In the spirit of Halloween, I've put together a mini-series of Fractured Fairy Tales. This is the first, based on Red Riding Hood.
When I was little, winter meant packing on layer after layer of
wool sweaters. It meant huddling beneath a rough-spun quilt with baby
Buck and Pa and shivering out the coldest nights, watching our fire
sputter and die. It meant Pa looking at me helplessly, question in
his eyes, and me sprinting the distance between the door and the
woodpile, my toes numb before I could take more than a few steps. The
year I turned fifteen, winter meant watching Pa wither and die
beneath that same quilt, and waiting for sunrise so Buck and I could
haul him outside our cabin. We burned him, his body wrapped in the
quilt, and it wasn't until dusk that Buck nudged my hand, jolting me
to my senses and reminding me that the dark brought the worst of the
But I grew up, and Buck grew up, and winters came to mean the two
of us trudging through hip-high snow checking snares and sharing
whatever vegetables I'd managed to preserve the autumn before.
Usually it was enough to keep the worst of the hunger at bay.
Except when it wasn't.