Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days {Rooted in Love - thirty-one}

To start at the beginning ...

image from deviantart

Gretel paced from the kitchen to her cot and back again.  She twisted the ribbons of her apron around her fingers.  Pausing at the window over the sink, she smiled at the two red breasted robins flitting about the bird feeder.  A third, smaller barn swallow darted toward the dish of seeds and was chased off in a flurry of feathers.

She drummed her fingers against the countertop and chewed her lower lip, staring past the birds to the forest beyond.  She took a deep breath and walked back to her bed.  She scooped up the small sack that lay there and walked back to the kitchen.  Hurriedly, she finished packing a few more items:  several candles, a tin of cookies and a packet of chocolate pieces.  “Perhaps I could make cocoa,” Gretel pondered.  “Or maybe ... tea?”  She pulled the box of tea down from the shelf above the stove.  Holding chocolate in one hand and tea in the other, she felt a wave of anxiety roll over her.  “I don’t even know if he likes cocoa,” she sighed.  “I could pack both, I suppose.  But what if he prefers coffee?”  Paralyzed, she stared at her hands.  She closed her eyes and forced herself to take a deep breath.  “He wants to see you,” she reminded herself.  “It’s not a matter of tea or cocoa or coffee, it’s a matter of seeing Father again.  Keep calm and don’t let these silly details fluster you.”  She opened her eyes again, feeling peace flood her soul.  Before she could tumble into another dilemma of her own making, Gretel closed the sack, fetched her shawl and headed to the door.

Spring was still young.  Patches of snow still huddled in the shade of the evergreens that surrounded the cottage and the aspen trees only braved a few buds on their slender branches.  Most of the forest still slept, but there was evidence of the spring thaw all around.  Gretel stood on the front step and listened to the family of birds in the eaves of the house.  Tweets and whistles filled the air as they called to one another.  The drip, drip, drip of the snow melting off the roof of the cottage and wood shed added to the rustling of the branches overhead as a cool breeze blew through.  Gretel pulled the shawl tighter around her shoulders and stepped out of the shade and into the sunshine.

Hansel had left at the first light of day, another trip to see Father.  With the warming weather, the treks through the forest had become easier.  Less work to do around father’s cabin and more time to spend side-by-side, whittling and talking.  This easy companionship reenergized Hansel’s efforts to bring his sister and father together.  But his desire to share this intimacy with Gretel had continued to be met with resistance.  Until this morning.

After Hansel had disappeared into the forest, following his familiar path through the woods, Gretel had sat at the fireplace, her hands laying idle in her lap.  She sat still, watching the fire crack and pop, for several minutes.  Her gaze fell on the mantle, taking in the menagerie of carved creatures her father had sent her, week after week through the long winter months.  Each animal had been whittled and carved specifically for her.  The thought of her father sitting in front of his own fire, thinking of her and lovingly making her each critter brought tears to her eyes.  Happy tears.

She reached into the pocket of her apron and drew out the broken hummingbird.  As much as she cherished this winged treasure, she recognized now that it was the last string tying her to the past.  A past filled with pain, suffering, anger and regret.  A past she longed to part with.  Gretel leaned forward in her seat, setting her shoulders straight and took a deep breath.  In one fluid motion, she cast the hummingbird into the fire.  There was a flash and pop as the flames consumed the bird.  In moments, only ashes remained.

To her surprise, no tears came.  Instead, she felt a wave of intense joy wash over her.  And a peaceful relief.  She felt as though an enormous weight had been lifted from her shoulders.  She had no idea that such a small carved bird could be such a burden!  She felt new, raw emotions bubbling up to the surface, but they didn’t scare her.  Fueled by this sudden excitement, she scrambled to her feet and began to pack.

Now standing in the clearing at the edge of the forest, she felt her enthusiasm wavering.  Faced now with the reality of her decision, she felt the familiar tugs of fear and anger.  She shifted from one foot to another and adjusted her sack over her shoulder.  She looked back at the cottage and then turned back to the path.  Gathering her courage, she took a few steps down the trail.

Feigning determination, Gretel marched past a small grove of aspen trees, her steps muffled in the darkened fallen leaves.  The path bent toward the left and she looked over her shoulder one last time as the cottage slipped from view.  Stepping over a fallen log, she looked down, careful to watch her step and spied something blue among the overgrown bracken.  She stooped low and parted the coarse fern with her fingertips.  Nestled there at the base of the log was a cluster of sky blue forget-me-nots.

Gretel stood slowly, eyes fixed on the delicate flowers.  Then she looked down the forest path dotted with pockets of blue promises.  And broke into a run.


Thank you for reading along with me this month!  Writing this story was a little journey for me, too!  All I had at the start was the idea of a flower path that would lead Gretel home, but the internal havoc of hardheartedness and the process of her learning to forgive was worked out a day at a time.  The nature of posting a segment of the story each day was exciting (what would happen tomorrow?!) but also challenging (I can't go back and change the hummingbird to a snowflake!  ahh!).  This was a wonderful exercise in seeing a story through from start to finish (with plenty still to edit and tweak) and it's possible that I have caught a storybook-virus ... the need to write another tale.  A bigger tale.  But more on that, tomorrow!


  1. loved it! love your descriptions. congratulations :)

  2. You did a great job! Congrats on finishing...and yes, you should write stories for sure...maybe that is your new blog niche? For a short story tribe?

  3. did it! Yes, you should write more...perhaps a new blog niche and a short story tribe to follow?


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