Red: A Retelling

“Remember that I didn’t do this because I don’t love you anymore. I did this because I had to.”

Those were the last words she said to me, just before she left.
I remember that day, I wanted her to fix my dolly whose dress got snagged outside the barn.
Momma was always good at mending broken everythings.
But that night Momma said she couldn’t fix dolly, wouldn’t fix anything for me anymore.
I had to fix them myself.
Momma’s eyes looked so cold and sad. I don’t understand, did I do anything wrong?
And then she just walked away, saying I would understand in time.
I never did.

How do you make a child understand, that her mother has to go and leave her?
How do you make a child understand, that the very first face she saw in this world, she would never see again?
How do you make a child understand why…

You don’t.

I didn’t.

I still don’t.

I thought she was just playing a game with me, we always did that.
Momma loved to play games with me. Our favorite was hide ‘n go seek. I’d run and hide and she would find me – usually under the bed or behind the door. And she’d say because I smell so good- like freshly baked cookies that I could never mask and that she wanted to eat me all up. Yum yum yum!  And I’d run and squeal and then it’d be her turn.
And I’d always find her, always.
Because Momma smells good too, Momma smells like vanilla and apple pies and fresh spring flowers all rolled into one.

I remember climbing into her’s and Poppa’s bed at nights when the tapping of the branches outside my window was too much for me and I’d run and bury my face in her hair. Momma always lets me sleep with her and Poppa when I get scared like that. She said that sometimes little girls like me get scared and it’s okay because even big girls like her get scared sometimes too.
Poppa wasn’t always happy when I climbed into bed with them, mumbling about her bedroom duties and how it made him unable to move about. I didn’t understand. It was a big bed, why couldn’t Poppa move about?

Momma smells like vanilla and apple pies and fresh spring flowers and long after she was gone the house would still smell like her. Especially their bedroom and the kitchen where she always used to be, baking my cookies and my cakes. When I miss her too much, I would hide in her closet and sleep with her clothes wrapped around me.

Momma’s gone.

She just left me, one night. She kissed my forehead and told me to be a good girl.
Told me to buck up, that I’d be okay and that I would understand one day.

Its been years now, Momma.
I still don’t understand.

They say my Momma left because of the Big Bad Wolf.
They say that one day, on her way to the forest, she met the Big Bad Wolf and he swept her up, took her to his cottage and ate her.

They looked at me with pity, saying it was such a same. But Poppa, they laughed at behind his back.

Poppa was never the same.
He hated the wolf, hated all wolves.
And everyday, before I went to sleep, he’d tell me that wolves were bad and they were the Devil’s minions and that one day, if I wasn’t careful the Big Bad Wolf would come and eat me too. He’d make me swear not to go near Big Bad Wolves and some nights, he’d check if the Big Bad Wolf bit me anywhere using his magic ax.

Poppa says girls who are bitten by the Big Bad Wolf can’t take the magic ax, because its blessed and the Wolf’s bite is cursed. So every night, he protects me from the Wolf by checking with his ax and blessing me with holy water. It hurt the first time, and Poppa said that was okay – it meant that the Big Bad Wolf hasn’t come for me yet and that he could still protect me. Poppa said I musn’t cry anymore like the first few times and should be thankful I have a good strong Poppa to protect me. After he blesses me, Poppa makes me thank him for saving me. He makes me help him clean his magic ax.

I’m scared. I’m scared of the Big Bad Wolf.
I hear its not just Momma’s he likes to eat but little girls too.
Today I have to go to the forest.
Poppa says I have to take care of Granmum now that Momma was gone.
Poppa says I have to take care of him too, now that Momma was gone.

Sometimes, I think Poppa’s scarier than the wolf but I musn’t tell him because he’ll get cross with me and paddle me.

Today he gave me a bright red velvet cloak to keep me warm as I walked through the forest.
He gave a basket of goodies to eat while I went on my way to Granmum.
He told me to be mindful of Big Bad Wolves and that I wasn’t to fear.
Pappa is a woodcutter, he knows what to do.
I’ll be alright.

I met someone on the way to Granmum’s today.
He’s a nice chap, quite handsome too.
He said his name was El Lobo.
He has a nice smile.
Maybe I’ll invite him to Granmum’s cottage for some snacks…

Photo Courtesy of Fairy Tale News

A/N: Published and Printed: Starfish magazine under the title The Big Bad Wolf 2008. I’ve just made a few edits here there. Part of the Widdershin’s Tales.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: My Momma How Did You Learn To Be Such A Good Mamma, When You Did Not Have A Momma? | Taking On A Cause by Patsy McCaw-Yager,Englewood, Fl.

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