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Cinder Ella

My version of the fairy tale

By TANIKA SMITH WHEATLEYPublished 7 months ago 17 min read
1
Cinderella

Cinder Ella

It was good to get out of the house – I started hanging around the staff when father died because my step-mother and step-sisters no longer even attempted to be civil to me anymore – but my step-mother was spending everything my father and his ancestors had worked so hard for so it wasn’t long before she was firing the staff and it was just as well that I’d spent so much time with them, because it became my duty in life to cook, clean and serve her and her daughters…

My name was Ella, but – nothing was spent towards my wardrobe, so I ended up wearing servant’s ‘hand me downs’ - but since the staff were ‘laid off’, and despite my attempts at mending, those few clothes soon became rags made even worse from cleaning the whole place on my own, and I was scornfully nick-named Cinder by my step-mother and sisters – an aunt, my father’s sister, used to call in, concerned for my welfare, but she was not welcomed – so any furtive visits between us would happen out the back entrance of the yard which opened to a dense wooded area with a small winding stream where we hoped would not be seen speaking with each other. She had even asked my step-mother to let me live with her, which was promptly denied, as I was the only servant, and an unpaid servant, that my step-mother had left – I looked forward to the little sneaky visits in the woods with my aunt though, and while waiting, I’d busy myself by climbing the trees where I could sit in the boughs without being seen and watch the people who went by on a road there that led to the main town centre - which I was doing one day, when the Prince came riding down the road towards town – alone – which was strange, I at first thought, then presumed that he was not far from town, so probably felt safe enough to be riding without an escort – but even more surprising, was that he suddenly stopped – pulled up his horse to a halt, climbed down from the stallion, and encouraged it to drink from the little stream and rest awhile – they must have just enjoyed a good gallop on this beautiful day – then he himself rested, sat on the ground and leaned up against a tree – the very tree that I was sitting in, above, among the foliage…

I held my hand to my mouth, but I could not stop my gasp – and giggle…

Perplexed, he peered up through the leaves, and saw me – I gulped, and waited for his anger at having his rest being disturbed, but instead, he stood, and grinned up at me…

“Well,” he teased, “I was warned to be wary of fairies in the forest…”

I gulped, but shook my head. “Sorry, I spend a lot of time here, and I’ve never seen any…”

“Oh?” He commenced climbing the tree, “what are you then?”

I immediately commenced climbing higher, I was lighter than he was, and almost reached the top, a little precariously, swaying on the highest branches, he was heavier, and could not reach me, even broke a branch whilst attempting to do so and looking up at me with a resigned reluctance, sighed in frustration. We studied each other. I’d seen him from a distance before, while bargaining at the market-place, but up close, he was even handsomer than I’d imagined. Thick tawny golden brown hair, chiselled brow, cheeks and jawbone, soft eyes, and when he smiled, like now, the cutest dimples…

Knowing I was at a safe distance, I carefully lowered myself in a fork of the branch and answered. “Not a fairy, if I was, I’d wave my wand, and whisk you away from here…”

He shook his head and sighed. “But that’s not very nice…”

I thought about my being my father’s heir, yet I was the servant in my own home. “Life’s not nice,” with a hand I pushed some unruly hair from my face, “my Prince…”

He grinned again. “You know who I am?”

“Everyone knows who you are…”

His grin disappeared. “Yea…another disadvantage…”

I wasn’t sure if he was talking about his life, or the moment. “I didn’t think you’d be allowed to ride around on your own…”

“I’m not…sometimes, I just have to…get out on my own.”

Aaaahhhh, like me, I thought to myself, and nodded.

He looked up at me again. The sun had shifted, and he squinted. “So…fairy in the tree, who are you?”

“Everyone just calls me Cinder…”

He’d noticed my dirty rags. “You…live in the forest?”

“I live nearby…”

He was perched on a larger branch, and patted it. “Why don’t you come down and sit with me?”

I shook my head. “I don’t think so…”

He wasn’t used to being rejected. He took a coin out of his pocket and held it up for me to see. I laughed.

He mistook my reaction. “Not enough?”

He took another coin from his pocket.

“I’m not for sale…”

“Everyone has a price…”

Across the tree-tops, I could just see the highest turret on the roof of my house that my step-mother might lose altogether, soon. I sighed and thought to myself, yea, maybe…but not quite yet…

It was obvious a myriad of thoughts were flashing through his mind as he peered up at me – a poor homeless girl turning down coins – a dirty ragged girl turning down the attentions of a wealthy Prince…

I smiled down at him. “I have no need of coins…”

He smiled back. “Some food, then…?”

“I’m really, quite independent…”

He was running out of suggestions. “I’ll come back here, same time, every day, just to check on you. Will you be here?”

But I wasn’t making any promises. I shrugged. “Maybe…”

But that was good enough for him. And he did ride by every day. Sometimes I’d remain hidden, in the plants, other times, we’d sit in the tree together. And when I felt certain he could be trusted, we even sat on the same branch together – but we spoke of anything and everything when together, and while doing so, we became friends. He even gave me some dancing lessons, which I supposed was his way of attempting to be romantic, and before I realized it, I was making sure I’d be there every day, and we’d joke, and tease each other, and laugh together – the best part of my life, and I believe at that time, as he turned up every single day, that it was also the best part of his life…

Then one day soon after he’d left, my aunt approached me. “Was that the…”

I didn’t let her finish. “Yes, the Prince…”

I was expecting a reprisal from her but instead, she was grinning from ear to ear. “But – that’s why I was coming to see you, why I’m here…”

I blinked uncertainly. “What do you mean?”

“The King’s putting on a grand ball, inviting all the prominent young ladies…” she grabbed me, “all the most suitable girls in an effort to…well, he hopes that his son might meet a bride…the King think’s that it’s time that his son marries and there are no neighbouring Princesses of his age – they’re either old spinsters or toddlers so he’s willing to introduce any noble young lady to his son…”

My expression dropped. My heart seemed to hurt. I had not realized how much I had grown to love the Prince, during our secret trysts in the forest.

“So come on over to my place,” she pulled my arm as she made for her house, which was not far from mine, “I have a dressmaker waiting there for you…”

I stopped. My heart soared, but my brain faltered. “For me, but…my step-mother will not allow me to attend…”

“I know. We must keep it a secret from that evil witch of a step-mother of yours. They will be going, as she has two suitable, if rather snobbish, daughters. And when they’re on their way, we’ll get you dressed up and I’ll get you there too, my darling girl, I’ll get you there too…and from the way I saw the Prince happily wave at you when he left, you have a good chance at becoming his wife…”

And I did keep it a secret, even from the Prince, for who knows, if he uttered my name to the wrong people, it might get back to my step-mother…

Having to wait until my step-mother and sisters were finally ready and gone, I arrived at the palace rather late – my aunt had organized everything, even (it seemed she knew everyone) having informed the doormen to expect me and let me in, because my name would have been on my step-mother’s invitation and obviously, my step-mother did not want me to be there, she was hoping that one of her own daughters might attract the Prince’s attention.

Walking up the staircase to the ballroom, I was surprised at my own confidence – for someone who had spent most of my life cooking and cleaning, I held myself high, and entered the room – was there a sudden hush in the room, yes, there was – the doormen even bowed as I passed them and one turned to the crowd announcing, “Miss Ella Durand, of the Durand clan…” I half bowed my head and half smiled at the doorman as instructed by my aunt, then holding my head high, walked further into the room using my hips while letting my upper body float above and slightly backwards as also instructed by my aunt – no longer my step-mother’s servant Cinder, but my father’s daughter, Ella…

My aunt had expected the King and Queen to be on their thrones and had shown me how to curtsey to them, but they were on the dance floor so while I was wondering what to do next, and feeling as though all eyes were on me, the late comer, I noticed a waiter walking past with a tray of glasses of champagne so instead of just walking around feeling self-conscious, I grabbed a glass, with a little nod at the waiter in lieu of a silent ‘thank you’, and took a sip – that little charade worked – without looking around, I knew everyone had returned to whatever they were doing before I entered and ‘stole the show’. I remembered my aunt’s words. ‘You have to stand out in the crowd, and be different, to be noticed’, and she was right. I’d only been there for a few seconds and I knew that all the other ‘hopefuls’ were shy – they also all wore the typical ‘tons of material’ ball gowns, in too many bright sparkly colours, I wore a simple and subtle yet glittering fitting (but not tight) gown that although not ‘tons of material’, enough fabric that flared which gave the impression that it would be restrictive for dancing, but so cleverly made, that it was not and the hem actually appeared as though I was dancing as I walked which of course, I wasn’t – all the other girl’s hair were flowing and feminine, mine was pinned up high and severe making me appear more like a woman than a girl but most importantly, my aunt had also applied the smallest amount of eye-liner, blush and lipstick when the other girls either had too much makeup on, making them look like clowns, or none at all, making them look unsophisticated, like they hadn’t grown up yet – oh, how lucky was I, to have such a clever aunt…

I knew that he was watching, but also on my aunt’s advice, I pretended that I had not yet noticed him and acted like I was enjoying my glass of champagne. Which, I noticed, none of the other girls were doing – their mothers (or chaperones) were drinking, but not the girls – yes, my aunt’s advice was working because not only did I have the Prince’s attention, I had all the other men’s attention, and even all the girls were watching me as though they wished that they were allowed to drink as well…I almost felt sorry for them…nah, I didn’t – Cinder has gone, and Ella had finally emerged…

The Prince, who had been with a group of his male friends, was now approaching me – I still pretended I hadn’t noticed his presence and I feigned that I was engrossed with my drink and just before he reached me, I turned my back on him – but this was an experienced (and a few years older than me) man so with a grin on his face, joined in the game I was playing – he placed his arms around me from behind in dancing stance and led me into a dance in that position for quite a few steps before twirling me round to face him, so smoothly, without spilling a drop from my glass – now there was no way that I could ignore him and our eyes locked – my mistake – for now he was in control and I don’t even recall what or how we danced – as if we’d become one and not two – doing some of the steps we’d practiced for fun in the forest – having turns at sipping the champers as we glided around the floor – and when the glass was empty, as if on ‘cue’, the music stopped – the whole room clapped (except for my step-mother and sisters I noticed), and he bowed – so I bowed too – not curtseyed, bowed – behaving differently, as my aunt’s instructions - the band started playing another tune, but with my hand in his, he led me out to the terrace – placed my empty glass on a table, then held me up against the railing…

“What are you doing here?”

I couldn’t tell if he was happy or angry, probably both. “I was…invited.”

“Cinder?!?!” Happy or angry, I can hear the lust in his voice.

Then I did something else that my aunt told me. Look at his mouth, not his eyes, during conversation, that drives men crazy, and breathed, “I am Ella…”

My aunt’s advice worked. He wanted to growl me for making him believe that I was homeless, but he blinked uncertainly. He pulled away from me, trying not to surrender and hold me close instead. “You told me your name was Cinder!”

I shook my head. “No, I told you that everyone calls me Cinder…”

“Why didn’t you tell me who you were?”

I turned from him, looked out at the lovely full moon night. “But I did…since my father died, I really have lived the life of a servant called Cinder…”

From behind, he put his arms around me. I could feel his body against mine. I could feel his breath on my back, his lips on my neck. “You really are a magic fairy,” he whispered in my hair.

I giggled and faced him. “We’re not in the forest now…”

He grinned. “You belong in my palace, with me…”

And under the full moon, we leaned towards each other to kiss...our very first kiss…

But before we could, the moment was rudely interrupted when his father the King, and my step-mother, along with one of her neighboring friends, angrily approached us..

“I have been informed,” the King glanced at my step-mother, then at his son, “that Ella is quite insane…”

I gasped. I knew she hated me, but I had not believed that even she could be so hatefully spiteful.

“No…” the Prince started, but he was interrupted by my step-mother’s friend.

“Yes,” my step-mother’s friend looked at me as if I had the plague. “Crazy. She has spent most of her life wearing filthy rags in the forest. Crazy!”

I expected my loving Prince to come to my rescue, to support me, protect me, and stand up for me – but he also, knew of the wretched girl in the woods, known as Cinder. His hesitation hurt me more than the cruel women and my confidence disappeared. I ran from them, from the terrace – but the atmosphere in the grand hall was worse, everyone had been silently peering and trying to hear what was happening out on the terrace. I had never felt so embarrassed in my life. I ran towards the exit, without even looking at the doormen who were now expecting to be growled for letting me in, and attempted running down the stairs. I hadn’t gone far, when my Prince finally sprang into action and ran after me – I’d only gone down a few steps, when I paused and looked back at him - but it was Cinder that he was calling, not Ella – which made me so mad that I turned from him and started running again – but I was not used to wearing high heels, I managed to walk and dance in them, but racing down stairs in the ridiculous things was awkward and one caught on the edge of a stair and came off – I tried grabbing it but noticed that the Prince was now ascending the stairs after me, so I left the damn shoe where it was and kicking the other one off as well, raced down the rest of the stairs in bare feet – a lifetime of working in bare feet helped me flee from the place and into the dark shadows of buildings and I didn’t stop until I made it into the even darker forest – soon after, I’d reached ‘our’ tree – I leaned against it and finally, let the tears fall…

I never returned home. I became Cinder again but this time, actually homeless – I returned the beautiful dress to my aunt – she had a bed for me – she had a room for me – I hadn’t had a room of my own since my father died, I usually slept in the kitchen trying to keep warm near the stove – and although I spent some time with her, helped her with her house and garden, she had servants, but she loved ‘pottering’ around, keeping busy – I mostly lived in the forest, but avoided ‘our’ tree…

So I was unaware that the Prince was looking for me - of course, he didn’t find me at my own home, my step-mother saying that I’d completely lost any sanity I may have had left, and never returned home after that fateful night – he had my shoes in his hands and the silly step-sisters tried telling the Prince that the shoes belonged to them, not realizing that the Prince and I had known each other for some time before the night of the ball at the Palace, he knew that they were not the girl he had danced with, he knew that their larger feet would not fit in the shoes, and challenged the stupid girls to prove it, but trying as hard as they could, they failed to prove that they could fit the dainty shoes and grabbing them from the girls, angrily strode out of my house saying he knew which females of the Durand family were insane, and it wasn’t Cinder…

He tried my aunt’s home after that, but of course, I was not there either and, my poor aunt had no idea where I was. “Have you tried…the tree?” She asked him, and he nodded. He must have looked so forlorn that she told him that I sometimes visited her, that next time I did, she would send someone to let him know – that’s when I walked in on them all…

I didn’t look at him, but I grabbed the shoes from his hands as I passed him saying, “thanks for returning my shoes, but I have no need for such ridiculous footwear,” and gave them to my aunt.

“I’d like you to wear them at least one more time,” the Prince told me, “on our wedding day…”

I kept my back to him, but stopped – he came behind me, put his arms around me in dancing stance, and like at the ball, but without any music, guided me into a few ballroom steps, his body against mine, his breath on my neck, his whisper in my ear, “and, my magical fairy, we will spend as much time dancing barefoot in our pretty forest as we want to…”

END

Fantasy
1

About the Creator

TANIKA SMITH WHEATLEY

When I was a child, I would wake up in the night because of nightmares. As time went on, I realized that I was looking forward to my dreams. Now, I write them, among other stories as well.....

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  • Amelia Moore6 months ago

    this was cute and interesting! definitely very adult lol. great job.

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