The Hairy Woman lived under the rock cliﬀ not too far from my grandparents’ homestead. I don’t know if anyone else ever really saw her, but when you’re just a little kid, it’s extremely diﬃcult to distinguish between make-believe and reality. I didn’t think The Hairy Woman was supposed to come out from her home under the cliﬀ, but one time she did. At least she did or someone was playing a joke on me. It was things like this that made me lose Scooby-Doo time and limited other movies or shows that were causing me to be scared to go to bed. Some of the content on Scooby-Doo could have been too much for a three or four-year-old, but I loved the show, and it didn’t seem fair at all. Or maybe it really was something else.
Memories of childhood when you’re remarkably young are almost like dreams, foggy and ﬂuidlike, but the things that scare you, alongside some of the happiest moments in your life, are chiselled into your memory never to be forgotten. At least I hope we never lose these memories.
It’s possible I had been told about The Hairy Woman to help keep me from wandering too far away. Often, I would walk with my mom and other family members over to the rock cliﬀ where The Hairy Woman was said to have lived. There were blankets under the cliﬀ, and we found the remains of a campﬁre as we explored. On one particular occasion, I saw something moving low to the ground in the shadows that no one else seemed to notice. A lanky woman with long arms, a dirty face, and extremely long, greasy, dark hair stared at me with large, black eyes. I was scared and told my mom. I was assured from that point on that The Hairy Woman did not truly exist and the rock cliﬀ was a safe place where people came to visit and sometimes camped.
One summer day, I was playing outside at my grandparents’ house with some cousins, I walked up the driveway a little farther than I was supposed to. There was an old, white car that had been junked and rolled onto its side, shards of glass twinkling in the bright mid-day sunshine. I got closer to the car to see what might be inside—sometimes we found dolls or other toys in the old cars—but there were no toys. There was hair. Long, dark hair, almost like a living wig, grew longer and longer, inching toward me. There was also an egg near the hair, which wasn’t odd since there were chickens free-ranging in the yard. I must have started crying and ran back to the house. I don’t really remember exactly what happened once the hair began growing until we went back with my mom and some other adults. The hair was gone, and the egg was smashed and baking under the hot sun, infested with ﬂies.
Some of my older cousins were thought to have been playing a joke on me, and some said it was only my imagination. What no one explained was how the hair had grown longer. I saw it growing, and I never forgot how it looked under the blazing sun, the ends frayed and frazzled.
But remember, folks, The Hairy Woman isn’t real.
It wasn’t long before my grandparents moved from their home on the mountain, or “Up on the Hill,” as we call it. Their age and declining health and that neither owned a car or drove were all factors in their move. At that point, my grandparents also became my neighbors. It was their ﬁrst home with both running water and electricity, and it was the ﬁrst time they had ever had an indoor bathroom. While the home they had last moved from had electricity, it lacked running water. The spring seemed to be a long way over the hill from the house, but I can’t distinctly remember. The spring was in the direction of the rock cliﬀ, so I never liked going down there to ﬁll buckets of water.
For a man who didn’t drive, Papaw got around well, catching rides with friends or one of his eleven children or other family members. On one of his excursions back to the old homestead on the mountain, he dug up some of the light pink, fragrant roses that he had planted there and brought them home. They ﬂourished in his new yard. Later, he dug up some and brought them to my mom. They grew and bloomed and spread. I loved the roses, especially their smell.
As time passed, so did my grandparents, but thankfully the roses continued to grow. I would look across the creek into what became my aunt and uncle’s yard, and see the blooms long after Papaw’s demise. It was bittersweet.
I attempted to make perfume from their petals every summer, but I only ended up with rotten rose petals and water. I would wear them in my hair, dissect them to see what they were made of, pick them for Mom, or dry them. I probably shouldn’t tell this on myself, but I loved the perfume of the roses so much, I once tried to eat one. For the record, they don’t taste as they smell. I always had scratches on my hands and arms from the thorns, but they were worth it.
Eventually, I grew up and moved away from home, and one day Mom dug up some of the favored ﬂowers for me. Now, every spring I have my own Papaw roses to enjoy.
Let there be roses. Let there always be roses.
When I sat down to write my second Miranda Snaps feature, I had two things in mind to write about. I thought about the time I almost fell into an old, hand-dug well while hiking, and although there is deﬁnitely a story to be written from that experience at some point, I decided to write about the Papaw’s roses instead since they’re in season and doing well. It never once occurred to me to write about my memories of The Hairy Woman. That’s just something that came out as I typed. I guess that’s one of the things that I will always associate with going “Up on the Hill” where my grandparents lived. None of this is ﬁctional. These are my actual memories, but they’re from such a long time ago that it’s possible some of them are false memories. They could be melded with dreams or my vivid imagination, but to me they’re real.
A couple of weeks ago, I received a review request in my inbox from Jon O’Bergh for his horror novel, “The Shatter Point.” I accepted the oﬀer, and “The Shatter Point” arrived all the way from Canada a week later. It has a gorgeous cover with red roses. My red roses, although at this point have turned a dark pink, are blooming beautifully, and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of them with the book.
When I sit at my desk to write, I almost always light a candle. It never occurred to me until I had ﬁnished with this second Miranda Snaps feature that the candle I’ve been burning recently went along with the theme of today’s feature. Sparkling Rose Water, of course.
Thanks for reading my second feature here on KendallReviews.com! I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip Up on the Hill.
See you next month.
Miranda Crites is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia. Miranda has always enjoyed reading, photography, and writing. She received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old. The writing bug bit her at a very early age. She won the young writers’ contest in first grade and never stopped writing.
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