Gretel confronts her difficult childhood

Hansel and Gretel, Children's Stories for Adults, Fun with Depression
Front Cover: ‘Hansel and Gretel’ LadyBird Tales (2008)

In this story, we catch up with Gretel (child-star of ‘Hansel and Gretel’) as an adult, as she is forced to come to terms with her difficult childhood.

Once upon a time there was a woman called Gretel, who lived in a big house with her husband, James, her daughter, Lily, and their dog, Biscuits.

Their house was in the countryside and it was surrounded by beautiful scenery. The view from one side of the house was of beautiful green meadows and Lily would often play there with Biscuits. She would throw sticks and race him to see who could get the stick first. (Biscuits usually won; he was very athletic.) From the other side of the house, you could see a large area of woodland, with hills in the distance.

One day, Gretel was in the kitchen, doing her tax returns, when Lily came in to ask her a question

Mummy, can I take Biscuits into the woods?”

“No, of course you can’t. I’ve told you that I don’t want you to go into the woods.”

“But why? My friends go to the woods all the time. Apparently, they’ve built a tree-house.”

“Which friends?”

“Well, Jane Potter goes sometimes.”

“Jane Potter? Her mother’s a raging alcoholic.”

“What does that mean?”

Never mind. Look, Lily, some mothers might have a devil-may-care attitude to parenting, and let their children run around woods, but not your mother.

At that moment, Gretel’s husband walked into the kitchen.

Lily, why don’t you play with Biscuits for a while? I need to talk to mummy.

Lily sighed, and left the kitchen.

Gretel, I couldn’t help overhearing what you were saying to Lily and…”

“Don’t start James”

“I just think…”

“What? So, I had a traumatic incident in the woods, when I was a child. So what? That’s got nothing to do with this.”

“Lily needs to be able to play with her friends. She’ll be perfectly safe.”

“With that Potter girl? I doubt it.”

“Granted, that child’s bound to be a mess. God knows what she’s seen. But the other ones are just fine.”

“James, she’s not going into those woods.”

“Why don’t you talk to Hansel about what happened? You never see him anymore.”

“I don’t want to talk to him”

“Is it because he’s an internationally renowned musician who writes songs about his time as a lumberjack? I love that cover that he did of 50 Cent’s ‘In Da’ Club

James starts rapping

 You’ll find me in da’ club, choppin’ up da’ logs,

I’ve got a Labrador if you’re into walkin’ dogs,

I’m a lumberjack baby, and I’m into makin’ love,

My shirts are really soft, so come give me a hug…”

“STOP right there.”

Gretel interjected,

I’ve told you before, I don’t have a problem with Hansel’s unique lumberjack R n’ B. It’s just that…well…whenever I see him, I’m reminded of what happened.”

“Can you talk to me about what happened?”

“Oh God. I don’t know…maybe I should tell you about it.”

“It might help.”

“Well alright. I’ll take you back to that fateful day. It was the day that our parents kicked us out of the house. Hansel and I used to get up to all kinds of mischief. We used to jump on the bed. Sometimes we’d slide down the banister. But one time, we went too far.”

“What happened?”

“Well, we choreographed this dance routine. It involved a lot of silly moves. For instance, at one point, we mimicked weaving a tapestry in time to the tune of Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’.

“That sounds quite challenging.”

“It was a challenge. But the real challenge was the finale. We decided that the routine would end with me jumping across the room, and into Hansel’s arms. We started to perform the routine, and we got to the finale. I launched myself off the floor. However, Hansel got scared and stepped aside. I smashed through the living room window, and landed in the petunias.”

“Gosh.”

“Then our parents came home.”

“And what did they say?”

“They said,

‘Hansel and Gretel, this time you have gone too far. These childish hi-jinks are driving us insane. We want you to leave home.’

“That was harsh.”

“Yes it was unfortunate. Anyway, Hansel and I packed our bags and headed out the door. After several hours, we came to a wooded area. We thought we might be able to find some food in the forest, so we headed in.

The forest was beautiful. There were bunnies jumping all over the place, squirrels dashing up trees, and birds singing their hearts out. We chatted to a wise owl, and we danced with a kindly badger.

But later….we saw something…”

“What did you see?”

“It was a little house that was covered in chocolates and sweets. The roof was thatched with liquorice. The path leading up to the house was a river of toffee. (In my opinion, this was not a smooth move, as getting your shoe stuck in toffee is a very irritating experience). But the bit that I loved the most was that each brick of the house was a different flavour of chocolate. There was orange chocolate, mint chocolate, parsnip chocolate…

Anyway, I know these are not the most nutritional foodstuffs. But I’d started getting a bit crabby from low blood sugar, so we thought, ‘what the hell, let’s eat this house’.

After we began eating, we started to feel sleepy. So sleepy that we fell to the ground, and into a deep slumber.

I woke up inside the house, tied to a chair. Hansel was tied to the chair next to me. It turned out that the chocolate was laced with a tranquiliser. Although I’d been tricked into taking the tranquiliser, I must admit that it was the best sleep I have ever had.

This old lady came towards us and said,

‘Oh I see you’ve both woken up. I’m Mrs McDuff. And you are?’

Hansel answered

‘I’m Hansel, and she’s Gretel. What’s going on here? Why have you tied us to these chairs?’

She laughed, and said

‘I’ll level with you. Sometimes I eat children. I know, it’s a terrible habit. I’ll stop one day. In fact I was thinking of joining a 12 step program. But today I’m going to chuck both of you in that oven in front of you and have myself a nice roast dinner. Any questions?’

“So you ingested chocolate laced with tranquiliser and ended up tied to a chair inside the house of a cannibal, who wants to eat you. No wonder you’re afraid of the woods. What happened next?” James asked.

“Well, I asked her if she would grant us one last request.”

“What did you ask for?”

“Well, I asked her if she would let us watch Saving Private Ryan.”

“But that film’s a load of horsesh**”

“Yes, I know, but it lasts nearly three hours. I thought it would give me some time to think of an escape plan. She agreed to put it on and then left the room to read.

I looked around the room for something sharp so that I could cut through the ropes. I noticed a loose nail on the floor in front of me. It took me an hour to prise it off the floor with my feet. The next half-hour consisted of me lifting the nail with my feet, and bending my head downwards, so that I could grasp the nail with my teeth.”

“Wow, I don’t think I could do that.”

“Well, fortunately I was used to doing complicated moves in the dance routines that Hansel and I constructed. Anyway, at the half-way point of the film, I had the nail in my mouth. I began cutting through my ropes by pecking at them with the nail. However, after a few minutes of doing this, I realised that it would be easier if I just chewed through the ropes with my teeth. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of that. Anyway, I spat the nail out, and chewed through the rest of the rope.

“How much of the film was left at this point?”

“There was only 10 minutes left. So, I woke up Hansel, and untied his ropes. There was enough time for us to sit back down, and arrange the ropes so that it looked like we were still trapped, even though we were free.

Mrs McDuff walked in and said

‘Let’s get this show on the road, kids. The oven should be hot enough now.”

She opened the oven door, and inside there was a raging fire.

“Really, I’ve never seen an oven like that before.” said James

“Yes, it was a rather unusual oven. Another unusual thing about that oven was that it could fit two children in it. It was more of an industrial furnace, now that I think of it. Anyway, this furnace was blazing away about a metre away from our chairs. Mrs McDuff turned her back on the oven and faced us. I yelled to Hansel ‘Now!’ and we both leaped from our chairs, shoved her into the oven, and closed the door.”

“What happened then?”

“What do you think? We got the f*** out of there.”

“Hmmm….maybe Lily shouldn’t go into the woods after all.” Said James.

So kids, the moral of this story is that childhood can be a bitch, but fortunately it doesn’t last forever, and there’s no shame in getting some therapy when you grow up.

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