Retellings as a genre is something that is a more recent love in my life. However, when I wrote this prompt, I hadn’t really read very many of these. That being said, I thought it was a pretty genius to write my own retelling as the prompt was ‘A Retelling of a Fairy Tale’, and I fairly quickly decided to do my own version of Red Riding Hood.
The story is below the cut.
She zipped up her brand new red coat and pulled the hood up over her head. The hood was cozy and warm and she liked that it kept away the wind. Her mother handed her a backpack full of treats and presents.
“Nana is going to be so happy to see you, Ginger. She’s been so lonely since she moved into the retirement home,” said her mother.
Ginger shrugged. She loved her grandmother but she hated the retirement home. It smelled off to her, almost like something rotten. She was also not looking forward to the bus ride across town. It was always crowded, but it was definitely too far to walk.
“Do you have bus fare?”
Ginger shook her head. A handful of change was shoved into her hand and then her mother urged her through the door. It was shut and then locked behind her. Ginger straightened her backpack on her shoulder and set off down the street to her bus stop.
Her neighbourhood was a friendly one. People waved when you walked past and stopped you to see how you were. At least two people stopped her to talk to her today. Everybody knew everybody. When there were new people in the area, they stuck out like a sore thumb. That was why the very hairy man standing at the corner stood out so much to Ginger.
He looked fairly ordinary if not a little bit hairier than was normal. He had dark eyes and dark hair, but his skin underneath it all was white and pasty. He grinned at her as he saw her approach. She could see his teeth, and his canine teeth seemed to be oddly pointy.
“Hey, girlie,” he drawled. “Where you headed?”
Ginger shivered under her coat and walked on. She ignored him as best she could, reflexively tightening her grip on the straps of the backpack. He detached himself off the wall and loped after her.
“Hey!” he called. “Hold up, sweetheart! Let me buy you somethin’ to eat!”
She ignored him again and kept walking. But the bus stop wasn’t too far and eventually she had to stop. The schedule said the bus would be there soon, but apparently not soon enough because in moment she could hear the man behind her. She could even smell him. He smelled of beer and body odour and he made her feel deeply uncomfortable.
“Where you goin’, honey?” he asked.
“Please leave me alone,” Ginger said.
“Aww! Come on, sweet cheeks!” he said, with a guffaw. “I’m just tryin’ to get to know ya!”
He continued to pester her with questions. When the bus came, he lumbered onto it behind her. She took her seat and he down next to her, which blocked her in. Ginger took her backpack off and set it on her lap, wrapping her arms protectively around it. She scooted as close to the window as she possibly could.
“Mm, you smell nice!” he said, leaning in close to her.
Ginger shivered and then put her headphones in. She turned up the music, trying to drown him out. Her stomach was twisting itself into knots and she wanted nothing more than for him to go away. Her stomach was twisting itself into knots and she wanted nothing more than for him to go away.
The bus trundled down the road and she could hear the man prattling away at her over the sound from her headphones. Suddenly, he pulled the cord. Then he tapped her on the shoulder.
“Get off the bus with me here,” he said, tugging at her new red coat.
“I-I can’t,” she said. “I’ve got to go see my grandmother.”
“Get off the bus with me,” he said, more urgently this time and louder, grabbing her arm.
She jerked her arm out of his grasp.
“NO!” she yelled. “NO! I WILL NOT GET OFF THIS BUS WITH YOU! LEAVE ME ALONE!”
People all around them began to spin their heads toward Ginger and the man. He reached for her arm once more.
“DON’T TOUCH ME!” she cried.
A man in a plaid shirt stood from his seat and took a step towards them. The man sitting next to her stood as well and stepped off.
“Fine!” he said, moving away.
Ginger felt shaky but relieved.
“Are you okay?” asked the man in plaid.
She nodded, offering a weak smile to the man who had helped her out. She was trying her best not to cry but she honestly felt deeply uncomfortable. Ginger hugged her backpack tighter and began to eagerly count the stops until she had to get off.
The rest of her ride went undisturbed. When it was time, she pulled the cord to indicate her stop and prepared to get off the bus. She shouldered her backpack again, called a thank you back to the bus driver and then stepped off the bus. A few other people stepped off the bus with her and she headed down the sidewalk in the direction of her grandmother’s retirement home. With her headphones in, she couldn’t hear the footsteps following her.
The exterior of her grandmother’s retirement home was blocky and industrial. It had a sign above the door that read ‘Oak Woods Retirement Home.’ She quickly made her way up the front steps and into the retirement home. Ginger pulled her headphones out of her ears and turned off her music.
“Hello, Ginger!” called the lady at the front desk.
“Hi, Ms. O’Brady. D’you know where my grandma is?”
“She should be in her room,” said Ms. O’Brady.
“Thanks,” said Ginger, wandering down the hall.
“Can I help you, sir?”
Ginger spun around the corner and then found her grandmother’s room at the end of the hall. The door was slightly ajar and she slipped into the room.
Ginger slid her backpack off her shoulders and set it on the extra chair near where her grandmother was seated. Then she slipped her jacket off and set it on the back of the chair.
“How are you, sweetie? It’s been so long. I’ve missed you.”
“I’m okay, Nana,” she said. “I’ve missed you too.”
“How was your ride across town?”
Ginger chewed her lips and elected to not tell her nana about the man who had made her so uncomfortable.
“It was fi-”
“My, my, my, what nice tits you have.”
Ginger spun in her chair and saw the man standing in the doorway. He was leaning against the side of it with a little smirk on his lips.
“I see pretty faces run in the family.”
“Ginger?” asked her grandmother. “Who is this?”
Dread was rapidly seeping into Ginger’s stomach. The man took a few loping steps into the room.
“I- um- I…”
“Aw, Ginge, I’ve made you speechless and I haven’t even taken you home yet.”
“What did you just say to my granddaughter?!”
Nana stood up. She grabbed the newspaper from her lap and it seemed like she was nervously rolling the newspaper.
“Are you deaf, lady? I said I wanna take Ginger here home.”
Suddenly, Ginger’s grandmother was flying across the room faster than Ginger had ever seen her move. She reached out with newspaper and began batting the man around the head.
“Hey! Hey! Whatdya think you’re doin’?” he cried.
He threw his arms up to protect his head, but Nana was not to be deterred.
“Security! Security!” cried Nana. “This man wants to assault my granddaughter!”
The man turned and began to run out of the room. Nana followed him at a sprint. Ginger let the bag slide down her lap onto the floor. She stood up and crossed the room to the door. At the end of the hall, she could see a huddle of people. Two men in security uniforms were standing with Nana and the man who had followed her from the bus stop. The security men looked angry and Ginger watched as they grabbed the man’s arms and pulled him from the building.
Nana walked back down the hall.
“Are you okay, sweetie?”