In writing group last Sunday, we did a writing exercise where we had to provide a new ending for one of the following three fairy tales: Hansel and Gretel, The Princess and the Pea, or Little Red Riding Hood. The results were surprisingly hilarious and creative. I picked Hansel and Gretel, and began my revised tale shortly after the demise of the witch:
Hansel and Gretel look at one another in relief. Hansel voices the thought that they both are thinking. “We’re safe! I thought for sure we were goners this time.”
“Hurray,” says Gretel. “But Hansel, what are we going to do now?”
“Do?” replies Hansel, “Why, go home to Dad of course.”
“Dad and our new wicked step-mother you mean,” Gretel says sadly. “That part hasn’t changed. She’s sent us away twice. What makes you think that she’ll welcome us back with open arms now?”
“Good point,” muses Hansel. “Give me some time to think it over. In the meantime, we can live quite nicely here.”
The children continued for some time by themselves in the little cottage in the woods. Hansel crafted a bow and arrow out of tree branches, and brought home meat for dinner once in a while. Gretel picked berries and made soup from the roots she collected. And of course, they never lacked for desserts.
But they missed their father. One day, they decided to go visit him secretly, just to check out the lay of the land. They were astounded to overhear their father telling their step-mother: “We’re through. I gave you the benefit of the doubt the first time, believing you really were concerned about my children’s welfare. But this time you went too far. They’re never coming back. I fear the worst for them. Still, if there’s any chance that my children are alive, I’ll find them and bring them back here to live.”
“I’m giving you exactly two hours to clear out of here,” he continues. “After today, I never want to see your face around this neck of the woods. We are no longer man and wife.”
“But husband…” she begins.
“But nothing!” he thunders. “Be gone!”
At those words, Hansel and Gretel come out of hiding and throw themselves into their father’s arms. The three of them lived happily ever after, and vacations were always spent at the witch’s cottage.