Disclaimer: I don't own Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, that would be Gregory Maguire. This is entirely for fun and no profit. At all. Except for the fun. :-)
Spoilers: The book whose name is too long to type out a third time, up to the second section Shiz.
Notes: Something else I've been wanting to write for a while.The quote below is what first gave Galinda shimmers of likeability (for me, anyway), because of the foreshadowing of what Galinda could be, which just made it that much more distressing for the reader when Glinda retreated back into those shimmers of likeability against her absolute silliness.
"She does think... But when she slides back into herself, I mean into the girl who spends two hours a day curling that beautiful hair, it's as if the thinking Galinda goes into some internal closet and shuts the door. Or as if she's in hysterical retreat from things that are too big or her."
- Elphaba to Boq, pg.109 of Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
It was a ritual.
It was odd and tired, repeated to the point where Galinda wondered where the point had gone, or where it ever was. Her hand gripped her brush with white knuckles. Her eyes glossed over, unable to tear themselves away from the image in the mirror, lost in what they thought they saw. Water dripped from her hair, her brush, her hands. Entranced in her blurred reflection, she did not notice.
It was nearing one o'clock in the morning, and the only light in the room came from the lone candle on Galinda's vanity, flickering every so often as if to give out. What light it gave quickly dissipated into the stifled darkness, though Galinda could not tell where it had gone. It could hardly permeate the darkness of the other side of the room, and Miss Elphaba remained asleep - which was why she, Galinda, was still awake. There was something oddly intimate about this ritual: in the curls that were transformed by warm water into waves, in the waves that spilled from beneath the bath towel and were straightened by the brush, in the magic of the water that fell drop by drop to the ground. It was a transformation she couldn't begin to define.
For, whether it was because of the weariness brought on by the late hour or the incessant chirping of the crickets mocking her company or something else entirely, Galinda thought. Who knew what the weariness was, if it was physical, mental, or simply borne of the tedium and repetition of everyday life.
She figured, dragging the harsh bristles through a painful snarl, that there was a sort of irony in this, if it was the latter.
She did not even at times know what she herself thought of, knowing only that they were there one instant, lost the next. But she knew what she saw. Golden spun hair, spilling on and on in a blazing river to her waist, gloried and treasured down to the small glints of reflections trapped by the minute flare of the candle. The brush slowed, and she could not help herself wondering if it mattered at all, though knowing the answer perfectly well.
Perhaps it was the late hour.
Nevertheless, her eyes strayed from her reflection and the brush repeatedly stopped as she caught a glimpse of the books perched by Miss Elphaba's bed. She could not help the stray thought that scampered across her mind, any more than she could stop the others that followed it, and through nights of the ensuing panic at the released stampede, she slowly adjusted to the fact that she could not stop a good many things she wished she could. The lightness of the triviality she lived through began to grow heavier and weigh on her heart until it was a near physical sensation, mocking the importance in which she held such ridiculous things.
These times, bringing her eyes back to her clear reflection, she had a fairly good idea of what Miss Elphaba saw when she looked at her. It was clear why Miss Elphaba did not like what she saw. Galinda herself, with her lengthened, uncurled hair, didn't like what she saw, frivolity at its worst. An unexpressed and unreasonable need to lock away who she knew she was, in protection, in shame, in preservation for some later date; an irrational hysteria at her hidden intelligence taking over.
Pettiness, illogic, ebullience. She lived it, she embraced it, she retreated to the dark corners of her mind where she found better things to do than admire how much prettier her natural long waves framed her face. Mirrors were not allowed in these recesses. There was not much the subconscious could do suppressed by the conscious, the primary, the dominant force.
Her brush slammed down with decision.
It seemed that enough was enough in this line, as far as her mind was concerned at least. As they had started without her consent, so the thoughts stopped: a veritable overload, a muted spontaneous combustion. Her eyes held on their blue reflection, clouded, or was that a trick of the candle? It was blown out, as per the ritual, and her still-damp locks pulled back, free for a few hours before sleep and then the inevitable conformation into strict curls: another ritual entirely.
Related, Galinda supposed later, idly heating her iron in the fire she'd begun in the early autumn morning.
"Leave it down today."
Galinda jumped at the voice, nearly burning her fingers on the scalding metal. It dropped to the floor, rolling towards bare green feet which neatly sidestepped it, and coming to a stop in the middle of the floor. Galinda froze, thrown by the fact that her secret was exposed to someone who was not supposed to be aware that such a ritual had need to exist – as well as a great many other things, by extension. She looked up at her roommate's face, as close to entreating as she thought she'd ever seen, and indeed, ever would see it. A half idea knowing it wouldn't come to fruition, was that what it was? It was outlined by her sharp green features in a hardness Galinda couldn't quite put her finger on.
"I wear my hair down every day, Miss Elphaba," she replied as easily as she could, standing to retrieve her iron.
"You know perfectly well what I mean," Elphaba retorted without handing back her honorific, as was proper. Then, what had ever been proper about her? She bent to grab the iron before Galinda could, and her curious black eyes met Galinda's own. For a moment, Galinda was sure Elphaba would refuse to return the iron.
She was mistaken. "Your choice," said Elphaba, shrugging and humphing back into bed as if she didn't care a whit, and for all Galinda knew, she didn't. Though after that display, she highly suspected she did.
Then again, hours after Galinda had gingerly, almost apprehensively picked up the iron and reheated it, Elphaba said nothing upon seeing the free curls set in their strict conformations. Galinda had a sinking feeling that if Miss Elphaba was to ever betray facial expressions, she would bear a disappointed grimace.
For the life of her, she couldn't figure out why she cared.