Once upon a time, in a land like yours and mine, there lived a baker. Her favorite thing to bake was gingerbread cookies. She was a friendly woman, but she had secret routines and some exciting animal friends.
One early morning, as she baked her daily gingerbread, she realized she had more flour, water, molasses, ginger, salt, and spice than she had anticipated. So, she decided to make a special gingerbread man for the local boy Billie to eat. You see, he delivered flour to her every afternoon.
On this day, the baker took a big lump of her smooth brown dough and shaped the gingerbread man's body, adding the silhouette of a neck and a round head on top. She drew on a couple of eyes with thick white frosting for good measure and a mouth.
Billie will surely love this gingerbread man, she thought. Before she placed her cookies in the oven, the baker added legs and arms with extra scraps of dough.
She thought the little man might also need fingers and toes. But she had spent so much time adding other details to the gingerbread man that she had almost forgotten to put her cookies in the oven! By the time she got her mitts on and the cookie sheet in hand, the stove was scorching hot!
According to the baker, she thought she had prepared everything. She thought she knew to place the sheet precisely right so that the gingerbread man would have no chance of escaping when she opened the door.
There was magic in the spice, you see. And one had to be very careful when dealing with magic.
"Escape, you won't, little gingerbread man!" the baker cried out as she stared down at the uncooked doughy shapes before her. She giggled and began to sweep the bakery floor.
She swept and swept. She swept so much that she almost forgot to take her cookies out of the oven!
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
The lunch bell rang. It was well past time to take out her gingerbread.
"Oh, by golly!" she shouted to no one in particular. The bakery's cat, Bop, peeped his head out from behind a cozy blanket.
Oven mitts thrown on once more, the baker pulled the tray out of the oven. She had her eyes tightly shut, worried that her gingerbread was overcooked.
The now-alive gingerbread man, realizing that the woman could not see him for a moment, peered out from his crouching position behind the cookie tray. He squealed.
Leaping from his perch and whizzing past the baker's head, he sang out: "Run, run, run…"
The baker had her eyes sealed shut in preparation for a ruined sheet of cookies. As she opened them to gaze upon her perfect golden-brown desserts, she saw a flash of spice to her left.
"… As fast as you can…" the baker heard a tiny little voice continue.
It was time for her afternoon nap, you see, and she was exhausted. Luckily, she remembered the gingerbread man she had made for Billie—this surely woke her up.
Once the baker had turned to face the direction of all the commotion, she realized what the matter was: she had let Billie's gingerbread man escape! "I knew it. I knew it!" she shouted. "Bop, chase after the gingerbread man! Get him, get him!" she continued crying.
Bop looked up from his resting spot again, yawned, and stood up. As the cat stretched himself awake, the gingerbread man took his chance to escape through the bakery window and into the side garden. He had noticed a garden path that led somewhere. One giant leap and a cushy cat tail in his sights, the gingerbread man landed right on Bop.
The cat yowled and tensed straight up; the gingerbread man was flung high into the air. He raced out the window, singing:
"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"
Now recovering from his injury, Bop shifted slowly towards the garden door. The baker followed suit. She didn't like this commotion, you see, and she didn't want to run. Panting, she opened the door and cried, "Bop, please follow that gingerbread man! Billie mustn't lose his treat!"
Bop dashed out the garden path as fast as his little kitty legs could carry him. The Gingerbread Man was very quick, however, and the cat was soon left in the dust, literally. Coughing and sputtering in the Gingerbread Man's dirty wake, Bop let out a loud "MER-OW," catching the attention of the yard dog, Plop.
Plop was usually known for chasing Bop around. But the sight of the baker in the yard was unusual. Hearing the cat's yelp, the baker's hollers, and the strange singing of a magical running cookie, Plop began to guess what must be the matter. While the dog had a little more stamina than the baker or Bop, as she saw that magical gleam of spice, she realized she was soon in for a real race.
Plop bounded into action. Bop followed closely behind her, catching the dog's draft and holding speed. The baker, however, was gasping in the distance. She did not like to run.
The Gingerbread Man loved to run. It was his favorite thing to do–all he'd ever known. The Little Man ran and ran and ran as fast as his legs could. He approached a large metal gate crawling with vines, (perfect for a little gingerbread man of his size to scale up).
Scaling up the vines, he peered over his broad-sculpted shoulder and saw the baker far in the distance. But the cat and the dog were now almost at the gate! He gasped!
Bop and Plop approached the gate. They began to yowl and howl. The gate loomed, but neither the cat nor the dog knew the best way to get out, and the Gingerbread Man was getting away.
They saw him leap from the latch to the ground, and as he did so, the lock undid just a bit. Tired of waiting for the baker, who was just now catching up, the cat jumped carefully from the dog's back to the top of the wooden door and, too, leaped off.
The Gingerbread Man fell to the ground and stumbled slightly forwards before keeping on his fast and merry way.
"Run, run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man," he sang as Bop meowed loudly, attempted to swipe the Man, and chased closely behind him.
The field was vast and dry. Dust flew up, causing quite a stir, and the Gingerbread Man traipsed the area as quickly as his little body could muster.
A nearby tree emerged in the distance, and the Man jetted towards it in an instant.
"What is in that magic spice?" yelled the baker to no one in particular. She finally opened the gate for herself and Plop, and they ran together towards the dust trail, moving in the direction of the field willow.
Meanwhile, at a nearby rich man's menagerie, a teeny tiny monkey noticed a cloud of dirt and dust picking up in the baker's field. The monkey sprung herself out of her owner's plot and toward the fast-approaching disturbance.
The Gingerbread Man peered up at the large tree and grabbed hold of a single swaying willow branch. He giggled to himself: "I ran fast! They won't catch me!" He pulled himself high up the tree and leered down at the baker, cat, and dog who were now all gathered beneath him shouting, meowing, and howling.
"I am the Gingerbread Man!" he hollered from above and put his intricate gingerbread hands on his shapely gingerbread hips.
You see, the Gingerbread Man did not know what a monkey was. He quite honestly wasn't too sure what a baker, a cat, or a dog was, either, but he certainly thought he was the only one capable of climbing the large willow tree in the middle of the field.
As the monkey approached the tree, the baker cried out with glee: "Oh, Pip! What a wonderful surprise to see you! Please, can you climb the tree and catch that gingerbread man? We must get that treat for Billie!"
When the Man saw the monkey before him on the highest branch of the tree, he began to tremble just a bit.
I hadn't planned for this, he thought.
The monkey reached out and grabbed the Gingerbread Man. She smiled: this wasn't the first time someone had to catch one of Ms. Pastry's magical creations.
The monkey had not expected Billie to have arrived right on-site to see what all the noise was.
"Send the cookie down!" shouted the baker.
"Drop him, Pip!" Billie called out.
Ms. Pastry, Bop, Plop, and Billie rallied below. Pip smiled brightly at them. Without thinking twice, she dropped the cookie right into Billie's wide chompers!
Before the Gingerbread Man could even shout, "I'm one-third, two-thirds, all-the-way gone," Billie had swallowed him up and was dancing with magical delight.
My name is Tasha Guenther. I currently live in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, while I finish my Ph.D. in Cultural Studies with a concentration in digital cultures at McMaster University. I am an avid academic essay/book chapter writer, but I also enjoy writing short stories and non-fiction pieces. You can read more of my DLTKsCrafts work here!
Alongside my learning, studying, and thinking about digital platforms and critical theory, I appreciate long conversations with close friends, reading poetry, and taking photos of my cat. Learn more about me here or connect with me on my Instagram, Twitter, VSCO, and Facebook accounts.