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Little Red Cap
“’Once upon a time there was a sweet little girl. Everyone who saw her liked her, but most of all her grandmother, who did not know what to give the child next. Once she gave her a little cap made of red velvet. Because it suited her so well, and she wanted to wear it all the time, she came to be known as Little Red Cap.’”
“’One day her mother said to her, "Come Little Red Cap. Here is a piece of cake and a bottle of wine. Take them to your grandmother. She is sick and weak, and they will do her well. Mind your manners and give her my greetings. Behave yourself on the way, and do not leave the path, or you might fall down and break the glass, and then there will be nothing for your sick grandmother.’”
The forest was an oil painting; a smearing of all different shades of greens and browns, full of blurred edges and indistinct shapes. Leaves hung heavily, wet and dripping with dew, off clean, twisted branches that bent with all the weight they carried. The sound of water constantly reverberated in the glade, either from the travelling of ripples in the fern pond, or the pattering raindrops falling from the canopy high above.
"Good day to you, Little Red Cap."
"Thank you, wolf."
"Where are you going so early, Little Red Cap?"
"And what are you carrying under your apron?"
"Grandmother is sick and weak, and I am taking her some cake and wine. We baked yesterday, and they should give her strength."
"Little Red Cap, just where does your grandmother live?"
"Her house is a good quarter hour from here in the woods, under the three large oak trees. There's a hedge of hazel bushes there. You must know the place," said Little Red Cap.
The beaten dirt path sinks under their feet. Like a monster, the mud opens its jowls and sucks on the soles of her shoes. There is danger everywhere, but she does not notice. The rain falls more heavily, despite the natural umbrella that encloses the woods, trapping all the yellow and green lights that fall on her face. She speaks cheerfully and openly, her voice shining as brightly as her scarlet cap. The wolf waits patiently, raindrops rolling off his thick, coarse hide.
“‘Little Red Cap had run after flowers, and did not continue on her way to grandmother's until she had gathered all that she could carry. When she arrived, she found, to her surprise, that the door was open. She walked into the parlour, and everything looked so strange that she thought, “Why am I so afraid? I usually like it at grandmother’s.” Then she went to the bed and pulled back the curtains. Grandmother was lying there with her cap pulled down over her face and looking very strange.’”
There is thudding everywhere. It bangs against the walls of the house so violently that the windows clatter in their hinges and the pitcher of water by the nightstand shivers. It is there, in the absolute stillness of the house. Lingering with the smell of rot and woodland dirt on her grandmother’s bedspread. Yellow eyes under a lace trim. Danger.
She pauses, and looks over at her girls. Their small bodies rising and falling under the blankets; eyes closed, foreheads together. Hands clasped together, as if their small strength alone were able to fend off wolves. Slowly, she closes the leather-bound book and slides it back among its bedtime companions. Then she rises and kisses her daughters, smoothing their hair and tucking the blankets closer to their warm forms before silently exiting the nursery.
Her kitchen is yellow-paneled, dim but warm; the refrigerator hums its one-note tune and her linoleum peels under her feet most amiably. All her appliances are well-loved; they open their wide arms and welcome her whenever she enters, as she is a most benevolent and caring mistress. But now she is tired, and sets the kettle down with a clatter as she delves into her cupboards for her last teabag.
Even though she is small and slight, she sits down heavily in one of the mismatched chairs of her kitchen table. There they lie, as blameless and innocuous as a porcelain tub riddled with bullets. Sealed, unopened, they feign patience on their manila surfaces; but inside, they’re full of aggressive reds and destructive figures. They’re armed with chains and guilt, even though she’s as quiet and innocent as the swinging mobile above her daughters’ bed.
She had never been one to be afraid or shy away from dangers, even though she’s so small and many strands of her hair have faded from auburn to grey. But now every single day, something inside of her crumbles and disappears into darkness.
Her kettle whistles its tinny scream. She does not get up for many long moments.
““Oh, grandmother, what big ears you have!"
"All the better to hear you with."
"Oh, grandmother, what big eyes you have!"
"All the better to see you with."
"Oh, grandmother, what big hands you have!"
"All the better to grab you with!"
"Oh, grandmother, what a horribly big mouth you have!"
"All the better to eat you with!" And with that he jumped out of bed, jumped on top of poor Little Red Cap, and ate her up.”