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a dark tale of a mother’s unconditional love.

By Sophie GarciaPublished 2 years ago Updated 11 months ago 10 min read
the fabled witch.

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. The flame softly flickering next to the cold, frosty glass.

Mother wanted to be certain that her children would be able to catch a glimpse of the burning ember against the darkening woods. Worry slowly filled her heavy heart as she watched the front door.

There were no signs of her children.

Not yet.

But even with the growing concern and fear inside her, she was confident that they would find their way back.

And so she sat down on the wooden chair by the window and slowly rocked it back and forth. She started to hum a sweet and soft melody in an attempt to calm her nerves.

Her eyes wandered inside the house and a wave of excitement flooded in her. She caught sight of the warm pastries, she had just baked, neatly placed on top of the table. A plate full of sugar-coated pretzels. A round deep dish filled with a hot, steaming berry pie. There were tarts too.

By the fireplace, a pot of meat and vegetable stew hung above the fire. Mother could hear its soft bubbling, and she sat back on the chair in satisfaction.

But suddenly, she remembered she had forgotten the bowl of sweets and candies. Her children loved candies. And Mother knew it would make them incredibly happy once they return and find all the delectable food she prepared just for them.

She still had time.

So she quickly made her way across the room and to the cupboard. Mother wondered why her steps were rough and loud cracks echoed ferociously.

She ignored the unwanted noise and opened the cupboard. A variety of candies appeared before her. Her mouth curled up into a wide smile as her bony fingers wrapped around them.

They will surely love these! Mother thought to herself enthusiastically as she looked down at the messy bundle of candy she held.

And as she placed the candy in an empty bowl, she realized it would be better for her to place it outside for her children to see. After all, they would easily find them before they even reached the front door of the cabin.

The wind was excruciatingly cold to the skin the second she stepped out. And as the winter sun slowly descended on the horizon, the woods only got colder and colder.

Mother placed the bowl down on the ground, just in front of the door.

A bait.

"No!" Mother exclaimed in disagreement. It was a gift. From her.

Children loved gifts. And candies. And chocolates. Pastries.

So she would patiently wait for them to come. And she would merrily feed them every sweet food she could offer. And, finally, when they'd be satisfied and full, so would she.

The stew!

Mother hurriedly went back inside the cabin and pulled the pot of boiling stew from the fireplace. She sighed in relief when she found out that she had not ruined the stew.

The handle was hot. And she could feel the searing pain on her hands. She had probably burned them. But her face did not show any discomfort.

Mother only focused on the stew she made. The hot steam reached her flushed, wrinkled cheeks as she placed the pot on the table. Its strong smell crept into her nostrils and she could not help but salivate in growing anticipation to taste the food before her.

Maybe a taste would not hurt. After all, she would have to make sure that the children will like it too.

She reached for the rusted spoon on the table and scooped a spoonful of stew from the pot. She opened her mouth and tasted the stew. It was a tad bit bland. But the vegetables were cooked to perfection. And the meat was tender. Oh! The meat! It was truly succulent and mouth-watering. She wanted more.

Mother groaned in resistance. Not yet.

But she had waited so long! Her strength was waning. And her old age had only aided her hunger. She was starting to lose her mind.

Just as her power to resist her famished urge started to wane, Mother suddenly heard a soft knock on the door. She could hear muffled giggles behind the wooden barrier.

Her eyes widened in pure exhilaration as she sprinted towards the door. They're here!

A boy and a girl, both young and innocent, stood before her when she opened the door. Their faces were covered with melted chocolate and powdered sugar.

"Children!" Mother cried in delight.

They both stared at her in silence, as though they were examining every little part of her physique. She had to admit her dark, curly hair was unruly and her clothes were a bit soiled. But Mother knew it did not matter once they would see what she graciously prepared for them.

"We saw the bowl full of candies," the boy said in a soft tone.

"Do you want some more? I've placed them at the doorstep just for you!"

"For us?" the little girl asked.

Mother nodded. "There's still plenty inside. Won't you come in, my darlings?"

The boy squealed gleefully as he hopped inside the cabin. While the girl looked back at the woods for a moment, before silently following him.

"Have a seat," Mother gestured to the empty stools in front of the table.

The children gasped in awe as their eyes hovered over the bountiful feast that had been laid on the table. Mother grinned at the sight of their responses. It was just as she had planned.

Once they had taken their seats, the little boy wasted no time in devouring each pastry and candy his little arms could reach. The little girl, however, just sat very still. Her tiny eyes scanned the room. Mother could sense the growing concern in her eyes.

"I made all these for you," Mother said in her sweetest voice. "You can eat as much as you like."

"I can eat all of them?" the little girl asked.

"Yes," Mother said. "Why don't you try a pretzel?"

The little girl turned to the plate of pretzels. After a few moments, her tiny hand reached for one. Her mouth opened slightly as she took a small bite. A bright smile appeared across her face. Mother nodded at her in agreement.

"You children must have been so tired," Mother commented at their immense appetite.

"We have been walking for hours," the boy tried to say with a full mouth. "We got lost in the woods."

"Oh, you poor little things!" Mother placed her dry, scrawny hand on the boy's arm as she stood next to him. She noticed his soft, supple skin and could not help but squeeze his arm.

"Ah!" the boy screamed at the sudden pain.

Mother immediately let go of his arm. "I'm sorry."

She was getting excessively thrilled. She needed to calm down. And so Mother reached for the cake and sliced a piece before handing it to the boy. He stared at the sweet slice in hesitation.

"We should probably head back home," the boy nervously said as he stood up from his seat. The girl scrambled to her feet and followed him towards the door.

"No!" Mother yelled as she ran towards them. She placed her hand firmly on the door.

"Father might be looking for us now," the girl said in a whisper. A growing fear painted on her face as she looked up at Mother.

"No one is leaving!"

Mother felt a wave of creeping, hot anger inside her. "I have made you delicious food! And beds! You both are staying!"

She grabbed each of their arms and dragged the children away from the door. The boy tried to pull his arm from her grasp, while the girl burst out in a cry.

"Let go of us!" The boy yelled.

Mother did not listen. She only made long strides across the room, towards the tiny corner where a small, messy bed was placed behind thick bars. A chain, attached to one of the legs of the bed, hung at the edge of the dirty mattress.

"I have been nothing but kind to you, children," Mother said. "And this is how you repay me?"

The little girl cried as Mother pulled her with such brutal force, her feet dragged behind her. Her knees scraped against the wooden floor and the sharp edges of some broken, white sticks. But when she looked down, she realized they weren't wooden sticks. And the little girl screamed in horror.

"Silence!" Mother roared. "Or I'll rip your throat out!"

The little girl closed her mouth in an attempt to silence her cries. But her eyes were filled with hot, wet tears, trickling down her flushed cheeks.

"You have no right to say that to my sister," the boy exclaimed, punching her abdomen.

Mother had enough of him.

"You are way too naughty, are you?"

She opened the lock on the bars and pushed the door open. She threw the little girl inside before locking it again and turning back to the little boy.

"But you have eaten quite a lot," Mother uttered. Her eyes wandered from the boy's face down to his arms and legs. "You've become stronger."

"What are you going to do to us?" the girl hiccuped.

Mother's expression softened as she looked down at the crying child behind the bars. With her hand wrapped tightly on the boy's arm, she knelt in front of the weeping girl. "I will do nothing but love you, my sweet children."

"But you are not our mother."

The words stung. Mother could feel an agonizing pain in her chest. She frowned as she tried to deny reality. They were hers!

"Of course, I am," Mother uttered softly as she looked down at the child with glazed eyes. "And you'll be staying here with me, away from harm, forever."

"No! Let go! You are not our mother!" the boy yelled as he desperately wriggled his arm until he was able to slip away from her grasp. He immediately ran towards the front door. His tiny hands tried to reach for the bolt of the door but failed.

Mother turned sharply to the boy and glared at him.

"You’re willing to leave your little sister to save yourself?" Mother asked in disgust.

The boy cried relentlessly as he tiptoed to try and reach the bolt.

"My son will never abandon his own family."

Mother took slow but long strides towards the boy. Her searing gaze fixed on the scared boy.

"Please! Don't hurt him!" the little girl pleaded.

"I won't," Mother responded, her eyes still on the boy. "But a good mother always disciplines her children when they disobey."

Her wicked smile was the last thing the boy saw before he closed his eyes and prayed to every god that could possibly hear him. But he heard no miraculous responses from any deity. He could only hear his own screams before the witch took hold of him.


Mother hummed a soft melody as she continued to stir the pot. The smell of the stew filled the room and she could not help but take a huge whiff.

She knew it would be better than the last stew that she made. After all, she had used the freshest meat.

With the ladle in her hand, she scooped an abundant amount of the stew into a bowl. Then she turned around and walked across the messy room, following a sticky, dark stain that led her to the corner. When she reached the bars, Mother knelt down and placed the bowl on the floor.

“Eat it while it’s still hot,” Mother said with a warm smile.

The little girl looked up at her, streams of tears were visible on her cheeks. She only hiccuped in response as she had lost her tiny voice by then.

“It’s delicious, see?” Mother took a spoonful of the stew and ate it in one gulp. She thought the meat was incredibly divine.

The little girl whimpered. She shook her head slowly.

Mother’s smile suddenly disappeared.

“If you don’t eat it, then your brother will not be getting any food at all. You wouldn’t want that, would you?”

“Are you going to feed him that?” The girl glanced down at the bowl and her stomach churned.

“Well, of course!” Mother answered. “You should not be picky, children.”

The girl fell silent as she contemplated on their horrific ordeal. She slowly turned to her left and saw her unconscious brother laying on the cold floor. She couldn’t help but tear up once again as her eyes traveled from his face to his blooded pants, where there used to be two legs sticking out of its end. Now, she could only see one.

You should not wander into the woods, children, the little girl recalled their father’s last bidding.

They should have listened.

“Well?” The girl heard the witch say.

With her trembling hand, she reached between the bars and took hold on the bowl. She whimpered once more as she slowly lifted the bowl to her tiny lips. And with every opposing fibre of her little body, she took a small sip. She desperately fought the urge to throw up.

Mother grinned in satisfaction. “Good girl.”

The little girl looked up at the witch, waiting for her permission. And when she nodded curtly in response, the girl immediately scrambled towards her brother with the bowl in her hands.

She placed her palm on his cheek and tried to wake him up. He groaned lowly in pain.

The boy struggled to open his eyes. All he could feel was the throbbing pain that was coming from his knee.

“I’ve got food,” the girl whispered to him. “You have to eat, Hansel.”

“You should leave,” the boy coughed. He could taste some metallic liquid in his mouth and gagged.

The girl shook her head in defiance. “Not without you. Father will be looking for us both!”

The boy managed to curl his dried-up lips into a meek smile.

“Gretel," he managed to whisper her name weakly. "Tell Father, I’m sorry.”

The little girl tried to ignore what her brother said and instead focused on feeding him the rest of the stew.

When Mother saw the empty bowl, she exclaimed in delight “Well done, children! Now off to bed.”

She grabbed the empty bowl from the girl. With her other free hand, Mother reached between the rusty bars. She placed her palm on the girl’s wet cheek and whispered, “I love you so much, my dearest.”

Mother meant every word she said. For her heart was only filled with her undying love for her precious children. And she would forever take care of them.

Unless, of course, if they defied her wishes.


About the Creator

Sophie Garcia

A hobbit. | Instagram @dennyjeantoo

Author of poetry book Bittersweet: An Anthology.

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    Sophie GarciaWritten by Sophie Garcia

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