By Alana Capria
All the children wanted was to find their way home. But the stepmother followed behind, licking up the crumbs they dropped and swallowing the snapped branches. They didn’t realize the wind on their backs was actually her breath. She blew their fire out, then walked the one hundred miles back home. The stepmother was in her bed before ten and the children remained stranded. It wasn’t their fault the candy house looked so much like their parents’ house. They didn’t know that in those days, all houses had the same construction. So they made themselves a key from a spare finger bone and let themselves in the front door. No one warned them to knock first. They pretended they were home.
These weirdo children drink scummy pond water like its a fine chardonnay. Best algae ever, they say and rub their stomachs. Their intestines narrow and fall out of their digestive tracts. The witch is waiting in the bushes, rubbing her clawed hands together while rattling a disembodied doorknob. Little Hansel and Gretel, with their newly sharpened teeth, leap onto the hag’s shoulders and bite the bones. The witch pulls their innards out of their belly buttons while the children tear and chew. Everything they swallow lands back in the witch’s slimy hands.
Sugar houses were supposed to be warned against. Fear of cavities, broken tongues, glowing skulls. It was all enough to keep the children back but the Hansel boy and Gretel girl were both so fat, they simply devoured the signs and kept walking up the path. Gretel’s navel glowed brightly as the skull continued to flash its many lights. Hansel rubbed his aching jaws. They planned to make a stepmother stew when they got home and the dish needed several handfuls of green sugar to make the salt stand out. The only place they knew to get it was from the witch’s house. So they went, promising the stepmother they would never return. Little did she know that the spa date the children sent her to was really a butter bath to marinate the skin. It was all part of dinner preparation. The children would be doing all the eating.