Greta and the Woodsperson

Another grim children’s story that probably isn’t suitable for children. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a little girl called Greta who lived in a very dark village in a very dark forest. But Greta didn’t mind, she quite liked the dark and was very fond of the little village with its little yurts and high walls.

Now, Greta was a little different to most children in the village. Her skin was very pale, showing black veins that squirmed beneath it. Her teeth were sharp and vicious, like a mouth full of spiny daggers. Her hair was a bright white, the colour of snow and death, and fell straight to her waist like a glacier.

And she possessed a sharp, unkind sort of wisdom that far belied her years.

Sometimes Greta would be teased for being different. “Corpse eater” they would call her, or “little veiny horror”. But Greta bore it all with good grace for she could see the fear in their eyes and knew their barbs came from terror instead of hate. And they would need to learn to conquer that fear if they were to survive the things that lived outside the walls. Greta knew it was for the best.

Also in this village, there lived a woodsperson and her husband (who was also a woodsperson, he just wasn’t as good at it as she was). And the woodsperson was also a shapeshifter, but no-one knew about that. Once upon a time she had been one of the monsters who had tormented the villagers when they hunted outside the walls, but she had taken a woman’s shape when she saw a man chopping wood out in the snow. She became a woodsperson to please him and they were married. And all the shadows in the forest kept clear of her when she gathered wood as they remembered all the teeth she used to have.

But her husband was unhappy. And he drank and this made him more unhappy and also angry. No-one knows why he was unhappy, maybe he had had a troubled upbringing, maybe he had lost one too many loved ones to the dark forest, maybe he just couldn’t handle being only the *second best* woodsperson in the village. It matters little, for he was a sad little man and all that’s left to learn from him now are his mistakes. Whatever the cause, he took out his sadness on his wife in the way that sad, scared men tend to.

That night, the woodsperson left her yurt and, leaving her marriage vows broken behind her, she stepped out into the village with tears in her eyes and started regrowing her teeth.

That night, Greta, who quite liked the darkness, got up very early so she could get a headstart on her chores. She got up so early, in fact, that it was more late night than early morning. When she went outside to check on the little glowing herbs that only bloomed at night, what she found instead was a monster of teeth and shadows roaming the village streets, wailing and crying big ichorous tears from its many eyes.

Greta observed the monster for a moment and thought hard about what she knew of the village and its inhabitants and how this monster could have gotten inside the walls.

“Good morning, Mistress Woodsperson,” she said, taking care to keep her voice steady, “whatever is the matter? Can I help in any way?”

Her question was met by another ear-piercing wail that immediately killed every herb in Greta’s garden. She sighed.

“Oh, little Greta! It’s awful. My husband and I are oh-so unhappy. He has done me wrong, little Greta, such wrong, and has caused me to transform back into this hideous form. He’ll never want me now. I fear there’s nothing for it but to murder the whole village in their sleep.”

“You could do that, Mistress Woodsperson,” said Greta, thinking very quickly, “or you could find another way to fix things?”

“Oh, I don’t think I can, little Greta,” said the monster, licking every one of her lips with her long leathery tongues, “After all, how can things end well when I’m such a monster?”

“It seems to me, Mistress,” said Greta, smiling with every one of her knife-like teeth, “that if he’s made someone as lovely and as good with an axe as you sad, then it’s your husband who’s the monster. And you know what we do to monsters, don’t you…”

Greta wiped the tears from the monster’s many eyes. They sizzled as they bit into her skin, but Greta did not flinch.

“Why, yes,” said the monster, “yes, I believe I do.”

In the morning, there was a great cry that echoed around the village. The woodsperson, once more in human form, ran out of her house screaming that a monster had devoured her husband. She was quite inconsolable.

After the hysterics had died down and the funeral was done, the village started whispering about what possibly could have happened. Various theories were made about how a monster could have gotten inside the walls and eaten the woodsperson’s husband and Greta felt the villager’s untrusting stares grow heavier and heavier as they lingered on her sharp teeth and corpse-like skin.

“It was that corpse-eater,” they would say to one another, “it must have been her who murdered the woodsperson’s husband.”

“Yes,” they would reply, “that knife-mouthed flesh-grinder is certainly the one who did it, that’s for sure.”

Occassionally someone would say: “But, if she’s a ‘corpse-eater’, right? Then it couldn’t have been her. The woodsperson’s husband was eaten *alive*.”

“Oh yeah,” would come the reply, “that’s a great defence. ‘She’d totally eat a guy, but not while he was still alive!’ Yeah, watertight that is!”

And before long, the stares and whispers became more than that and Greta found herself labelled by the whole village (except the woodsperson, whose voice was drowned out by the crowd) as a monster.

And the villagers built a pyre. And they put took Greta in their rough, grabbing hands and they put her on top of it. She bit at them with her dagger-teeth, but it did her little good; there were just too many of them.

After they’d lit the kindling, and Greta felt her feet begin to warm, she reflected on her life, her choices and that conversation with the woodsperson, and she decided that it could have been worse. At least this way the villagers would be satisfied. And the woodsperson, far from murdering everyone in town, would keep the village safe from the shadows outside.

Greta smiled, showing every one of her bloody spines of teeth, for she was very fond of her little village with its little yurts and its high walls. She just wished they hadn’t done it with fire. She would have liked to meet her end in the dark.


About websterpoet

I'm a performance poet, sometime stand-up comedian and general writer type. I also run a free weekly poetry text that sends poetry direct to your phone, just e-mail me at with your name and number and I'll add you to the 'textshot' mailing list. Also, you can follow me on twitter @websterpoet
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