I am very excited to present the piece that I submitted to Enchanted Conversation. Regrettably, it was not accepted for publication, but I knew it was a bit of a long shot for a number of reasons. I am just glad I was able to finish something and be proud of it. Without further ado, then!
Cinderella’s chariot hastened her to the ball, but not before the rain began. A slow drizzle gave way to a brisk downpour that coated the ground in mud.
“Oh, blast!” thought she, lamenting her luck. Even if it let up by midnight, she would have to walk home in the muck. Twelve o’clock was when reality would rear its ugly head and she would return to fulfilling the every need of her stepmother and stepsisters. Even her chariot, creamy white with gold detailing and red plush seats, would disappear.
As she descended from the former pumpkin, clad in frothy dress and glimmering slippers, she felt the rain pelt at her face and her confidence. The pointy heel of her shoe slid into the yielding ground. Her beautiful auburn up-do was plastered to her head. Cinderella did not feel beautiful.
She hurried toward the magnificent oak doors of the castle, which she imagined must gleam even on the sunniest of days. A guard opened the door as she approached. She granted him a cursory curtsy. Once inside, she slipped into an opulent powder room. There, she blotted at her hair and dress and swiped the mud from her heels. Upon her exit, she did a little spin to fluff out her skirt. She felt better. Not beautiful, perhaps, but worthy of being there.
Just down the hall, she spotted an ornate archway. She inched towards it, the airy instrumentals growing louder with each step she took. Through the archway, she found a grand stairway which split a large ballroom. It was the only way in, she quickly realized, and afforded everyone in the room the opportunity to view the latest guest. At the top of the stairs, she took a deep breath. She began her descent, conquering stair after stair, and stare after stare.
When Cinderella reached the bottom, every eye in the ballroom rested on her. Even the musicians had ceased their playing to watch her. She smiled a coy smile to conceal her panic. She had no plan. Thankfully, she could see the Prince himself weaving his way through the throng of gapers, his gaze set on her.
“Lovely maiden, I recognize you not. Please favor me with a dance, so that I may learn more about you.”
She dipped into a curtsy and held out her arm. He snaked their arms together and away they went!
He whirled her around, past jealous looks from stepfamily and strangers alike. Rich colors began to blur together, a dizzying kaleidoscope that threatened her balance and grace. She was not educated in the various styles of dance but it did not seem to matter. Her feet tripped along wherever the Prince led them.
He wanted to know her name. She fed him a lie. Where was she from? Another lie. Was she enjoying herself? Finally, the truth. She had never been more entertained at a ball in all her life. (Did she disclose that she did not frequent such events? Well, no.)
He thought the rain would deter a pretty girl such as herself, but he was glad she was there. HIs evening had thus far been occupied by spoiled brats, ambitious mothers and superficial maidens. She was refreshing.
He spun her away, then brought her in close again. As she went to rest her head on his chest, she heard the beginning of that fateful noise: twelve clangs of a clock tower bell. Midnight. She pulled away, crying, “I must leave you now, dear Prince!”
She darted through the swaying figures and up to the top of the stairs. As she passed through the castle doors, she became aware that lavishness no longer touched her skin. Her beautiful dress was gone. She stifled a sob.
Outside, the rain had stopped. She reached the bottom of the castle’s front steps and unhesitatingly plunged her shoes into the mud. As she went to pull her right foot back up, she realized she was no longer wearing one of her slippers. Try as she might to fish it out of the swampy ground, she could not. After a final, desperate grunt which betrayed her lack of sophistication, she gave up and sank her en-stockinged foot into the road instead. She pulled off her other slipper, nestled it in the crook of her arm and continued to run.
A little ways down the road, Cinderella found the remnants of a pumpkin.