This is my version of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ as worked from the breakdown I posted the other day.
She runs, hardly able to see. The darkness around her is oppressive and bears down on her like a presence, always watching. She stumbles and falls to her knees, smelling the damp decay of the rotting leaves, sobbing as the foul mud oozes between her fingers. Trying to stay silent she pants her distress, listening for any pursuit. Finally she hears a crash behind her and the rumble of a growl so low and near that her blood freezes in her veins. Getting to her feet she winces as she places her weight on her right leg. Her knee is twisted. Limping, she realises that she has lost her sandal, the same one’s she had argued with her mother about that morning.
“You can’t wear them,” her mother had screamed at her.
Saffron had just sneered and walked out of the house.
“They aren’t suitable for the woods,” her mother had called out.
Now, having lost one and feeling the sharp undergrowth cutting into her sole, she wished she had listened, wished she had not gone into the wood and that she was back home. Instead she had done something bad, so very wrong and now they were after her.
She had found a house in the wood. Truthfully she was meant to be visiting a sickly aunt, eating cake and drinking too-sweet tea, but there had been a different path and she had no wish to sit in a dusty parlour smelling of old lavender, so she had followed it. The house had been quaint and cute, made of hewn wood and with flowered curtains at the windows. She had quickly found it locked but a stone and a good arm had sent glass tinkling to the floor and Saffron inside. She decided to have a good look round, she might even see a few valuables.
Unfortunately there hadn’t been any treasure but she had found food and a bed. She really hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but she had. And then they had come home.
As soon as the door had crashed open she knew there was something strange. Everyone in the village had told her about the monsters, hairy beasts that stood like men and would kill those who trespassed in their wood.
“Never take the left path,” people would whisper, but Saffron had forgotten. Why would she even bother to listen to the ordinary people? She was too beautiful to come to harm. Her father had always told her she was his little princess.
Now, limping though the mud, her golden hair hanging about her in limp rats-tails and her clothes in tatters, Saffron truly wished she had listened. She wished she were anywhere but in this wood.
Behind her she heard a snuffle and a low laugh. “Little girl, I can smell your fear.” The voice was close. Too close. Trying to increase her pace she turned sharply.
Behind her the child watched the stumbling girl. He never quiet understood why the pretty ones were so evil. His mum called them monsters and now this one had eaten their meal for today. He watched her stumble forward and slam into a tree. The sound was like a bat striking a barrel. She fell back, unmoving but with her eyes open. He walked over and stood above her looking down.
Saffron couldn’t see. She could only hear. She heard the thing come over and stand next to her. Just before she fell into a dark quiet place in her mind she heard the creature call out.
“Mummy. Daddy,” the child called. “I found her.”