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01 July 2008 @ 09:40 pm
foibles of glass footwear  

May and June were not storytime writing months for me, it seems. Hopefully July will be better. For a start, here's the Cinderella story that a few of my f-list expressed an interest in seeing, although there's still something about it that just doesn't sit right with me.

(Actually, July will be wonderful because the
[info]weasley_fest  starts today!  Go forth and read.)

Title: Cinderella: Theme and Variations

 

Rating/Warnings: PG13 for blood, death and hints of adult themes

 

Length: 1,780 words

 

Summary: the foibles of glass footwear.

 

Author Notes: Anne de Fernandez is the name of the main character in the Indo-Malay version of the fairy tale and Anne of Tacloban is the heroine of the Grimm bothers' nineteenth century version.  The wishing tree is also from the Grimm's tale.

Cinderella: Theme and Variations


~ for Steph ~

 

Theme: a beginning

 

The bedtime fairy tale, the pantomime, the film, the skipping rhyme: go from rags to riches.  Receive a gift from a good fairy, your godmother, your dead mother's long lost friend: a night to remember.  But be home before the clock strikes disaster and the end of your time.

 

Variation one: humour and a baker's boy

 

Once upon a time, not so very long ago and not so very far away, there lived a girl named Anne whose father worked away from home a lot, leaving her with one haughty stepmother, two vain stepsisters, three dogs, one cat and Granny Tate, who was prone to spitting when her false teeth weren't in and prone to spitting when they were.  Out of all of them Anne liked the cat the best, because he needed the least looking after.

 

One sunny Saturday afternoon a messenger came from the Palace to inform the household of the forthcoming social event of the year, namely the Prince's coming of age birthday celebration, to which all the unmarried girls were invited because the King was going to force his son to choose a bride from them.

 

Granny Tate answered the polite knocking and the messenger boy left wiping spittle off his royal-red uniform.  She delivered the message to Anne's stepmother, who realised that this was the perfect opportunity to get one of her daughters out of the house, but she didn't want to get rid of Anne because Anne was useful (and seemingly the only person who wasn't bothered by Granny's… issue). 

 

The stepmother concocted a cunning plan.  She knew that the Prince was a shallow creature, who was more interested in a pretty face that anything else, and if beautiful Anne went to the Party no other girl would stand a chance, so she didn’t tell Anne about the invitation.

 

The following Friday night Anne's stepsisters dressed up in their best ball gowns and were herded to the party by their mother.  Granny was stood at the window waving them off when Anne, wearing the ragged clothes she used for cleaning and having completed all of her weekly chores (except for averting nuclear disaster, solving world hunger and winning the Nobel Peace Prize, because she was having a little difficulty with those), came up behind her and asked where everyone was going.

 

"Why, to the Prince's twenty-first birthday celebration with every other unmarried girl in the land!" exclaimed Granny Tate, only with less comprehensiveness and more spitting.

 

"To the Prince's twenty-first birthday celebration with every other unmarried girl in the land?!" said Anne, who was very good at translating 'Granny' into English.  "But I'm an unmarried girl!  Why can't I have a chance to kiss the Prince?!"

 

Granny patted her on the arm, but Anne could not be consoled and fled the house in tears.  She ran and ran until she reached the graveyard at the edge of the town (which wasn't actually all that far away from their house) and fell to the ground by her mother's grave, crying and bemoaning her fate.

 

The wishing tree that grew upon her mother's grave heard Anne's plight and reached out its branches to her in sympathy so that suddenly she was dressed in the finest of clothes, glimmering and sparkling in the moonlight, with shiny glass slippers adorning her feet, hoping that the noisy girl ruining the peaceful silence of the cemetery would go away now.

 

Anne was overjoyed, for if she had looked beautiful before she now looked more beautiful than ever and was perfectly dressed for a Princely Party.  She thanked her mother (which annoyed the wishing tree a little) and began walking into town, a spring in her step and the world at her feet, because tonight Anne was going to receive her first proper kiss.

 

Unfortunately the glass slippers were more pretty than practical and, with every step closer to the town and the castle and her daydreamed-of Prince, Anne's little feet were jarred and jolted on the hard ground and cobbled stones until the shiny glass shattered and she fell to the ground once more, with tears staining her face and blood staining her gossamer gown.

 

"Oh, now I shall never go to the Party!" she cried.

 

Now, the lights were on in the window of the nearby Bakery, but the Baker himself was not in residence, having gone to the social event of the year.  Instead his apprentice was hard at work, baking the bread that would be needed for the following day, but on hearing the noise outside of broken glass and broken dreams he abandoned his post to come to Anne's rescue. 

 

The Baker's Boy lifted her up and carried her to the Doctor, who fixed her feet so that they would heal, although not in time for Anne to go to the Ball.

 

The Baker was annoyed with his apprentice for abandoning his post, but the Baker's Boy was a better Baker than his Master and soon managed to set up a business of his own in the neighbouring town, although he came back to court Anne with breads, pastries, buns and cakes.  He was no Prince, but he was kind (and had huge muscles from pumping the bellows to keep the fires in the Bakery going and didn’t mind that she had not yet managed to avert nuclear disaster, end world hunger or earn the Nobel Peace Prize) and she found that it was no sinecure to spend the rest of her life with him, which they spent (mostly) happily ever after.

 

Variation two: beware gifts from strangers

 

She is in the middle of a dance in the arms of the Prince, the pair of them swirling gracefully to the music, when the best night of her life transforms into the worst as fast as a pumpkin could be turned into a carriage.  Her small feet, that have been jarred and jolted in the hard shoes encasing them, suddenly hurt so much that she falls to the floor screaming.  Shiny fragments of glass and a puddle of red decorate the ballroom floor.  Eyes stare, the clock strikes twelve and somewhere a fairy is laughing. 

 

Variation three: pretending practicality

 

This is how the story goes: night shift at a hospital in a university town means dealing with drunken students.  Most of them aren't here because they need their stomachs pumping but because alcohol tends to make them think that a whole lot of bad ideas sound fun, like setting their eyebrows on fire or walking in the middle of the road.  

 

A lot of them are in costumes tonight.

 

A thin looking girl sits curled up in a chair with a pink plastic tiara on her head.  Streaks of pale face show through heavy make-up, marking where she's been crying, but there's nothing obvious wrong with her.  

 

One lad with a crooked false moustache, a squashed sombrero and a frown looks like he has a broken wrist, probably from punching a wall or falling off one.  The Attending Nurse will wait until there's a male doctor free to deal with him; male doctors aren't as easily intimidated or overpowered by angry drunks.

 

The automatic doors part for a young man carrying a girl - another one in a tiara, but this one is painted gold to match a crown on the young man's head.  Blood drips spasmodically to the floor from her lacerated feet and the Attending directs her to my corner of the A&E, where I've just finished dealing with a previous patient.  Picking glass out of someone's feet is not my preferred way to spend a Friday night, but at least this girl doesn't look excessively over her alcohol limit, just dazed from the fairy tale game then didn't end in a happily ever after.

 

Variation four: choice

 

The gentleman has no heirs; only a house full of women and only one of those is even of his blood.  The only way to maintain the family name and provide for his child is to marry her to a man of great importance, and none are of greater importance than the Crown Prince.

 

He arranges the invitation to the Ball and leaves the rest to the women, for clothes and sundry are their domain.  He trusts them to make the best decisions in their area of expertise.  His daughter chooses the shoes she thinks look the best, but pretty is not the same as practical.

 

That family name is long forgotten.

 

Variation five: the good ended happily

 

Marianne is a woman twice married: once out of love to the father of her children and again, following his death, out of necessity to feed her daughters and grant them enough respectability for them to stand a chance of marrying.  It's all she could ever wish for when her eldest daughter, Rosemary, catches the eye of the heir to the richest estate in the surrounding lands.  The young man's family would disapprove if they knew of the secret love between the couple, but Marianna knows that for this story to end in marriage sooner or later her daughter must meet her lover's parents.

 

She saves the money allotted to her monthly by her husband to buy a gown that will make Rosemary appear not only respectable but desirable in the eyes of the young man's parents, with the aim of presenting her to them at the Yule Ball held by the rich family.

 

When the household receives their invite Marianne's husband unties his purse strings and proceeds to clothe his own flesh and blood - his daughter Elizabeth from his first marriage - in the most beautiful attire imaginable, and Marianna despairs of her own daughter ever being wanted when seen alongside her husband's child.  The only way she can see Rosemary obtaining her happy ending is if Elizabeth does not go to the Ball.

 

There is a craftsman employed by her husband to make Elizabeth a pair of glass slippers to show off her dainty feet.  Marianna approaches him secretly and persuades him, with what she has not given any man since her first husband, the only man she has loved, to work a fault in the pretty shoes.

 

Variation six: an ending

 

The Prince watches her flee as the clock strikes twelve.  A single glass slipper shines on the grand staircase and catches his eye, but when he tries to pick it up his hands, sweaty from the exertion of dancing and the failed chase, lose their grip.  The shoe falls to the floor and shatters, a myriad if onlys in every sliver of glass.



 
 
 
feeling: sleepysleepy
 
 
 
romanesca08 on July 3rd, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
Hee! I love stories that put a spin on the old fairy tales. That was a really fun read. Thanks for sharing, and hooray for weasley_fest!
inkvoices: hp:Weasley inyourbedinkvoices on July 6th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
Have you read Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman? It's an anthology of short stories that contains a twisty version of Snow White - so twisty that I now can no longer watch the Disney version safely lol.

Thank you! And yes, Weasleys!
romanesca08 on July 6th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
Nope, I haven't read any Gaiman other than Stardust, which sort of inspired me to do a HP-verse retelling of the fairy market.

I'll be sure to check it out though. :)
supergreaksupergreak on August 12th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
Vivian Van Something-or-the-other-The Rumplestiltskin Problem- remix on the story. Some are flat-out hilarious.
inkvoices: girl readinginkvoices on August 12th, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the rec :o)