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The Cottage














 You wrap your red cloak tighter around your neck as the brisk autumn wind howls. Your twin brother Hans does the same. For all of your six years you can remember, you and Hans had been two of a kind; acting the same, dressing the same (as much as a boy and girl could), and causing the same mischief. The two of you were altogether inseparable. Today, on a cold and overcast afternoon, you may have been separated from your family, but the two of you were still together.


You had heard your parents talking the night before. Something about a faminem? You weren't sure what it meant. "A mother should never have to choose," Mama kept saying. "Nor a father." You didn't quite understand what was said, but you knew it had something to do with saving your older brothers and sisters.


You and Hans were the youngest and the weakest, though you knew you were the stronger of the two of you. You heard your parents arguing throughout the night: "Poor Margarete will never make it through the winter, and Hans? He will be lost to us before then." "But this is not right!" "Nor is it right that all our children should die rather than two." On and on they went until dawn, and when the morning came, your parents told you that the four of you were to play a game of hide and seek. Then, after giving each of you a small basket of bread and cheese, your parents led you and Hans out the door and deep into the woods.


You were eventually left atop a giant hill in the middle of a clearing. Here you sat until the sun began to set. Now, with the clouds darkening and the shadows getting longer, the chill of the evening begins to frighten you. You want to go home, but you don't know the way back, and worse, you're not sure you are even wanted back, not after what you overheard. You do know one thing: you and Hans cannot stay here. It is too cold and scary. You need to find shelter.