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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 8: June 2021
Micro-Fiction: 361 words
By Susan Hatters Friedman

Gretel and Hansel, Retold in What-ifs


What if: houses were made of Kinder chocolate with Haribo gummy roofs for children, and of Godiva chocolates with Ladurée French jelly roofs for grown-ups? But only if one ventured deep into the woods?

What if: it never ever rained in the forest, and yet the trees and flowers and animals still thrived, and these houses of sweets never became heaping puddles of confectionary sugar?

What if: it wasn’t only witchy little old lady cannibals who lived in these houses made of lollies, even if witches could never get diabetes?

What if: the woodcutter’s second wife had not told her husband to “desert” Hansel and Gretel in the forest, but instead had told him to give his children “dessert”?

What if: starving delirious children searching in a forest for the mirage of food found a house of truffles, but the truffles were actually mushroom truffles not Lindor truffles and they ran away as fast as their little legs could carry them, not even taking time to notice the bones of the children who had gone before?

What if: instead of killing the old witch by tricking her into climbing into the oven, Gretel had slipped some poisonous mushrooms into the witch’s brew, and the witch had rather fallen into a deep slumber, allowing Gretel and Hansel to escape without necessitating that Gretel commit murder—which even when done in self-defense can still cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which is not something a poor left-for-dead-by-her-father girl should be made to experience?

What if: the witch didn’t need to feast on children at all because she lived in a society that had national healthcare and social services, which were for impoverished cannibals and poor deserted children alike?

What if: Hansel and Gretel didn’t return to live happily ever after with their woodcutter father—their only remaining parent, who was the same father who had purposely abandoned them in the forest so that they would starve to death or be eaten by wolves—and instead the two took the treasure of gold coins and precious gems pillaged from the witch, and went to live with their quirky great-aunt Frieda?

Susan Hatters Friedman
Issue 8, June 2021

is a psychiatrist specializing in maternal mental health and forensic psychiatry. She studied satire writing with the Second City. Her recent creative work can be read in The Dillydoun Review and Love in the Time of Covid Chronicle, and is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys.

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