveland Electric approximately $17.6 million for power purchased between 1971 and 1976 to serve its customers. Recently, the big utility, which the city’s power system has sued for $325 million for allegedly engaging in anticompetitive business practices, began demanding payment of the past‐due bill—only to hear the city declare that it did not have the money.

                  The city council has several times refused in recent years to raise funds for improving the city‐owned Muny Light.

                  This, it appears, forced the city into buying power from the private utility. Late last year, however, the city agreed in principle to settle its electric bill by selling Muny Light to Cleveland Electric for $38.5 million another $120 million over 30 years and forgiveness of most of the debt.

                  Though Cleveland Electric was a willing and able buyer, the proposed sale ran into stiff oppositon from citizen’s groups, and the plan failed to win approval by the 33‐member city council,

                  1. Not exactly what I remember, but A) I was just beginning to be interested in politics, and wasn’t as savvy then as I am now and B) that has huge overtones of the power company thinking “this looks like the best deal we’re going to get, it gets the constant drain on us that Muny Light represents off the table, and it lets us write off the huge debt that city owes us against earnings”.

                    Which sound a lot more like the real world than what I remember of Teh Narrative.

                    1. I’m boggling at the idea of a power company that does not have a single source of power and does not pay its bills being held up as why private enterprise is a BAD thing.

            2. Yeah. We live in an age where our poor are fat. Our poor are *fat*

              Yes, there’s some malnutrition going on there, but I cannot think of a single famine that occurred here within my or my parents’ lifetimes. It is possible that some of my surviving grandparents’ generation starved during the Great Depression, but as bad as that got, I don’t recall mass starvation being a big thing, even during that.

              1. Hell, in the US, most of our malnutrition is based on freaking dieting. My grandmother did the lettuce-leaves-and-cottage-cheese diet while she was PREGNANT, for the love of little green apples!

                When I went through the guidelines, before I threw them with great force…. it wasn’t possible to get all the servings of fortified grain products (6-11), protein and dairy and stay between 1800-2000 calories, and there were still the 2-4 servings of fruit and minimum 4 servings of vegetables, all assuming no oils or other added calories.

                And when you go through the various risks associated with “over weight” and “obese” (scare quotes because BMI based, not actual diagnosis) you find there is a lot of overlap with the stuff listed on “why you shouldn’t diet while pregnant” pamphlet.

                And everybody here is familiar with the school lunch scandal.

                1. My grandmother was apparently sternly instructed not to gain more than 15 pounds while pregnant, which may explain why my mom and her siblings were all born much smaller than my daughter (in fact smaller than my son’s estimated current weight, although since the ultrasound estimate exceeded SweetPea’s actual birth weight by about a pound, I’m taking that with a grain of salt).

                  …Well, I haven’t gained a huge amount myself either time, but I wasn’t dieting for the purpose (and I probably started off significantly heavier than my grandmother). LittlePea is growing like somebody read him the gestational age/size charts.

                  1. I ended up– doing the “eat when you’re hungry, try to make sure you get a good variety, listen to your cravings” method– averaging about the desired total weight gain, but in the first two months I lost five to ten pounds. (Just not hungry.) Doctors kept going off of my lowest weight and fussing.

                    1. Mine have been relatively chill overall, I think. Mostly “Yep, that happens. You both seem to be okay.”

                      Not unduly chill, though. I’m getting extra monitoring now because I am Old For This and they want to make sure to catch it early and get him out safely if the placenta starts failing or anything. (As of yesterday, no rush, yay.)

                    2. They are good! I have appreciated them very much. Both when things were going well and… not.

                      Back when I was looking for a practice, I went to their website and found their entire pregnancy handbook available as a PDF. Given that content seemed reasonable, which it did, “Their website gave me a book” just felt like getting off on the right foot.

                    3. The only two I can remember right now is hot tamale candies for the Princess, and mochas for the Baron.

                      Cinnamon and milk, I guess? They used whole milk at the place I use to walk to for coffee…..

                  2. Meanwhile with older son I was literally starving myself, and gaining weight explosively, because they refused to admit I had pre-eclampsia.
                    Fortunately a nurse noticed that I was full of water. (My legs retained a thumb print.)
                    You see, my starting blood pressure was so low that “high blood pressure” didn’t register as such.
                    It is the cause of older son’s weight problems.
                    With younger son I ate as I pleased, ignored the doctors. It was helped by my craving fish, and also being completely able to move around as I pleased. I gained ten pounds. I never went above a size eighteen….
                    He was bigger and fatter than his brother. And he only has weight issues when stressed/depressed.
                    And that can’t be helped. It runs in the family.

                    1. Diet? I figure as long as the things I want to eat aren’t pure sugar (it’s easy to imagine too much ice cream, harder to imagine eating too many veggies), it’s probably a good thing to eat in general, and didn’t see a reason to change that during pregnancy. Seemed to work out ok, when combined with a prenatal. That last is for peace of mind if nothing else. I tend to get aversions more than cravings too. Maybe too much of a good thing? IDK, but I listen to that. The kids looked fine and tests looked fine all through pregnancy to the point I didn’t have much to talk about at appointments. I guess we’ll see how that affects the long term health of the kids. Anyway, I guess I looked over the food recommendations for pregnancy and just set them with the other papers they gave me. 🙂 I may not have a high opinion of one size fits all diet recommendations.

                    2. I NEVER had cravings for “too much sugar” while pregnant, only while nursing, when I craved Dairy Queen smoothies with Marsh, and meringue with Robert.
                      Not sure why.

                    3. Yep, nursing equaled calories please; Oatmeal with creative toppings, cookies, bread. I ate regular meals, but would get attacked by hunger between meals. So, I ate more. I still remember the ‘doing good, doing good.. COOKIES PLEASE!!’ in the first week with a newborn. The physical messages are be surprisingly strong.

            3. This was from Kaiser Wilhelm II’s time:


              And each one heard Her laughing as each one saw Her plain —
              Saidie, Mimi, or Olga, Gretchen, or Mary Jane.
              And the Spirit of Man that is in Him to the light of the vision woke;
              And the men drew back from the paper, as a Yankee delegate spoke: —

              “There’s a girl in Jersey City who works on the telephone;
              We’re going to hitch our horses and dig for a house of our own,
              With gas and water connections, and steam-heat through to the top;
              And, W. Hohenzollern, I guess I shall work till I drop.”

        2. Not to mention the labor involved in making clothes, particularly in pre-industrial eras. There were Elizabethan ladies who willed their clothes to their heirs.

          1. I calculated that it would take over 40 hours of labor to make one 200 denier work shirt using a spinning wheel, hand loom and treadle-powered sewing machine. Most of that labor goes into spinning the 15,000 yards of thread. That shirt would cost $600 to $700 in today’s economy.

            1. When I did spinning demos (hope to do them again), I’d talk about the history of spinning and how women eventually were freed by power looms to do other things than spin/we’ve. I call it my, “God bless the Industrial Revolution,” talk.

          2. Look at “Queen Elizabeths’Cabinet Unlocked” for clothing Ieft by will and gift, and how the same clothing turns up in serial portraits.

            John in Indy

  5. Apropos of nothing but hair (types she who has much of it), I’d wondered about the phrase “I just washed my hair and I can’t do a thing with it.” It turns out that back when all soap was lye soap, that was exactly true, particularly if you used fresh soap. You washed your hair, especially women with long hair, and the lye stripped all oil off of it, leaving it brittle and miserable to try and brush and style. So for a few days after washing long hair, women really couldn’t do anything with it, other than a loose braid (if that much).

  6. I have a guess that Rahel’s magic manifested itself long before she first heard the call to “throw down [her] golden hair.”

    I’d be more specific, but I don’t want my guess to be a spoiler if I’m right.

  7. Wow. I did not see that one coming.
    This may be a strong point for you, though it has much the flavor of the Shifter series. I have enjoyed all of these tales you have done so far.

  8. I love these little short stories. As an (admittedly hardly published) I love to see how well-published authors form their stories and execute their vision.

    With all her recent pseudo-Fairy Tale style short stories, I wonder when the estimable Mrs. Hoyt will tackle something in the vein of “Into the Woods”.

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