"Bad Hair Day"
Clara pulled the covers around herself and rubbed her feet together in anxious anticipation of her bedtime story. Jon pulled up a chair next to her day bed on the porch. He said, “Are you too tired for a bedtime story tonight?”
Clara shouted, “NO! Oh no! I want a story! I want a good story!”
Jon said, “Okay, but you won’t be too tired for a good night kiss when we’re done will you? I won’t read for you unless you pay me with a kiss.”
Clara said, “I won’t be too tired. Please read!”
Jon said, “Okay, as long as you are sure I’ll get my kiss. And one for Mommy too.”
Clara said, “Mommy got one before she went upstairs!”
Jon said, “Well then I’ll take two.”
Clara said, “If it’s a good story, I’ll give you three! Three does come after two, right?”
Jon said, “That’s right. Okay. Let’s get the show on the road. Tonight’s story is called “Rapunzel” and it was written by two brothers named Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm and Wilhelm Karl Grimm. They actually wrote down stories that were told for years and years. They preserved them in written form so that you could hear the story tonight.”
Clara said, “They were nice. I should send them a thank you card.”
Jon said, “I’m sure they would like that. Here’s the story.” Jon began to read:
“ONCE upon a time there lived a man and his wife who were very unhappy because they had no children. These good people had a little window at the back of their house, which looked into the most lovely garden, full of all manner of beautiful flowers and vegetables; but the garden was surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to enter it, for it belonged to a witch of great power, who was feared by the whole world. One day the woman stood at the window overlooking the garden, and saw there a bed full of the finest rampion: the leaves looked so fresh and green that she longed to eat them. The desire grew day by day, and just because she knew she couldn't possibly get any, she pined away and became quite pale and wretched. Then her husband grew alarmed and said:
'What ails you, dear wife?'
'Oh,' she answered, 'if I don't get some rampion to eat out of the garden behind the house, I know I shall die.'
The man, who loved her dearly, thought to himself, 'Come! rather than let your wife die you shall fetch her some rampion, no matter the cost.' So at dusk he climbed over the wall into the witch's garden, and, hastily gathering a handful of rampion leaves, he returned with them to his wife. She made them into a salad, which tasted so good that her longing for the forbidden food was greater than ever. If she were to know any peace of mind, there was nothing for it but that her husband should climb over the garden wall again, and fetch her some more. So at dusk over he got, but when he reached the other side he drew back in terror, for there, standing before him, was the old witch.
'How dare you,' she said, with a wrathful glance, 'climb into my garden and steal my rampion like a common thief? You shall suffer for your foolhardiness.'
'Oh!' he implored, 'pardon my presumption; necessity alone drove me to the deed. My wife saw your rampion from her window, and conceived such a desire for it that she would certainly have died if her wish had not been gratified.' Then the Witch's anger was a little appeased, and she said:
'If it's as you say, you may take as much rampion away with you as you like, but on one condition only -- that you give me the child your wife will shortly bring into the world. All shall go well with it, and I will look after it like a mother.'
The man in his terror agreed to everything she asked, and as soon as the child was born the Witch appeared, and having given it the name of Rapunzel, which is the same as rampion, she carried it off with her.
Rapunzel was the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old the Witch shut her up in a tower, in the middle of a great wood, and the tower had neither stairs nor doors, only high up at the very top a small window. When the old Witch wanted to get in she stood underneath and called out:
'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair,' for Rapunzel had wonderful long hair, and it was as fine as spun gold. Whenever she heard the Witch's voice she unloosed her plaits, and let her hair fall down out of the window about twenty yards below, and the old Witch climbed up by it.
After they had lived like this for a few years, it happened one day that a Prince was riding through the wood and passed by the tower. As he drew near it he heard someone singing so sweetly that he stood still spell-bound, and listened. It was Rapunzel in her loneliness trying to
while away the time by letting her sweet voice ring out into the wood. The Prince longed to see the owner of the voice, but he sought in vain for a door in the tower. He rode home, but he was so haunted by the song he had heard that he returned every day to the wood and listened.
One day, when he was standing thus behind a tree, he saw the old Witch approach and heard her call out: 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your golden hair.'
Then Rapunzel let down her plaits, and the Witch climbed up by them.
'So that's the staircase, is it?' said the Prince. 'Then I too will climb it and try my luck.'
So on the following day, at dusk, he went to the foot of the tower and cried: 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your golden hair,' and as soon as she had let it down the Prince climbed up.
At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man came in, for she had never seen one before; but the Prince spoke to her so kindly, and told her at once that his heart had been so touched by her singing, that he felt he should know no peace of mind till he had seen her. Very soon Rapunzel forgot her fear, and when he asked her to marry him she consented at once. 'For,' she thought, 'he is young and handsome, and I'll certainly be happier with him than with the old Witch.' So she put her hand in his and said: 'Yes, I will gladly go with you, only how am I to get down out of the tower? Every time you come to see me you must bring a skein of silk with you, and I will make a ladder of them, and when it is finished I will climb down by it, and you will take me away on your horse.'
They arranged that till the ladder was ready, he was to come to her every evening, because the old woman was with her during the day. The old Witch, of course, knew nothing of what was going on, till one day Rapunzel, not thinking of what she was about, turned to the Witch and said: 'How is it, good mother, that you are so much harder to pull up than the young Prince? He is always with me in a moment.'
'Oh! you wicked child,' cried the Witch. 'What is this I hear? I thought I had hidden you safely from the whole world, and in spite of it you have managed to deceive me.'
In her wrath she seized Rapunzel's beautiful hair, wound it round and round her left hand, and then grasping a pair of scissors in her right, snip snap, off it came, and the beautiful plaits lay on the ground. And, worse than this, she was so hard-hearted that she took Rapunzel to a lonely desert place, and there left her to live in loneliness and misery.
But on the evening of the day in which she had driven poor Rapunzel away, the Witch fastened the plaits on to a hook in the window, and when the Prince came and called out: 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your golden hair,'
She let them down, and the Prince climbed up as usual, but instead of his beloved Rapunzel he found the old Witch, who fixed her evil, glittering eyes on him, and cried mockingly: 'Ah, ah! you thought to find your lady love, but the pretty bird has flown and its song is dumb; the cat caught it, and will scratch out your eyes too. Rapunzel is lost to you for ever -- you will never see her more.'
The Prince was beside himself with grief, and in his despair he jumped right down from the tower, and, though he escaped with his life, the thorns among which he fell pierced his eyes out. Then he wandered, blind and miserable, through the wood, eating nothing but roots and berries, and weeping and lamenting the loss of his lovely bride. So he wandered about for some years, as wretched and unhappy as he could well be, and at last he came to the desert place where Rapunzel was living. Of a sudden he heard a voice which seemed strangely familiar to him. He walked eagerly in the direction of the sound, and when he was quite close, Rapunzel recognized him and fell on his neck and wept. But two of her tears touched his eyes, and in a moment they became quite clear again, and he saw as well as he had ever done. Then he led her to his kingdom, where they were received and welcomed with great joy, and they lived happily ever after.”
Jon closed the book and said, “And that’s the end! Now pay up.” Clara sat up and put her arms out. She embraced Jon and counted out the kisses as she planted two on each cheek. He said, “Wow. You must have liked that one!”
Clara said, “I didn’t think I was going to. I didn’t want her to be gone when the Prince came and I didn’t like him being hurt. But it was okay by the end. I like it better if it is okay in the middle too. Daddy, you wouldn’t give me to a witch in exchange for food would you?”
Jon said, “Hmmm. Let me think. I like steak and potatoes. No. I like you better. I like cake and ice cream. No. I like you better. I guess I’ll have to keep you.”
Clara said, “Would you trade me if Mommy wanted special food like her special, special ice cream?”
Jon said, “Do you want to know a secret?”
Clara said, “Yes!”
Jon leaned close and whispered in her ear, “As much as your Mother loves her special ice cream, she loves you a whole lot more and she would never trade you for anything in the world. Goodnight, Honey. I love you.”
Clara said, “Goodnight Daddy. I love you too.”
Jon couldn’t help but chuckle at how quickly Clara shut her eyes and was fast asleep. He quietly walked into the house and went upstairs.
Clara looked around her room in the tower. It was so tiny that it made her frightened. She had to sit and look out the window to make her feel like she was in a bigger place. Lana’s mother came up to her and said, “I have to go home to my daughter and take care of her. I feel better now knowing that you are locked up here where you can’t hurt her. And don’t think of jumping out of here. The briar bushes below come from Krypton and will scratch you up and eat you if you try to jump out of here!" Lana’s mother jumped on a broom and flew out the window.
Clara heard a voice in Kryptonian from far below shout out, “Kayla Jor-El, Kayla Jor-El! Let down your golden hair!”
Clara looked down and saw Jor-El standing there. She said, “Father. My hair is black and it is too short.”
Jor-El said, “Then jump down here!”
Clara said, “The briar bushes will scratch me up and eat me if I jump!”
Jor-El said, “Then fly down to me.”
Clara said, “I can’t fly. You didn’t show me how!”
Jor-El said, “Then you must stay in the tower for the rest of your life.”
Clara said, “No, please! Fly up here and get me!”
Jor-El said, “Why would I want to fly up all that way just to get back a daughter that won’t jump when I tell her to!” Jor-El walked away and never turned back.
Clara shouted, “PLEASE, Father! Come back.”
Clara was upset. She felt like crying, but Krypto walked up and licked her face until she felt a little better. Then she heard Jonathan calling her.
Jon shouted, “Clara Kent, Clara Kent! Let down your golden hair!”
Clara said, “Daddy! My hair is black and it is too short.”
Jon said, “Then jump down here.”
Clara said, “The briar bushes will scratch me up and eat me if I jump!”
Jon said, “No bush could scratch or hurt my little girl in any way. Are you sure that you are Clara Kent?”
Clara said, “Yes Daddy! Those are special bushes from Krypton. They can hurt me!”
Jon said, “I’m still not sure that it’s you.”
Clara said, “I know a secret that no one else would know!”
Jon said, “What?”
Clara said, “Mommy loves me more than her special, special ice cream!”
Jon said, “You must be Clara! There must be some way to get you down. Let me check the story book.” Jon looked through the story book and said, “No, I’m sorry. The only way you can get out is if you have long, golden hair. I’m sorry, but I will visit you every day.”
Clara said, “Please don’t leave me here!”
A voice behind her said, “I know a secret too.”
Clara turned and said, “Krypto, tell me your secret.”
Krypto said, “If you promise to be a good girl you can make a wish and get your hair to grow as long as you want it to and any color you want it to!”
Clara said, “Really?”
Krypto said, “Aren’t I your best friend ever? Would I lie to you?”
Clara said, “That’s right, you never lie. I promise. I promise that I will be a good girl!” Clara concentrated hard and her hair began to grow. She hung her head out the window and shouted, “Daddy, wait! My hair is growing!” Clara’s hair ran down the side of the tower and all her new growth was a bright, golden yellow. Pretty soon, her hair had reached the briar bushes. Jon reached into the bushes to grab her hair and Clara shouted, “NO! Daddy, the bushes will eat you!” Clara jumped out of the tower and into the bushes to push Jonathan back. She was surprised to find that the bushes were normal rose bushes and that they didn’t scratch her at all. She said, “That Lana’s mother is a big liar!” She turned and smiled at Jon then jumped into his arms and began kissing his face.
Jon said, “Boy! That must have been a really good story!”
Clara opened her eyes. She heard morning birds chirping but it seemed like it was still dark outside. She moved her arm through what she thought were her blankets and went to wipe the sleep out of her eyes. Her hand discovered that it had only seemed dark because there was a mass of hair in her face. She moved the hair aside and sat up. She glanced around her and her confusion slowly cleared. She smiled. She decided to make her hair into a pony tail then go inside and have an early breakfast.
Martha came downstairs and almost tripped. She shouted back up to Jon, “Why on Earth did you bring a rope into the house and just leave it lying here in the living room?”
Jon shouted back, “I don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about.”
Martha followed the rope into the kitchen and found that it lead to the back of Clara’s head. Clara sat at the table happily munching on a bowl of Wheat Chex. Clara said, “What did you do to yourself? Did you make yourself a blonde wig?” She tugged on the pony tail a bit and it was firmly attached.
Clara said, “Krypto said I could grow long hair like Rapunzel if I was a good girl, so I must be a good girl.”
Martha said, “We are supposed to go to the rest home today to visit people. They all expect to see you. We can’t let them see you like this!”
Jon came into the room and said, “What is this?”
Martha said, “It’s Rapunzel hair. I don’t have to ask what story you picked out last night, but I absolutely forbid you to read her “Pinocchio” tonight or any other night!”
Jon said, “Did she glue it on or what?”
Martha said, “I think she grew it.”
Jon said, “In one night. That’s not possible.”
Martha said, “That’s right. It’s impossible. That would be like saying that she came from outer space or can lift a tractor with one hand.”
Jon said, “I get your point.”
Martha said, “Well, it’s not staying like this, that’s for sure.” Martha went to a drawer and pulled out some scissors. She walked up behind Clara and stuck a blade of the scissors through the pony tail.
Clara shouted, “No, Mommy, no! What if Lana’s mommy locks me in a tower? How will Daddy get me out?”
Martha said, “Why would Lana’s mom do that?”
Clara said, “Because she’s a witch and witches do things like that! It says so in Daddy’s book!”
Martha said, “I’ll agree with you that Mrs. Lang is a witch on occasion and often something else that sounds like “witch,” but she won’t lock you in a tower.”
Clara said, “But what if she does?”
Martha said, “That won’t happen.”
Clara said, “But what IF?!”
Martha said, “Then you would jump out.”
Clara said, “But there are Krypton girl-eating bushes around the tower!”
Martha said, “There couldn’t be. Those all blew up when Krypton exploded. Every last one of them is gone. There isn’t a bush around that could hurt you.”
Clara said, “Oh, that’s right. Lana’s mother is a liar. Those were only Roses.”
Martha said, “Can I cut your hair now?”
Clara said, “Yes. Cut it all off so I look like that pretty boy who sent me Krypto Two.”
Martha said, “I think we’ll leave some of it. You’ll look pretty as a blonde, but I hope your hair grows back the way it was.” Martha tried bearing down on the scissors. She tried to cut smaller and smaller amounts of hair but couldn’t do it. She said, “Jon, it’s like trying to cut through a wire with dull scissors.”
Jon said, “I’ll be right back.” John ran to the barn and came back with some wire cutters. He tried cutting Clara’s hair. He couldn’t. He said, “Maybe Clara is strong enough to cut her hair with the wire cutters.” He handed Clara the wire cutters. The grips began to bend in her hand and then the rivet holding them together sheered. The wire cutters fell apart.”
Clara said, “Sorry, Daddy!”
Jon said, “That’s okay. Maybe the circular saw? I doubt it would work but we could try.”
Martha said, “Maybe she can tear her hair.”
Jon said, “She could probably tear it out by the root but not to any given length. I’m sure that she would probably hurt herself if she tore her hair out. I’m sure Clara's birth father had a way in mind.”
Martha said, “Maybe Kryptonian hair only grows if they consciously will it to, but once it grows, they are stuck with it. But maybe if she runs fast, it will burn off like her loose clothing does sometimes.”
Jon said, “Then her hair should have burned off on those occasions when her clothes did.”
Martha said, “So nothing is hot enough to burn her hair off either?”
Jon said, “The only thing hot enough might be a laser … or Clara’s laser vision.”
Martha said, “It’s worth a try … but do it outside, please.”
Jon gathered up Clara’s pony tail in a coil. He said, “There must be 25 yards of it!” Clara and Jon went outside. Jon told her, “I want you to try to burn through your hair right here. I can’t hold it for you because your vision gets too hot for me to get near it. Okay?”
Clara said, “Can I eat more breakfast after I fix my hair? I am very hungry today.”
Jon said, “Sure, Honey. Let’s just try this and then I’ll make you something to eat.”
Clara asked, “Could Mommy make it?”
Jon said, “I’ll ask her.”
Clara asked, “Waffles?”
Martha yelled from inside the house, “Whatever you want Clara.”
Clara turned towards the house and said, "Momma, don't make rampion! It will make you want more and more until you have to trade me for it!"
Martha said, "Got it. No rampion!"
Clara held the pony tail in front of her and concentrated. A narrow beam of heat vision shot out and cut as she quickly rotated her head in one quick jerk. The hair no longer attached to Clara’s head fell to the ground. Clark wrinkled her nose and shouted, “Yuck! Pew-ey! That smells worst that the pigs! Yuck!”
Jon said, “Why don’t you run around the yard a few times to air out? Mom will start cooking breakfast for you.” Clara didn’t have to be told twice. She vanished. Jon picked up the coil of hair and headed for the barn with it.
Martha stuck her head out the door and said, “Where are you going with that?”
Jon said, “I want to see if any other tool I have will cut it so that maybe Clara won’t have to burn her hair next time she needs it trimmed. If I find a way to cut it, I’ll save it to use as wire.” Jon went to the barn and was surprised to find that every tool he tried would cut the hair. He returned to the house. He said, “Now that it isn’t attached to her any more, it’s just regular hair. Is it true that people buy human hair to make wigs from.”
Martha said, “Human hair, yes. I never thought I would be selling my daughter’s hair to make a buck!”
Clara spent the next few months as a blonde and a lot of women who had taken chemotherapy treatments ended up walking around with wigs made from alien hair.