Red let her crimson hood slip back, just enough to show off her curls, the curls that she had arranged with care, as she was told to do, because she had matured, and because grandma had a prince—the haunter prince of the woods—waiting to meet her. And Red would wed him, because she was told to, by those who brought her up, those who taught her with so much pain, to be respectful of their authority.
Under the surface, Red had dressed up with care, not so much for the prince, but for someone else, someone who had watched her safe passage to grandma’s, through the woods, year after year, someone whose penetrating gaze had started to warm up her skin ever since she had matured, someone who had filled her dreams, banished her nightmares. She had dressed up for her wolf, the wolf that she would see for the last time tonight.
It had started to rain when she saw the wolf. He was standing still in the middle of the path, eyes flashing red, and yet dimmer than ever—a sad look she had never seen on him. She kneeled by his side, the wet pebbles giving in under her knees.
The wolf told her with his eyes, “Stay with me.”
“I’m destined for the prince,” she said. “That’s what I’m told.”
The wolf told her with his eyes, “Be mine.” But he also stepped back, unblocking her way of leaving.
Later that night, in a little shack at the outer-skirt of the woods, an old woman sat by the fireplace, drinking beer and eyeing the grim man who waited by her side, rifle on his shoulder, the man who had promised to pay enough money for a year worth of beer, all for that teenage girl, Red Riding Hood…who never arrived.
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RED RIDING HOOD by Anahita Ayasoufi,