#fridayflash : lucky lucky goldilocks

Once upon a time there lived a little girl in a small town surrounded by deep, dark woods. Her hair was long and golden, her pinafore was always freshly pressed and white, and her father was the burgher, so she was always sure to have as many friends as she wished. Her name was Wilhemina, but everyone called her Goldilocks, on account of her hair. She liked it. It was a cute name.

One day, she decided to walk into the woods and pick wildflowers. She wandered farther than she meant to, and had completely forgotten to bring a lunch, so she was very glad to come across a little cottage. No-one was home, so she hit the window beside the door with a rock until it shattered, and let herself in. 

The coals in the fireplace had been covered to smoulder in the owners' absence, and Goldilocks put some kindling on to work up some flames. There was a bowl of porridge on the table, but when she tried it, it was cold and very unpleasant. She helped herself to some cider to rinse away the taste, then put some porridge from the pot above the fire into a new bowl, but it was too hot. 

That's going to take forever to cool down she thought, so she scraped out the last of the porridge into a smaller bowl, and soon it was just right. She ate her fill, and afterwards played a little by jumping on the larger double bed. Soon the warmth and the food and the exercise made her feel sleepy. She settled into the smaller single bed to take a nap. 

Goldilocks woke to the sound of angry voices just outside the cottage door. There were two, no three of them, and they were talking about the broken window. "But how will we ever afford a new one?" a woman's voice kept saying.

"What's done is done," said the older male voice. "Let's hope there's still dinner at least."

"But Baird," said the woman's voice, "what if they're still in there?"

The voices became too low for her to hear. She'd never been in trouble before, not really, but it dawned on her that she was in the middle of the deep dark woods, that these people were obviously upset, and that there was only one of her against three of them. She cursed herself for not staying in town, near her friends and family.

Then she realised that the cottage had a second window, and that it was on the back wall. She jumped out of the small bed and ran to it. The latch was stiff, but she managed to work it open and lift the sash. She used a night-stand as a stepping stool, and had wriggled halfway through when large coarse hands pulled her, squealing, back into the cottage. Goldilocks found herself staring up at a large, shapeless, and very hairy man.

"You made all this mess?" he said. He shook his head. "I never."

"I was lost!" she cried. "I was frightened! There was a wolf, and — "

"There haven't been wolves in these parts for over a hundred years," said the woman. Goldilocks stared at her. She was as large and shapeless as her husband, and almost as hairy.

"Mrs. Baird is right," said the man. "This is her family's cottage, been here for six generations." He straightened up and jerked down the tails of his well-patched waistcoat. "And what state is the porridge in, Mrs. Baird?"

"It's all stone cold right now," said the woman. She had moved to the fireplace, and poked at the bottom of the cooking-pot with a wooden spoon. "And there's a layer of burnt grain in the pot as thick as your thumb, thanks to being left over the fire with barely anything inside." She glared at Goldilocks.

"She ate from my bowl," said the little boy, staring mournfully at the dishes Goldilocks had left on the table.

"Never ye mind," said Mr. Baird. "Momma will wash it for you tomorrow. Right now we have to go to town with this one and lodge a complaint."

"Who would hear your complaint?" said Goldilocks. Her father heard complaints in his role as burgher. Vagrants and drunks and layabouts had complaints brought against them. Couldn't they see what sort of person she was? She checked her pinafore. It was wrinkled, but still mostly white. She picked off a spot of crusted porridge and flicked it away.

"Right then," said Mr. Baird, taking her by the arm with a firm grip, "let's be off so we don't have to go home in the dark. If we're lucky there'll even be time to talk to the glazier."

Goldilocks only spoke when spoken to the whole walk home, which was shorter than she had expected. When they reached the burgher's house — so large and splendid that the Bairds remarked on it even in their anger — her mother came rushing out and embraced her.

"We didn't know where you were!" her mother said. "Goldilocks, you mustn't wander off, we've told you! There are wolves in those woods!"

"There haven't been wolves in the woods since —" started Mr. Baird, but he was interrupted by Goldilocks's father, who stood on the top of the front steps to his house.

"Did the man hurt you, Goldilocks?" said her father. He must have just got home, for he still wore his chain of office.

Goldilocks said "no", but she rubbed her arm and looked down as she said it.

"I see," said her father. "You are hereby banished from town for a year, beginning now. Now," he added, when the Bairds didn't move immediately.

Goldilocks heard Baird Junior say, "But what about seeing the glazier?" as they walked away, and his mother shushing him.

She got pork chops and sauerkraut for dinner, her favourite. And certainly she lived happily ever after.