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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Lost in the Woods

Sally, Annie, Julie and Billy didn't know what to do. Each of them sat in the grass pouting. “I'm bored,” Julie said.

“I'm bored too,” Sally said. “Let's play a game.”

“What sort of game?” Billy lifted his head and looked at his friends.

“I say we play Hansel and Gretel,” Annie said. “I read the book last night and they lived in the woods, just like we do.”

“What did Hansel and Gretel do? How do we play it?” Billy stood.

“We go deep into the woods and pretend we're lost. We have to take bread and leave a trail so we can find our way back,” Annie said.

“That doesn't sound fun,” Sally said.

“It does to me.” Julie smiled. “I'll go and get some bread. Is there anything else?”

“We have to make sure we don't go to the witch's house, or she'll bake us in the oven.” Annie grinned when she saw the look of horror on her friend's faces. “I'm just teasing.”

“Witch? Is there a witch in the woods?” Sally, the youngest, didn't think Annie was teasing.

“She lives in a house made of cookies and candy and cake. We have to make sure we don't nibble on them and she'll leave us alone.” Annie enjoyed frightening Sally.

“Leave her alone, Annie.” Billy turned to Julie. “I'll come with you to get the bread.”

Billy and Julie ran off and came back a few minutes later, their pockets bulging with bread.

“Time to play Hansel and Gretel. Billy, you'll be Hansel and we'll all be Gretel.” Annie took some bread and broke it up. “Break yours up into small pieces. As we walk along, drop the pieces one at a time, so we can find our way home.”

Off they went, deep into the forest. Even though it was the middle of the day, the trees hid a lot of the sunlight and it seemed darker to the children. Each of them dropped their bread bits. What they didn't know was that three birds followed behind them eating every piece of bread they left.

A loud screech came from ahead of them. “What was that?” Sally hid behind Billy. “It sounded like a witch.”

The others listened. The screech came again. “She's right. It does sound like a witch,” Julie said. “Maybe we should go home.” She turned to leave. “Where's our pieces of bread? They're gone.”

Billy and Annie couldn't see any of the bread. “Birds ate it,” Billy said, seeing three black crows on a tree branch. “We're lost and there's a witch up ahead.”

“Don't be so silly. I told you I made it up.” Annie walked on. “Follow me. I know the way.”

After a few minutes they came to a small cottage. Julie whispered, “It's not made of cake, cookies and candy, but it is a cottage. Do you think a witch lives in it?”

They hid, peeking from behind the trees. Suddenly a loud screech came from inside the cottage.

Sally cried. “I want to go home. I don't want a witch to bake me in her oven.”

Annie took her hand. “It's all right, Sally. There's no witch. You three stay here and I'll go and find out who is in there.” She gulped and stepped into the clearing. One step at a time she made her way to the door. Before she had a chance to knock, the door pulled open. An old lady with a long nose and rotten teeth looked at her. Annie didn't say a word. She turned and ran as fast as she could. “Come on. Let's go home. It's a witch.”

The four children ran and ran, not knowing where they were going, but heading away from the old woman in the cottage. An hour later they made it safely home. They went to Annie's house first. “Mama, there's a witch who lives in the woods. She has three black crows and bakes children in her oven.”

Her mama laughed. “Don't be so silly, Annie. You have such an imagination. That's old Mrs. Figknees. She's lived there all of her life and refuses to move into the city. She does do a lot of baking, but never children, just cookies, candy and cakes.”

Annie and her friends went outside and sat on the steps.

 “Your mama doesn't know anything, Annie,” Billy said. That old lady is a witch and I know she bakes children.”

The others agreed and never again did they play Hansel and Gretel.

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