• Madeline Walz

Day 23: Rewrite a fairy tale from memory.

I chose Little Red Riding Hood. Heads up, this is a lot like the classic Grimm version: people being eaten, etc.

“Take this to your grandmother’s house. And stay on the path – I don’t want you getting lost.”

“Okay, Mom.”

The girl takes the basket from her mother and heads out the door, pulling up the hood of her red cloak.

Soon the path goes into the woods. The girl skips along, staying on the path, until she realizes there’s a problem. Everything in the basket is from her mother. She has no gift of her own for her grandmother.

There are some flowers next to the path. She stops to pick them. It’s not enough, though. There are a few more flowers a little ways off the path. The girl looks around, remembering what her mother said, then steps off the path to get the flowers.

She is soon caught up in the task, picking a bouquet, wandering farther from the path.

Once she’s sure she has enough flowers, she looks up and realizes she has no idea where she is. The path is nowhere in sight, and the woods around her are unfamiliar.

A wolf steps out of the brush in front of her. “Are you lost, little girl?” he asks.

“Yes,” the girl says. “I’m going to my grandmother’s house. Can you tell me which way the path is?”

“It’s this way.” The wolf smiles. “Follow me.”

“Okay.”

The girl follows the wolf back to the path.

“Here you are,” the wolf says. “Have fun with your grandmother.”

“Thank you,” the girl says, and continues along the path.

The wolf stands there for a few minutes, staring after her. With so many people living nearby, prey has been scarce. He’s hungry, and he’s not particular about what he eats. He knows which house the girl is going to. If he cuts straight through the woods, he can get there first.

He turns from the path and begins to run.

The girl finally arrives at her grandmother’s house. She can’t stay long. Picking her bouquet made her arrive later than she should have.

She knocks on the door.

“Come in!” a voice calls. It doesn’t sound like Grandmother, but who else could it be? Her grandmother lives alone.

Her mother said she was sick. Maybe that’s why she sounds strange.

The girl opens the door. She finds her grandmother in the bedroom.

Grandmother is definitely sick. Her face and hands are gray and hairy, and her eyes behind their glasses are strange.

She stops in the doorway, staring.

“What big eyes you have!”

“All the better to see you with, my dear.”

It still doesn’t sound like Grandmother. But she’s in Grandmother’s house, in Grandmother’s bed, wearing Grandmother’s clothes. It must be Grandmother.

“What big ears you have!”

“All the better to hear you with, my dear.”

Grandmother smiles at her. The smile looks familiar.

“What big teeth you have!”

“All the better to eat you with!”

The girl realizes why the smile is so familiar, too late. The wolf tears off Grandmother’s glasses and bonnet and leaps out of the bed, mouth wide. The girl just has time to scream, then the wolf reaches her and everything goes black.

The huntsman is walking through the woods when he hears the scream. It rises to a higher pitch, then is abruptly cut off. He takes off running through the woods.

He soon finds himself at a small house. A kind old woman lives here. He’s visited her a few times.

The door is open a crack. He pushes it open the rest of the way and enters, one hand on his ax.

In the bedroom, he finds a wolf, sleeping on the floor. Its stomach is bulging from its last meal.

He notes the rumpled bed, the upended basket, the flowers scattered over the floor. He notices again the wolf’s bulging stomach and realizes what must have happened.

He raises his ax, just as the wolf wakes up. It stands and springs at him, but it’s tired and slow from eating. The huntsman swings his axe, and the wolf falls, dead, its stomach splitting open where the ax had cut it.

The old woman and a little girl fall out, wet and gasping for air.

“Are you hurt?”

“No,” the old woman coughs.

“No,” the little girl says. She hugs the old woman, sobbing.

“It’s okay,” the old woman says, stroking the girl’s hair. “You’re okay.”

“I want to go home,” the girl says, “but I don’t want to go by myself.”

The old woman looks up at the huntsman.

“I can take her home,” he offers.

“Thank you,” the old woman says. “It’s just down the path.”

She turns back to the girl. “He’ll take you home,” she says. “He’s a good friend. You’ll be safe.”

The girl sniffles and nods. The old woman stands, helping the girl up. The huntsman gathers up the basket and flowers. “Are these yours?”

He holds them out to the girl.

She shakes her head. “I was bringing them for my grandmother.”

“Ah.” He offers them to the old woman. She takes them and smiles kindly at her granddaughter. “Thank you, honey.”

“You’re welcome,” the girl says by rote.

“Thank you for taking care of the wolf,” the old woman says.

“You’re welcome,” the huntsman says. He’s glad to be rid of the wolf. “I’ll take your granddaughter home, then I’ll come back and clean this up.”

“Thank you.”

The little girl takes his hand, still sniffling, and they head for her home, being careful to stay on the path.

Cover photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash.

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