Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Hazel Whiche collasped gently into the soft comfort of the river bank. At this time of year the river was more of a stream, but it still tried to raise its voice above a gurgle to soothe the old woman's obvious distress.
Whimpering (as quietly as she could so those horrible children couldn't hear her) she set about cooling the blisters that formed on the soles of her burnt feet.
Thank God she had been skinny enough to climb up the chimney for the stove. A debt she owed to that fat boy, Hansel, who, since his arrival, had proceeded to eat her out of house and home.
Oh, her beautiful home. She had cowered in the bushes as the villagers had returned with torches to raid her meagre possessions before it was razed to the ground.
It had taken her the best part of her retirement to build. The villagers had made it perfectly clear that she wasn't wanted in their village after her husband, the woodcutter, had died. Poor crops for three seasons had turned their charity in to something that really did begin at home. Hers, apparently. It was repossessed and split between the main creditors who had happened to be her neighbours...
Still, she hadn't been bitter. They all had families to support - a happy blessing that not been bestowed upon her. So she had gone into the woods where the spirit of her loving husband seemed to wrap her in its presence and her little animal friends replaced the children that she had never had.
She'd been happy, if a bit lonely, when fortune had smiled on her and sent an unwanted pair of children to her doorstep! He had welcomed them, told them to make themselves at home and even made a little bedroom out of an old outhouse so the young man could have a little privacy from the women.
It had all gone wrong when she had brought up the subject of them helping her with a few of the household chores. Her mind tore away from the painful memory of them laughing as they pushed her in the oven and told her to light it herself. It was still too fresh a wound.
Night was falling now and still she dared not return to the ruin in case they were there. She wrapped herself up as best she could against the cold and rocked herself to sleep.
God looked down upon her tiny form and smiled. They sent a frost to keep her asleep, safely in death. So that when she finally did open her eyes she was back in her beautiful cottage.
"Who's there?" she asked, frightened. Then realised her voice was softer, younger.
"It's me, Hazel."
The warm caress of her husband's arms encircled her girl- like waist and she lost herself happily ever after in his gaze.
Copyright © 2010 by Andrea Simmons, All Rights Reserved, "Hansel and Gretel: A Tale of Elder Abuse"