I wrote this story for Flash! Friday’s competition last week and it won! The prompt was Grimm’s fairy tales and I chose The Juniper Tree (basically because it’s creeped me out since childhood). If you don’t know the story, you can read “The Juniper Tree” over here.
Bones Beneath the Juniper Tree
“And then suddenly my brother was standing there again and he was alive. And the body of my stepmother had disappeared into thin air. And we danced and sang and were glad to have each other once more,” Marleen said as she knitted.
No-one in the common room of the Twilight House looked up. They’d heard too many variations of the story.
“And you believed this really happened?” the social worker asked, making a note of getting Marleen to a psychiatrist.
“Of course,” Marleen said. “We lived happily ever after and father married for the third time and was happy until the end of his days.” She knitted faster, not caring that she’d dropped nearly half of the stitches in the short time the woman had spoken to her.
At last the woman left and Marleen returned to her room. She took out the bundled handkerchief from its hiding place in the corner of the locked trunk at the foot of the bed. Making sure no-one could see her, she unfolded it and stared at the small bones hidden inside the cloth. What was she supposed to have told the young woman who came to see her every week, she thought. No-one really wanted to know the truth. Hear the details of how your stepmother killed and cooked your brother. How your father shot her when he found out. How he drank himself to death. How you still saw the blood and the bodies each night in your nightmares. No, she thought as she hid her brother’s bones again. Better to tell of beautiful birds and millstones crushing her head. Better to say we lived happily ever after. Better to forget all of the bones buried beneath the juniper tree.
This is what the judges had to say: