Oct 11, 2011

Hansel And Gretel

By Zoha Jabbar

The wood-cutter's wife awoke with a start, at the sound of a slammed door. With a whispered prayer, she lit a candle and slowly unbolted the bedroom door. Before stepping out, she cast a glance at the empty bed. She wished her husband would return from his travels soon, she couldn't stand to be alone with those children.

She treaded softly, panic mounting with each step. The candle cast its light upon her deepest fear: scarlet footprints leading all the way from the front door to the room shared by the two children. With shaking hands, she placed the candle on a table, and soaked a rag. With it, she scrubbed away the vivid stains of the children's monstrous deed.

She was making her way back to the safety of her bedroom when Hansel stepped out onto the landing. At first glance, he was an innocent young boy, in his blue pyjamas and bedroom slippers. Everything about him emphasised his naivete, everything but his eyes. Eyes which had seem things no child should ever see.

Hansel's step-mother repressed a shudder, and forced her lips to form a smile. But her fear was too conspicuous. He did not smile back, instead gave her a look that haunted her. Abandoning the charade, she ran back to her room as fast as her feet would allow and bolted the door behind herself.

The wood-cutter returned in the morning, and saw his children awaiting his arrival. His pulse quickened. He smiled and hugged them, but he, too, was unable to keep the fear out of his eyes. Gretel shot Hansel a meaningful look, and he covertly nodded.

That night, the children pressed their ears to their parents' bedroom door to listen in on the conversation that they knew involved them. They could clearly make out their father's voice, "I know, I believe you. And I also know who it was they attacked. Fritz Anderung's little boy was found dead in the gutter, his body torn to shreds. They all think it was some kind of an animal that did it, but I know it was them."
Their step-mother's reply was much softer, the children strained to hear it, "...Fourth one this month... People will start to suspect..."
The wood-cutter spoke again, "No, I have a plan." His voice dropped considerably, "We'll abandon them so far into the forest, they won't be able to find their way back and will just starve to death."

Outside the door, Gretel's eyes widened, and she slipped her small hand into Hansel's equally small one. Quietly, Hansel led his sister back to their room, holding her close. Once they were inside, he confidently said, "Don't worry, I have a plan as well, and mine's much better than theirs."

The next day, when their father proposed a walk into the forest, the children played along. They said goodbye to their step-mother and set out. Once they had walked a good long way in, the wood-cutter's tired old body began to slow down, unable to keep up with the youthful steps of the siblings. At one point, their father doubled over with exhaustion, and paused to catch his breath. Suddenly, Hansel shouted, "Now!"

The last thing the wood-cutter saw was his children's faces transforming into those of demonic creatures. Razor-sharp teeth pierced his body, ripping him apart. His agonised screams heard by nobody but the trees, until he succumbed to eternal darkness.

The wood-cutter's wife waited for her husband's return. Days turned into months, and the village was once again terrorised by wild 'animal attacks'. She knew the children would would come for her eventually, but she decided that she wouldn't give them the chance. If she had to die, she would do it on her own terms.

Her body was discovered by a neighbour who came to investigate the source of that disturbing stench permeating the area. The strangely sweet smell of decaying flesh. Rumors soon surfaced of cannibals living in the forest, in a house made of bones. But that's all they ever were, rumors, for nobody ever survived to confirm them.


Fatin said...

I enjoyed it. But this only includes the beginning of the fairy tale?

Zoha Jabbar said...

Thanks. Yeah, I know I should've drawn more parallels from the original story, like the trail of breadcrumbs :/

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