My eye slits started to open and come to focus. Mum was sitting right in front of me.
“Good Morning, my child! Did you sleep well?”
“Oh mum, I dreamt that the birds were chirping, just for me! Oooh, and there was a singing jackal! Quite clever, that little thing!”
“Oh that’s nice to know my child. Perhaps you could be a doll and spread your cheeriness to your grandmother who is feeling-rather ill.”
“Oh no! What happened to her?”
“Well, she… she found out from the town doctor that she has a disease.”
“What sort of disease Mum?”
“Uh…Right now you are too young to understand. But I will tell you when you get older. But here is a basket of treats for you to fetch to her. Up you go my sweet child! Don’t even contemplate closing your eyes right now! Would you like to finally wake up or shall I bring my bucket of cold ice?”
I got up immediately and forced myself to keep my eyes open. I quickly got ready and put on my favorite cloak. Boy, I love going outside!
“LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD!” I heard my mum call out angrily.
“You forgot the basket you were supposed to give to your grandmother! Pay attention! Stop living in your stupid little head and start being useful you useless piece of flesh. NOW GO!”
I stopped dead in my tracks. How could I disappoint my mum? She had raised me, cradled me with her own arms, and this is how I repay her? Hot tears started to take form and everything felt warm and blurry.
“ Oh, dear child how I said such ugly words in haste. Please don’t cry. I just--I just woke up in quite a fretful mood and everything keeps nagging me. I didn’t mean what I said. Please--just stop crying!”
I took out my red handkerchief and wiped my tears away. I pictured what my mum said again in my mind and I thought I would well up again. But I managed to hold out a convincing smile. Everything felt better now.
“Now be safe, and follow the path! I don’t want you to get lost and have to fetch you again!” Mum called out as I walked out.
The door shut behind me and the air outside felt so crisp and fresh. Oh, how I loved to go outside. I was in a skippy sort of mood today and I started to skip along the path to grandma’s place. It was the best season of the year, and all the flowers were growing in so many colors and even though I despised that old crony I just had to pick up some flowers for her. As I stooped down to pick them someone said to me in a deep and wheezy voice “ Good morning, Little Red Riding Hood.” I turned around and this shaggy-looking wolf was standing right in front of me. His eyes bulged out and looked at my face, and his tongue licked his lips.
“What have you in that basket, Little Red Riding Hood?”
“Eggs and butter and cake, Mr. Wolf.”
“Where are you going with them?”
“To my grandmothers.”
“Where does your grandmother live, Little Red Riding Hood?”
Why did he want to know this? Maybe he was giving her a basket of treats too.
“Along that path, past the wild rose bushes, then through the gate to the end of the wood, Mr. Wolf.”
“Uhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, good day,” the wolf said awkwardly and ran away.
Well, that chap seemed a little too curious for my taste. But the flowers smelled so lovely! I checked my watch. I had more than enough time to go to my grandmother’s and back. I decided to play a game and find the most beautiful flowers, flowers that were magical enough to turn my grandma’s deep frowny wrinkles into smoothened skin. At some point they all started looking the same, and I started to feel rather dizzy so I just picked a random bunch and proceeded to Grandma’s.
I knocked on the door. “God morning Grandmother. I got you a bunch of treats. Well Mum gave them to me to give to you but I will give you company.”
“Come in, my dearie.”
Grandma’s voice sounded rather odd. She must be feeling so sick. I didn’t like her but I felt terrible about her having to be stuck on such a beautiful day. Oh, wow, I couldn’t even imagine trading places with her. What a horrible and lonely life she has, that poor soul!
As I came near the bed, my heart started to flutter a tad. Grandma really didn’t look quite herself today.
I cleared my throat.
“Oh, what big eyes you have, Grandmother.”
“All the better to see you with, my dearie.”
I know she was sick but this didn’t quite sound like my grandmother. She looked so awful. Shucks. What do I talk to her about? If I have one more conversation about her nine cats or her knitting I swear am going to eat my head for supper. That woman needs a boyfriend.
“ But what big ears you have, Grandmother.”
“All the better to see you with.”
Hot tears started to take form and everything felt warm and blurry. “But what a big mouth you have.”
“All the better to eat you up with, my dearrrrie.”
Suddenly I saw a wolf’s face in my grandmother’s clothes and I start screaming and running when I saw grandma’s glass bedroom window shatter. An ax fell down, and as the wolf tried to reach for it, I ran toward the door but the door wouldn’t open. From the reflection in grandma’s mirror I saw a hand reach for the ax and a man who looked a little familiar climbed up. Father?
Father! The wolf threw my father on the wall and I could see from the reflection the wolf was lunging toward me. I tried to open the door but I could feel the wolf’s hands clutching toward me, his teeth directed toward my face. And suddenly, the wolf’s head rolled on the floor. I turned around and started to scream.
I kept screaming and I wouldn’t stop. My father came toward me and all I wanted to do was cry and hug him. Slowly, my crying went to a whimper. We walked home together arm in arm.
Image by John D. Francis.