Wyld FLASH – 9 October 2020
Granny hasn’t left her cottage in the woods since lockdown began, and your mum says, ‘She’ll be hungry, love. Take her a bite to eat; you know what she likes.’
Half an hour later, you’re skipping down the path into the forest with a basket of goodies over one arm, and your blood-red cloak flapping in a wind that’s grown teeth. As though on cue, he steps out from the trees with a piercing whistle. You step to the side to widen the gap to at least two metres, and hurry past.
‘Cheer up, love.’ He grins. “It’ll never happen.’
You keep your eyes fixed on the path that disappears between the trees and increase your pace, without a glance in his direction.
Rule number one: don’t make eye contact.
He follows, of course, overtakes and steps in front of you, his lantern jaw thrust proudly out and one hand on his hip, drawing attention to the over-sized chopper hanging from his belt.
‘You know, you’re prettier when you smile, Red. You should smile more.’
You want to tell him that your smile is not his to demand but you know from past encounters with his kind that your best course of action is to pretend you don’t hear him. You dart around him and continue on your way. He calls out and you have to wonder why he’s still following, if you’re as fat and ugly as his petulant shouts claim, but you stay quiet.
Rule number two: don’t let them see you react.
When his insults turn to threats, you start to run. He crashes through the trees in pursuit.
Rule number three: don’t let them catch you.
By the time you reach Granny’s cottage, it’s close to dark. The wolf lies in wait on the porch.
You lay the basket on the step and sit down to catch your breath.
‘Mum said you’d be hungry.’
‘Did you have any trouble getting here?’ she asks, nosing through the basket.
‘There was a woodcutter,’ you say. ‘He followed me.’
Granny growls low and raises her hackles as he steps out from the trees.
‘Good girl,’ she says. ‘I’m sick of soup.’
Author Bio: Cheryl Sonnier lives in Leeds with her husband and two cats. She is studying for an MFA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and her short fiction has appeared in Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, Plasma Frequency, Dark Futures, QWF and Roadworks.
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