Tomek Dzido’s new short story

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LOVING RAPUNZEL

Loving Rapunzel was easy, killing her wasn’t.

It all started a couple of years ago when I went to audition for a West End production of a children’s fairy tale. I’d been waiting with the other hopeful actors outside the audition room when it happened. We were all reading over the lines and performing our own preparations when she walked through the heavy doors and stood silently still between the aging architrave. I looked up from my script to see she was staring at me, her eyes bright between the bold mascara and long dark lashes. I smiled and went back to my script. She stepped into the room and sat down beside me, her fur coat brushing my bare skin and sending a surge of shivers up my spine. I shifted in my seat and couldn’t help but notice her long legs stretching out from underneath her dress and down into a shiny set of red high heels, a tiny feather tattoo curling around her ankle and disappearing out of view. I couldn’t believe how smooth her legs were. They were like something from those daft Dove adverts only she was real, sitting beside me, waiting for her turn to tempt and tantalise. I looked at my own dull legs and pulled my skirt down.

I’m Rapunzel, she said. The Real Rapunzel. I wanted to laugh, but I couldn’t. Looking at her from such close proximity I was struck by her ferocious beauty. She was incredible. I had never seen anyone so perfect. I knew that if she could act even half as well as she looked, there would be no point in attempting to audition. The rest of us were fucked. It was as simple as that. I nodded and found myself staring at her moist lips, the bright red lipstick accentuating her perfect white teeth. She told me she was from Knockemstiff, Ohio, her Midwestern accent rippling through the room and adding to her enticing aura. I could tell the other guys were checking her out, and in turn, comparing us. But there was no comparison. Beside her, I felt uglier than ever. I just love your hair. She said. I tucked a loose strand behind my ear and looked away. Even though we were technically competitors, it didn’t feel like it. There was no competition. She had already won.

After our auditions we went to a café and got to know one another a little better. She was single. Lived alone. Loved Marilyn Monroe, Tim Burton, and sex. All kinds of sex. You’re so pretty. She smiled. I just want to eat you up. Two bottles of wine later, I let her. I’d never been with another woman before, but for some reason, it just felt natural. Rapunzel looked even better naked. Her body was everything mine wasn’t. Slim but shapely in all the right places. Firm and tight and smooth. Proportionally perfect. She even tasted good. We spent the next two days together holed up in her appartment, shut off from the world beyond as we explored each other’s bodies and discussed the details which made us different. It was during the third day that she got the call about the part. It was hers. I came to realise there was little she didn’t get if she truly wanted it, including me. But I was just the beginning. I was just the foreplay.

As the weeks went by and I spent more time with her, I could tell I was dangerously close to losing myself entirely. I didn’t think about the fact I was falling for another woman, but I did think about whether she felt the same. I needn’t have bothered. I love you too. I wanted to believe her. You’re mine. It was true. All mine. I was weak. I’d lost control. This had never happened to me before. I’d never loved so resolutely. So completely. So far from any sense of logic. All rationality was gone, replaced by longing and lust. I was hooked. Rapunzel was my drug and I was high on heels and suspenders and vibrators and dildos and all the filthy stuff we used to enjoy. Just the two of us. Or so I thought.

It wasn’t long before the reviews announced her entry into eminence. Her face was soon in magazines beside the other beautiful stars and fashion sought her frame for profit. Dates and dinners and social engagements increasingly kept us apart. She started taking drugs and soon the arguments began. She swore and swiped at me, her preened nails serrating my flesh as blood soaked the sheets of our violent love. But I couldn’t stop. Neither could she. Soon she was seducing directors and sucking sex through her sweaty skin, the drugs pulsing through her buried veins as the girl I loved slowly disappeared and sought to take me with her. Just try it. I missed her so much. For me.

Days descended into darkness and it wasn’t long before the plaudits ceased their praise and the perfume of success was lost amid the scent of heated spoons and sordid sex for cents and satisfaction. Rapunzel was replaced and her reputation ruined. I remained by her side and pressed down on the plunger in the hope things would change, but her heart was paralysed by painkillers and poison and the fists came down with greater malice and revulsion. The fame and friends were gone. Money was scarce. Nothing remained. There was only us. Rapunzel and her lover, destroying one another. I tried to fix her – fix us – but it was too late. There was only one way out for both of us.

I stood in the shower and looked into the mirror.

Don’t do it.

The radio hummed between my hands.

Please.

My Rapunzel and me.

We let go.

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