The old woman faced Danny. She had sweet, kind looking features. Her cheeks were marked by wrinkles, and somehow, still flush with peach and rose colors. Her eyes were as blue as the Pacific, and they sparkled. Her face was frail, but full, and if he had not seen her at this moment and in this place, he didn’t think he would be afraid of her at all. The old woman smiled.
Danny-Doo-Good. It is nice to meet you indeed! My name is, well. How about you just call me Gram, ok? It’s ok, everyone calls me that. You can call me Gram, too.
Yes Ma’am, I mean. Gram.
Now, I think what you really need is over there, yes? That covering on the window. But oh shoo! It is nailed up good, isn’t it!
Oh, I. Oh I was just looking for some scrap. Yes. That would help me.
Well that’s a scrap if you ask me, Mr. Doo Good! Why do you need it?
I have a little house. A hut. In the woods. I need the wood to patch the roof. I use the hut to write my stories.
Ohhhhhhhh. Stories. I like stories.
The woman leaned forward and, with the giddiness of a teenager, placed her arms under her chin.
Tell me. Tell me. What kind of stories do you write?
Lots of things, Ma’am.
Gram. Right. Lots of things. I like to write about fairy tales and magic. People who have special powers, and spirits and ghosts and monsters.
What fun! Well then. I have an idea.
Yes Gram? Danny’s heart, he realized, had been thumping in his chest.
You’re just the little boy I need right now. I need you to finish my story for me. Could you do that? Could you finish my story? The story about me and my life?
What’s it about?
That’s why I need you, Mr. Do Good! You tell me. You must start off with the story of a little girl who grows old and ends up here, in this hospital room, and you must tell me what happens after that, ok?
And when you are done you may have any piece of wood that you like. Is that a deal?
Danny-Do-Good looked at her, and his mind played him the screams of a thousand children from a thousand fairy tales. He heard little girls and boys howl for their mothers as they ate poison soup or were crammed into ovens. He saw the skin of apparent humans melt off, only to reveal demon forms from other realms. He saw himself, scared and naked and tied up, sitting in a pot of green goo, bathing in eyeballs and cat hides, waiting for a witch to light the logs under a giant iron pot and cook him good. Real, real good.
Danny-Do-Good could not have said no.
Yes. It’s a deal.