A Tale From a Yellow Wood
The small child toddled between the towering trees,
humming and laughing in anticipation. Her red cloak
made her conspicuous in the yellow wood, as it did
most everywhere. Her beloved brother had given her
this cloak of fine red velvet many years ago, and he
had smiled when he saw his sister's face light up with
joy. She wore it always, and the whole village knew
her by it. She was her brother's sister, in a cloak as
red as his hair.
She had a long way to get to him; the trails in the
yellow wood were long and winding. He was far from her
no matter what she did, a fact which broke the small
child's heart. However, she was nothing if not
tenacious. Today she brought him a little yellow
basket full of sweets, enough-the child thought-to
sweeten his jaded heart. She brought him a fresh pie
full of hope, bottles of candied dreams, porridge
mixed with cinnamon and bliss, and an aged red wine as
intoxicating as love itself.
"Good morn to you, poppet," a deep, slow voice spoke.
His movements were languid and graceful, like a cat.
"What would you be doing all alone in the woods?"
"I'm to visit my brother, good wolf," she said with a
smile, putting down her basket. He crouched down and
put his arm around her, the girl suddenly feeling coy.
"Be sure you don't get lost, poppet," he said. She
could not turn away from his emerald eyes. "The woods
are thick indeed."
"I will, good wolf." She giggled, cheeks pink.
He smiled. "And be wary of the animals that make the
woods their home. Many a creature would like to have a
sweet little girl like you as their supper." He
propped up her chin with his long dark fingers. He
moved closer, almost nuzzling her neck. She was frozen
and flustered. "Yes...a tender little poppet like you
would finely slake an animal's hunger." He breathed
deeply, then sighed against her skin. Her eyes were
half-lidded. He stroked his long fingers slowly over
her neck, grinning widely. "I bet you taste just like
He immediately moved away, rising to his full height.
"Well then, I wouldn't want your dear brother to worry
about you." That remark made him smile. "You best be
on your way, poppet." With that, the wolf walked off,
the girl watching him as he went.
"What a strange wolf," she muttered to herself,
looking to her side for her basket. All that met her
eyes was the dusty trail. "What..." she said,
startled, "My basket...my yellow basket is gone!" She
stood there for a moment, the shock of the deed
registering in the small child's mind. "It...it
couldn't have been the wolf, could it? No, no, he was
so helpful and kind! It must have been...it must have
been the witch! That terrible witch!"
Her brows furrowed when she remembered the woman who
lived near her cottage. The girl had once peered into
the witch's home in the forest-as any curious child
would do-only to see the entire cottage covered in
animals. They growled and began to chase her, the
little girl running home in tears. From then on the
animals didn't love her as they should, but she could
see them following the witch wherever she went. The
witch would always smile to her and entice her with
apples and strange drinks. However, the little girl
knew. She knew about the strange rituals in the
forest, where a circle of men would gather round her
and the witch would take off her kerchief and unbind
"She...she stole it from me! She stole my love, my
hope, my happiness, my candied dreams!" The girl
stomped her foot, sobbing as she repeated, "The witch
stole my basket! She stole my little yellow basket!"
She knew it would take her all day to have those
goodies made again, and certainly more to weave a
basket. Her brother was expecting her today. She could
not buy any of it from the market, since she only had
three farthings in her little red cloak. She sobbed
and trudged along the path, knowing she had no choice
but to come to her beloved brother empty-handed. What
would he think, what would he do when she told him the
witch stole her basket? Would he even believe her? She
remembered him talking to the witch once, before he
left to live far past the woods. The little girl
gasped. Had the witch put a spell on her brother? She
hadn't truly talked to her brother in so long, she
could not be sure. Her memories of him were scattered
and idealized patch-work.
She finally reached her brother's cottage. It was
large but unfamiliar to her, a place so distant that
she felt always like a guest. She knocked on the door,
sobbing, "Big brother! Big brother!"
"Come in," a voice said, familiar yet strange. She
opened the door, big fat tears rolling down her
cheeks. "Big brother! I had a yellow basket full of
sweets for you, but the witch stole it from me! The
witch stole it from me, big brother!"
He turned to her from his position in the chair. She
stopped crying suddenly, her entire body frozen as she
stared at him. He was so like she remembered, but so
like the wolf. He grinned at her leeringly. Although,
with her memory, she could never be sure that he had
actually been this way all along.