I walked as quickly as I could down the dirt road without spilling the bucket of water I was carrying. The orange sand burned the soles of my feet with every step, my hair had fallen out of my red bow and clung to the sweat on my face, and I felt like I was being smothered by my dress… It was hot. Maybe even the hottest day so far this summer.
Almost there. The bucket was becoming almost unbearably heavy and water started to splash out of it as I struggled. The earth absorbed the precious few drops hungrily. I stared enviously down at the clumped dirt licking my parched lips. The temptation to just dump the water over my head grew, but this water wasn’t for me.
“I need to take a break,” I gasped to myself once I finally reached the pasture.
Carefully setting the bucket down, I slumped down next to it and relished in the coolness of the grass. Despite the hot, humid air it really was quite a beautiful day. The sky was a vibrant blue and clouds dotted the sky. The clouds were a blessing because they gave us a break from the sun and they were thick with the promise of rain. Well needed rain, I noted.
In the distance you could see mountains rising up to kiss the clouds. Shielded below the mountains was a meadow that stretched on for what seemed like forever. But finally at the edge of the meadow was a little farm… Grandma’s farm.
Excitedly I got up and picked up the bucket of water again. I carefully walked down the hill and it wasn’t long before I had made it down to the house. I set the bucket of water down and let myself in.
“I’m baack,” I called out and listened to my voice echo through the walls. In response I heard a cry of excitement and shuffling towards the door.
I pulled out my red bow and laid it on the little round table. Shaking my hair out I attempted to cool myself off before reaching for one of the chocolate chip cookies that was set out in the middle of the table. I bit into it slowly savoring every bite. The chocolate melted in my mouth and my stomach growled in anticipation.
Noticing that the old lady hadn’t come out to greet me I turned back to the door of her room. “Grandma?” I opened the door slowly.
The room was in chaos. Blood covered the floor and stained the ripped sheets on the bed and books had been knocked all over the floor with their inner guts torn out. Before I could even take in the full effect of the room a black shape barreled over to me and knocked me to the floor. In the blink of an eye a massive wolf stood over me. His long canines gleamed coldly but the fur around his muzzle was warm with the stench of blood. His large glowing eyes stared down at me and his claws pressed into my chest.
“Get off,” I snapped, jumping to my feet. “You got blood all over my dress!”
The wolf circled me in excitement not understanding my annoyance. After all he had done a good job. Glancing up I saw the streak marks of blood from where he dragged the old lady back into her closet. I could almost still hear her screaming.
Grinning down at the wolf I ran my hand through the fur on his head to let him know he had done a good job. Then I went over to the table where I treated myself to another cookie. Taking the cookie in my hand I kneeled to the floor.
“Who’s the big bad wolf?” I cooed adoringly while he chomped on the cookie.
Standing I grew serious. I knew I needed to clean us up so we could move onto the next town. Grabbing the bucket I got to work washing the blood out of my dress and out of the wolf’s fur. This was his favorite part and I regretted having to rush it, but I knew in the end it would be worth it. Tomorrow I would give him a bath in the river which he loved even more so.
By the time I was done cleaning us up it was only a few hours till nightfall. Perfect! I collected the woman’s jewelry and money then locked up the house. We left without a sound. The townsfolk she lived with may discover her in a few days but by that time we would be long gone and over the mountains.
Just barely off the farm I turned to the wolf standing expectantly at my feet. I took my big red bow and tied my hair up in it while thinking of how we were going to pull this off with the next lady. A part of me wanted to shake things up a bit. Decidedly I shrugged the idea off and commanded him to follow and just like always he slunk off into the shadows where he watched me waiting for my next command.
We walked for a few hours and as the sunset started to peak I realized we had reached the edge of the town. This is when I started to run. I ran as fast as I could and I could hear a large animal following me. I let myself play up some fear in my stomach and let it make my breath ragged. Collapsing in front of the closest house I knocked urgently on the door. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw the big bad wolf circling at the edge of the forest.
The door flung open and a kind old lady stared at me bewildered. I jumped up, breathing heavy, innocently reaching for her hand.
“Please, I was just on my way to my Father’s house, but…” I pointed with a shaky hand to the shadow lurking in the bushes. “I think I’m being followed!”
The woman took in my big round blue eyes and my beautiful long hair tied up in my bow. She melted immediately at my frightened state.
“Oh you poor thing!” The old woman gasped, and took my hand. She pulled me inside and wrapped me in a blanket before setting me in her big arm chair. “You can stay here for the night!”
The house was warm and smelled of sweets. The room I was in was softly lit with candles and it gave me a sense of safety.
“Is there anything I can get you sweetheart? Cookies?” The old lady looked kindly at me. I got the sense that she was excited to not be alone. That maybe her children and grandchildren were all grown and no longer came to visit her.
I looked up into her smiling wrinkled face, “Oh that sounds great! Thank you so much Missus…?”
She turned around to go into the kitchen, “Call me Grandma!”
A grin stretched across my face, stretching it tight. I glanced out the window to the quickly darkening sky. “Thank you Grandma…”