HANSEL AND GRETEL REWRITTEN
My name was Mina Dalma. When I was a child, I was the daughter of a prostitute and a mass murderer. The local witch took pity on me and brought me into her home and taught me her craft. When she died, a curse was released. Making a small desert in that section of the country. The villagers, before they evacuated, blamed me, and tried to hunt me down. So I ran to the land called Germany.
I found the hut of a poor woodcutter and his wife. The woodcutter was a kind man. He helped any injured animal he came across. But he was lonely. All he had was his wife, and she was a horror. She was cruel, yelled at him when he helped a deer, instead of killing it for dinner. She ate twice as much as him, and her face alone could stop an army of demons. Though they might have just named her their leader.
I felt sorry for the man, so I helped him. At night, I would double the wood he had, fix the clothes and shoes, and shone the pots. On nights the wife was being exceptionally cruel, I would plague her with nightmares, mostly of Arias, and would curse her food so it tasted like dung, and then would hex her so that for the entire day, every time she tried to be cruel, she was forced to be kind.
But when everything was good, I lived in my own hut in the forest, deep in the forest. It belonged to another witch, one who hunted children. The hut was made of candy, there was a moat of lemonade, though it could change flavor to what someone wanted. The pantry could keep food fresh, or cold, and it provided infinite supplies of food. Once, I packed a large box full of food, delivered it to the woodcutter, then hid in a corner, invisible.
I watched in horror as the woman downed half of the box at one sitting. After the six months I had been there, she had grown twice as large. I swore I would never bring them food ever again. But I could still help them.
As a final measure, I decided the woman needed to learn a lesson. I used my magic to impregnate her. After nine months, a boy and a girl were born. The woodcutter named the Hansel and Gretel. I decided to check in on them once a month.
Ten years later, I was on my nightly rounds, when I heard the woman say to the woodcutter that he must take the children into the woods and leave them there. I was horrified. I rushed outside and tried to think. A stone caught my eye. I quickly enchanted them to shine brighter than stars. That's when Hansel came out. He looked at the stones, picked them up, and stuffed them in his pockets. He went inside and I went to my own hut. I couldn't wait for the woman's face.
Two days later, I was making Yorkshire pudding, mint chip cookies, sausage, and cream cookies, plus mint cream cookies. I was upset. The infuriating demon woman had left the children in the forest AGAIN. Plus, I saw Hansel dropping crumbs. Then the birds came. Mostly seagulls. I HATE those ugly things. Stupid rats with wings. It grew to be night, and I started to worry.
I wasn't watching what I was doing, and soon I had made a literal feast of my favorite foods. But I felt sick. So I put the food in the pantry, and went to search for the children. When I found them, I paused. Should I show myself, and take care of them? Or should I leave them to fend for themselves? Gretel started to cry. Good lord, she looked like me when I was that age.
I made my decision. I stepped out of the shadows and spoke softly to them.
"Children, what are you doing out here, alone, at this time of night?"
Hansel spoke up, "our parents left us out here. I left a trail of bread crumbs, but it is gone now."
"The birds must have spirited your trail away. Now tell me, little ones, what are your names?"
"I'm Hansel, and this is my sister, Gretel."
"Are you hungry Hansel and Gretel?"
"Yes ma'am. All Gretel has had to eat is a piece of bread."
"Come with me children. I will give you food and a comfortable bed for the night. Then you can tell me your story in the morning."
Gretel asked shakily, "may we have your name, ma'am?"
I smiled, "you may call me Miss Mina. Now follow me."
I walked of, slowly, so that they could easily follow. As we walked through the forest, I tried to come up with ways to visit my wrath upon the demon. An ordinary punishment wouldn't be good enough for her. That's when we broke free of the forest and came to my meadow. I lived in the middle, but I claimed the entire meadow. I had a precious stone fence around the property, but small, I didn't like big, imposing things. As we walked through the meadow to get to the moat, the kids looked in wonder at my plants.
Beautiful jacarandas, in every shade of the rainbow, and white, black, silver, and gold. Pots that I had decorated in different colors, of ancient stories, held roses, tulips, foxgloves, geraniums, heliotrope, hyacinth, irises, lilies, morning glories, orchids, and bougainvillea in the same shades. I also had periwinkle, petunia, snap dragons, snowdrops, sunflowers, violets, bluebells, lupine, Jacobs ladder, hollyhock, delphinium, dames rocket, daffodils, crocus, cosmos, carnations, buttercups, berginia, bellflower, begonias, azaleas, aster, aubrietia, Angelonia, and anemone.
They looked in awe at all my plants. But my small garden beyond the moat was my pride. Lavender, mint, and many types of herbs, but on the other side of the house, I had a single sheep, chicken, pig, and cow. I could use my magic to draw things from them wiyout hurting them, so they lived for almost forever. As we crossed the bridge, I heard their stomachs growl at sight of my house.
I brought them in, sat them at the table, and then pulled out the food I put in earlier. They stared at the massive amount of food with absolute shock. I don't think they've ever seen that much food ever in their lives.
I smiled, "why are you not eating?"
Gretel looked at me, "do you eat like this every day?"
I laughed, a clear sound. "No, I was worried about something, so I didn't pay attention to how much I was making. But, please, eat. It will not disappear or make you sick"
Hansel picked up a mint cream cookie and tried a nibble. He smiled, then finished it off. We sat at the table and ate. The two ate like there was no tomorrow. I was okay with this, as I wasn't that hungry, and they have probably not had a decent meal in a long while. After they finished Hansel started to look worried.
"Our father told us a story about a witch who lived here. She caught kids, fed them, and then ate them."
I laughed again "that was the previous witch. She made the mistake of grabbing the wrong two kids and got pushed into her oven. I would never hurt a child. The only reason I wouldn't be kind to a child is if they are being mean to others. I have helped your father find wood, though he does not know."
Gretel smiled "can we live here with you? Our parents don't want us here obviously, and you're really nice. I could help with the chores, and Hansel could water the plants, and take care of the animals!"
I smiled regretfully "while I would love that, you belong with your father. I have a feeling he was forced to leave you alone in the forest. It is a good thing you were able to find your way out last night. There is an Aria loose in the forest."
Hansel paused "what's an Aria?"
"Pray that you never has to meet one. Now, it is time for you to rest little ones."
I lead them up a flight of stairs, to a guest room, that the previous witch used for children she planned to eat. It was comfortable, but I did not plan to use it for what she had intended. They fell asleep almost immediately. I smiled at their peaceful faces. I went downstairs, and started making a plan of how to kill two birds with one stone, theoretically, that is.
With the Aria loose, and that demon lady, I could draw the Aria out of hiding with her. It could do what it wanted with her, and I could banish it while it was busy. Murder made easy. But how did I get the woman deep enough into the woods so no one, especially the children, would hear her screams? And what if she tried to run? I had no worries there. The Aria is faster than most humans. And that lady is completely NOT fast. She would have no chance. I decided that I would use a portal, transport her to where I saw signs of her, then let her stumble around and yell all she liked.
I frowned grimly. I hated killing. My father had killed so many people, that it was a given. I calmed myself with the thought that she deserved it. If I didn't do it, she would just leave the children in the forest again, and the Aria might find them this time. I had no choice, but that didn't mean I had to enjoy the experience. I cleaned the dishes and put them away, then went upstairs to my own bed. I did not look forward to the next day.
I woke up at dawn, when the chicken crowed. I went downstairs, made potatoes, bacon, sausage, cheesy eggs, and fruit salad. After I set them on the table, I got three glasses of moat juice and set them next to three plates. Hansel and Gretel came own, looked at me in confusion, then grinned. They sat at the table and ate heartily, thanking me for everything.
"Good morning little ones. I am afraid you cannot return home today. your mother might leave you in the forest again, and the Aria might catch you this time. So, for today, you can stay with me."
Gretel cheered "yay! We can help you with anything you want us to do! I can knit, sew, sweep, clean dishes, and Hansel can water the plants and take care of the animals. And tonight I can help you make dinner!"
I smiled, "yes you can do that today, but tomorrow morning, you must go home to you father."
Hansel frowned, "what if our mother puts us in the forest again?"
"Tomorrow morning, she will no longer be a problem to anyone. Now finish eating. you can clear the table and clean the dishes when you is done. When you are ready Hansel, I will help you with the garden."
They quickly ate, then Gretel leapt up, cleared the dishes, and started to wash them. I lead Hansel out, handed him a watering can, took one for myself, and we started watering, starting at my small garden, working outwards. Hansel was surprised when I showed him how the watering cans were always full in a person's hands. After two hours, we were done. We went to the stables, watered and fed the animals, and then I gathered meat from the animals. I also grabbed milk and eggs.
We went inside with our little treasure trove and found Gretel finishing a knit blanket I was working on. The floor was sparkling, the sink itself was clean, all the pots and dishes were sparkling. Ingenious little girl. I put the items in the ice box, a marvel of my magic.
I turned to the children. "I will be going into the forest. Please stay here, as it safer. I promise to return. If you get hungry, look in the pantry, there will be plenty of food. And Gretel, well done with the dishes and the floor."
I turned and walked out the door, not telling them what I was going to do, and hoping that they wouldn't try to ask what I was going to do, or follow me. I hoped to find where the Aria's den was while it was still daylight. I pulled at my brain, trying to recollect everything I knew about them.
They were a dangerous species of troll, but would turn to stone if in daylight, unlike stalklings and goblins. They were extremely fast and normally travelled alone. They were a dying breed, and in ancient times they traveled in packs, killing anything that got in their way. They had foot long claws, black, and wicked sharp. They had needle-like teeth, black obsidian. And they drooled black acid. But what did they look like? I believed they had the front half of a horse, back half of a lion, the brown wings of an eagle, the top half of a werewolf, and black eyes that were like pits. According to some stories, they had a viper for a tail.
I shuddered. The stories of them were never good, and they were EXTREMELY dangerous. I wandered through the dappled light of the forest, looking for a spot where such a creature could reside. Then, I saw a cave. I had unknowingly wandered to the foot of the mountain at the edge of the forest. I listened carefully. A snore, like a mixture between a growl, snort, and hiss.
I snuck in. it lay there, lick the worst nightmare of the creatures from anyone's worst nightmare. I shuddered and suppressed a whimper. I had not brought any of my tools with me. If I woke this grotesque creature, I would have to run as fast as I could for the daylight. But there was a long tunnel between me and the light. I would be doomed.
All that mattered was that I knew where it was. My plan was falling into place. But I had to get the woman to go into the forest alone, so the man would not see me working my magic. He may dislike her, but he would still go to save her. I had to figure out a plan quickly. Judging by the sun, I had four hours until sundown. I summoned a portal to my meadow and stepped through.
I walked up the path to the house. As I crossed the bridge over the moat, Hansel and Gretel came running out of the house to meet me. As I watched them run to me, I once again was reminded of why I needed to do it.
Hansel stopped "you were gone for a long time! Where did you go?"
"I went to a cave at the bottom of the mountain. Now, what do you two want to eat?"
We set about making more sausage, cookies, yorkshire pudding, bread, and fruit salad. Within two hours it was all done. We sat down and ate everything. With an hour until sundown I leapt up and gathered everything I would need. Gretel had lept up and started doing dishes. I waited for her to finish, then lead them up the stairs.
I gave them clothes to change into, then had them bathe. After they were done, I tucked them in.
Gretel murmured, "what is this all about?"
"I have a job I need to do. I need you both in bed safe, and asleep. Whatever you hear, do not get out of bed. Everything will be alright. Sleep, and don't let anything worry your dreams. Please don't ask me what I have to do, and don't worry about me. Everything's going to be just fine. Don't worry about a thing. Now sleep little ones."
I stood, walked out of the room, and went downstairs. I stood outside my doorway and took a deep breath. There was no turning back once I made the portal. I paused. Was this really what I wanted? I could stay here with the children forever, and their parents would never know different.
I shook myself. I was a witch. Witches don't get happy ending in any story. This is what they were supposed to do, though they weren't supposed to have good intentions for it. I made the portal and stepped through.
I stepped out, just in the shadows, looking at the woodcutters hut. I saw the woman at the bottom floor, stuffing her face. How original. But the woodcutter was in the bedroom window on the second floor. He seemed to be crying. My heart flew to him as he turned away and blew out the candle on the windowsill. I steeled myself.
I walked to the door and knocked, soft enough to not wake the wood cutter, but loud enough to get the woman's attention. When she opened the door, I knocked her out. I grabbed a paper and pen, wrote a note to the woodcutter in her hand, saying she hated him, and was going into the forest and that she would never return.
Then I grabbed her, closed the door, and summoned a portal to very near the Arias cave. Once there, I laid her on the ground, climbed up a tree, and waited for sunset. Once it was dark and gave the mating call of the Aria, trusting it would come here. Soon I heard it in the distance.
I quickly woke the woman up, trusting that she would act like I expected. Sure enough, all she did was stand up, brush herself off, and then looked around. I think she expected that the noise was her husband coming to rescue her. From my perch in the tree, I could vaguely see the Arias progress. As it got closer, it went faster. It had her sent now. Nothing could save her now. Except me, but I was the one who had brought both of them here, so I wasn't about to do that.
When it stepped into the little ring of trees, the woman and Aria stared at each other for a solid ten seconds. Then she tried to whirl around and run away. But she slipped and fell on her stomach. The Aria howled, an earsplitting sound, and was on her in a second.
I watched in horror from my perch as it ripped her head off. Blood poured out of the wound, spraying all over, staining the ground. The Aria put its head in front of the wound and drank all the blood. I watched this sickening spectacle for about five minutes, until the blood stopped flowing. It stood, blood and acid dripping from its maw onto her pale body, then leaned down and started to strip the flesh of the body.
For thirty minutes this macabre scene played before my eyes. I almost threw up several times. But within the thirty minutes it had turned her body into nothing but a clean, white, skeleton. Now that it was done, I could do my more enjoyable job. I pulled out the Aria amulet and muttered a banishment curse under my breath. It dissolved into shadows, and all that was left below me was a blood stained earth, and a skeleton.
I took several deep breaths. Once at ground level, I promptly lost the contents of my stomach. I hoped I would never have to see such a thing ever again. After I finished vomiting, I stood shakily, then called upon the earth to cover all traces of what had happened here. As the skeleton, blood, and vomit, sank into the ground, I leaned against a tree, trying to gather myself.
Once the world stopped spinning, I summoned a portal to my living room. I sat down heavily in a chair and sobbed gently. I was horrified with myself. I said I was peaceful, and was kind, but then I did something like that. I was truly a witch. The phrase "like father like daughter" applied perfectly to me. I had just committed murder; by Aria, but it was still murder.
Once I stopped, it was dawn. I hadn't slept a wink, and I don't think I will ever sleep again. I stood and started making food for Hansel and Gretel. It was all on the table when they got up. Because I was upset I added cookies and three slices of my favorite pie: French silk.
They ran downstairs, eager, used to me by now. I wanted to scream to them, tell them that I was dangerous. I wanted to tell them what happened to their mother, what I had done. But I couldn't ruin their innocence. Or their sanity. They sat down and began to eagerly eat.
Hansel noticed my complexion. "What's wrong?" he asked.
I paused. What do I tell them? "After my job was done, I couldn't sleep. Now please eat, and please, I beg you, don't ask what my job was."
Hansel and Gretel looked at each other. Gretel shrugged, then continued eating. Hansel followed her example. They trusted me. But if the actually KNEW what I had done, they would be running away screaming. Eventually, all the food was gone.
Gretel stood, gathered the dishes, and then went to wash them. Hansel watched me. I sat staring at my cup, lost in what had happened last night. The children didn't just belong with their, they NEEDED to be with him. Safe from the forest, the world. Safe from me.
Once Gretel was done, she and Hansel stood at the doorway. I stood and walked out with them. They let me lead. I was glad to do this. Just yesterday, I wouldn't have taken them back to their father for the world. But after last night… it was the safest place.
After half an hour of walking, we came upon the hut. I could see him reading the note I left. He put it down, grinned, then danced a small jig, glad to be rid of her. I walked up to the door, and knocked yet again on the door.
He opened the door, saw me, then saw Hansel and gretel.
"Hansel! Gretel! You're alive!" he knelt down to hug them.
I watched them for five seconds, then turned to go to my hut, resigning to never leave ever again.
The woodcutter looked up. "ma'am, wait a moment."
I turned towards him. "yes?"
"thank you so much for rescuing my children. But how did you find them?"
"I live in the hut a short walk away. I was in the forest and I found them. It was my pleasure to take care of them until they could come back home."
Hansel turned and whispered something in his father's ear. He smiled, then looked at me. "My son says that you are the kindest person ever. He also asked if I could ask if we could live with you."
I felt myself blush. "I thank him. But I can't ask you to do that."
Gretel then whispered into his ear. He blushed as well, probably more, then stood. "my daughter just asked me to ask you to marry me."
I knew I was blushing then. I looked at gretel, then him. He was kind of handsome, with a lovely beard and lots of muscles. But I didn't know his name. "I can't marry a man, whom I don't the name."
"my name is micheal. So since you know my name, I take it that's a yes?"
I blushed again. I had talked myself into a corner. "you know what? What harm can it do? Yes. We are now married. Kids, gather your things, then we can go back to the house."
They giggled, then ran inside. Micheal smiled at me, then walked inside. I followed him, then sat down in a chair while he went to get his things. I was so ecstatic, I forgot the events of the previous night. I had a new life. A second chance. And who said witches can't live happily ever after?
I chose to rewrite the story from the point of the witch. Nobody seems to write things from the point of the witches. I decided to take it further and ask myself a couple of what ifs. What if she was a beautiful young woman? What if she was peaceful? What if she loved kids? What if she fell in love with the father of the "heroes"? what if this witch could have a happy ending? The answers to these questions help shape the story. I wanted to fully explore her character, so I put her through a trial, and the result was the climax and falling action, that I think turned out really good.