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November 21, 2022
"Mes de los Muertos"

Gretel and Hansel

By Dan Mulhollen

Hansel and Gretel
(loosely adapted from the Grimm version)

Once upon a time, a woodsman married a widow, both having a child from a previous marriage. The woodsman had a son named Hansel and the widow a daughter named Gretel.

Although raised as brother and sister, Hansel and Gretel knew they were not of the same blood. As they grew older they both began to feel an odd tingling when left alone together. This both confused and excited them. But the woodsman was poor, unable to afford even basic cable, so the mysterious tinglings remained unsolved.

Then a famine hit and food prices skyrocketed. The woodsman and widow (the latter of which, an often profitable if unglamorous profession in fairy tales) sat down and discussed what to do about their children.

"Children?" the widow scoffed. "Why they're old enough to be married off."

"But folk are rare in these parts," the woodsman protested. "Between war, the plague, the cost of gasoline, and now this new pestilence."

We need to take them to the center of the great forest and leave them to fend for themselves."

"Where's the logic in that?"

"Where's the logic in us starving to death?"

Reluctantly, and a bit hungry at the moment, the woodsman agreed.

So Hansel and Gretel were left to wander the forest alone. The tingling only got worse as they went along. They needed a distraction.

This came when they came to a beautiful mansion painted a pleasant gingerbread color. It had tall windows and a large balcony. They knocked on the door and were greeted by an older, but very well-maintained woman named Cyndi.

"Why come in!" she said, excitedly. "Feel free to look around."

They did and were impressed by the fine furniture and well-stocked pantry. Then they came to a door which Hansel found confusing.

"It says 'Oven'", he said, "but it is clearly your bedroom."

"It is where I do my cooking," Cyndi said with a giggle. Seeing Hansel still confused, she took his hand and led him inside, closing the door behind her.

They emerged a while later, Hansel staggering, red-faced, with an indelible smile.

"What happened?" Gretel asked. "I heard moaning and then shouting."

"Do you want to find out?" Cyndi asked, running her tongue along her upper lip.

"Should I?" the girl asked, looking at Hansel.

Hansel looked at Cyndi and then at Gretel. Something did not seem quite right in this equation, but he shrugged and said, "Sure, why not?"

Over an hour passed before Gretel and the older woman were done. When they emerged, Gretel could barely walk, but had a look of mature contentment she'd never had before.

Hansel and Gretel looked at each other and understood what the tinglings meant. They immediately embraced, understanding the lessons the older woman had taught them.

"Should the three of us sleep in the oven tonight?" Hansel asked.

"Perhaps tomorrow," Cyndi said, chuckling. "Tonight you should have your own room." Then she handed Hansel several thick golden discs. "These are magic coins," she said. "Spend them wisely tonight."

Hansel and Gretel spent over a week with Cyndi, who taught them well her special art of cooking. They learned everything from the simple ins-and-outs of following a recipe to advanced techniques involving special utensils.

Meanwhile, the woodsman began to regret his decision and set out in search of the children. After hours of searching, he found them with Cyndi, sitting in her parlor enjoying a brandy nightcap.

"What is this?" he shouted, noticing the amorous looks between the two young people.

"Father!" Hansel exclaimed.

"Mister Wolfenschnitzel!" Gretel cried out.

But Cyndi remained calm. "Let me show you," she said, standing up, extending her hand.

The two of them would be in the "Oven" all night. When they awoke, the woodsman had no thoughts of the cruel bitch he had married, bewitched by Cyndi's many charms.

Eventually though, the woodsman remembered his vows, and promptly contacted a lawyer. He divorced the widow (who went to work in another fairy tale). And they all lived happily ever after.

Article © Dan Mulhollen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-05-26
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