To start at the beginning ...
After a small bite to eat, Gretel busied herself by shaking out blankets and rugs. Stepping outside to shake the kitchen rug, she was pleased to note that the warming sun hand succeeded in thawing corners of the frozen landscape. Snow fell from branches in miniature avalanches and there was a steady drip from the eaves as the snow on the roof melted. With a sense of relief, Gretel swept the front porch and hoped that Hansel’s return trip would be warmer and quicker.
Soon Gretel ran out of surfaces to scrub and blankets to shake, forcing her to look for another task to keep her occupied. Hanging from the rafters near the fireplace she spied the bunches of lavender she had cut and hung to dry at the end of summer. By standing on her tip toes on a kitchen chair, she was just able to untie the bundles from the twine that stretched between the ceiling beams. She gently laid the lavender on the kitchen table and returned to her perch on the kitchen chair.
On Gretel’s fifth and final trip, she stumbled. She caught the toe of her boot on the hem of her dress and sent herself sprawling off the chair and onto the rug in front of the fireplace, narrowly missing the brick hearth. She landed hard on her right side and felt the pain of the impact in her knee, shoulder and hip.
Gretel laid on the floor for a spell, stunned and reeling from the pain. Gingerly she sat upright and then gently rubbed her limbs and back, checking to make sure she hadn’t broken anything. After a few moments, she stood, using the chair by the fire for support. She was relieved to find that her legs supported her fine and that she could move her right arm without much pain. But she knew that tomorrow she would be stiff and bruised.
“That could have been disastrous,” Gretel murmured. “You keep both your feet on the floor from now on,” she admonished herself.
Carefully, she walked to the kitchen table and began to untie the bundles of lavender; the heady aroma filled the air and stirred up in her heart her passion for gardening. As she stuffed the little fabric sachets with the lavender, she was pleased to have a little something from her flower beds to get her through the cold, stark winter until spring.
When all the sachets were filled, she grabbed the corners of her apron to lay the bundles in the folds of the fabric with the intent of distributing the fragrant pouches throughout the cottage. As she lifted the corners of her well-worn apron, something fell out of her pocket. A wing.
With a cry, Gretel reached into the pocket and pulled out the fragile hummingbird. Both wings had been broken in Gretel’s fall. Tears coursed down her face as she clutched the wounded creation to her chest, feeling her own heart break.