At 2:30am on January 1st, two fairytale characters showed up at my front door. You’re thinking: this is something that writers say, that characters just show up. But I assure you, this is no metaphor.
My husband and I were asleep when the doorbell started ringing incessantly. And we heard crying outside. At the door were two panic-stricken children, a boy about 7 and a girl, about 5. My husband tried to get them inside out of the cold. They were wearing only pajamas. Their feet were bare. Our driveway was covered in snow.
My husband thought there must have been an accident, and looked up and down the street. I tried to make sense of what the boy was saying, as his sister bawled at the top of her lungs. After a little while (about one second before I called the police), a man appeared across the street holding an infant. Clearly the father. The boy ran to him and the father asked about the girl. Then the father ran up to the house to get her. He mumbled something. Sorry. Or thanks. Or both, and they all disappeared into the night.
That event was so bizarre and confounding that it defied rational thinking. Plus, the moral was too obvious. But later that morning, after we managed to fall back asleep and woke up wondering if what had happened had actually happened, I realized that we had been visited by Hansel and Gretel. They were hard to recognize in modern clothing, but the blonde hair and rosy cheeks were there, as was the father who abandoned them in the night, and then returned for a joyful reunion. And like the original, this had a happy ending in a tale that could have easily veered into the tragic. But I take it as an omen. Because when reality is inconceivably strange, it’s what we do, isn’t it? The omen tells me that the fairy tale creatures I’ve been writing into my novels are grateful for the attention and want to allay my doubts about including them. Or else, why would Hansel and Gretel ring my doorbell in the middle of the night?
[image from: http://ah_coo.tripod.com/hansel_gretel.htm]