by Dorlana Vann
by Dorlana Vann
Her long auburn hair kept slipping from its desired position of behind her to in her face and into her cooking pot. When she finally had enough of pushing it back, she left her concoction to go pull it up.
She frowned at the vague remembrance of herself as a little girl in ginger-red pigtails as she stared in the mirror. But soon she couldn’t recall what she had been thinking about and went back to her kitchen.
Bubbles and smoke billowed from the large black pot as the robust spiced aroma filled the air. She scurried to its side and stirred it with her enormous wooden spoon. She gave a snorting giggle as she thought about how delicious the end result of her recipe would be.
She checked her recipe to make sure she had included everything, from eye-of-newt to the cinnamon sticks. Confused as to how she had come about the recipe, she picked it up. She found it difficult to examine the paper with her long black nails, which for a moment distracted her as well.
The spewing noise of the pot boiling over made her snap out of her trance and continue what she had been doing. Then began the task of dipping candy and fruit into what would become a delectable coating. When she was nearly finished, a knock came at the door.
Half put off by having to stop her duties and half hoping she had already drawn a child to her playhouse, she wiped her hands on her dress and went to answer the door.
In her doorway stood an average-sized man in his late twenties. He seemed familiar in an odd sort of way. It was his smile at first; thin yet reassuring. And then, disturbingly, his blueberry eyes were precise mirrors of the eyes she had looked at in the mirror only moments ago.
“Hey sis,” he said. “How you doing?”
She shook her head. Of course, she thought, I must have inhaled too much of my brew. “What are you doing here?”
“In the neighborhood. Can I come in?”
“I’m in the middle of something. Maybe next week.”
“This can’t wait,” he said; giving a fierce, I’m not going anywhere, stare.
“Fine,” she said.
“Love what you’ve done with the place,” he said as he stepped inside. “Planning on starting a daycare? He went and sat down on her teddy bear covered couch. “Look,” he said, suddenly serious. “Your friends—”
“I don’t have any friends,” she corrected.
“Well then, your former friends are concerned about you. That, and your landlord has called me countless times to tell me that you haven’t answered any of his calls about the smells and noises coming from your apartment at all hours of the night.”
“If that is all, I have things to do.”
“No. That’s not all. We need to go for a drive.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“I’ll never bother you again, if that is what you want, but you must come with me—this second.”
She stared out the window as they drove out of the city and into the countryside. She had no idea where he could be taking her. However, the further they drove, the more recognizable he became, but not enough for her to want to strike up a conversation.
Finally, they slowed and pulled over to the side of the road. “We’re here,” he sang.
“Where?” she asked, looking at the dense woods that were on both sides of them. Her mind was trying to predict the outcome of her getting out of the car when he said, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Like you could,” she said and stepped out of the car.
She followed him into the woods, having to pull her long black dress from sticky bushes and climbing over thick vines and fallen limbs, until finally they stood in a clearing.
“Do you remember any of this?”
“The forest?” She was becoming increasingly annoyed but glanced around anyway. The marshmallow clouds glided away from the sun, letting it filter through the trees. A chill of nauseating recollection embraced her. For there, iced in the sunlight, white stone stairs lead down the side of an embankment. She could just make out the wooden bridge at the end of them that was almost hidden in the chocolate shadows of the trees.
“You know what?” she said. “I want you to take me home.”
“You remember. Don’t you?”
She shook her head. She didn’t... not really.
“I didn’t want to bring you back here. I didn’t have a choice. I was hoping you would break out of it. Now I see. It’s more than that. We have to go down the stairs. I’ll hold your hand.”
She wasn’t about to let him hold her hand, but she allowed his hand on her arm, just for support, of course. When they made it to the last step, she stopped. Images of childhood began to emerge.
Running... being chased by... him, her brother.
Father’s smiling face.
Mother... kill them.
She closed her eyes.
“You remember,” he whispered.
She did: they had held hands as they walked down the stairs, leaving breadcrumbs behind.
She felt the tears of the memories run down her cheeks.
“Do you want to go further?” he asked.
She shook her head. There was no way she was going to be able to cross the bridge to that house. That house made of sweets... made of horror.
“I had to bring you here, Gretel. You were turning into her. She must have cast a spell.”
It was true, she was preparing to poison and then eat the boys, but the girls... she wanted them to be like her. She knew the incantation.
She looked at Hansel, who she now remembered from beginning to end. “Thank you,” she said. “I’ll end the cycle.” She took a couple of steps onto the bridge. Knowing very well she would forget who she was as soon as they left—she jumped.
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