art by Seth Alan Bareiss
Little Red Robin Hood
by Melissa Mead
Once there was a girl whose name was Robin, but everyone called her Red Riding Hood because of the red hood and cape she wore when she visited Grandmother. It was a bit ratty, but the nicest clothing she had left.
Grandmother, a sorceress, had no real grandchildren, as far as anyone knew, but she liked to project a benevolent image (at least to outsiders).Everyone was in debt to Granny. She took tribute of the best of every harvest, the first pressings of the grapes, the dressmaker's finest fabrics, and anything else she wanted. She sent anyone who opposed her, including Robin's father, to the mines. Her victims didn't last long.
One day Red set out to bring Grandmother some dainty cakes and wine.
"Keep to the path and go straight there," her mother begged. "You know Grandmother doesn't like to be kept waiting."
Halfway there, Red stopped to investigate some paw prints alongside the path.
"Wolf," she muttered. "A big one, too."
"Fresh air and exercise, that's what does it," agreed a pleasant voice from behind her.
Red whirled. The biggest wolf she'd ever seen, with a magnificent silvery coat, sniffed at the basket.