Fairy Tale Upgrade
July 13, 2012
This week's challenge from Terrible Minds was to re-write a fairy tale into a modern context.
Today’s challenge shall be a curious one.
Take a fairy tale — any fairy tale at all you want, or a fable, or a Mother Goose story — and rewrite it in a modern context.
Now, “modern” is a little open to interpretation — if you took Little Red Riding Hood and set it in the 1920s, sure. Or The Ant And The Grasshopper and set it on a space station 100 years in the future, that’s fine, too.
Point is: avoid any sense of medieval-ness. Get out of the past. Into this (or the last) century and beyond.
As always: 1000 words. Post on your blog, link back here. Due by next Friday — FRIDAY THE 13TH MOO HOO HA HA. By noon EST.
I picked a classic by the Grimm's, with a perhaps unsettling twist. I give you - Hansel and Gretel.
Once upon a time there was a poor lumberjack who lived in a little cottage with his two children, Hansel and Gretel. After the paper mill closed down, he had no work and they were very poor. His second wife hated his children and was always nagging the lumberjack about them.
"We can't afford to feed them too," she said. "You'll have to bring them into the city and leave them there. Someone will take them in and give them a home."
The lumberjack refused her demands, but she kept insisting it was for the good of them all. The children heard them arguing all night and were very afraid.
Gretel comforted her brother. "Don't worry, I'll bring my new phone. It has a GPS and will show us the path back home."
The next day the lumberjack woke his children early. "Come," he said, "we're going on an adventure."
They drove and drove, deep into the city. The buildings got taller, and the streets darker, and still they kept on. Finally he stopped at a corner store.
"Run in and get us all something to drink," he said. "I'll wait here."
When the children came out their father was gone. Hansel started to cry, but Gretel took out her cell phone.
"We just need to follow this, and we will be home."
It was a long walk, but by nightfall they had returned home. Their father was overjoyed to see them, and pleased with how smart they were. Their step-mother flew into a rage, grabbed the cell phone, and smashed it.
All the next day the evil woman argued with her husband to take the children back to the city. Eventually he relented and promised to leave in the morning. The children had overheard it all, and Hansel was again upset.
"Don't worry," said Gretel. "We'll figure out something."
Early the next day they headed into the city. They drove and drove, and watched the buildings get taller, the streets get darker. Still they kept driving, even further than before.
Finally their father stopped and opened the door. "Go, children," he said. 'I'm sorry - I love you, but you have to go." And he drove away.
The children held hands and gazed around. The streets were dark and empty, even in mid-day, the shop windows all boarded up.
"Come on," said Gretel. "Let's get walking, we'll find someone to help us."
They walked and they walked, and finally came to an open store.
Hansel looked in. "It's a candy store," he said. "And it looks empty. Come on."
Gretel followed him in. "We don't have any money, we should just leave."
“Oh, I'm so hungry," said Hansel. "Just a little bit."
So they each had a little bit, then more, and then more.
Suddenly there was a click behind them. "So, what do we have here? Some thieves?"
They turned and saw a tall woman, all in black, standing in front of the closed door.
"Oh, naughty children," she said. "But such pretty children." She reached out and fondled Gretel's hair. "So photogenic."
"We're sorry," said Gretel. "We'll leave now, our father will come back later to pay for all this."
"No he won't," said Hansel. "He left us downtown, he doesn't care anymore."
The woman smiled. "Isn't that nice," she said. "Don't worry, I'll look after you."
"You let us go," said Gretel, or we'll --"
"You'll nothing," said the woman. She grabbed little Hansel by the arm and dragged him into the back room. She pushed him into a cage under the counter, locked it, and hung the key high on a hook.
"There, that will keep you," she said. She turned to Gretel. "And you behave, or he stays locked up and gets no food."
"I'll be good," said Gretel.
"I want you to be pretty too," said the woman. "Sit here while I take some photos of that pretty face.'
"Is that all you want?" said Gretel.
"That's all I want for now," she said. "Once I get some customers interested we can do more, show some more of you, if you know what I mean. Dress you up, dress you down." She opened a cupboard full of DVD's and stacks of money. "You'll be my new online star.”
"Gross," said Gretel. "I'll never do that. "
"We'll see," said the woman. She pushed on a panel and a door opened in the wall. She pointed down the narrow stairs. "Get down there, and think about it. Don't bother yelling, no one will hear you."
Gretel stumbled down the stairs, into the damp basement. There were some lights and tripods at one end, and a rack full of clothes. She piled some of the clothes in a corner and fell asleep on them.
The next morning the woman let her out of the basement, gave her some food, and asked her if she'd changed her mind.
"No way," said Gretel. So the woman opened the panel, and sent her back downstairs.
Every day the woman asked the same question. Every day Gretel refused, and every day she watched her brother getting thinner.
Finally she couldn't stand it. "OK,”she said, “let's do it. Just promise you'll let us go after."
"Of course I will," said the woman. She gathered up camera bags and lights and gestured towards the wall. "Open the panel, there's a dear, my hands are full."
"I can't, I don't know how," said Gretel.
"Stupid girl," said the woman. She put a few things down, then opened the door. Gretel crept around behind her, braced herself, and pushed the woman through the door, and right down the stairs. She slammed the door and slid the bolts closed, then jumped up onto the counter, grabbed the key, and opened the cage.
"Come on Hansel," she said. "We're going home." She opened the money drawer and stuffed handfuls of cash into a bag.
"Let's go," she said. "Out the back, so it will look like the place is still closed."
She spotted a cab approaching, waved a fifty to flag it down, and gave their home address.
Their father was overjoyed to see them and begged their forgiveness for leaving them. He'd had a huge fight with their stepmother, and she'd taken off with the car and all his money.
"We're poor, but we have each other," he said. "We'll figure out something."
Hansel whispered to his sister, "What about the money?"
"We'll wait a few days before we tell dad," she said. "No hurry."
"And what about that mean woman?" he said.
"We'll wait a few days before we call 911," she said. "No hurry."
I really like Gretel in this. She doesn't seem like someone you'd want to cross. =)
Posted by: Kelly Johnson | July 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Thanks Kelly. I wanted to make her the stronger one this time. In the traditional version, it's Hansel that does all the comforting. Gretel does push the witch in the oven though.
Posted by: Ravens | July 13, 2012 at 03:12 PM