Saturday, 12 March 2016
To Pick A Blossom
I remember there was a time before once upon a time; a time before stories when life was lived and learned from.
There once was a young girl, as beautiful as the moon on a cloudless night. So beautiful was she that the sun looked forward to seeing her every morning, and the stars every evening.
Her name was Blossom and she lived with her father who doted on her every whim and loved her like the earth loves the rain.
They lived alone by the edge of a deep, dark forest. There were parts of the forest where it was as black as night, for the trees were so close together they suffocated the light. There was a path that led through the forest, but if you strayed from it you would not be seen again.
Now in the middle of the forest there lived Blossoms grandmother, in a cottage in a clearing; she also doted on Blossom, even though she was no longer a child; so much so that she knitted her a beautiful cloak with a hood that was as white as winter, so when the snows came Blossom could play hiding games with the boys and she could not be found unless she wanted it.
Blossom visited her grandmother whenever she could, but her grandmother was becoming very old and ill, and sometimes it would be days before she would see her. In this instance, a whole week had gone by and Blossom had missed her so. Her father finally acquiesced and let Blossom go and visit. It was bitter cold out and snow was thick on the ground, and he did not want to see her chilled.
But he eventually gave in and gave her honey and jam to take.
“Stay on the path, don’t stop for anyone.” He said.
Blossom walked in high spirits with her white cape billowing behind her and hood over her head. She didn’t feel the cold, trudging through the snow, and it wasn’t long before she forgot the wise words of her father.
Even though the forest floor was a carpet of white, there were still flowers pushing their heads through the snow, trying desperately to reach the sun and Blossom thought that they looked so pretty that she knelt down to pick them.
As she did so she caught the eyes of a wolf who had followed her since she had left her home. He had wanted to eat her up as soon as he caught sight of her, but knew that her screams would have alerted the village. Besides, he knew that there were other appetites that were to be sated first, and she was so beautiful; some things had to be savoured.
“Good morning to you, dear, dear Blossom. How are you today, on this fine, but cold morn?” he said, now standing on two legs.
Now Blossom feared nothing and no one, knew not of the wolf’s lechery or hidden desires -had she done, she would surely have run home as fast as she could- and she had forgotten the sage words that her father had told her, and replied:
“Do I know you, Mr Wolf? For you certainly seem to know me, and my memory ‘members you not!”
“We have never been formally introduced, but I have often watched you from afar, admiring your beauty. Pray tell me, dear Blossom, what are you doing so far from your village on this cold day. Your father will be missing you. He pines after you so.” And with that he smiled his lecherous smile baring his yellow teeth and foetid breath.
“I am on my way to visit my poor grandmother, who is very ill. I have not seen her for so long that I fear I have forgotten what she looks like.” Blossom said, still unafraid.
“Yes, yes. Poor dear. I have heard that she is ill. I should visit her too and pay her my respects as well.” The wolf replied.
“And how, pray tell, do you know of my grandmother and her illness?” Blossom asked, tentatively.
“I know of your grandmother and have known of her since before you were born, dear Blossom.” The wolf confidently stated, and then, almost thoughtfully, added, “Why do we not visit her together? I know of a short-cut through the forest that will take us there in half the time.”
Blossom was quite shocked by this and remembered what her father had said and replied, “No! Do you not know that it is dangerous to stray from the path?”
“I have not heard such rubbish in all of my life, and I am nearly twice your age!” He boasted. “I have always wandered through the forest as I see fit, and have never come to any harm. Though if you insist on entertaining such a belief, I propose a wager to show you the error of your ways.”
“A wager?” Blossom was intrigued by this and her eyes sparkled with delight at such a proposition.
“Yes, I wager whatever is in that basket, that I will get to your grandmothers house before you.”
“And if I am first and beat you, what do I win?” Blossom asked.
“Your hearts desire, no less.” Replied the wolf.
“Very well. I accept.” Said Blossom. And with that the wolf ran away with a shout of glee, into the woods as fast as his four legs could take him -he knew that the race was easily run.
Of course the wolf reached the grandmother first, as he knew he would. But when he knocked on her door he looked far different to when he spoke to Blossom. He knocked three times -Knock knock knock.
“Who is it?” Asked the grandmother, her voice frail and tainted by infirmity.
“It is I,” said the wolf in a near perfect mimicry of Blossoms voice, “Your granddaughter, come to bring you honey and jam.”
“Lift up the latch and come walk in.” The grandmother said, and the wolf walked in, still standing upright.
“Oh, it’s you.” Remarked the grandmother, disdainfully. “I thought it was Blossom. Step closer, child, so I can see you.” And the wolf did so, suppressing his hungry grin. “Come, child, and give me a kiss.” To which the wolf said,
“Gladly!” And leapt upon the grandmother, devouring her in one -apart from the shock of her hair for his kind can not stomach hair.
Blossom was still walking the path. She knew that she could not hope to beat the wolf, so she took her time and enjoyed the forest, occasionally stopping to pick some flowers that were sheltered from the snow.
Less than a mile from her grandmothers cottage she came across a huntsman.
“Have you seen a wolf on your travels, miss?” The huntsman asked. “He’s a particularly wily and cunning one, dangerous too. He’s been seen around these parts for years, but no one has ever been able to catch him. Have you seen him, miss?”
“No, I haven’t.” Lied Blossom for she did not believe that such a creature could be dangerous and did not want the wolf to die because of her. She bade the huntsman goodbye and ran on to the cottage.
The huntsman thought it strange that a girl would be so far from the village on such a cold day, that he decided to follow her.
Blossom finally made it to her grandmothers cottage and knocked three times on the door. Knock knock knock.
“Who is it?” Asked the wolf, now mimicking the grandmothers voice, wearing her shawl and bonnet and tucked up snugly in bed, waiting, waiting.
“It is I, your granddaughter with some honey and jam.” Blossom said, innocent of what had happened.
“Lift up the latch and walk right in.” Said the wolf. So great was the mimicry of the wolf that Blossom had not the faintest idea that her grandmother was no more.
It was so dark in the cottage, the only light coming from the slow crackle of the dying fire. Blossom walked in, not sensing there was anything wrong.
“Put the basked on the chair and walk over to the fire so I can see you, my dear.” Said the wolf, his stomach growling in anticipation.
Blossom did as she was told and placed the basket on the chair, then walked over to the fire, and warmed her hands.
“What will you have me do now, Gran?”
“Undress and get into bed with me, my dear.” Said the wolf, careful to hide his desires.
“What shall I do with my dress?” Asked Blossom.
“Throw it into the fire, we shan’t be needing it any more.” And Blossom did so. For each garment -petticoat, bodice and stockings- she asked the same question, and always the wolf gave the same answer. “Throw it in the fire, we shan’t be needing it any more.” ‘Till at last she was only dressed in her white cloak which caught the light of the fire and sparkled.
“Shall I throw this into the fire also?” She asked.
“No.” Said the wolf, rubbing his hands under the bedclothes. “Keep it on and come to bed, my child.”
And Blossom did as she was told, for she loved her grandmother so much, and knew not what was about to happen.
The first thing she noticed: “Gran! How hairy and big your arms are!”
“All the better to hold you with, my dear.” Replied the wolf.
And as Blossom caught the glint in the wolfs eye, the second thing she noticed: “Gran! How big and green your eyes are!”
“All the better to gaze at your beauty, my dear.” And the wolf grinned his lecherous grin, and licked his lips, showing off his great teeth.
With a gasp, the third thing Blossom noticed: “Lord! How large your mouth is!”
“All the better to kiss you with!” And he launched himself on her, ripping her cloak open. Blossom screamed for the first time in her life.
The huntsman heard the scream and burst through the door launching himself at the wolf. He threw the wolf to the wall far away from Blossom, but the damage had been done.
Blossom ran out of the cottage into the snow and tried to wash herself clean. Her cloak of purest white was no longer. It was now stained with red, and soon the snow around her was crimson too. The huntsman found her in the snow and handed her his coat, though he could no longer look her in the eye.
“He escaped. When I cut this off of him, it was a paw. The paw of a wolf. You were there. He was a wolf and I cut this off of him. Tell me why, then. Tell me because I swear I do not understand why I am holding this!” And he threw a hand into Blossoms lap, a human hand, a bloody stump where it had once been attached to an arm. But to her horror it was a hand that Blossom recognised.
Scared for her sanity, she ran as if the very devil was on her tail. She could not believe what her eyes were telling her, what she was holding in her hand. The huntsman followed the bloody trail of the wolf; the girl no longer his concern.
Blossom rushed home as quickly as she could, hysterical with fear for herself and for her father. She saw their door smashed and ran inside, not noticing the trail of blood.
She ran into her fathers room and screamed at the sight that met her terrified eyes. The room had been destroyed, the bed smashed; all the drawers had been ripped out and the clothes torn to shreds on the floor. There was blood spray everywhere.
And there in the corner, lying in a broken heap on the floor was her father clutching the bloody stump of his arm, where his hand used to be.