Friday, 17 August 2012

Cinderella: Happily Never After

Yes, my love,” Cinderella said, smiling. “I slept well.”

“Don’t call me ‘my love’,” the Prince reprimanded her, frowning. “I am ‘Your Royal Highness’ to everyone. Don’t let me have to tell you again.”

Cinderella sighed. Just yesterday had been the most wonderful day of her life, what with marrying the Prince and all, and even though she had got a splinter of glass in the sole of her foot from that goddamn slipper she hadn’t made a fuss over it. The great feeling had lasted right up to the moment she had opened her mouth to say “I do.”

“She does,” the Prince had interrupted. He had turned and glared at Cinderella. “I speak for you from now on, understand?”

“But, Your Highness,” the priest began.

“Off with your head!” roared the Prince, and the priest turned white and cut off his own head.

Anyway, it had been a wedding to remember, and perhaps it wasn’t the Prince’s fault that he had imbibed so much that he had become incapable of doing anything more than flop into a drunken slumber at the end of it. After all, as Cinderella said to herself, one didn’t get married every day.

And now...this.

“Your Highness...” she began somewhat timidly, “have you decided where we should go for our honeymoon? I’m told the seaside is lovely this time of year.”

“The seaside?” yelled the Prince. “Fiddlesticks! It’s lousy with budget tourists with their squalling brats. No, it’s the mountains for us!”

“The mountains? But isn’t it cold there in this season?”

“You’ll see,” said the Prince, and a short while afterwards they were driving out of the palace and on the road out of the city. The Prince was a very fast driver, and very bad, so that Cinderella kept her eyes squeezed shut all the way to the cabin in the hills.

“Here we are,” the Prince said, shutting off the air conditioner and opening the car door.

“It’s cold,” Cinderella confirmed.

“Who the hell cares about a little cold?” The Prince yanked open a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe and displayed lines of fur overcoats, with fur caps hanging on hooks and fur boots placed side by side below. “See what-all I’ve got here? I’m all set for the mountains!”

“Yes, but what about me?”

“About you?’re going to wear...a bikini top, yes, that’s right. And a see-through skirt. I like my women in that sort of thing. And the glass slippers, of course. From now on all you’ll ever wear on your feet will be glass slippers. Get it?”

“But I’ll freeze to death in that kind of get-up,” Cinderella objected.

“Oh,” said the Prince airily, “you can just jolly well warm my bed for me and do the cooking. Nobody’s asking you to go out!”

Cinderella nodded miserably. “I should have known,” she muttered.

What was that?” The Prince screamed at her so loudly that an ornate vase, which had been kept a mite too close to the edge of a table, toppled on to the floor and shattered into three hundred and eleven pieces. “Oh for...go and clear that up,” said the Prince, “and then cook lunch. I’ll be back.” Drawing on a fur coat, hat and boots, he stormed out of the house.

Cinderella knelt and began sweeping up the three hundred and eleven pieces of the broken vase. All of a sudden her life with the ugly stepsisters didn’t seem quite so bad after all. She had, however, only gathered up 310 when she had an idea. Dropping the whole lot back on the floor, she stood up and yelled.

“Fairy godmother!”

“What is it?” The fairy godmother appeared in a swirl of smoke. She was running a comb through her hair, which looked stringy and grey, and seemed distinctly annoyed. “What do you want?”

“I want...” Cinderella began.

“Not possible,” said the fairy godmother promptly. “The Fairy Godmother’s Association is on strike as of midnight last night. We’re agitating for better conditions of work. Like, you know, how we need days off and sick leave and the like, instead of being summoned always by silly girls who don’t know their own minds.” She critically examined her fingernails. “Do you think this shade of polish really suits me?”

“But...” Cinderella suddenly began to cry.

The fairy godmother was distinctly put out. “Oh for heaven’s sake...look, none of the fairy godmother’s association can help you, but you can get the help of any of the fairy dogmothers if you want.”


“Seek the fairy dogmother at the rainbow’s end,” said the fairy godmother, and vanished, still scraping her comb through her hair. All she left behind was a half-heard mutter: “Stupid girl, never knows her own mind...”

“The rainbow’s end?” Cinderella had not the faintest idea what the old fairy was babbling about. Sighing, she bent to begin picking up the fragmented vase again. She had just finished scooping up the three hundred and twelfth piece when she straightened up to ease a crick in her back and happened to look out of the window.

“Cor blimey!” Cinderella dropped the remnants of the vase all over again, and the number of pieces increased to five hundred and two. “There’s a rainbow over there, large as life!”

The rainbow hung between two rocky mountains, drifting down until it vanished into an abyss. Cinderella looked at it for a minute, and then at the devastation on the floor. “Hardly a choice in the matter,” she said to herself, and went to the wardrobe. Pulling on a fur coat (it was too big for her, but she rolled up the sleeves), a fur hat (it was too big for her, but she rolled up the brim) and a pair of fur boots (they were too big for her, but she dragged them on over the triple-damned glass slippers, and they fitted after a fashion), she opened a window and carefully climbed out into the cold (the Prince having locked the door).

The Prince had taken the car, so all she could do was walk towards the rainbow. The walk took a longish time, long enough to wish she had smashed the glass slippers along with the vase while she could, and put the fragments on the Prince’s side of the bed, or baked the fairy godmother a cake with ground glass slipper as a garnish. And as she went the rainbow seemed to recede further and further, until she became so annoyed with it that she quite forgot to be angry with Prince or Godmother. With a “Oh no you don’t!” she ran as fast as she could in the slippers up the last hill and hurled herself over it. One of the slippers promptly lost a heel and Cinderella rolled over and over until she hit rock bottom.

“Ouch!” she said when she sat up, rubbing her head. “That hurt!”

“It generally does when you go rolling down a mountain,” said a voice drily, and Cinderella found herself looking up at a small hairless bitch with hanging teats and a piebald skin.

“Who are you?” the girl asked.

“The fairy dogmother, of course. And you are Cinderella, the girl who can’t make up her mind. You see, your fairy godmother told me all about you.”

“And know what I want?”

“Yes, of course.” The bitch scratched her ear with a hind leg. “But you’re going to have to help yourself. No pumpkin coach for you now!”


“Take a deep breath.” The bitch flicked her tail and Cinderella found herself suddenly transported right back to the cabin, where a furious Prince was inspecting the wreckage of the vase.

“Where the hell have you been?” he shouted. “No dinner, no you, and I find this!” He looked at her again. “How dare you wear my clothes? Take them off at once, or it’s off with your head!”

“Excuse me,” the fairy dogmother said, materialising. “What makes you think you can order this girl around?”

“What makes me think...?” the Prince spluttered. “She’s my wife, that’s what!”

“Your wife? How can you marry someone underage?”

“Underage?” The Prince’s eyes seemed to bug out of his head.

“Underage, of course.” The fairy dogmother turned to Cinderella. “Show him your feet, dear.” Reluctantly, Cinderella took off her boots.

“Look at those tiny feet,” the dogmother said. “You married her because only she had feet small enough for those slippers, right? So how can an adult have such small feet, huh? Did you think of that?”


“And another thing,” the fairy dogmother went on remorselessly. “You’re guilty of paedophilia and statutory rape, you know? Do you know what happens to paedophiles in prison?”

“But we...” said the Prince, going white and sweating, “we never did anything. Ask her.”

“That’s right,” Cinderella confirmed. “He got drunk last night and passed out.”

“In that case,” the fairy dogmother said, “get the marriage annulled right now, and return her to her home. And if I were you, dear,” she added, “I’d break those glass slippers.”

“No sooner said than done,” said Cinderella, kicking them off. One of them hit the Prince right in the eye.


I’m home!” Cinderella declared, throwing open the door.

“Oh?” said Evil Stepsister Number One, looking up from her textbook on nuclear physics. “Didn’t suit you, the royal life, then?”

“Come into the kitchen and have some cabbage soup,” said the Evil Stepmother. “You look starved. I knew these royals don’t know how to feed people like us!”

“And then,” said Evil Stepsister Number Two, who was stitching a dress in the corner, “you really must clean up your room and tidy up your things, Cindy. It’s such a mess, and I’m tired of doing it for you.”

Cinderella opened her mouth to protest, and remembered Prince and vase and glass slippers.

“All right, I’ll do it,” she said meekly.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2010/12

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