Gretel sat on the damp forest floor, clenching her old blue dress which her mother had sewn for her while Hansel rested his head on her lap and a tiny tear droplet rolled down his cheek.
He opened his mouth and was barely able to let out the words, “I… I refuse to believe our father would abandon us and that too twice, just because our stepmother told him too. She must have done something, yes, she must have done something.”
Gretel looked down at him and her red eyes glistened in the moonlight as she mouthed the words, “He abandoned the two people he called his sunshine and to whom he read out bedtime stories, in a second, just for her,” through her clenched teeth.
Both the siblings woke up the next morning to the smell of candy and just like every other eight year old would do, they let it lead them to the most beautiful place they had ever seen. The door of the cottage was lined with candy corn and it took every bit of control they had, to resist stretching out their hands and plucking them out. The window was made of hardened sugar which shimmered in the sunlight and the roof consisted of mouth-watering chocolate wafers. They knocked on the door and to their surprise it was opened at the drop of a hat.
There, in front of them, stood an old lady dressed in a black dress with a hood. She opened her mouth displaying all her crooked teeth and said, “What do you two want?”
Gretel stammered, “We… we want a place to stay and we are willing to work for it.
“Come in then,” she said.
Some days passed and they both washed clothes, cooked and cleaned in exchange of shelter and food. They did not mind this lifestyle as long as it meant not going back to the forest although every now and then, Hansel and Gretel found themselves missing their bedtime stories, playing in their backyard and their father’s warm hugs but then they remembered he loved them just enough to leave them in the forest to get eaten by wolves.
They would often find the old lady staring longingly at them while they worked as if she wanted to comfort them. She would try to use few utensils and secretly cover Hansel and Gretel with a blanket after they had fallen asleep.
One day, the lady got really sick and as she lay on her bed, helpless, she saw Hansel and Gretel come in on their own with a bowl of hot chicken soup and medicine. Hansel fed her while Gretel kept the tablets in a little tray beside her, she gave them a faint smile and said, “Let’s hire some help.”
This is when they all knew that after everything they had been through, they had a chance at happiness and a family after all. They had found their sunshine, and for real this time.