I had several ideas floating around in my head over the past several weeks as I considered this month-worth of writing and I had all but settled on a topic, when I felt a tug down an unfamiliar path. What about a 31 day novella? I almost instantly dismissed it, plotting out instead a series on the names of Jesus ... a more spiritual pursuit, perhaps? But the idea of writing a little something I had bubbling around in my heart and head just wouldn't let me be.
The excitement and panicky thrill I felt about trying something new stirred up both anxiety and a confirmation that this was indeed the challenge God had in store for me. It is supposed to be a challenge, after all. And so with trembling fingers and a little case of the jitters, I embark on bringing to you a story that's still only in my head. Enjoy!
|image from deviantart|
Gretel paused for moment to push her unruly curls back under her kerchief. She sat back on her heels to stretch her back and brushed her hands on her apron, leaving a dark smudge of dirt across the fabric. She was only about a third of the way through the flower garden, pulling out the stubborn bind weed and turf from around the plants. How long had she been at this tiring task? She checked the sky and guessed it to be about lunch time. Perhaps just a few more feet and then she could stop for a bite to eat.
She bent back over her work and felt the hot sun her neck. Gretel grabbed a handful of dandelions and gave a tug being careful not to uproot the tender buttercups nearby. She moved on to a tuft of burdock that threatened to choke out her cotton candy-colored primrose. It was a never-ending battle to keep the weeds from taking over her flower garden. Unbidden, her father's old saying came to mind, "Weeding halts the unwanted seeds we allow to take root in our lives." With renewed vigor, she seized a handful of flixweed and yanked ... hoping to also uproot the control her father still held over her life.
Turning back to her work, another of her father's phrases sprang to mind. "Work while you work, play while you play. A job half done isn't don't the right way." Gretel shook her head and blinked back tears. It had been nearly nine years since that horrible day, but it felt like only yesterday she had stood in the middle of this forest, clinging to her brother's hand and searching in vain for the bread crumbs that would lead them home again.
She remembered the first time that Helga, her wicked stepmother, had tricked them into following her into the woods. Gretel had watched her father from under the pine tree as he argued with his wife, but in the end, he had relented. She had felt his rejection as he had turned back to his wood shed, never looking back over his shoulder to see her standing in the shade of the tree. At the time she hadn't understood what was going on, but she could sense there was trouble. That was the reason for her pocketful of pebbles when they set off for their afternoon walk with her stepmother. Her caution had been their salvation.
She smiled ruefully as she remembered the shocked and angry look on Helga's face when they arrived back home in time for dinner. She had been flustered with their appearance and had received them with a stilted, "Welcome home. Wash up for dinner." Gretel remembered the fierceness with which her father had hugged her, but she had not hugged him back. She could not forget how weak he had been earlier that day. Nor could she forgive him for letting her go.
Knock, knock, knock ...