Henschel

Sixty years ago, I had an adventure in the nearby forest. Time and saliva have stirred up many versions, and I have also participated in them. The story has been said and said, now that I am old, it is better to go back to the source. Those stones, glass, chimneys and hard candies gleamed in the dark, brightening the memory.

I am Henschel. I was twelve years old in the year of the great famine, the age of appetite. I also have a younger sister, and we have two children at home. It is difficult to feed just two. That night, I was too hungry to sleep, and heard the stepmother talking to my father, she was going to throw us into the forest and fend for itself. It had been once before, in the middle of the night, when I heard these words, I slipped out overnight and picked up a lot of small white round stones. The next day I threw them away to mark them, and then took my sister back home with the white stones illuminated by the moonlight. They will do it again this time. Thinking about it now, I don’t blame them. If I don’t leave my sister and me, the whole family will starve to death. That woman has no feelings for our brothers and sisters, and it is normal to blame us for grabbing food. Even at the time, I didn’t blame them, I just felt bored. Later, I heard my father arguing with his stepmother. He was really reluctant to let us go. In the end, they gave way to each other. They decided to keep his sister and she ate less.

I remember that night the moonlight pierced through the window and painted my sister’s sleeping face. Hunger didn’t make her skinny. Her apple blush was bright and her eyelashes were moist and creamy. Father and that woman are right. I am already a big man and I don’t need them to feed. I’m going to try my luck in the forest. Thinking of this, I don’t plan to go out and pick any white stones. In fact, they are so stupid. If I want to go home, I can find a thousand ways to not get lost.

So I was the only one who was thrown in the forest the next day, not me and my sister as in most versions of the legend. I certainly don’t want my sister to be there.

That day my father and stepmother took me away from home, and my sister was forced to stay at home. I kept stopping on the road, looking back at the door. The sun hit the chimney, splashing eyes hurt, my little white cat squatted by the chimney, or maybe my little turtledove. My sister looked at me from behind the window. In the morning, I secretly stuffed a small piece of bread into her skirt, wondering if she found it. Now that he is determined to go to the forest, a small piece of bread is no better than nothing. The woman kept urging me not to stop. This was the only place I was angry with her. I was not so angry when she wanted to throw me into the forest.

When I got to a place with dense trees in the forest, the two of them made a fire to let me rest, and left with the excuse that I wanted to cut wood. I knew they would not come to pick me up, but I decided to wait until the evening. I’m asleep, so I won’t be hungry when I fall asleep. When I woke up, the moonlight extinguished the fire, and I walked deeper into the forest…

It’s time to escape.

Suddenly something woke up the eyes, with colorful flashes, hanging above the grass in front. I staggered out of the woods, chasing after the candy. When I licked it up, I realized that it was a window, but it was too late to withdraw my tongue.

Before fainting, I heard an exclamation.

When I opened my eyes, a pair of blue eyes came close to my face, many freckles. Seeing me open my eyes, this face retreated suddenly. I found myself lying on a small bed and immediately sat up. Sitting on the edge of the bed was a young woman with red hair. She was more beautiful than I had ever seen before. Even her sister might not be so beautiful when she grows up.

“Who are you?” “Who are you?” It’s hard to tell who asked first. I closed my mouth and waited for an answer, but she didn’t speak again.

“Why are you licking my window?” she asked after a while.

“Oh, I see the window as candy.” I replied lightly.

“Seems like candy?”

“Yes, these days, I always think about building a house with bread, biscuits for the roof, and sugar for the windows.”

“Oh? That’s a good idea.” She turned her head slightly, holding her mouth with a half smile, with a strange expression, and she pulled out a witch’s face. They are rumored to be secretive, good at magic, and eat children. It is also heard that witches are not far away from us. Some women we knew or indirectly knew were identified as witches before. They were finally tied to the stake and burned to death by villagers.

This woman lives in such a deep forest, and the house has rare stained glass windows. Isn’t she a witch? It’s best to leave quickly. I turned and got out of bed, but as soon as I got up, I sat down again. “Are you hungry? I’ll get you something to eat.” The woman said that she got up and walked out, which temporarily covered my fear.

After a while, she brought in a large tray with milk and sugar pancakes, apples and walnuts. She didn’t eat with me, these are all mine. She put the tray on the table and went out. I ate sugar pancakes first, and I couldn’t swallow them. Then I drank a few mouthfuls of milk. I kept the apples for the last and the walnuts stuffed into my pocket.

My belly was finally full, and I squeezed in when I was sleepy, and I fell asleep on a small bed.

The dream didn’t bother me, but the smell of toast woke me up. Outside the window, it was pitch-dark, and the fire in the fireplace “gurgled”, boiling a room of warm red. The scent of slowness is hidden in the sheets, and the smell of bread in the house can’t be suppressed. I didn’t know where I was for a while, and when I remembered the red-haired woman, I hurriedly lifted the blanket and jumped to the ground. Go or not? My stomach seems hungry again, so I decided to go to the kitchen first.

Following the scent of bread and going out the door to the left, there is a small house on the corner of the main house. A big chimney is erected at the intersection of the two houses, and a plump buttocks in the window of the house is pouting in front of the oven. I walked to the half-open door, probably hearing the movement, she straightened up and turned around, “You are up!” she greeted, a few strands of hair stuck to her red face.

“Yeah.” I replied softly.

“Come in.”

I walked in, thinking about what to say, “Are you baking bread?”

“Hmm! Oversized and oversized bread!”

“Do we eat bread tonight?” I regretted it after I said it.

“No, this is not what we want to eat at night”, I regret it even more, “We have broth at night.”

broth! I haven’t eaten meat for two years, and she actually has broth! She has bread, milk, apples, walnuts, and broth! She must be a witch, but what about a witch, even if the bread is made from frogs, and even if the meat is made from poisonous mushrooms.

“Wait a minute, the bread will be ready immediately.” She bent down and pushed her butt up again to work in front of the oven. When she stood up, there were three more loaves on the tray in her hand, each of which was big enough for us. The whole family ate for a week. These breads looked thick and hard, dark and porcelain in color. She put them directly on the ground, and indeed they couldn’t be put on the table. Then she put some fermented dough into the big oven.

“Shall we have dinner now, are you hungry?”

I am embarrassed to have a second meal like this, and secretly hope that she will order her to leave. But like I have lived here for a long time, she naturally sat at the dining table, with another chair empty, and a pot of broth was placed in front of each.

Outside the house, the wind drove the trees and waves. I scooped up half a spoon of broth. The black waves hit the doors and windows, and the gravy soaked my tongue. The candlelight dyed a circle of safe territory. At this moment, I am in this territory, but what about after dinner?

“Don’t you like it?” she asked. I realized that I was pulling a small piece of meat on the plate.

“It seems that I still haven’t found the right way.” She stared at the meat and said.

“What method?” I asked.

“The way to make this kind of meat.” She frowned slightly, still staring at the meat.

“‘This meat? What kind of meat?”

“Um…you don’t want to know.” She lifted half of her face, eyes curled from under her forehead, revealing a faint smile.

The piece of meat in his mouth was immediately difficult to swallow, and he wanted to vomit it but didn’t dare to swallow it abruptly.

“Why did you come to this forest?” She stuffed a piece of meat into her mouth if nothing had happened.

“There is no food at home. There is a famine in the village.”

“Oh? Famine?” She looked over me and looked into the distance. “What about your family?”

“They are starving to death. I also have a younger sister. It would be better to eat less at home.”

She retracted her gaze, took a look at me, then lowered her head to fork a piece of meat into her mouth, chewed it carefully, staring at her plate and said: “You can stay, I just lack a helper.”

At the time, I had no choice. I am grateful to her for giving me a reason to stay. “My name is Henschel,” I said.

She looked up: “You can call me Gretel.”

Gretel, this is her name. Even though I am now eighty years old and my memory has deteriorated severely, I still remember her name as Gretel. People put this name on my sister in the later version of the legend, and the story about me even had a name-“Henschel and Gretel”. The stories have been heard so much that I often confuse her face with my sister’s apple face. But now, when I swim next to her in the dark river of memory, her name, Ge, Wright, and the crisp syllables, are like the little white stone I threw on the road, emitting light and illuminating her with a clear outline. s face.

That night I slept on the dining table, guarding the hot toaster oven, she told me to bake one oven and then the other oven, the fire was not extinguished, the baked bread piled on the ground. I don’t know if she bake so many rusks, but there is something to do to make me sleep more secure, I try not to think about whether myself lying on the table will become bacon on a slice of her bread.

When I woke up the next day, the first thing I saw was an ass wrapped in a big shawl and pulled out a round bread. She was checking the stove, and I jumped off the table and stood beside a pile of bread on the floor. When she heard the movement, she turned around and said to me: “Ah, are you awake? It’s time to get up, we still have a lot of things.”

Her red hair hung unkemptly around her waist, and her shawl slid to the side. Thinking about it now, she should be only in her twenties. But at the time, I didn’t know the age of a woman very well, and the red hair even disturbed my judgment.

“Bread—they are all here,” I said, combing my hair with my hands.

“Oh, I saw it. We have to bake bread today and bake it all day.” She seemed to be giving orders, but her tone seemed to be spitting out a little secret.

Over the next few days we bake bread day and night, and the kitchen is full, so she asked me to move the bread outside the house. These breads are as hard as stones when left overnight. We don’t eat these breads. We have sugar pancakes and meat every day. I tried to peek at the raw materials of those meats, but I didn’t see a piece in the kitchen. At dinner time, the meat is ready and put on the table. I dare not stop eating it. The taste is indeed getting better and better. I try not to think too much about it.

I already have a plan. In the past two days, while carrying bread, I secretly hid a few and placed them under a spruce tree not far from the house. I dug a hole in the ground, put the bread in it, covered it with stones, and covered it with leaves. In two days, when I fully recovered, I took bread and ran home, which should be enough for the whole family to survive the famine. I was worried that the bread would be eaten by birds or other animals, but I found that the bread that was exposed in the open space outside the house was intact for many days. It is probably protected by some magic, which is convenient for me. I carefully conceived every part of the escape. I would wrap the bread in the cloth spread on the large dining table, put a burden on my back, and go back at night. The kitchen has a separate door to the outside, and the moon can show me the way.

The bread outside the house formed a small hill, and Gretel moved out several large pots of honey. She was laying the bread together with honey like a wall in the west end of her house. Seeing me stupefied, her freckles fluttered: “You said, you want to use bread to build a room, and make biscuits. The roof, sugar windows, I will cover them for you.”

When she did these things, the hem of her skirts swelled and they swayed from one end to the other. The sun of late autumn poured on her, her red hair burning. She wouldn’t let me help, letting the amber honey drip onto her skirt, and she would put her fingers in her mouth and take a few mouthfuls from time to time.

She directed me to pick some berries in the forest, and on the way I hesitated whether to take the opportunity to escape. The look she built this house scared me. Maybe it was not her look, but the idea of ​​building this house. But the bread I hid and brought home was not far from where she was busy and couldn’t take it out. Moreover, now I can honestly say (I am not afraid to tell the truth when I grow old), I really want to see what the house looks like.

Gretel built four walls in a few days, leaving a space in the south wall for the door. This hut is side by side with Gretel’s house, a sparse forest not far to the west, Gretel’s house on the east, a shared grassland in front of the house, and dense forest after a few steps. The bread wall is about the size of a room in my house, enough for a table and a small bed.

Once the oven was empty, Gretel began to bake biscuits. I can help. Each biscuit was as big as a table top. She put a lot of butter on it, saying that the roof could be waterproof. She brought up the ladder to build the roof, and I was responsible for carrying the cookies underneath. She used an extremely hard long bread stick as the main beam, and a shorter bread stick as the rafters. She layered the biscuits on top of each other, and glued them with jam. The roof was built, and her skirt swayed over my head, mixed with jam and vanilla.

Back on the ground, she boiled the berries I picked in a big pot, filtered out the impurities, and left the slurry, then added sugar and boiled it. The red syrup was boiled with bubbles, making sugar light, sweet and sticky.

She poured the syrup into containers of various shapes to cool and solidify, dug out the corresponding shape on the bread wall, and embedded the sugar cubes into the wall. The room has windows, translucent orange-red, east, west, south, and north walls. A large piece, namely a circle, a star, a square, and a rectangular vaulted top, beckoned my saliva brightly, and my sister’s, if she saw these windows. Ever since we tasted hard candy on that Christmas day, my sister always pointed to the window and asked me if it was candy. I told her to lick it, and she giggled.

“You said, what is the door made of?” Gretel’s voice came, she was not in front of me. At that time I was standing in the middle of the house, the sun was baking the roof and walls, and the aroma was transpiring. I almost want to hit the wall with my head and become a kernel embedded in the bread. The warm and thick bread wall will definitely catch me and wrap me deep…

“Use cheese, I want to use a large piece of dry cheese for the door!” I shouted.

“Are you talking about dry cheese? You answered exactly the same thing as my bird.”

I heard a series of laughs. Looking out through the doorway, she was standing in front of a tree with a snow-white bird on the branch, which called to Gretel with a very nice voice. Gretel nodded frequently, turned his face and yelled at me: “Fin said, oh, he is Fin,” she pointed to the bird, “Fin said, this room lacks a cheese door!” It turned out that she was asking for the opinion of a bird, a bird with a name. I hid in the shadows inside the house.

“Henschel, come out and meet my friend, he happened to be here.” Gretel’s voice was so loud, I had to go out.

“This is Fein, this is Henschel.” She introduced us to each other. I hesitated whether to whistle or imitate a bird call, but the other party nodded at me first and let out a sweet cry.

“Before you came, I only had this friend,” she said to me, “Fin, he always flies here every few days to chat with me.”

She understands bird language, and it seems that she doesn’t want to hide her identity as a witch anymore. I try to appear calm: “Oh, your friend is so beautiful.”

“Well, he is very…” She covered her mouth and smiled, “Pretty.”

The bird flapped its wings and cried several times, and stopped on her shoulder.

“Well, he is actually a gentleman, so if you say he is handsome, he will be happier.” Gretel smiled more vigorously. I can see that she is in a good mood, “When I put the door on, you can live in.”

“Let me? You mean me? Live in?” This sentence suffocated again. Since childhood, I rarely faced such kindness, and I could only be silent.

Gretel didn’t say anything, Fein left soon, and I didn’t go into the bakery that day. At night I slept on the kitchen table, closed my eyes but couldn’t stop my thoughts. I will live in a house full of food, oh, no, it cannot be called “all food”. The house itself is food, unlike this table, which can only support food, then I will be able to live in the food” “! I’ve never been so close to food, I really want to live in now. Oh, no, I shouldn’t be fooled. Maybe it’s a witch’s trick. Adults have always warned me… Maybe I can stay in that house for a few days and then leave for a few days, maybe I can live until spring… …No, the family is still waiting for me to get the bread back. No, no one at home is waiting for me, except my sister. But after so many days, she may not wait for me to go back, but I should go back, otherwise they might starve to death. But what about Gretel? She specially built a room for me, and which witch would work hard to build such a room specifically for children, besides, I am not a child anymore. She treated me like this, how could I leave without saying goodbye…

In this way, I fell asleep and thought, and fell asleep until I was interrupted by a bird call, and the sound hurried across the eaves. The sky was twilight outside the window. I heard Gretel getting up, she opened the door and ran out. I got up, and through the window saw her with red hair and bare feet running behind a white bird. If she hadn’t had these crazy behaviors, I sighed to myself.

After a while, she ran back. I just walked to the door of the kitchen. I bumped into her and rushed in. I took my arm and walked out. The strength was so strong that I couldn’t stop, so I was dragged to the door of the bakery. Was pushed in. I staggered a few steps to stand firmly, and as soon as I turned around, I saw her throwing a big buzzing object from the door, and I raised my hand to cover it. Looking at it with concentration, it turned out to be a honeycomb full of bees, clawed on the upper edge of the doorway, dragged down to block the entire doorway, and the honey was flowing. The frightened bee swarms flying around, and a few sting me.

Panic, anger, fear, and pain, these complex situations actually calmed me down. I dared not get close to the door where the bees were flying, and stopped for a while and walked to the window beside the door. The transparency of the window was not so good. I could only faintly see Gretel’s red hair spreading into a circle of flames. Obviously, she also saw me. Just listen to her loudly saying word by word: “I, Gretel, swear by the god of service of the witch, you, Henschel, will become my dish after eating the last crumb in this room. Chinese food.”

Her remarks finally made my retrospective version and the legendary version intersect-witch, bakery in the forest, eating children. They are two swords in a duel, and the sharpness of memory guides me on.

At first, I was enveloped by various stories of witches eating children, and I leaned against the wall and cried. This vicious witch! It’s finally true! I should have run away sooner! The day was better. At night, the room was dark. I shrank in the corner of the room and imagined myself being pushed into the bread oven to be cooked, or not roasting. I remembered the meat of unknown origin that I often eat.

There are even more unspeakable troubles that cannot be solved in this food building. The next morning, just as I was holding back sweating, with a “bang”, a hole was knocked open in the north wall, and a thick tree trunk was inserted horizontally. The tree trunk is hollow. I don’t know where the other end leads. I crawled in with my cat waist and climbed for an estimated 20 meters. I saw a little light, and the end was sealed. Connected by a deep pit, I immediately understood its purpose. This temporarily solved my problem, and also knew that she did not intend to let me out.

I crawled back and sat down against the wall. The gate is occupied by the honeycombs, the bees crawling intensively, it is difficult to get close, and those bread walls are desperate. It took a long time for me to understand the meaning of her words.

After building a tree tunnel for me, Gretel has no news. Hunger made me think of the house. The walls are too hard and the roof should be good. The honey is too wasteful to flow on the ground. If I can drink a few mouthfuls… I suddenly remembered her words, “After eating the last one When the bread crumbs, it will become my dish.” She just waited for me to eat this house before doing it. Why is it so troublesome? Is it more delicious to fatten me up, or is it just more fun?

Thinking of this, I went to desperation in advance.

At first I would rather starve to death than fulfill her wish. However, anyone who has experienced a famine knows that hunger will not only take you away, but also everything around you, light, air, and ground. The four-walled bread was approaching. I raised my head and the biscuit ceiling was on the tip of my nose. I finally pulled off a piece of bread and chewed it on the third day after being locked in.

Every time I tear down a wall, I think about the ending, but I still can’t help but want to eat, not only to eat, but also to drink. The hard bread absorbed my remaining saliva, and the honey juice of the black-brown bees at the door glowed. I took off my clothes and covered my head, walked over lightly, blowing open a handful of bees to reveal a corner of the hive, breaking it hard. The next piece quickly retreated. Ignoring the bee that came after it, I put the whole piece into my mouth and sucked. The honey sticking to my finger was used to smear the stinged place, and the pain soon disappeared.

Since sooner or later I have to eat up the house, escape is the only option.

The bread wall is too thick and tastes like a wall. It’s enough to eat too much. The roof is high and it is inconvenient to dismantle. There are holes on the edge of the bee door, and there are always bees squeezing in and out, but those holes do not lead to freedom except for ventilation. The weakest part of the whole house is the windows, but the windows are not thin. If you can still hope in the sun in summer, now you are walking in the cold. The windows are freezing hard, you can only rely on licking, and your tongue will tingle after a while. . If I keep eating sugar, my sense of taste will diminish and the taste will not be good. This is something I never thought of before. It seemed that she had enough patience to escape, and prayed that the witch would not change her mind halfway.

I plan to eat a list of rock climbing footholds on all four walls, which means to chisel a piece of bread down, and then chisel a piece of it up as a foothold, and so on, to make a path to reach the roof. Then you can eat the wall and the roof, and occasionally lick the window, and escape from wherever one breaks first.

One day, I was licking the south window. Recently, I specialize in this area. The thinning of the window can collect more sunlight and it will not be too cold at night. I always feel that something is shaking on the other side of the window, which adds to my interest. I licked in and out, the area of ​​my tongue was very small, and my head had to swing along with it. Suddenly a red, flexible thing threw it from the other side of the window. I retracted my tongue and looked away. It turned out to be a tongue, scraping the window up and down. It was soft and damp, and it became more red through the light red candy. I couldn’t help but put the tip of my tongue up, but the tongue disappeared, and Gretel’s voice came from that end: “The window is too thick, I can’t see you clearly. You have to thin the other three pieces like this, but not too much. Thin. I warn you, don’t want to escape through the window, I’m just outside, you can’t escape.”

I didn’t feel much depressed when I heard these words. I stuck to the thinnest part and looked out, ignoring the sticky window to the hair on my forehead. Gretel was standing outside the window with his back to me, his hair redder.

One evening, I stared at the nest of bees in a trance–the bees no longer buzzed and flew recently, but hugged them tightly—suddenly heard Gretel’s voice: “Henschel, come here.” I followed the voice. Running to the star-shaped window to the west, Gretel said outside the window: “Show me your fingers.” I raised my index finger of my right hand to the window in confusion, “Get closer!” she shouted. I put my finger on the window, and her face came over, her face deformed terribly through the concave mirror, “Why are you still so thin, hurry up and eat more, I can’t wait.” After she finished speaking, she said for a while. Weird laugh ran away.

Looking at my fingers and trying to understand her words, I couldn’t help but get angry, my face was hot and my eyes swelled. I’ve had enough. “You eat me now! Come on!” I shouted.

There was a burst of laughter from far to near: “But you are not fat enough,” the voice was full of joking, “I’m not in a hurry, you are in a hurry!”

“Bad witch! Old witch! Fortunately, I believed you at first!” I clenched my fist and slammed on the window. All the panic, anger, hope and nostalgia that I had swallowed during this period of time all regurgitated and vomited. Despite my yelling and screaming, there was no reaction outside. After shouting for a while, I slid down against the wall helplessly and tiredly, and squatted on the ground. For a long time, a cold voice came: “Did you believe me in the first place?”

I was speechless for a while. I thought about the wording: “Yes, at first I thought that even if you were a witch, you were a kind witch, otherwise I would have run away. But I didn’t expect you to eat people like all witches.”

“Run? Didn’t you always intend to do this? It’s just that you haven’t saved enough bread.” She sneered a few times.

Store bread? I suddenly understood that she had discovered the bread I had hidden.

Gretel is angry with me. This gave me hope, propped up my limp body and stood up.

“Sorry, I don’t want to lie to you, you know, I have a younger sister who is going to starve to death, you know, I don’t want to lie to you.” I whispered.

Gretel ignored me. Looking at the crumbs that had just been mad, I made a decision. I strode to the hole in the north wall that was about to be dug through, lifted off the hidden crust, and kicked it out.

A big hole appeared in the wall, and the cold air rushed in, making his feet hurt. I stood in place, waiting.

Gretel’s footsteps stopped in front of the cave, and a few yellow daisies were embroidered on the hem of the black skirt.

We couldn’t see each other’s face, we stood there and didn’t speak. Suddenly, it was dark. I went back to the corner of the room, curled up and closed my eyes, leaving my ears to watch.

Gretel left. Is she betting that I dare not run away on this winter night? I hold my arms tightly.

Gretel’s footsteps were approaching again, and I quickly closed my eyes. “Puff”, with a sound, something was thrown in. I didn’t look over until Gretel had left. It was a piece of animal skin that was faintly discernible under the thin light. I covered it on my body.

I woke up very late the next day, and the first thing I saw was the animal skin. It was a whole fox skin with the fox face still hanging on it. I put on a fox skin and wandered around the house, and found that the hole I kicked last night was actually blocked.

The blood rushed to my face, and I ran over. Butter is blocking the hole, and the milky nose is scented in the sunshine in the afternoon, and the finger is soft and soft. I relax, pick a piece of butter, spread it on the dry bread and eat it.

The wall gets thinner and thinner. I have to pay attention to the rate of consumption of the walls to ensure that the roof does not tilt. Before the climbing points on the four walls disappear, I must eat the roof and the top of the wall that is out of reach on the floor.

When spring comes, there is only a circle of shells that are as high as a person in the house-the roof is completely eaten, and there is still a layer of bread crust on the four walls. The bees are basically flying out to work, the honeycomb is crumbling, and the sugar windows are still exposed during the day. Prison, it may fall at any time at night. As for the hole filled with butter, it has been eaten up and refilled several times.

On a windy night, the vaulted window fell to the ground and broke. The next day, I simply removed the remaining three pieces. The weather is already very warm, Gretel comes to the window hole every afternoon to check my fingers. Now, the room has a good view, and I can see Gretel haunting the surrounding area. Little White Bird Fein often comes to visit her, and occasionally stops at the window to say hello. Gretel’s skirt is thinning, and the wind will lift her skirt. Sometimes she disappeared into the forest behind the house wearing an animal skin, and would come back later with a deer, a wolf or something. She grilled these meats on the grass in front of my door. When she ate these meats, she didn’t forget to say to me: “You get fat quickly. I’m tired of eating these animals.”

The room continued to fade, only the door swelled. The honeycomb has doubled, the honey has become fragrant and sweet, and you can taste the smell of flowers. Gretel would come over with a jar from time to time and ask me to get some honey for her. I am very proficient in doing this now, and I can get it done after one or two stings at most.

At night, Gretel slept in a hammock. I slept on the ground with animal skins. There was a half-person-high wall between them—not so much a wall as a fence. Moonlight fell on the sugar window on the ground, and the window became a lamp. There was only one round window left, and the other three were eaten by me. The stars in the sky take us off the ground, and the nightingale sings in another time and space. Gretel told me that she came to the forest by herself when she was very young. She told me that she had caught a male deer the size of a house. She also mentioned Fein. With Fein, she would not forget Own language. Speaking of my sister, despite the famine, her small face is still like an apple. Usually this season, I would go swimming in the river, the small round stones on the shore were hot, and my sister hopped and dared to walk a few steps into the water… When I heard the roosters, the stars took back the gifts and I was thrown back. In place, Gretel also returned. She said that the witch’s vow is unbreakable, and she will fulfill her vow when the house is finished.

I should be scared, but it is not so in memory. Perhaps the fear is instant. When trapped in time, it loses its edges and corners, and it doesn’t hurt me today.

The four walls fell into four thresholds, the honeycomb collapsed, and the bees dispersed.

One morning, the last crust disappeared. Gretel was gone. I stood there, the hammock was empty, and her room was quiet. When it was dark, she was not seen coming out of the woods, and there was no light from her windows. I stood in place, and a round hard candy on the ground responded to the moonlight. The remaining small window supports the house of memories and imagination. I picked up the candy, wrapped a leaf into my pocket.

At dawn the next day, a little white bird flew over my head and circled, and I recognized it was Phine. He motioned for me to follow him. I thought for a while, walked to the original door, and stepped out. Looking back, the grassland is connected, covered with wildflowers, extending into the dense forest, and the sun stops there.

I turned and followed Fein, through the hammock, over the clearing, and into the woods. I don’t remember how long I walked, I only remember that I passed the river once in the middle, and the forest became more and more familiar in the future. When I passed the churchyard, I saw the stepmother’s tombstone, and my pace accelerated. Seeing the little white cat crouching by the chimney from a distance, I couldn’t help running. There was a person standing outside, wearing a skirt, and the setting sun poured the red that had been concentrated all day on her body, her hair seemed to be burning.

That is sister, that is Gretel.