Tale #79: Trail Of Breadcrumbs

We knew our way in, and we knew our way out. And we wanted so much to show everyone what we knew. To show them what we’d found, to show them everything we had. But telling would diminish it all. And asking, well, that would diminish us.

We waited and no one ever came. We left a trail of stones to mark the way, but no one ever thought to follow. We left a trail of breadcrumbs behind us, yet all we attracted were sparrows. We left a path of flowers, and they brought us nothing but bees.

So now instead we used coins we’d stolen from the machines by the pier. And we laid them down on our path as we walked out of town and down into the woods, our way twisting here and there between the trees and through the undergrowth, taking half-forgotten paths along river banks and across nearly-broken bridges, until our trail reached the hidden clearing we loved so much, and the forgotten lake where we always swam.

There we took off our clothes and stepped into the water and waited. Waited for whoever would follow their greed and come to us.

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Notes:

1. This was originally written in July 2014
2. As part of what became An Escape
3. But this version was written in January 2016
4. For use in the Maze
5. That I have mentioned before

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Tale #78: On Hansel And Gretel, And Horror

For me, perhaps for everyone, what I find to be the most dreadful part of Hansel and Gretel, the most horrifying bit, where it ultimately turns it into a tale of horror beyond compare, is the happy-ever-after ending.

There is an escalation of horrors throughout the story, of course – their mother’s death; the jealous malevolence of their stepmother; their abandonment in the woods; the pitcher-plant lure of the gingerbread house; the witch; the imprisonment; the slavery; the threatened (but never actualised) death by cannibalism.

But in a way this is all for show, a deft piece of misdirection, obscuring the real horror at the heart of the tale, the monster lurking at the edge of the screen as the credits roll, that final moment of dread as the screen goes black, that gnaws at you all night.

For here is our happy ending: the witch is dead, the stepmother is dead, and Hansel and Gretel return home to their father.

Their father, who took them to the woods and abandoned them, not once but twice.

Their father, who was perfectly willing to let them die, simply to appease his new wife.

Hansel and Gretel escape from the forest, and they escape the witch. But can there be any possible escape for them from their father. From his blankness, from his pliability, his disinterest and neglect. From his next, inevitable, betrayal.

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Notes:

1. Written in 2017 sometime
2. I remember starting it in January 2017
3. While ill
4. At the Eden Project
5. But I have no idea when I finished it

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If you like the things you've read here please consider subscribing to my patreon. Subscribers get not just early access to content and also the occasional gift, but also my eternal gratitude. Which I'm not sure is very useful, but is certainly very real. Thank you.