The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Gretel. She’d had a brother once. Hans. Supposedly, Hansel and Gretel were abandoned in the woods by their father (because their wicked stepmother wanted them out of the house). While wandering about the woods, dropping breadcrumbs to leave a trail, the two children came upon a cottage. The kindly woman who came to the door eventually turned out to be a witch, and a quite unpleasant one at that. She worked Gretel to the bone while fattening up Hans to eat him.
But you know how fairy tales go . . . That’s definitely not the real, or perhaps I should say, “true,” story.
Here’s what really happened . . .
Gretel had always been “a bit touched,” as the old village folk used to say. When her mother died giving birth to her brother, Hans, their father was beside himself with grief. A local widow brought them delicious meals and fussed over the new baby and him until he asked for her hand. Of course she accepted, as it took only moments for the widow to realize that while she had always vowed to remain single, there were several benefits to being legally wed. Furthermore, Gretel was a witch in need of training and the baby would nurture her maternal instincts, which were, of course, abysmal.
She couldn’t have been more wrong. . .
Gretel’s father thought it odd how his new wife barely acknowledged Gretel, whom he deeply loved. He also thought it odd how his son, named Hans after his own father, failed to thrive. Fortunately, Gretel took over the role of nursemaid for her young brother and he became a healthier and somewhat sturdy boy.
This is about the time Gretel shed her first blood and became a young woman. Her stepmother finally began to pay her more attention and plotted her training.
Gretel, however, would have nothing to do with her stepmother or her wicked ways. For you see, her stepmother practiced the dark arts, while Gretel had always been of the light . . . a white witch like her mother who had died due to a spell cast by the very woman who became her stepmother.
This is where the story becomes even more interesting. Gretel, unbeknownst to her stepmother, had received her mother’s powers as soon as she breathed her last. At first blood, these powers quickened, much to Gretel’s joy. It was ever so amongst their line.
What was even more wonderful was that Gretel’s mother began to visit from the other side, whispering spells and incantations into her ear while she slept at night and took care of this and that throughout the day. Gretel’s mother guided her to plants and trees with healing properties, and showed her how to ward off the evil that was her stepmother so she could release her father from the binding spell.
After all, Father never would have abandoned his children in the woods if his new wife hadn’t compelled him to do so with the dark arts, right?
Now that Gretel was coming into her power, it was time to begin a new chapter in their lives. Remember the beginning of the story where it was said that Gretel had had a brother once? Well, she really did . . . until her evil stepmother sacrificed him and her father, too, to increase her powers!
You would think that Gretel, especially with her mother’s ever-present guidance, would retaliate in kind. Remember, though, that everyone experiences grief differently and those with powers of love and light may be tempted, but maintain their resolve.
And so it came to pass that Gretel and her mother’s spirit found it within themselves to wait until their anger and grief had passed and the time was the most propitious before casting a banishing spell, where they cut the cords that bound the stepmother’s evil deeds to them, Hans, and Father. In so doing, the wicked stepmother received the full force of the light . . . her powers dissolving in its wake.
She wanders the woods still, Gretel. Perhaps you’ve seen her? Some say she wanders the woods in spirit, visiting with her parents and brother, Hands. Others believe that she stands vigil, protecting all that enter the woods from evil.
Then again, this may be just another fairy tale.
Fiction © Copyright Terrie Leigh Relf
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Terrie Leigh Relf:
For thousands of Earth years, the Transgalactic Consortium has had a quiet interest in this planet and its inhabitants, the Haurans. While the Sisterhood of the Blood Moon works together with the Consortium and Haurans to maintain balance in the universe, the Blood Moon is fast approaching. The power of this moon reveals untold secrets . . . including a sacred covenant with the Mora Spiders. There is an ancient pact that needs to be honored—but at what cost and for whose purpose? The world may come to an end. But will there be a chance for a new beginning?