Gre­tel Was Get­ting Fat­ter

Room Magazine - - CONTENTS - JACKIE WYKES

“It’s no good,” said her step­mother, Cleo, who spent much of her day ask­ing her mir­ror for re­as­sur­ance of her fair­ness. “At this rate, no man will ever fall in love with her, and she will die a spin­ster.”

Gre­tel’s fa­ther re­mem­bered Gre­tel’s mother and the soft curve of her belly, but he said noth­ing.

“Not enough ex­er­cise,” said Cleo, who ran ten miles through the woods ev­ery day.

So, the next day, she woke Gre­tel early in the morn­ing. “Get up, lazy­bones,” she said. “You’re com­ing run­ning with me.” Gre­tel blearily obeyed, pulling on her old red coat, for it was the mid­dle of win­ter and the air was cold and sharp as di­a­monds. “Don’t be fool­ish,” said Cleo, who wore only a sin­glet and jog­ging shorts. “You burn more calo­ries if you’re cold.” Gre­tel fol­lowed her step­mother into the woods but did not take off her coat.

Cleo set a brisk pace, but Gre­tel did not want to run. In­stead she daw­dled, turn­ing to watch the smoke curl from the chim­ney and the early sun bounce off the roof. Sev­eral times she stopped to ad­mire the shape of bare branches twisted against the sky or puz­zle over strange tracks in the snow.

Her step­mother soon got im­pa­tient and, anx­ious of ne­glect­ing her own fit­ness regime, ran ahead, leav­ing Gre­tel to find her own way through the woods. Gre­tel con­tin­ued along the path, gnaw­ing on a piece of bread she had stowed in the pocket of her red coat, and en­joy­ing the sweet scent of morn­ing mist amongst the pine trees.

Lop­ing out of the mist came a fig­ure, tall and thin with gan­gly limbs, deep, dark eyes, and a wild shock of black hair.

“Hello,” said the fig­ure, sniff­ing the air. “My name is Lui.”

“Hello, Lui. I’m Gre­tel,” said Gre­tel, and of­fered her some bread. The two sat in a small clear­ing near the path and ate the bread to­gether.

“What lovely big eyes you have,” said Gre­tel.

“All the bet­ter to see what lovely big thighs you have,” Lui re­turned.

“What a wolf you are,” said Gre­tel with a wink.

“What a woman you are,” said Lui, and kissed her.

Af­ter that, Gre­tel went walk­ing in the woods ev­ery day and met Lui in the clear­ing where they would build a fire and eat bread and roast the ducks and rab­bits and fish that Lui had hunted. Then they would make love and sleep wrapped in each other un­til the sun slipped be­hind the hills and the fire died out.

“It’s no good,” said her step­mother. “She goes walk­ing in those woods ev­ery day, but it makes no dif­fer­ence. She’s still fat as ever. At this rate she’ll never get mar­ried and leave home, and we’ll be stuck with her for­ever.”

Gre­tel’s fa­ther re­mem­bered Gre­tel’s mother and the soft curve of her hips, but he said noth­ing.

“Too much gin­ger­bread,” said her step­mother, who ate noth­ing but raw veg­eta­bles and steamed fish.

So, the next day she got up early and slipped a note un­der Gre­tel’s door telling her to go to the high­est room of the high­est tower where there would be a sur­prise wait­ing for her.

Gre­tel loved sur­prises so she climbed the long, spi­ral stair­case to the high­est room in the high­est tower as quickly as she could. Breath­less, she flung open the door and rushed in, stum­bling on the un­even floor and into the thick, dusty drapes that cov­ered a large win­dow. The room was so small that she would have tum­bled straight out the win­dow if it hadn’t been cov­ered.

Sud­denly she heard the door slam shut and the lock click into place. “That’s what you get, greedy guts,” said Cleo. ”From now on, it’s let­tuce and wa­ter for you.”

Gre­tel banged on the door and tried to get out, but it was locked tight. She opened the win­dow and looked down, but the walls were smooth and sheer and it was a very long way down. She tried mak­ing a lad­der of the dusty drapes but they were too old and moth-eaten to hold her.

As the day wore on and Cleo showed no sign of re­lent­ing, Gre­tel thought more and more of Lui and how much she wanted to see her. She swal­lowed her tears into a hard lump in her throat.

In the clear­ing in the woods, Lui paced back and forth, won­der­ing where Gre­tel was. She had caught a par­tic­u­larly tasty rab­bit that day, and she wanted to share it with her lover. When the sun sank be­hind the hills and the fire in the clear­ing fi­nally died, Lui took the rab­bit and loped along the path to Gre­tel’s house, de­ter­mined to find out why she had not come.

As she ap­proached the cas­tle, Lui saw Gre­tel stand­ing at the win­dow of her room and brush­ing her long hair. Lui howled to her, but Gre­tel could not re­ply, for the tears she had swal­lowed had hard­ened into a diamond that stuck in her throat. Lui un­der­stood her si­lence as grief. She called to Gre­tel to let down her hair and tied the cold roast rab­bit to her tresses so that at least she could have some­thing sat­is­fy­ing to eat. Ev­ery evening af­ter that, Lui re­turned with a rab­bit or a duck or some other de­li­cious of­fer­ing for her love.

“It’s no good,” said Gre­tel’s step­mother, who made her poke her fin­ger out the door ev­ery day to see if she was get­ting any thin­ner. But Gre­tel’s fin­gers re­mained as soft and plump as ever. “At this rate, she will never be able to leave her room.”

Ev­ery evening, Lui would visit Gre­tel and howl her long­ing. Gre­tel would swal­low hard on her tears and ev­ery evening the diamond in her throat would grow big­ger with her grief. Then, as the moon came up, Lui would slink away into the woods, only to re­turn, ever faith­ful, with more of­fer­ings the next evening.

But the lovers missed the touch of each other’s skin, and so one night they came up with a plan to free Gre­tel from her tower. The next day, in­stead of giv­ing Cleo her fin­ger to pinch, Gre­tel stuck a rab­bit bone through the door. Cleo was de­lighted by the svelte feel of her step­daugh­ter’s fin­ger and ex­cited to ad­mire the re­sults of her own hard work and per­se­ver­ance. She flung open the door and rushed in, stum­bling on the un­even floor and tum­bling straight across the nar­row room and out the win­dow, right into the crack­ling fire that Lui had built be­low.

Gre­tel cried out in joy at her free­dom, and so dis­lodged the big­gest, shini­est diamond from her throat, which she promptly sold to buy more prac­ti­cal things like a new red coat and sturdy walk­ing shoes. And, of course, all the trim­mings for a won­der­ful roast din­ner.

Af­ter that, Gre­tel and Lui lived hap­pily for a cou­ple of years, be­fore go­ing their sep­a­rate ways. Then there was the af­fair with the Beast. But that is an­other story.

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