Katerina Kishchynska

Little Red Riding Hood

Translated by Alice Chester

Grandma gets her episodes at least once a month. She’ll grow out her jaws and if it happens on a rainy day, claws will tear out of her fingers. Nothing out of the ordinary, really. Nothing that a woman who’s had a life before menopause couldn’t handle.

Little Red Riding Hood is the youngest and the least significant of the family, so she gets to look after grandma. Grandma falls into theatrical suffering, moans, strokes Riding Hood’s hand, and begs her not to leave her while she’s so ill and old and feral. Every day, she asks Riding Hood to help her bake her meat pies in the neat kitchen. Then, Riding Hood is to shove them down her own throat while she’s lectured on the harm of this ‘vegetarian’ thing. Grandma asks Riding Hood to read out Jack London’s stories to her. Sometimes Riding Hood has to repeat the same sentences over and over again until she gets it right; her enunciation’s terrible, grandma says. Sometimes grandma asks her to sleep in the armchair near the bed. Then, Riding Hood wakes up with her back so stiff she can’t sit up straight. Then, grandma braids her hair tight and puts the hood away. Then, Riding Hood locks herself in the bathroom and cries quietly. Then there’s another episode, and the jaws, and the claws, and more bruises on her wrists. Little Red Riding Hood finds herself having thoughts she’s ashamed of. Maybe grandma isn’t that ill and that much of a wolf. Maybe she’s so lonely and so much of a human that she’ll claw Riding Hood’s life out of her hands. Swallow her whole. Make her stay forever.

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Katerina Kishchynska is a teenage author from Kyiv, Ukraine. She writes short stories and book reviews. She was born a bookworm who gets into arguments about human rights . She loves Wes Anderson and Studio Ghibli’s films.