It’s sticky and dark inside. Her red cape is soaked in mucus and gastric juices. Curled up into a fetal position, she becomes aware of somebody else’s presence, but in this total darkness, she cannot see who that is, even though she assumes.
Uh, I have acted out this story one hundred times! How different can it be this time!?
She whispers, “Grandma is that you?”
Grandma shrieks, “Ugh, I cannot hear you, what?”
“Shhh, don’t wake him up, the huntsman will come to save us soon. Don’t you remember how this story goes,” whispers little girl through her clenched teeth.
Right, grandma is deaf as a post hence yells her guts out. Speaking of guts…
As the stomach juices start to burn her hands as well, she becomes aware that her fists are clenched, holding something.
Right, the basket! …. he swallowed me with the whole basket, this time? Perfect! Oh, it is so narrow in the upper part of his stomach… grandma took up so much space… strange, she is so tiny...
Slowly, so as not to wake him up, she opens the basket and pulls out its contents. There is simply no place for that movement, and her elbow hits the wall of his stomach.
“Oh, finally, wine and cookies,” she murmured.
“I’ll have the wine,” whispered grandma this time.
That grandma’s response made her smile. The upward movement of her cheekbones gave way to two acidic mucus-like streams to meet in the sensitive area of the neck skin.
Oh, it burns…
It reminded her of the sensation of salty and wet tears that would stream in the same way from her eyes down the sides of each cheek, meeting in the base of her neckline, causing that itchy feeling. It reminded her that she cried many times after arguing with her mother, who would not stop sending her to this forever reoccurring trip to her grandma’s house.
Through the scary woods, and that huntsman who stares at my legs (ewww)… When he talks, he leans over, too close … What about the wolf? Poor soul, he goes through this utter torment over and over again just to justify wearing women’s clothes? Let him be! Who cares? I can even give him my red cape!
Mom’s answer when I protest: “Well, it has always been like that. That is what we do!” Well, guess what, it hasn’t always been like that, and I don’t remember reading any versions where the mom sends a little girl out on this whole ordeal so that mommy can have some ‘alone time’ with her new boyfriend.

And as if she wanted her mom to hear her, she yelled, “That is why she sends me on these trips, and she makes cookies for him, not for my grandma!”
“Ahem,” said an unknown voice. “I would care for some cookies if you don’t mind.”
Whose voice is that?
This strange utterance brought her back to here and now, and she became aware of the sound of grandma chugging the wine.
If she guzzles down the wine… she cannot be the one who asked for cookies… was it a male voice? Is this what hallucination looks like… am I dying? …. is this it? You start to hallucinate… and then…
“What was that?” she hears herself asking just to verify that she is losing her mind, and confident that she will not get an answer.
“Cookies, I said, I would care for some cookies,” reiterated the male voice.
“Who is that?” she wanted to open her eyes, but the burning sensation in her throat was a painful reminder to, at least, keep her eyes shut.
“Oh, it is I, the huntsman.”
“What do you mean, it is you, the huntsman? Where are you?”
“I am here, underneath the grandma. It is a little bit cramped here … Well, he ate me first, and I dare to say that was not nice of him.”
“The wolf ate you? How is that possible? You are a huntsman, you hunt and kill wolves, you don’t let them devour you!”
“Pfft, societal expectations, but I have learned to say no. I do not fit in as I do not believe in violence! Therefore, I don’t carry my rifle with me. I hate to say it, but it was easy for him to subdue me.”
“But you were not even supposed to be here! You come into the story in the end! For god’s sake, you’re supposed to save us.”
“I took a shortcut to grandma’s house to surprise you, and then the wolf surprised me! Oh, again, can I get that cookie, my little cookie?”
Then came the eerie feeling of the huntsman’s hand on her leg. She felt nauseated, and this time it was her own stomach acid, eating her from the inside.

Tatjana is originally from Serbia (former Yugoslavia) and resides in Washington, D.C.

Her first love was comparative literature, but unfortunately, a literary education in a language other than English could not open many doors in the new country. Establishing a new life (and a decent living) in the United States meant reinventing herself. That reinvention act entailed a stint as a Foreign Service language teacher, a return to school, and a Master of Education degree from George Mason University. Tatjana now applies her love of language and technology to the training and education field.

Outside work, she likes to travel, walk, and binge-watch just about anything. Occasionally, she also tangoes. Writing, though, is the thing that always makes her happiest. Tatjana is excited to leave “survival mode” behind her–and indulge in the pure pleasure of creativity.