Day 19 | Advent Calendar
Once upon a time, in a dark wood by M.L.Kappa
Little Red fumbled at the door latch with clammy hands. It seemed stuck. Behind her she could hear panting as her grandmother struggled with the heavy blankets. She’d always hated the bristly old thing, who had doggy breath and long fingernails like claws, but she’d never felt afraid of her before. What the hell was happening?
Swearing under her breath, Little Red gave the door a savage kick and then she could move the latch. She pulled the door open and raced into the forest, leaving her mother’s basket behind. She’d get into trouble for that, but she didn’t care. She’d heard one of Grandmother’s scaly, gnarled feet hitting the floor.
She ran and ran, her sweaty face glad of the frosty air, her hood forgotten, her cape streaming behind her. The clasp pulled at her throat and the cape dragged down on her shoulders, but she didn’t pull it off. It was icy cold in the forest.
She ran and ran, dodging the tall, dark firs, her feet sinking in slush. Was it approaching footsteps she heard, or just her heart hammering in her ears? She risked a look over her shoulder, into the murky depths of the forest – and ran into something solid with a loud thud. She nearly fell to her knees, the breath knocked out of her. Then strong hands clasped her arms and steadied her.
‘Hey! Watch where you’re going!’
‘Sorry…’ Little Red managed to gasp, ‘I was running away…’ She looked up into a pair of the bluest eyes imaginable. She pulled back and stood straight.
The boy who held her dropped his hands. ‘Oh. Was something chasing you?’
‘Yes, a wolf.’ It sounded preposterous, but Little Red could not bring herself to say, ‘My grandmother.’
‘Well, don’t worry,’ said the boy. ‘I’ve got my rifle, and some hunters are coming up behind me. Wait here.’ He put the rifle up on his shoulder, and turned to go. Then he paused and said, ‘I’m Peter, by the way.’
‘I’m Red,’ said Little Red, smoothing her hair back and omitting the ‘Little’. Red was what they called her at school, anyway, because she did have red hair, after all. She pulled her hood over her head – it was freezing in the forest – and hid behind the nearest tree. She heard footsteps thudding on the hard-packed path, and two large men jogged by in Peter’s trail.
Looking around, she realized she knew perfectly well how to get home. But she decided to wait until she heard gunshots. And she hoped Peter would come back this way – he was the cutest boy she’d seen in a while.