A Travelling Tale
This week's challenge from Terrible Minds was to write about Travel, as in a journey of some sort. Moving from one place to another. Point A to Point B.
I decided to talk about people moving from place to place, and also a bit of an internal journey. I re-used my Fairy Tale characters of course, as they are real keeners now. The ending might seem a little gory, but it actually was Red's idea, as was much of the story. She's really come out of her shell lately.
"I'm such a dirty girl," said Red.
"No, you're not," said the witch. "Okay, you did make up for 300 years as a naive little virgin with 48 hours of hot passion with Wolf. So you're definitely a different girl."
"I was desperate, and stupid," said Red. "And I guess a little lost."
She'd been so desperate for a change that she'd used one of Witch's potions to give the wolf - usually so gentlemanly - a nudge towards her. Unfortunately, she'd used too much, and changed him into a sex fiend, chasing after her day and night. Two days had worn her out, plus had angered and alienated her friend the woodcutter.
"The antidote seems to have worked," said Agnes. "And it looks like your over-protective friend Bruce no longer wants to take an ax to Romulus." She pointed to the two guys walking ahead.
"Thank God for that," said Red. "Once Bruce realized it was a potion and Romulus was the victim - not me - they were buddies again, heading off to the pub for some beers and cards."
"Guys are so simple." said the witch. "And you - still lost?"
"No, I'm better I think," said Red.
Things did look better. Bruce had realized he could be more than his woodcutter character, more than just a friend, and had actually asked her out on a date. Her first in 300 years.
"I'm thinking maybe I have a path to follow now, some meaning other than just what the stories gave us," said Red.
"Who's funeral is this again?" asked Bruce.
"The fourth little pig," said Romulus. "He wanted to do a house of stone, but they already had straw, wood, and brick, so he opened a bed and breakfast instead."
"That's different. Did he like it?" asked Bruce.
"I guess. I didn't really keep track, he's just someone else I used to know."
"Really?" said Bruce. "Well, it was good of the Grimm's to give us time off between the stories. I heard we were the only ones from the old gang going to this, though. Too bad, I guess he didn't have many friends."
"Yeah, well people change," said Romulus. "Come on, walk a little faster, we need to get there by dinner time."
"Do we know this fourth little pig?" asked Red.
"Not really," said Agnes. "I met them all years ago in a new story we were trying out. I had thought wolf knew him well, but he claims not. He went all secretive when I brought it up - I think something is bothering him. Romulus can be passionate in bed, but manages to keep his other emotions bottled up. Come on - they're getting ahead too far, let's chase them down. You tackle Bruce, I'll grab the wolf."
There was only a small gathering for the funeral. In addition to the four travellers, there were some locals, a prince or two, and the three surviving brothers. As they lined up to give their condolences to the little pigs, the witch introduced them to Red - Huey, Louie, and Dewey.
"I know what you're thinking," said Huey, "but we picked these nicknames in the late 1800's, those other ones in the US are the copycats."
The memorial service was set up in a small meadow in front of the three houses. The minister spoke eloquently, describing a full life running a B&B, then the quiet years of retirement.
"Ralph was quite happy with his business. He loved being a host, and was quite good at it. But he kept more to himself in his final years," said the minister. "Almost seemed lonely at times. He would always perk up, though, when he talked about his younger days with his friends."
The witch noticed that Wolf was very quiet during the service, standing off to one side, gazing at the portrait of Ralph next to the minister. After the last words had been said, she went over to her friend.
She put a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, are you OK?"
"Oh hi," said Romulus. "I thought I'd be OK, guess I'm not."
"Did you maybe know him better than you're admitting to?"
"Well, yes," said the wolf. "We were pretty close back in the old days, had a lot of good times together. I even helped him set up his business. There was a lot to do but we worked hard and partied hard back then. And he worked hard at his business too, building it up. I think he was glad of the choices made. His brothers weren't that close, always too busy with the stories or giving speeches at conventions - they had quite a collection of followers."
"So what happened?" asked the witch.
"I don't know," he said. "I got busy I guess. I always meant to go and visit, but never did. I just assumed he's always be around, but of course being out of the stories meant he became mortal. I felt really bad about it when I'd heard he died, and felt even worse for not visiting him. So I pretended it didn't really matter."
"But it did, didn't it?" she said. She put an arm around him. "You and your friend Ralph had some great times. I think he treasured some of those times too. Yes - you could have gone to visit, but what's done is done. He'll live on now in the memories of you and all his other friends from the old days. Are many of the others still around?"
"Yes, a few," he said.
"Well, why don't you send them a note, and maybe do some visits," she said. "Don't wait until it's too late to see them. And now, let's go in to dinner."
They joined Red and Bruce and followed the small crowd into the dining room. There was a huge buffet table, groaning under the weight of bowls of salads, cakes and pies, flagons of ale, and in the middle - a pile of golden roast meat. Red picked up a plate, then paled and pulled at the witch's arm.
"What's that in the middle," she said. "What kind of meat is it?"
"It's traditional with these people at their funerals," said Agnes. "Roast pork. Every culture has a different death ritual, this is theirs."
Wolf clinked a claw against his glass, looked around, then raised it slightly toward the center of the table. "Ralph and I had a lot of good times in the past, I wish I'd seen him more lately, but I'm glad of what we did have and proud to have known him. We all have many good memories of him to treasure. He's gone from us now, but not forgotten. He will continue to live on within us. I'd like to give thanks one last time to our dear friend."
"To Ralph," he said.
"To Ralph," echoed the crowd.