TAKES THE CAKE
In the world of fairytales, everyone is used to stories staying the same. Before me first day at Ever After High, my mom - the candy witch from Hansel & Gretel -- told me the secret ingredient for making it through school: the more evil, the better. But that's not me. I'm so over people following breadcrumbs to our gingerbread cabin in the Dark Forest, only to run away screaming "WITCH! WITCH!" Good food should bring people together. That's all I ever wanted to do.
So what if I'm destined to be a villain? I've written a new list of ingredients for why I don't see that happening. It's 1 tablespoon of "scaring children creeps me out", a 1/2 cup of "rewriting my story", and a scoop of sugar to sweeten. It's a daring new flavor profile, but will it past the taste test?
Thump!Thump!Thump!Thump!Thump! The croquet field shook as Madam Baba Yaga's massive chicken-legged office burst through the Enchanted Forest, lurching in every direction. The door flew open, nearly sling-shotting Madam Yaga to the ground below. "STOP!" she screeched, and the office obeyed. "Sorry, Ms. Breadhouse. It's scared you're going to turn it into fried chicken. Well, come in."
I was in trouble and I knew why. During Midterm Hexams, my assignment was to trap Helga and Gus Crumb -- the next Hansel and Gretel -- and prepare them for a witch's stew. Instead I prepared a 5-course dinner, and thanked them for coming after they ate their fill. It did not go over well.
The office whimpered when I approached its door. Madam Yaga sat behind her desk, next to a scowling Helga and her hysterically sobbing cousin, Gus. Helga pointed an accusing finger at me. "You vere supposed to poot Gus in der cage!"
"All I vanted vas to eat candy!" Gus gasped between sobs. "Now vee flooked und it's all your fault!"
"Flooked?" I asked, confused by his accent.
"Flunked," Madam Yaga clarified. "Failed. A big old F."
I stopped breathing. Why didn't I just do what I was told?
Madam Yaga grinned a toothy grin. "Oh, nobody failed." I could breathe again. "These two are actually off the hook. The improper telling of Hansel and Gretel was entirely your fault, however. Headmast Grimm wanted to fail you . Even expel you."
My throat tightened. "My mom is going to kill me!"
"Makes sense. She is a witch," Baga Yaga shrugged. "You have one more chance. Only this time, I'll play Gretel, and the headmaster will play Hansel. I'd suggest no funny business." What a recipe for disaster.
That night, I didn't get a wink of sleep. My eyes ached as I dragged myself to the Casrleteria and reflexively mumbled my breakfast order. "3 little candied bacon cupcakes with Maple Syrup-on a Time ice cream in a Wonderland waffle cone, please."
Hagatha grunted, and bounced 2 scoopfuls of soggy scrambled eggs on top of rubbery sausage patties. "NEXT!"
I sat at the table in the farthest corner and began seasoning my breakfast. Seasoning food always helps take my mind off things. After a few minutes, I all but forgot about the retest.
That is, until I heard the familiar hummingbird-like flapping of fairy wings. "Heeeeeeey, Ginger!" said Faybelle Thorn. The daughter of the Dark Fairy landed in the seat across from me. She didn't wait to be invited to sit. I guess it comes with the territory when you're the future Sleeping Beauty villain. "So, between you at Midterms and Raven Queen's 'I'm' not gonna be the next Evil Queen' fiasco, it's like nobody wants to be a villain anymore." Faybelle's eyes darkened. "So, seeing as how we go way back... are you a villain or aren't you?"
I signed. "Look, I just want to cook."
"Well, good luck with that." Fay wickedly smiled. "It'd be such a shame if you failed. you might never cook again." As she flew away, I don't know what made me madder: how cutting her words were, or how I knew she was right.
Just the thought of never cooking again stung like a knife. I've known it was my true calling ever since my first Dark Forest cookout.
Growing up in the Dark Forest didn't have all the glamour of a fairytale kingdom, but nothing could beat our cookouts. All the families from nearby hallows and cottages showed up for our famous Candy Witch spreads.
Mom and I spent days preparing all kinds of spellicious food, from steamed wyvern claws to barbequed dragon steaks to 3-magicbean salad. But my favourite was always the desserts. As I mixed cupcake batter, I dreamed of hosting my own cooking show. Then at the cookout, when people ate my food, I savoured every "This is better then last year," and "I must have this recipe."
However, I also felt conflicted. Mom and Mrs. Thorn got into a bragging match over whose daughter was better.
"My Faybelle has already mastered sleeping spells. It's been three weeks and we still haven't been able to wake up the goblin guards," Mrs. Thorn beamed.
"Well, Ginger not only memorized the family cookbook, she created a few new wicked treats, too," Mom cackled. "Care for seconds? She baked it herself."
Over at the kid's table, Faybelle and I rolled our eyes and laughed at them. But it happened again the next year, and the year after that. Eventually, Faybelle took her mother's pride to heart. She saw me as competition, not as a friend.
Fortunately, there were other kids from the Dark Forest, like a quiet girl from Hood Hallow named Cerise, who's now one of my best friends forever after at school.
Over the next several days, I baked enough desserts to feed a giant. But at the end of each day I always seemed to be a few treats short. Someone must have been snacking behind my back. So on the 4th day, I cooked hextra-sticky buns. They were warm, cinnamon, gooey, and had a spell that made the person who ate them stick into place.
As soon as the first batch was set to cool, I heard "Hey! Leggo!"
"Gotcha!" I spun around "Cerise?"
Cerise was stuck to the pastry. "Sorry, it just smelled so good. I didn't think you'd miss one or two."
"Or three or four or ten," I laughed, and reached into the cooler for an un-freezer pop. Cerise devoured the pop and slowly unfroze.
It was comforting to talk about the reset with one of my oldest friends. Cerise shook her head. "I think it's wicked lame. You should be allowed to do whatever you want," she said, sneaking a chocolate doughnut. "Say, these are great. What kind of spell's in these?"
I tasted one. "They're just regular doughnuts. People just can't get enough." Can't get enough... "That's it!" I tightened my apron.
Though the Charmitorium stage lights were hot, I was as ever-chill mint for my retest. Maybe it was because I was prepared. Or maybe it was because Headmaster Grimm was dressed in Gus's lederhosen.
"You look ridiculous, Milton." said Madam Baba Yaga.
"At least I dressed for the part!" the headmaster shook his figure. "You could have at least put your hair in pigtails!"
"I'll give you a pig tail if you don't get your figure out of my face," Madam Yaga's fists crackled with magical energy.
"Er, yes, well ... oh, there's my cue!" Headmaster Grimm skipped onstage. "Gre-TeLL! Ees a BrEEdKroomb-uh," he said in a horrible Gus Crumb impression.
Madam Yaga rubbed her temples as she walked on stage, and in one monotone breath said, "Look a house made out of candy gee I hope a witch doesn't live here."
I played my part just as it was written. I trapped "Hansel" in a cage, and shackled "Gretel" to the wall. Then it was time to put my plan into action. "You must eat, boy!" I slid a tray piled high with doughnuts to Headmaster Grimm.
"Alas, the evil Candy Witch gives me no choice!"
Playing Overplaying the part, Headmaster Grimm bit into his first doughnut. "It's ... it's quite good actually," he said, slipping out of character. "Is this porridge cream pie? Simply delicious! And this wonderberry jam .. I must have the recipe. And this one here!" before too long, Headmaster Grimm devoured the entire tray. I slid him another. And another.
Suddenly a loud RUMBLE shook the entire stage. "Excuse me. Heh." Headmaster Grimm doubled over, grabbing his stomach. "Oh no! Little headmaster's room break!" he busted out of his cell and ran off faster then the Gingerbread Man.
An hour later the headmaster still had not returned. I unlocked Madam Baba Yaga's shackles so she could check on him. She soon returned, and faced the crowd. "The End," she said. I tried to hide my smile as the curtain closed.
Thump!Thump!Thump!Thump!Thump! Madam Yaga's chicken-legged office once again lurched in every direction. "It still thinks I'm going to turn it into fried chicken?" I asked.
"Now it's afraid you're going to feed it doughnuts," she said. "That was some trick you pulled. What kind of sorcery did you use? Some kind of ever-eating spell? her one eyeball widened.
"No sorcery," I said.
"Then I suppose you intended for the headmaster to get sick?" Her other eyeball widened.
"No! I just wanted to make him doughnuts!" I took a deep breath. "I ... I don't want to be a villain. I hoped that if Headmaster Grimm loved what I baked, he just might let me tell a new story. One where food unites people. But, he ate too much. It was an accident." I signed. " I guess I'll pack my things."
"Why would you do that?" asked Baba Yaga. "You completed your assignment, even though our 'Hansel' could not finish the story. You passed your Midterm Hexams."
Relieved, I walked back to my dorm. Just as I opened the door, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Faybelle forced a smile. "Congrats on barely passing. I'm sure your mom will be thrilled."
I wanted to tell Fay how hurt I was when she stopped being friends with me. But then I thought of my true friends like Cerise, and unhexpectedly, I felt bad for Faybelle. So instead I just smiled and said, "I'm sure she will be, too."
That night, in the Throne Economics room, I hosted my first Mirrorcast. "Welcome to Spells Kitchen, where the secret ingredient to happiness is good food. On today's episode, we're making doughnuts."