Hello. I'm looking for last minute feedback before I send this off as part of an application for my Holy Grail of summer-writing-program-things. Any constructive criticism will have lavish temples built for it. In my head.

Let Down Your Hair

This is freedom.

The rushing wind numbs my cheek and ears, it pushes the hair off my neck and back and shoulders. My head is growing lighter and my stomach is trying to climb the ladder of my ribcage and hurl itself out my throat. My arms are goose-pimpled and my skirt is billowing about my knees in a most unladylike fashion.

For the first time in a long while, I am happy.

So often, in that tower I thought about jumping. I thought about what it would feel like, if my mother would cry over my body, or only cut off my hair and use it as her own. When the prince started coming round, I started to think of jumping as a different, gentler sort of escape, less hard landings, more riding away into the sunset.

But now I have jumped into the sunset, and I cannot see where I am falling, and I do not know if I will land somewhere soft or hard.

Yesterday I was running.

I ran and ran, and when it became to dark to see anything, I ran blind just as my prince would have to for the rest of his days. I blessed the things that stabbed my feet, unseen and punishing, for their lesson. I ran in the dark until I tripped and fell flat on my face, and then I cried myself to sleep.

In the morning I woke, my eyes scratched not with thorns, but tears, my back aching as if I'd not just slept on knobby roots, but landed on them hard. I heaved myself to my feet, picked up the ends of my braids and trudged forward, following the path I'd stumbled onto sometime during my dark, nightmarish flight. I walked only out of habit. I had nowhere to go, and no reason to get there besides.

By the time the sun had passed its highest point I was dying a slow painful death from lack of water, and it was to my complete astonishment that the next clearing I stumbled into contained a well, bucket, and old man.

"Did you know the world ends right down this path here?" he asked me.

I shook my head, too thirsty to speak and too weary to want to, struck dumb with astonishment besides.

The old man frowned and spat, seeming dissatisfied with my wordless answer.

"It's a sight to see," he said finally.

I nodded.

He squinted at me. "You look like you could use some water."

I nodded vigorously.

He dipped a cup into the bucket sitting next to him and offered it to me. I accepted it with parched thankfulness and collapsed onto the hard dust of the path to drain it dry. He watched thoughtfully and wordlessly refilled the cup each time I handed it back.

"Thank you," I said gratefully, when I'd at last slaked my thirst and regained my voice.

He nodded in response but said nothing. Warily, I scooted over to lean against the well, the plush skirt of damp green moss around it was soothing under my feet and the sun a gentle warmth on my skin. With the rough stones of the well's rim behind my back I could believe I was back in the tower, ignorant of such things as princes and thorns.

The old man interrupted my reverie by bending down to retrieve his cup. With it safely in hand, he pointed one gnarled finger down the path.

"The End of the World," he repeated, "Everyone should see it as least once."

There seemed to be no dissuading him, but I didn't mind. He'd been kind, and shared his water, so I rose obediently, and started towards the shade at the other end of the forest clearing.

"I hear the prince has gone blind," he remarked.

I stopped cold. "He has," I answered without turning around.

Behind me something clinked on stone.

"When you come back," the old man said, "You can use my scissors."

I looped my braids more securely around my wrist to keep them out of the dust, started walking again.

The world did end, a few feet past the spot where the path did. There was the bare dirt of the path, then an abrupt strip of grass, and then the earth simply dropped away. It was actually nothing but a vast hole, as if the earth had been bored through and strung up among the other planets, but it was undeniable the End. It was also, just as the old man had said, a sight to see. Just below the lip mist boiled and billowed, obscuring whatever lay at the bottom. Across the chasm I could glimpse the glitter of distant cities on the other side of the earth.

I sat cautiously, dangling my feet over the side so the mist could twine about my ankles. I rubbed the sore muscles of my neck, forever aching under the weight of so much hair. Feeling rebellious, I undid the ties of my braids and began unraveling the plaits. It was slow going, since they were so matted with dirt and old leaves.

As my hands worked, my mind wandered. I debated taking the old man up on the offer of his scissors. I wondered if I could bring myself to go see him, my beautiful blind prince, when I knew he wouldn't be able to see me. Mostly I thought of where I could go. I had no direction, no way to make a living, no way to find my way out of the forest even, unless the old man was willing to point me in a direction that didn't lead to the ends of the earth.

By the time the sun had sunk low on the opposite horizon my hair was for the first time in my life, simply hair. Not ladder, chain, or noose, but armfuls of blonde locks, dirty and crumpled from having been bound up for so long. I dropped it over the edge, let it swing free, stirring up little eddies of mist.

In the end all my thoughts led me off the cliff. The same force of habit that made me stand when I'd awoken that morning told me to go forward. My resurfacing fascination with jumping told me where. It seemed the logical solution. I did not have the courage to stand up and dramatically hurl myself off the Ends of the Earth. Instead, I scooted farther and farther forward, like a child who doesn't yet know how to swim cautiously entering the water. Perched there at the edge I thought of him clinging under the window ledge in the moments before he let go, his eyes wide and disbelieving to see her beside me. My head had snapped back when he let go of my hair and I fell backwards to the floor. I did not see him land, but I saw him have the courage to let go, rather than let her push him away.

So I let go. I pushed off the edge of the earth and fell away.

I'm falling still now. The rushing wind numbs my cheek and ears, it pushes the hair off my neck and back and shoulders until it dances like a candle flame above me. My neck feels lightness it has never known before, while my stomach renews its attempt to breach my ribcage. My arms are goose-pimpled and my skirt is billowing about my knees in a most unladylike fashion. I find myself amazingly, unbelievable happy.

I feel something nip my arm, and I jerk away, a movement that sends me into a sort of spin through the air. I'm suddenly afraid of creatures with sharp teeth in the mist around me. I examine my bleeding elbow, and then the air with fear-wide eyes. Something flashes silver through the shifting ribbons of mist, and before I know it, my hand is reaching out to grab an object both round and pointed. The old man's scissors lie steely and sharp in my hand.

I grab one hunk of hair and begin sawing. It separates easily, as does the next. Soon the sky above me is clotted with silky, golden streamers, the air teasing individual hairs apart, the moisture curling them, until it is nothing but a gigantic golden cloud, wispy and shining, sailing off to become part of the sunset. Meanwhile I am freed of its weight and bulk, more imprisoning than the tower ever was, and I fall faster, and faster, and faster, and faster…

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.

One other question dear reader. Was it fairly obvious who the main character was, even if I did put it in the summary?