Hansel and Gretel, The Later Years

“I just feel like my innocence was burned in that oven along with that witch. That affected me so much more deeply than I ever realized. That moment was the death of our childhood. And I could never talk about it before, and I think that’s a big draw I’ve had to you, that you were there, I don’t have to explain to you why I hate fire, fireplaces, and old women with warts on their nose. You’re the only one who can see through my abandonment issues and see where it comes from. Just like I know why you hate birds and bread crumbs. I know why the sight of a leftover picnic can give you a panic attack. But, dear sweet Hansel, I think I’ve outgrown it. I think I’m ready to move on.”

Hansel’s blood went cold. This sounded like a breakup speech. “Ready to move on where?” he asked timidly. He was afraid of her answer.

“I don’t know, anywhere. Somewhere new. This was all supposed to be a fairy-tale, but, it feels so much more like a nightmare.”

“What does, this marriage?”

“Does this even feel like a marriage? We never sleep together. Doesn’t it feel like we’re brother and sister?”

“We are. And we’re husband and wife. We’re the perfect couple.”

“I’m starting to question that. Maybe we jumped in too deep too fast. Maybe I need time to step back and take a breath and see what I want. Maybe I want to live happily ever after.”

“We are, we will, what are you talking about, Gretel?”

“I’m talking that maybe I want kids of my own who will grow up to push their own witches into ovens, you know, have their own trails of bread crumbs eaten up by stupid birds, and I know I’ll never have kids with you and so maybe this is where we break up as husband and wife but stay together as brother and sister.”

“Why would you want to bring children into a world where they can be eating a house made out of candy one moment then stuck in a cage threatened to be eaten by some old cannibal witch bitch the next? Is this a reality you want to expose another human being to?”

“See, darling Hansel, don’t you see? We survived! We made it, so we don’t have to make it all so morbid. We can get over it, move on and I’m moving on.”

“You’re leaving me behind.”

“I’m moving forward, and so can you. We can do it together, just not as a couple. We have to do it together alone.”

“Together alone,” Hansel mumbled.

“It’s time, dear brother, it’s time. So, how bout we go for a walk into the forest and find our separate ways out?”

“You freed me as kids, now you free me as a man. And I’m supposed to walk away from you?”

“Yes,” Gretel breathed, holding back tears.

“Ok,” Hansel said, lowering his head, holding his sister one last time.

They walked out the door, hand in hand, deep into the forest. Hansel used his free hand to drop poisoned bread crumbs. They walked till a big oak tree caused them to come apart at the hands, sending Gretel farther into the Black Forest, and Hansel to turn and follow the trail of dead birds back to his house.

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