September story


Hansel and Rapunzel

Once upon a time, in a land far away

“Are you sure this is the right road?” She swatted at a cloud of gnats surrounding her head. “You said this is an enchanted forest. How come it has all these biting bugs and poisonous snakes?” She pushed a low branch from her face. “I’ve seen beer cans, coke bottles and hundreds of plastic wrappers. No real enchanted forest would put up with people littering like this.”

The young man stopped and pointed down the over-grown forest road. “It should be right around the next bend. Prettiest house you’ve ever seen.” A second later, he added, “That was a harmless garter snake back there. Wouldn’t hurt a flea.” He resumed walking toward the bend.

“It had a long forked tongue. You should have killed it.”

He was still shaking his head when he walked around the bend in the road. He pointed. “Here it is. The most beautiful house in the enchanted forest.”

She moved up beside him and folded her arms across her chest. “You got to be kidding. It’s ugly as sin, Look at it. It has broken windows, screen door off its hinges and shingles missing. We walked all the way in here to see this piece of trash.”

He was silent for ten seconds. He slowly nodded. “It is different. I remember it being beautiful with all the colors of a rainbow.”

The screen door was pushed aside. An old woman stepped out. “Who are you people? What do you want?” She walked a few steps out onto the porch. “Hansel, is that you?”

“Yep, it’s me, Esmeralda. Nice to see you again.”

“Is that Gretel? Looks like she has added a few pounds.”

The young woman pulled Hansel closer and whispered, “I don’t like this old hag. Let’s go back before she starts running her big mouth.”

“No, Esmeralda. This is my girlfriend, Rapunzel. She and I have come to the Enchanted Forest to visit you.”

The old woman took another step and leaned closer. “I remember Rapunzel. She was a nice looking little thing with beautiful long blonde hair.” She put her hand to her forehead to shade her eyes. “What happened to her?”

Rapunzel lowered her voice. “I’ve heard enough from this mouthy witch. Next, she’ll want to know why I sold my house.”

Hansel took his time answering. “Nothing happened. All of us are getting older and memories fade.”

“Why did you sell your place?” She waited a few seconds as Rapunzel studied her fingernails. “You started it all when you sold your home to a developer. Then Little Red Ridinghood sold out and moved to Vegas. Rumpelstiltskin swapped his land for a place in Florida.” She glared at Rapunzel. “It’s all your fault. Your tower is now a fake light house surrounded by a sea of ugly trailers and mobile homes. Disgusting.”

Rapunzel pulled harder on Hansel’s arm. “Let’s go. She’s lost it. She might be dangerous in her old age.”

Hansel didn’t move. “What happened here? Your house use to be so beautiful. The best in the Forest.”

She stepped off the porch and came closer to the two people. “I was doing alright for a while. The wolf, the ogre and the dragon were helping me some days. But then the EPA got involved. Then things went downhill in a handcart. The wolf, ogre and the dragon packed up and moved to Waco, Texas.”

Hansel shook his head. “What did the EPA have to do with you?”

The old witch wiped at a tear. “They came out here and condemned my home. They said I was polluting the forest. I tried to turn them into toads, but the condemnation had removed the enchantment. Nothing worked.”

Rapunzel whispered into Hansel’s ear. “The old biddy is over her head in the deep end of the pool. Let’s go before she turns violent. There’s nothing worse than a witch with an empty wand.”

Hansel ignored Rapunzel, “How did the Environmental Protection Agency say you were polluting. You weren’t growing anything, were you?”

“No, no. They said I was sugar polluting. Children, birds and other animals were eating my gingerbread house, the sugar plums, the M&M’s, the candy bars and crème pies. They said I was detrimental to the neighborhood. The obesity in the children was my fault. The increase in diabetes was my fault. They even blamed me for the birds being too fat to fly.” She stopped and studied Rapunzel for a few seconds. “Didn’t I see you nibbling on the corner of my house last year.”

“Can’t you shut the old fool up. They should have condemned her too.”

Hansel nodded toward the house. “What happened to it? It used to be so beautiful.” He paused a moment, “and tasty.”

She wiped another tear. “The condemnation removed all the enchantment in the forest including my home. My home reverted back to what it was two hundred years ago. The Ogre’s castle became a log cabin. Red Ridinghood was living in a cave. Poor Snow White was living with those horrid dwarves in a hole in the ground. I could just cry.”

The screen door swung open again. A young woman stepped out. Her skin was dappled in reds, browns and yellows. All the colors of autumn leaves. Her hair was green with evergreen leaves. Pine needles and holly leaves with thorns were woven into her curls.

“Aunt Esmeralda, who are these people?” She frowned at Rapunzel. “Is she-,” the girl started over. “Are they harassing you?”

Rapunzel pulled Hansel closer and barely whispered. “I don’t like her. She looks as crazy as her aunt. We should have left five minutes ago.”

Esmeralda waved at the girl. “Come here, GreenHester. I want you to meet an old friend Hansel and his friend.”

Leaves fell as GreenHester took a few steps. Green moss fell from her hair. A green tree lizard was perched on her shoulder. “He’s kind of cute for a town boy.” She stared at Rapunzel. “Who is she? I think I’ve seen her before. I can’t quite place her but I think she’s put on a few pounds.”

Rapunzel pulled hard on Hansel and whispered angrily. “That does it. I heard enough insults for one day. One is an ugly old witch, the other is an ugly young witch.”

Esmeralda ignored Rapunzel and talked to Hansel. “GreenHester is my favorite niece. She is a wood nymph. Her home was a huge red oak tree. The largest tree in the Enchanted Forest. Its crown nearly covered an acre. It produced a millions sweet acorns.”

Hansel watched the lizard disappear behind GreenHester’s ear. “You said was her home. What happened?”

“I don’t want to hear any sob stories from dumb witches. Let’s go right now.” Rapunzel backed up a step but kept her hand on Hansel’s shirt tail.

“Men came in the forest with a big loud chain saw. They sawed it down in the morning and pulled it away with a tractor. Then came a huge yellow caterpillar and dug up the stump. By nightfall, it was a small empty field.”

Pine needles and oak leaves fell around GreenHester’s feet. “My home. It was gone in a days time. All because someone sold their part of the Enchanted Forest to Dudley Developer.”

Hansel turned around. Rapunzel was running down the road.

Esmeralda took Hansel’s hand. “Come inside for old times sake and have some fresh gingerbread and sassafras tea with sweet GreenHester. You have a lot to talk about.” 1260

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One Response to September story

  1. Gerald Pine says:

    …used to….day’s time….
    Okay so far.

    You can laugh about anything,
    but not with anyone.
    —Desproges

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