Long before the children would shed their gender conforming names and escape their provincial village, the two siblings endured a tortuous childhood of stifling convention. The children’s mother called her son Hansel, a ‘healthy eater’ and her daughter, Gretel, a ‘little piggy.’ Their father clapped Hansel on his meaty back and offered him a stein of the family pilsner, while their mother showed Gretel how to polish the silver and iron the wrinkles out of lederhosen.
One day when the children’s father was at the pretzel factory and their mother was busy churning butter, Gretel went to Hansel’s room to borrow a hammer and steal some of his chocolate. Hansel always seemed to have chocolate stashed around his room. When Gretel pushed open the door, she found her brother dressed in an elaborate dirndl. He was radiant, and at that moment, Gretel knew they were destined for better lives.
As their authentic identities emerged from saccharine chrysalides, it was “Auf wiedersehen!” to Hansel & Gretel and “Willkommen!” to Xan & Grit. The children immediately began scanning Rolf’s List for a place where they could no longer pretend. After several weeks of searching, Grit spotted an intriguing ad:
“Do you want to get away from it all?
Do you like unlimited candy?
Are you open to creative architecture?
If you’re willing to put in a little sweat equity for free room and board,
then please call 1-800-EAT-SWEET.
This is a stigma-free cottage.”
As soon as she finished reading, Grit circled the ad and thrust it in front of her brother’s Black Cherry mascara painted eyes.
“Vut do you tink?” she asked, unable to hide her excitement.
“Vut’s not to like?” Xan replied, spinning so his skirt fluttered upward in the cool Bavarian breeze.
Coleman Bigelow’s stories have appeared recently in Bending Genres, Bright Flash Literary Review, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Free Flash Fiction, and The Dead Mule School. You can find more at: www.colemanbigelow.com or on Twitter: @colemanbigelow or IG: @cbigswrites