Goldilocks and the Three Bears Retold

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Today’s entry is a retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. This began almost ten years ago in a college creative writing class and I’ve been kicking it around ever since. I hope you enjoy it.

Babcock E. Bare sat fidgeting, barely able to contain his nervousness. He knew therapy was the only way he could tame the demons that tortured him but these visits were so hard. They dredged up memories he’d buried long ago just to survive and they haunted him for days afterwards. He’d been seeing Dr. Hansom Prince for a month now and didn’t see how he was all that better. He was about to bolt when the door opened.

“Mr. Bare, so good to see you again. Please come on back.”

“Dr. Prince,” he said, standing, “I keep telling you to call me Babe. Mr. Bare is my dad.”

“Of course,” the doctor said. “I forgot, yet again. How silly of me.”

The Session Begins

They settled into chairs and Dr. Prince began checking his notes. “So,” he said, ” How was your week?”

“Honestly? Not good. Not good at all.”

“Oh? What happened?”

Babe looked down at his shoes. “I lost another job,” he said with a deep sigh.

“Oh no,” the doctor said. “You were working at the grocery store, correct?” Babe nodded. “What happened?”

“Okay, you know how I said they were going to start putting me on a register?”

“Yes. We viewed that as a promotion as I recall.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Babe replied. “Anyway, they did and the first couple of days went okay…” he said, his voice trading off.

“It’s all right, Babe. You’re safe here. Just take your time and go at your own pace.”

Babe nodded. He took a moment to gather himself. “Right,” he said. “Anyway, I freaked a couple of days ago and they fired me.”

“I see,” the doctor said. “And what caused you to, as you said, ‘freak out’.”

Babe sighed again. “A bl… a blo…” He took another moment to collect himself. “Ablondewaomancamein,” he said in a rush.

“Ah,” Dr. Prince said. “Just a blonde woman?” Babe shook his head. “No? There was someone with her?”

Babe’s chest heaved as he fought to control himself. He began a breathing exercise the doctor had taught him for situations like this. Once he was calm enough, he said, “There was a woman in a red coat and hat and a younger girl holding a lollipop with her.”

“Uhmmm,” Dr. Prince said.

“Why, Doc? Why did they freak me out so bad?” Babe blurted. “I  know you said that it looks like PTSD, but why them?” He was almost sobbing.

“I think we’ll find the answer to that with more hypnotic regression.”

“But, Doc, we’ve already done that several times and it doesn’t feel like we’re any closer.”

“True. But, remember Babe, I told you it would probably take multiple sessions before finally got to the heart of things.”

Babe shook his head doubtfully, but said, “Okay, Doc. Whatever you say.”

Going Under

A few minutes later, Babe found himself feeling more and more relaxed as Doctor Prince began the process of hypnotizing him. They’d done it before and it was one aspect of therapy he didn’t hate.

“Babe, I want you to visualize yourself walking down a set of steps. With each step, you will feel more and more relaxed. Step… by step… by step, more and more relaxed.”

The first time they’d done this, Babe was skeptical. How was this supposed to work, he’d thought. There was no way that imaging going down steps would do anything. But, oddly enough, it did. And now, the second time around, it worked even better because he knew it would work. Instead of overthinking, he just went with it. He could see himself descending a set of stone steps in the forest, a small brook babbling in the background. And, with each step, he did feel more and more relaxed. Finally, he’d reached the bottom. He felt calm, serene even.

“Now,” said Prince, “How do you feel?”

“Good, Doc. Really calm and relaxed.”

“Very good, Babe,” said Prince, acknowledging his reduced reaction. “Now, I want you to think back to the incident that brought you here. Can you do that?” Babe nodded. “Excellent! Now, tell me what happened.”

The Real Story

Babe took a deep breath and said, “It’s a Saturday morning and we’re all sitting around the dining room table: me, my mom, and my dad. There are bowls of porridge in front of each of us. My dad tries some of his and says, ‘Ow! This porridge is so hot!'” He delivered his father’s words in a deep, rather gruff voice. “Then, my mom says, ‘Ugh, mine is stone cold,'” he said imitating his mother. “Then, I try a spoonful of mine and say, ‘Ooh, mine is just right.'” This was delivered in a more childish version of his own voice.

He hesitated for a moment and Doctor Prince said, “Keep going, Babe. You’re doing well.”

Babe nodded. “My dad stands up and says, ‘Well, I can’t eat it like this. We’re going for a walk.'”

Switching to his mother’s voice, he said, “What! Mine’s already cold. All a walk will do is make it colder.”

His father again: “I said we’re going for a walk. Remember, woman, who’s the boss around here.”

“Oh, some boss you are. We’re bears and here we sit eating frickin’ plain-ass oatmeal. Where’s the honey, the fruit, the nuts?”

Dr. Prince interrupted him. “What are you doing while your parents argue, Babe?”

“I’m just sitting there, watching, trying to make myself as small as possible.”

Prince nodded. “Go on with the story.”

Things Get Wild

Slipping back into his father’s voice, Babe said, “Oh, don’t start up with that noise again. It’s summer and we’re in a drought. You know damn good and well that stuff’s hard to come by.”

“Yeah, especially if you’re a lazy ass—” he stopped abruptly. “That’s when it happened,” he said. Prince was about to ask what happened when Babe made the sound of a door being kicked in.

Things Take a Turn

“Hello, bitches!” he said in a voice that fell somewhere between his mother’s and his father’s. Then, in a different, almost snarly one, he laughed and said, “Yeah, tell ’em, Goldie!” A girlish, almost infantile voice repeated, “Yeah, tell ’em, Goldie!” Babe shuddered as he said these words.

“It’s all right, Babe. Remember, these are just memories. They can’t hurt you.” Babe nodded and began to calm down. “Now, who are these new people?” Prince asked.

Babe swallowed and said in a voice that shook with fear, “Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood, and Gretel.”

“Had you ever met them before this moment?”

“No, but everyone in Enchanted Forest knew who they were.”

“And, why is that?” Doctor Prince said.

“They were the meanest gang around. Way worse than the pigs,” he said. “Mr. Wolf had a run-in with Red that scarred him so bad he left Enchanted Forest forever.”

“Ah,” Prince replied, nodding. “Keep going.”

Babe nodded. “Goldie walks up to the table and kind of lunges at my dad like she’s going to hit him. He flinches so hard, he almost falls over. Then, she picks up his bowl and dips her fingers into it but drops it to the table, saying, ‘Shit! That’s hot!’ Next, she picks up my mom’s bowl and does the same thing. Only this time, she yells, ‘Ugh, too cold!’ and throws it against the wall. The whole time, Red and Gretel are laughing and egging her on. Then, she picks up my bowl and tries it. She says ‘Oh, perfect,’ and eats it all, staring at me the whole time.”

“Why do you think she did that, Babe?”

“She knew it was my bowl. It had my name on it”

Prince nodded. “Interesting. Go on.”

Daddy Issues?

“After she eats all my porridge, she says, ‘Okay, let’s get down to business.’ She walks over to my dad’s chair and flops down. She squirms around a bit, trying to get comfortable but finally says, ‘Geez, Bare. How do you sit in this thing? It’s hard as a rock.’ She switches to my mom’s chair, but that doesn’t make her happy either. ‘This is no good. It’s too soft.’ Red pipes up: ‘What do you mean, ‘too soft’? How can it be too soft?’ Goldie shakes her head and says, ‘It’s like sitting on a pile of feathers.’ She shudders a bit and moves to my chair. She settles in and moves around, getting the feel of it. ‘Oh, this is just right,’ she says.

“And how did you feel, seeing this person invade your space?” Prince said.

“Scared,” Babe replied. “No, not scared. Violated.”

“Um hmm,” said Prince as he made a note. “Go ahead.”

“Looking at my dad, Goldie says, ‘Now, Bare, Gretel tells me you’ve quit getting honey from her and Hansel.’ My dad tries to say something, but she yells ‘Shut up!’ and he cowers. I can see that Mom is disgusted with him.”

Dr. Prince cut in, asking, “And, how about you, Babe? How do you feel about how father in this moment?”

“Not great,” he said. “He was a big bear. He could’ve stopped this with one loud roar. Why didn’t he?”

“I don’t know,” Prince said. “That is something we’ll get into a later date. For now, continue with your story.”

Nap Time

Babe took a breath. “Gretel stands there, licking a lollipop, and says, ‘I wanna know who his supplier is now, Goldie. Make him tell us.’ Goldie waves at her and says, ‘I’m getting there. Just hold your horses for a minute.’ Dad tries to get a handle on things by saying, ‘I’m not getting it from anyone.’ Goldie gets up and walks over to my dad and slaps him. Hard. He doesn’t do anything, just stands there. ‘Don’t lie to me, Bare. You’ve got a new supplier and I want to know who it is,’ she snarls.

“What was going through your mind as you watched this?” Prince asked.

“I couldn’t believe he would stand there and take it like that,” Babe said. “I always thought Dad was tough, that he could handle anything. But something changed that day and I never looked at him the same way again.”

“Yes, I can understand that. Please, go on.”

Babe nodded. “Goldie goes back and sits in my chair. As she does, one of the legs buckles, and she falls over. The chair breaks into a thousand pieces under the impact. Red and Gretel giggle behind their hands. Goldie gets up, brushes herself off, and heads for my bedroom. Over her shoulder, she says to her friends, ‘Keep an eye on them. I’m taking a nap.’ We could hear her rustling around in there, along with the words, ‘too hard, too soft, just right.’ After a few minutes, we could hear her snoring.’

“And, what were the other two girls doing?” Prince asked.

Red Steps In

“Nothing at first. After a few minutes, Gretel says, ‘I don’t believe him,’ and starts going through our cabinets and pantry. ‘Where did you hide it, Bare?’ she demands, rummaging through the kitchen. ‘Hide what?’ my dad said. ‘We already told you we don’t have any honey.’ Red comes up beside him and hits him in the head with her basket, knocking him down. She looks at him on the floor and says, “That hurt, didn’t it?’ My dad nods slowly. She bends down closer to him. ‘Then, don’t lie to us. Where’s the honey and who are you getting it from?’ She catches Dad looking over at me. ‘Oh, worried about your little boy, huh?’ She walks over and stands behind me, her hands resting on my shoulders. ‘It would be a shame if he got hurt because you were holding out, wouldn’t it, now?'”

“Did she harm you?” Prince asked.

“No, just stood there, hands on my shoulders.”

Prince nodded. “Okay, go on.”

The Authorities Arrive

“That’s more than Mom can take and she rushes at Red with a roar. But Red sidesteps her and she goes sliding across the floor. ‘How pathetic,’ Red says laughing. ‘You guys are the sorriest excuse for bears I’ve ever seen. You—’ Before she can finish, Gretel looks out the window and yells, ‘Cops!’ and they run into the bedroom and try to rouse Goldie. While they try, a couple of dwarves come in. ‘Are you folks okay,’ one asks. We nod. ‘Where are they,’ the other says. Mom points to the bedroom. ‘In there,’ she says. Just then, we hear glass break. ‘They’re getting away,’ Dad yells. ‘Don’t worry, the first cop says, ‘There’s five more of us outside. They’re not going anywhere except the deepest, darkest dungeon in the Queen’s castle.’ And, we all sigh in relief.

Back To the World

“Well, Babe,” said Prince after he brought his patient out of the hypnotic state. “That was very enlightening. How do you feel?”

Babe sat for a moment, considering all that had just happened. “Honestly? Kind of weird. Like, I’m finally glad to know what this is all about but also, I don’t know what to do with that knowledge.”

“This is only a starting point, Babe, and we have much work to do. But, it is a place to begin. But now, our time is up. We’ll get into that at your next appointment.”