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Red Hooded Cloak

by Kalista Brown 4 years ago in fiction

A Modern Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood

There was once a little girl, who is not so little now, except maybe in her family’s eye’s. Her name was Helena. She graduated high school and decided that she wouldn’t go into university or college. At least, not yet. Instead, she was going to stay at home and help in any way that she could.

Because, you see, her Grandmother was sickly.

Her mother, after hearing about this, made breads and cakes from scratch. Her dad made butter. And instead of her mother driving these to her Grandmother’s farm thirty minutes away by car, Helena was being sent. Sent to the woods that surrounded her Grandmother’s property.

“Now remember, Helena: you might have to stay there until Grandma gets better.” Her mother said, packing a basket full of the breads and cakes and butter.

“But why must I take care of her? She’s your mother!”

“Because I have to work. And so does your Dad. You don’t have to work, because you won’t get a job.”

“I would have a job if you didn’t keep me from getting one.” Helena retorted.

Her mother glared. “How have I ever kept you from working?”

“Sending me on errands like this so that you and Dad can work!”

“Don’t use that tone.” Her mother warned. “Now, run upstairs and grab your cloak. You have whatever you need at Grandma’s.”

The cloak that Helena’s mom was referring to was one that her grandmother had made for her two years ago for the winter. It was long on her then, dragging on the snow-covered ground and on the floors behind her. Essentially, she drowned in it for two years. She must have taken a growth spurt recently for it to fall at her feet now, as she’s done growing. She took this cloak with her everywhere she went: it was good for the rain or for windy days, too. And, even in the fall, though it was red, she could be seen clearly coming up the driveway of her granny’s house.

Helena huffed and went up stairs, gathering some necessities into a small bag. She grabbed her cloak and came back to her mother, who had finished packing the basket. Helena placed her small bag inside, being careful not to squish or flatten any of the baked goods. They had gone to the door, Helena throwing her cloak around her shoulders. Doing up the button and taking the basket from her mom, placing it on her arm.

“It feels like you placed Fat Cat in here.” Helena joked.

Her mother’s countenance was serious. “Now, Red, be careful. You know that there’s animals in the woods surrounding your Grandmother’s house. Don’t stray away from the path. Don’t talk to any of the animals, especially if you run into any wolves.”

“We’re not in a fairy tale, mom. I’ll call you when I get there.” And with that, Helena left the house.

It didn’t take long to get to her grandma’s house. From Helena’s home, the driveway was only a walk of fifteen minutes away. It was the driveway itself that took half an hour to go down by car. Her Grandma liked to live away from people.

Helena prepared herself mentally; she never liked walking down there alone. Even now, she wished she had someone to walk down with her.

She shook her head. “Don’t let mom’s stories get to you. They’re just stories, after all,” she pulled the hood of her cloak over her head, hiding her hair, “it’s not like anything will hurt me. If Grandma can live here, then I can walk down the damn driveway.”

And with that, she stepped into the woods.

She might not have been consciously thinking about it, but she stuck to the driveway. She would stop for a quick second or two to pick flowers from the side of the road, making a nice bouquet. “Grandma will like this.” She also stopped to pick up a handful of herbs she found at the sides of the driveway, but she never stepped foot off the path.

She had a feeling that she was being watched. She shook that feeling off, repeating her earlier mantra to herself of what her mother said just being stories. That feeling didn’t go away. Especially when she saw a wolf leaning against a tree up ahead, looking her way.

“Hello, Little Girl.” The Wolf said to her.

Helena did not reply. This couldn’t be happening, could it? Could this be the Wolf from her mother’s stories?

“Now, don’t be rude. When someone says hi, you’re supposed to answer.”

“I’m not a little girl.” She was going to walk past the Wolf.

The Wolf got down on all fours and stood in her way. She stopped. “And what is your name?”

“Helena. Although my friends and family call me Red.”

“Because of your cloak?” The Wolf inquired.

“No, because of my hair.” She pulled a bundle from her hood, letting the Wolf see her auburn hair. “I’ve been called Red for at least a decade because of it.”

“And where are you going, Red? If I may ask?” The Wolf slunk his way over to her.

She could not believe this. There’s no way wolves could talk. Was she hallucinating? “I’m going to my Grandma’s house. She is ill.”

“And where does Granny live?”

She wasn’t sure if she should tell him this. But if he was a hallucination, why not tell him? “She lives at the end of this trail. This is her driveway. Hey, get out of that!”

The Wolf took his nose out of the basket. “My apologies. I’ve been eating nothing but chipmunks for weeks. The bread in your basket smells delicious. Anywho, I must be on my way. This was a delightful chat. Have a good day, Red.”

The Wolf bounced off.

Helena stood there, looking in the direction that the Wolf had gone. She shook her head. “What was that about? Hallucinations shouldn’t leave like that. Maybe I’m not imagining things?” She continued, on her way to her Grandmother’s, arguing with herself about whether he was a hallucination or not.

However, when she got to Granny’s, the door was wide open. Alarms went off in her head as she cautiously stepped into the house. Placing the basket on the table, she removed a small item from her bag. She walked around the house quietly.

The house was empty, save for Grandma’s room. She knocked, waiting for an answer.

“Who is it?” That did not sound like her Grandmother. But, she thought, where Granny is sick, maybe her throat is raw.

“It’s me! Can I come in?”

“Yes, dearie, you can come in. Although I must warn you, I am sick.”

I know you are, Helena thought, you told me on the phone. She opened the door, and peered into the room. There was a lump in her Grandmother’s bed, but the figure had more hair than the last time Red had seen her Grandma.

She closed the door and came into the room, carefully walking to the bedside, her hands behind her back and under her cloak. “Hi, Granny. How are you feeling?”

“Better, dearie.”

Red recognized the Wolf. What did this Wolf think she was? Obtuse?

She scanned the bed. “Why, Granny, what big arms you have!”

“The better to hug you with, my dear.”

“And look at how much your hair has grown since last I saw you!”

This took the Wolf by surprise. “You know, my dear, you’re supposed to follow the script.”

The Wolf was about ready to pounce out of the bed, when Red pulled the object with her from behind her back. She drove the silver-plated knife through the bottom and top jaws of the wolf’s throat.

“We’re not living in some fairy tale. I know how this story went in the book. But unlike her, I’m not a little girl. And my mother warned me about you. She prepared me if this moment ever came around.”

The wolf fell, limp, off the bed. Red took off her hooded cloak and set to work on freeing her Grandma from the contents of the Wolf’s stomach. Her grandmother fell onto the floor. She looked up at Red, smiling when she recognized her granddaughter.

“Thank you, Red. You saved me.”

“No problem, Grandma. Couldn’t let that bad old Wolf get away with eating my favourite Grandma. Now, let’s get you cleaned up.” Red helped her Grandma off the floor and into the bathroom, her Grandmother coughing the entire way.

Later that night, while her Grandmother was asleep, she called her home.

She got voicemail.

She sighed, just after the beep. “Of course you didn’t answer the phone. Anyway, it’s me, I’m at Grandma’s. She’s in bed now, a hearty, healthy meal in her belly. And let dad know that his hunting training did end up coming in handy. You can come over to Grandma’s at anytime now. No more Wolf.” She hung up and headed up the stairs.

fiction

Kalista Brown

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