The Little Match Girl: A Retelling

Scan of illustration in Fairy tales and stories (1900). Andersen, H. C. (Hans Christian), 1805-1875; Tegner, Hans, b. 1853, ill; Brækstad, H. L. (Hans Lien), 1845-1915 New York: The Century Co. Used under the Commons License via Wikimedia.org

Scan of illustration in Fairy tales and stories (1900). Andersen, H. C. (Hans Christian), 1805-1875; Tegner, Hans, b. 1853, ill; Brækstad, H. L. (Hans Lien), 1845-1915 New York: The Century Co. Used under the Commons License via Wikimedia.org

Emma Gonzalez, Staff Writer

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It’s the worst Christmas ever. We don’t have the money for presents or a meal or even a tree. Everything started going downhill just last month when my grandmother died. She was the only person that truly cared for me, I see that now. Other children only make fun of me, my mother ignores me, and my father beats me. I suppose that all these events were normal before even, but without the comfort of my sweet grandmother, they sting like never before.
I was lost in thought so I didn’t even hear as Marther Smith came running behind me. He shoved me to the snowy ground right in front of the rich merchants house. I hadn’t taken account of how cold it was until my face was buried in frost and ice. Marther grabbed both my legs with one hand and slipped off my shoes. Once he had what he wanted, he sprinted back in the direction from which he came from, and disappeared into the white. I got up, not wanting for one of the merchants children to look out the window and see me looking more pathetic than usual. But when I looked through the window, I didn’t see children, but a tree larger than life. It stood there gleaming, taunting me, showing what I could never have. I strode off.
Finally I came to the town center. I peeked into my satchel made from cloth thicker than my coat (which was very very thin). I started yelling at passer byers to come get “the finest, brightest, most brilliant matches in all of Denmark,” for fear of not selling enough and going home to an angry father that would beat me. Again.
Not many people were out on the streets, they were probably celebrating the near end of 1844 with their families, in the warmth. I shivered. I couldn’t feel my feet or hands, all my clothes were drenched from the snow (thanks to Marther Smith), and nobody was even buying any matches. I kept yelling for if I didn’t sell at least a bundle of matches, who knows what my father would do. Maybe half an hour passed and still no one would buy. This isn’t fair! Of course no one in their right mind would be out in weather like this. And even if they were, they’d certainly not stick around long enough to buy a couple of matches from a frozen child. I deserve a break.
I stuffed the matches into my satchel and walked off. I looked at my limbs, they were turning a funny dark pink color. My legs hurt, it felt as if my knees had been frozen in place. The house was another mile north…
I decided I was on a break so I shouldn’t have to work that hard. I simply rounded the next corner and slid down the brick wall. As I was sliding down my knees popped. I went to reach for my knee but couldn’t feel it under my hands. I was so cold that most of my body had gone numb. I’m sure father wouldn’t mind me using just one match. I struck the match against the bricks on the wall, hitting it harder than I meant to. The match lit and suddenly I smelled something. Something tasty. I smelled… goose! Not only goose but more. A whole feast of luxurious foods.
I looked up at my match. Above the little light I saw a hole in the wall. Through the hole, I saw the food. A roasted goose larger than life, as much cranberry sauce as there are drops in the ocean, batches and batches of cookies, and so much more. I leaned in closer to get a better view of the table, trying to see all the food. I let out a shudder as I saw that the table had no end, then my breath blew out the flame.
“No no no no no,” I said lighting another match. When the match lit, it didn’t show a display of food, but a Christmas tree bigger than any other in all of Denmark. The merchants tree looked like a sad sapling compared to this tree. It was the brightest most beautiful tree to ever exist, with ornaments made of gold and rubies and diamonds and everything that only existed in my dreams. I reached out to touch the tree and just like that, the match wisped out. Now someone is dying, I remembered my grandmother saying.
“Oh Grandmother, how I wish you were here,” I longed to myself striking another match, with less enthusiasm this time. Then I looked up.
“Grandmother!” I burst when I saw her. I leapt into her arms and she gave the warmest most lovely hug ever. Then I looked down at the match, which was getting rattled by the wind. “Oh, but Grandmother, you won’t stay for long, will you?” I looked back up to her simply smiling kindly at me. No, I won’t let her leave me again. I grabbed another match the struck it against the wall. Two flames are stronger than one. I took out another match and lit it, then another and another. I kept lighting the matches until I had the whole bundle burning in my hand.
I dug into my satchel and got out a second bundle. “Oh, sweetheart,” my grandmother said coaxing the bundle out of my hand. She let them all drop to the cold wet ground still smiling. “There’s no need for those anymore.” She pulled me in a tight hug and told me to hold on to her sides. Before I could argue, we were in the air.
“G-G-Grandmother! What’s happening?”
“I’m taking you to the place where you belong. The place where we belong. Up here we’re treated right. You don’t have to deal with the kids that hate you, you’re mother that neglects you, or my horrible son that beats you. Everybody is kind up here with God.”
“We’re going to heaven!?”
Grandmother smiled brightly as we descended past the clouds and into the place where we belong.

On the way to his house, Marther Smith passed the corner that the Little Match Girl was huddled in. He her hands and feet were turning a revolting purplish black, and did not seem to be breathing. She had many matches in her hand, although they didn’t seem to be warming her any. The matches lay half on her hand half on the pavement, and quite a few had been put out by the snow and cold. She lay bent with her back against the corner and her legs almost buried under the snow that had fallen on her. Her eyes were closed, mouth slightly agape, and had a very peaceful resting face. Marther grunted and walked along; She had always been a strange kid. Little did Marther know about the beautiful things she saw before her final breath. They really were they greatest matches in all of Denmark.

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