This is another in the series of rewriting fairy tales from the point of view of the ‘bad guy’. This is just a brief sketch, really.
Those kids. They were taking forever to get ready. Why did it have to take so long just to leave the house? It was not even winter anymore, there was no real reason why it should take so long for them to put on their shoes and find a light jacket.
“Come on,” she called, the annoyance strong in her voice. This was supposed to be fun. Why did everything always feel like such a lot of work?
She walked out and got into the car. She started it and turned on the radio to have some distraction. Something, anything other than just standing and tapping her foot and being a type of person that she just did not want to be.
Of course, she had not actually chosen to have children, not really. She could have not married Ross because of the children, but, well, that had not seemed like the right path to take. Her love for him had, at least at the time, outweighed the presence of the children. But then, at the time they had married, the kids were only with them half the time.
Then their mother had disappeared. Literally disappeared. One Thursday Ross took the children over to her house and she just wasn’t there, no note, no obvious things missing, nothing. Just gone. His initial irritation quickly became confusion and worry. And then the police started questioning him and he got angry and defensive, which certainly made things more complicated than they needed to be.
But eventually the police were satisfied, though the children were confused and upset. What was there, exactly, to tell them?
And then the kids were with her and Ross all the time.
She could forgive some of their behaviour as a result of their mother’s vanishing act. They said they had no idea it was coming and she believed them. However. She had her limits. And, regardless of what they had been through, they were not pleasant children.
The sound of the door slamming shut as they spilled out of the house. She sighed. They hadn’t locked it of course.
“Lock the door, please,” she called.
“I don’t have my key.”
She sighed and turned off the car, removed her keys and went to lock the door herself.
“Where are we going?” It came out sounding abrupt and unpleasant rather than merely inquisitive.
“I thought we’d go for a hike,” she answered.
Twin sighs came from the back seat. She decided to ignore them.
It did not take long to get out of the city and she chose to park at the first trailhead they reached. It wasn’t the easiest trail, but then the children could use the exercise.
“Really? It look steep.”
“It’s too windy.”
“It is lovely,” she said firmly. “Let’s go.”
They started up the trail, which was quite vertical at this point. She knew it would level out soon enough and for that she was grateful, as the grumbling began in earnest as they climbed.
She decided that she was not going to say a thing.
It was a good half hour later that they reached the first lookout. It was a sudden break in the trees and a beautiful view over a small, hidden valley. A large rock protruded from the ground, forming a seat.
“Isn’t this beautiful?”
“I guess. Is this the only place to sit?”
“My feet hurt.”
“When are we going home?”
“Can we go back to the car now?”
“Actually, I wanted to go onto to the next lookout anyway.”
“I’m too tired.”
“Why don’t you go and then come back for us?”
The suggestion felt like a gift, but she hesitated. Was that really a good idea?
“Okay. I’ll go on. It’s not very far. But you two have to stay here.”
They were not even paying attention as she left.
The next lookout, which she reached quickly now that she was hiking at her own speed, was even better. Breathtaking. She sat down briefly, just absorbing the view.
As she got back up, she initially turned back the way she had come. She paused. The trail actually formed a loop. If she kept going, she would return to the car without going back past the kids.
That felt like an evil thought. But. Maybe it would teach them a lesson if they had to get out of these woods on their own. Teach they a bit of reliance. They weren’t very far from the road. Not really.
Hmm. She stood, frozen between the two directions. Back or forward. Back or forward.
“Good luck, kids. Bye, Hansel. Bye, Gretel.”
And forward she went.