A writing exercise referenced by Victoria Hanley in her Seize the Story challenges one to take a scene from a fairy tale and write it from the point of view of a another character. This sounded like a fun exercise, so I decided to give it a try.
The Disappearance of My Gingerbread Cookie
It was a Friday morning. I was exhausted because a fever epidemic had been ravaging our poor village and I had been doing my best to help. I cooked meals, watched children, fed animals and all but hoped to not to come down with the terrible illness myself.
My dear friend Bonnie had been alongside of me caring for the sick, and just 3 days ago had caught the fever. I spent the better of yesterday evening bringing cool water rags to lay atop her head, humming melodies to sooth and distract her, and encouraging her to just nibble and sip at the food and water I had brought to her bedside. She did not appear to be improving, and I feared the worst. I knew I needed to do something to buoy her.
Bonnie and I had been inseparable as children. As the only two girls on our street, we bonded and played together often. We were no stranger to each others’ homes and often felt like sisters. One memory I still carried with my was of the warm smell of gingerbread cookies that greeted me more often than not when I came over. One special Christmas Eve, her mom even decorated the gingerbread cookies to have faces. Bonnie and I had had the best time laughing at the curious creations and enjoying the little gingerbread cookies smiling at us as we savored each bite! It was a fond memory from a happier time.
And I knew it would be just the thing to make her smile. I dug up the old recipe which had been hand written on special Christmas cards for each of us that winter. It was a bit dusty, but I brushed it off and looked with nostalgia at the curling, beautiful writing of Bonnie’s mom. She had been like a second mom to me, especially after mine passed away before I had even reached my teens. I sighed. Those were the days.
I took out my baking supplies. My kitchen was running a bit low on ingredients as I had been using our own families stores to prepare meals for the sick. We were comfortable as my husband was a diligent farmer, but by no means were we wealthy. It would take a few months of careful planning to make sure we made our remaining resources carried us through. But I had enough to spare for one cookie for Bonnie. In fact, I had only enough sugar, a luxury item these days, for one cookie, and perhaps a bit of frosting.
I was scrupulous, making sure to measure out the ingredients with care, and not skip ingredients, or add ingredients in twice, as I had been known to do in my often distracted manner. I prepared a tiny amount frosting, dividing and coloring little dabs blue, and pink, and yellow; and fashioned a smiling face, heart buttons, and even some little shoes. Bonnie was going to love this little cookie. I was sure it would inspire a long awaited smile on her worn and pale face.
As I turned to fetch the baking pan, I heard a noise. “Honey, is that you?” I called, still searching the cupboard for the pan.
As I stood up and moved back toward the counter, I saw a flash of movement and shifted my gaze toward it. A tiny doughy figure with legs bending back and forth, appeared to be making a beeline for the door.
I pushed my hands to my temples and closed my eyes. I must be past the point of exhaustion. I had heard of people hallucinating when extremely fatigued, but had never experienced it myself. The tragedies of the past couple weeks must have taken their toll. Giving my head a shake, I greased the pan and then got ready to slide the cookie on board. I glanced at the patch of flour on the counter. The cookie was gone!
I fixed my eyes toward the door and once again I saw what appeared to be my cookie escaping. Before I knew what I was doing, I heard myself yelling “Hey! Come back!”
The little cookie twisted his head. With eyes that were once happy little dollops of frosting, he now peered at me eerily. “You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man.” it sneered at me. He turned and ran.
Again, as if watching myself in a dream, I found myself at the kitchen door out of breath. I spotted my husband and cried, “Stop him! Stop him! He’s getting away!” I pointed after the running piece of dough. My husband, who must have been humoring me, began moving toward the direction I indicated.
By this time, I knew this must be madness. I closed the door, and plopped myself into the wooden kitchen chair. I buried my face in my hands and sobbed. I did not know what was happening. All I knew is that my best friend may be dying, I had no special cookie for her or ingredients left to make her one, and I was hallucinating myself. All I could think to hope for was that I was not coming down with the fever myself.