Hansel & Gretel, a Postscript - James Valvis
After they tricked the witch into the oven, the Candy House caught fire. The sky reeked of charred marshmallows and, when the odor reached the animals, they left their nests to watch the witch burn.
Hansel held Gretel in his arms as she wept. They'd escaped the witch, but now what? Where would they go? Certainly not home to that brutal mother, that father who obeys every immoral order, just for the sake of peace.
Besides, they'd lived in the Candy House ten years. By now Ma and Pa probably had a new Hansel, a new Gretel, and maybe a George and a Betty too. Maybe they packed up and moved to Ohio.
To make matters worse, Hansel weighed 350 and Gretel was shaped like a molasses cookie. Both wore acne scars from years of chocolate. And neither could they handle hard labor, the kind of work life in the forest demanded.
So Gretel wept
bitterly and Hansel
held her, not so much to comfort as to keep warm in the growing chill,
watched the Candy House pop and sizzle into syrup
Then they were alone, standing in the trees, shivering, their minds turning to a happier time when they first arrived in the forest and the witch fed them, gave them shelter.
How little they appreciated it back then.
Sweet were the memories of her breakfasts. Sweet the sight of her old face. Sweet the twig they poked out of their cage to hide their girth. Sweet the aroma of cooked children who hadn't been quite as smart or lucky.
And as the night grew thick in the limbs of the trees and a piercing wind picked up, freezing their bones, their stomachs groaned as never before until they looked at one another, brother and sister, and each could not help but think of dinner.
James Valvis is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE (Aortic Books, 2011). His poems or stories have appeared in Arts & Letters, Chiron Review, Daily Science Fiction, Natural Bridge, River Styx, Strange Horizons, The Sun, and many others. His poetry has been featured in Verse Daily and the Best American Poetry website. His fiction was chosen for the 2013 Sundress Best of the Net. In 2014 he was awarded a King County 4Culture Grant for the Arts. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle. You can visit him here: valvis.net