Hansel and Gretel Inspired Flash Fiction: Blueberry Eyes
Her long auburn hair kept slipping from its desired position of behind her to in her face and into her cooking pot. When she finally had enough of pushing the strands back, she left her concoction to go pull it up.
She frowned at the vague remembrance of herself as a little girl in ginger-red pigtails as she stared in the mirror. But soon she couldn’t recall what she had been thinking about and went back to her kitchen.
Bubbles and smoke billowed from the large black pot as the robust spiced aroma filled the air. She scurried to the brew and stirred it with her enormous wooden spoon. She gave a snorting giggle as she thought about how delicious the result of her recipe would be.
She checked off the ingredients to make sure she had included everything, from eye-of-newt to cinnamon sticks. Confused as to how she had come about the recipe, she picked up the wrinkled piece of notebook paper. She found it difficult to examine the paper with her long black nails, which for a moment distracted her as well.
The spewing noise of the pot boiling over made her snap out of her trance. She turned down the fire and continued stirring. Then began the task of dipping candy and fruit into what would become a delectable coating. When she was nearly finished, a knock came at the door.
Half put off by having to stop her duties and half hoping she had already drawn a child to her playhouse, she wiped her hands on her dress and went to answer the door.
In her doorway, stood an average-sized man in his late twenties. He seemed familiar in an odd sort of way. It was his smile at first; thin yet reassuring. And then, disturbingly, his blueberry eyes were precise mirrors of the eyes she had gazed into moments earlier.
“Hey sis,” he said. “How you doing?”
She shook her head. Of course, he was her brother. Why couldn’t she remember his name? “What are you doing here?”
“In the neighborhood. Can I come in?”
“I’m in the middle of something. Maybe next week.”
“This can’t wait,” he said, giving a fierce I’m-not-going-anywhere stare.
“Fine,” she said.
“Love what you’ve done with the place,” he said as he stepped inside. “Planning on starting a daycare?” He walked slowly to the couch and sat down amongst the teddy bears. “Look,” he said, suddenly serious. “I’m worried about you. Your apartment with all the toys and food. Does it remind you of something? Look at you.”
She then smoothed her black dress. There were a lot of cupcakes and candy on the coffee table. Why was she cooking more sweets?
“I don’t have any friends,” she corrected.
“Well then, your former friends are concerned about you. That, and your landlord has called me countless times to tell me that you haven’t answered any of his calls about the carnival smells and noises coming from your apartment at all hours of the night.”
“If that is all, I have things to do.”
“No, that’s not all. We need to go for a drive.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“I’ll never bother you again, if that is what you want, but you must come with me—right this second.”
She stared out the window as they drove out of the city and into the countryside. She had no idea where he could be taking her. However, the further they drove, the more recognizable he became, but not enough for her to want to strike up a conversation.
Finally, they slowed and pulled over to the side of the road.
“We’re here,” he said flatly.
“Where?” she asked, looking at the dense woods that surrounded them. Her mind was trying to predict the outcome of her getting out of the car when he said, “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“Like you could,” she said and stepped out of the car.
She followed him into the forest, pulling her long dress from sticky bushes and climbing over thick vines and fallen limbs, until finally they stood in a clearing.
“Do you remember any of this?”
“The forest?” She was becoming increasingly annoyed but glanced around anyway. The marshmallow clouds glided away from the sun, letting it filter through the trees. A chill of nauseating recollection embraced her. For there, iced in the sunlight, white stone stairs led down the side of an embankment. She could just make out the wooden bridge at the end of them that was almost hidden in the shadows of the trees.
She said, “Take me home.”
“I didn’t want to bring you back here. I was hoping you would get better on your own or that you would talk to me … or to someone. But now I see it’s different than what I’m going through. It’s more. You need to remember so we must go down the stairs. I’ll hold your hand.”
She wasn’t about to let him hold her hand, so she hurried on ahead, down the stairs.
When she made it to the last step, she stopped. Images of childhood began to emerge.
She was running … being chased by him, her brother.
Her father’s smiling face.
But Mother said … kill them.
The house, the witch, the fire.
She closed her eyes as her body began to tremble.
“You remember,” he whispered.
She did: They had held hands as they walked down the stairs, leaving breadcrumbs behind. She felt the tears of the memories run down her cheeks.
“Do you want to go further?” he asked.
There was no way she was going to be able to cross the bridge to that house. That house made of sweets … made of horror.
“I had to bring you here, Gretel. You’re turning into her. She must have cast a spell.”
It was true, she was preparing to poison and then eat the boys, but the girls … they were to become like her. Witches.
Gretel knew the incantation.
She looked at Hansel, who she now remembered from beginning to end. “Thank you,” she said. “I’ll end the cycle.” She took a couple of steps onto the bridge. Knowing very well she would forget who she was as soon as they left—she jumped.
Blueberry Eyes was inspired by Hansel and Gretel from Children’s and Household Tales. Brothers Grimm, Germany: 1812. Which in turn, inspired my serialized story, Potion, now available on Amazon’s Kindle Vella.