Wednesday, November 10, 2010

After the grand adventure was done, home grew strange. As she lay in bed she could smell gingerbread leeching from the walls. It scented the new linens. It was in the down of the pillows, in her nightclothes and hair. That spicy smell was part of her skin. In her dreams the sugar syrup was black and ever so sweet.

She went back alone. He refused to come. The walk was too difficult, the path wound up hills and down, and it was far. They'd have to get lost again to find it.

He told her he was frightened but she knew the truth. It was too much of an effort. He'd grown comfortable in his expanded body.

Once, they had been partners, always together, always scheming. Now his hands were always sticky and his adventures never went beyond the house. She'd heard him sneak into the kitchen in the dead of night, his soft feet padding down the hallway. In the morning when Cook complained that someone had been at the puddings again, Hanzel would stare off through the window and lick his lips.

It took hours to find it again. It was deep in the woods, deeper then she'd imagined and the winter storms had damaged part of the roof. Spiders nested in the icing around the candy door, spinning webs that held a thousand flies. The sugar pane windows were cracked but could be repaired.

Inside the cottage the room was a shambles of decay. Mice scurried away from the sound of her footsteps but she heard them gnawing in the walls. The cage door still gaped open but the bones inside were gone.

The ovens lined the wall, three gaping mouths. She opened the door to the largest and looked inside. The ashes were soft and fine and made the lines on her hands look deep and ancient. She dusted them on her skirt, created clouds of grey dust that settled on the floor. Bits of bone remained. They'd had to chop her up to fit all of her inside.

In the corner her old broom waited. It wouldn't take much work to set the cottage right. She rolled up her sleeves and started to work dreaming of sugar pane windows as dark as blood.

Photo & Story
by ClockworkZero
steampunk jeweller

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