That woodcutter is such a damn liar.
The way he told it, he busted into the house, found us gobbled up by a wolf, split the creature open, and out popped Granny and me.
Have you ever heard of such a thing? Wolves can get big, but they don’t unhinge their jaws and swallow people whole.
I’ll tell you what really happened. And by the way, my name is Camilla, after Granny’s granny. Call me that, please.
About six months ago, the woodcutter sauntered into the village acting like he was the Goddess’ gift to humanity, with his rippling biceps and a tree log on his shoulder. He tossed it onto the ground and announced that he was – direct quote here –“Open for business.”
The second he stepped into the tavern, the other girls were all over him, but I was busy doing real work. My parents died a couple years back, so at sixteen, I was running my mom’s tailoring business. That day, I had a bunch of orders, and I was off to…
You know what? It doesn’t matter.
The point is, I was wearing my red dress, the one that some of my neighbors think is too risque. Apparently it caught the woodcutter’s eyes because he followed me into the general store. Even if the neckline is too low – and that’s a big if: you should see some of the styles in the city – that didn’t give him the right to grope me.
So yes, I broke his nose.
After that, he started with the name. I still can’t figure out exactly what “Little Red Riding Hood” is supposed to mean, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lewd innuendo about my lady parts. You figure it out.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this whole thing. Breaking someone’s nose is a sure-fire way to guarantee their obsession with you. Every time he came through the village selling firewood, he tried to entice me into bed. The more he pressed, the less I was interested in him.
So on the day in question, Granny was sick. I spent the morning boiling down a chicken for broth and hand shaping her favorite flat noodles. When I trotted off down the path with my basket over an arm and my crossbow and arrows slung across my back, the woodcutter was meandering across my field, picking flowers. As I understand it, he was going to stop by my house to proposition me once more. He thought I would be more “malleable” if he caught me at home alone.
I didn’t see him, so I headed off to Granny’s. When I got there, I settled in, propped her up on the bed, and fluffed some pillows under her back. The soup was still warm, and I was feeding it to her when I heard the scream from outside.
I leapt up, grabbed my crossbow, and loaded it while running out the door.
The wolf had the woodcutter cornered against the shed. It was advancing, teeth bared and growling.
The woodcutter had wet himself.
As the wolf sprung, I fired. Bam, right into the back of its head. It yipped, fell to the ground, and was still.
Maybe I should have “missed.” My arrow would have gone right into the woodcutter’s heart, and…
He wept and sobbed and cried, thanking me for saving his life. I got him inside, cleaned him up, and even loaned him a clean pair of Granny’s pantaloons, since his were soaked with urine.
And now he’s telling this story about saving Granny and me from the wolf? Trying to make everyone think I’d lived up to my name of “Little Red Riding Hood” because I was so grateful?
Granny slipped into senility a few years back—tragedy, that. And now she’s confused the whole thing by babbling on about the woodcutter filling the wolf up with rocks and sewing it back up.
That doesn’t even make sense.
So tell me. Who are you going to believe?
Originally published in Grievous Angel, March 2016. Reprinted here by permission of the author.
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