The sun peeked out from behind the clouds, so instead of making supper, they go down to the river. She sits on the naked roots of a tree that weaves in and out of the bank, overhanging the water. How odd to look down and see water rushing underneath. Next to her is a sapling sheared down by beaver teeth and left to rot. The sky is blue, and the air is fresh.
When the gingerbread boys return from explorations over the stream that feeds the river, they all clamber over an old and massive stone wall, thick with moss and lichen. Where the forest floor was the tan of bleached leaves only a week ago, now wild lily of the valley carpets it. Ferns curl upward, lifting their fronds to the sky, stretching after a long winter's nap. Parchment berries spot the ground, specks of red amidst the green. Soon, she thinks, the lady's slippers will rise, ready to dance.
But now, supper.
At home, she measures the spices and stirs. She boils water for the rice, She roasts the vegetables. She whips the cream for the chocolate pie. And in the other room, the gingerbread boys giggle together snuggled up on a chair.
"What was that you said in the forest?" the younger one asks.
"I said that I'd always love you, even if I was angry."
"And I said that if you were hurt, I'd never leave you. Unless Daddy called me for supper."
Ah, yes, supper. She finishes cooking, while the gingerbread man sets the table. All is well in the gingerbread house, full of steam and good things to eat. Love is on the menu tonight, and for that, she is thankful.