This story, like many of its kind is a “once upon a time story”. Many would call this a fairy story, this however is incorrect. Factually speaking fairies may or may not exist but the mathematics of probability tells us the likelihood is very, very small. In short fairy tales are likely to be made up literary devices, very pretty white lies created to entertain us. This story on the other hand is true.
The phrase “Once upon a time” in this case refers to a point in history a very long time ago. A time before the recording of time itself was common, in other words before clocks and watches had been invented and most people just got up when it was light, ate when they were hungry and went to bed then it was dark and they were tired. It was so long ago that no one bothered much to write things down, partly because pens, pencils and paper weren't invented and partly because people remembered important things and so didn't need to record things. Things that needed to be remembered for a very long time were made into stories so that one generation could pass on essential information to another generation. This is one such story.
So now we understand the setting of this story we can begin.
Once upon a time, in a far away land there lived a very sweet girl who lived with her father and mother in a pretty little cottage at the edge of a village. At this time in history villages were isolated places and although we still sometimes use the word village, meaning a small town this was an altogether different place. The village in question was simply a clustered human settlement, an isolated area where the inhabitants sustained themselves by growing their own food and lived in houses they had built themselves. It was nothing like a modern day village. Technically it wasn't even a village as there was no church but there did exist a strong sense of community which is a welcome defense against the unknown .
Naturally enough in such a small society everyone knows everyone else and little red riding hood was loved by everyone. No one more than her grandmother though.
Granny was a real whiz around the home and well respected in the village for her skills and wisdom. She loved to chat and so everyone told her everything and over the years she became a dab hand at many things . Her Cooking was second to none and making clothes had become second nature as they were an essential qualification for any grandmother of this era. Grannies CV also included midwifery , nursing, pharmaceutical preparations, spinning wool into fine thread, knitting and dying and many other useful domestic and societal skills .
All these skills were really useful household qualities. and Granny loved experimenting . When it worked well , which it mostly did, It cheered everyone up , she would happily chop up roots or bark and mashing them together create all sorts of added flavours for her stews. Concoctions were made to make you feel better, which she always tried out herself first so none got poisoned, and sometimes, just sometimes when nothing else worked, these concocted mash ups would produce some lovely colours which she would use to dye the clothes she made.
On one particular occasion while experimenting with a herb called madder, which everyone thought was a very funny name, granny made a magnificent red dye . It ws so red and bright and needing a birthday present for her grand daughter she used it to colour a batch of wool and knit a hoody, a kind of cloak with a built in hood .The hoody was so radical in its colour and style that everyone started calling the lovely grand daughter red riding hood. Soon the name stuck .
So one day when red riding hood was told her granny was sick she volunteered to visit her. She didn't live that far away, no one in the village lived that far from each other but grannies house was on the other side of the village and for a pre teenager that was quite far enough .
Red riding hoods mum put together a basket of nice things, some tasty, freshly baked cakes and some fruit so granny could keep up with her five a day regime and have a nice time too.
It was a bright and sunny spring morning and winter had been long and hard. With no central heating or electric lights the days had been short and while log fires had been fine it was really a pleasure to skip and dance along the path. Daffodils were abundant which was always a promise of summer and red riding hood stopped and picked a nice bunch for her granny. Picking flowers is such a marvelous , absorbing activity and as red riding hood added more flowers to her basket she wandered more and more from the well worn village path and deeper and deeper into the forest.
As she stooped to collect another flower a voice from behind her said “good morning red riding hood where are you going on this lovely spring morning? ” Red riding hood turned round to see who was talking to her and was surprised to see a great big wolf. Now never having seen a wolf before red riding hood was more than a little surprised but as she was brought up to be polite she answered softly, “ well I’m going to my grandma’s ...“and where does your grandma live” asked the wolf. Mary told the wolf , who disappeared as quietly and quickly as he appeared This left Little red riding hood somewhat puzzled,. Little did red riding hood did not know that this was in deed the big bad wolf! She had never before seen a wolf and never before come across any animal that could speak to her. She resolved to ask her mum or dad about all this when she got home but in the meantime made her way back to the path and continued on to her grannies. Surprisingly she had wandered a long way from the path and was deep inside the forest but eventually she found her way back and some time later she was knocking on grannies door. All her worries and curiosity changed to happiness at having arrived with the prospect of seeing her grandmother and sharing what looked like really good cake!
Little did she know that in the meantime the big bad wolf had sped straight to her grannies and had gained access by pretending to be little red riding hood herself.
Little red riding hood knocked again. She was exited and knew nothing of the blood curdling activity that had been happening while she had been finding her way back to the path. After what seemed like an eternity a voice called out “whose there’ It seemed a little strained , unlike her grandmothers usual sweet tones but after all she was sick and maybe that coarseness in her voice could be a throat bug.
“Its little red riding hood” she called, cautiously opening the door, which for better or worse was never locked.
The place was a mess, furniture was overturned and granny was no where to be seen. Red riding hood called out “granny are you ok?” A very deep and croaky voice replied “ I am upstairs”
Each step that red riding hood took was scary, she counted each one and there were 13 , lucky for some she thought and she edged her way into her grandmothers bedroom.
And there she was covered in blood
.... with a very dead big bad wolf beside her.
It was some hours later that the cottage was tidied up, The wolf skinned and stretched, it would make a small but functional floor rug. Supper that night tasted somewhat of goat which if you have never tried it tastes somewhat like wolf.
NB No animals were hurt during the creation of this story