That Cinderella, Moira Gardener
|"Jessie Cameron," by Emma F. Harrison, artmagick.com|
Editor's note: Sometimes, like with this story, a light, brisk tone is just what it takes to successfully recast an old, classic fairy tale.
“That Cinderella,” said one blind sister to the other. “What an uncharitable witch. She sits up there all high and mighty surrounded by servants, while we depend on charity.” The two old sisters sit in the town streets with their begging bowls nurse their bitterness. Then along comes a wizard.
Knowing of their plight he offers them a solution. He tells them he has an axe to grind with the present King, the former prince. Latching onto a chance to get even with Cinderella they agree to help him.
Saying a powerful incantation he restores their former youth and beauty, including their eyes and feet. You see, the sisters mutilated their feet trying to make them fit the glass slipper; and those darn birds of Cinderella’s pecked out their eyes. But, now fully restored, they run off to the Palace. Knowing Cinderella has a soft heart, the sisters concoct a story about being noble ladies fallen on hard times in need of a position at court.
Cinderella, still having a soft heart as the sisters suspected, gives them a position. Over the years of ruling the kingdom with the King she has maintained her soft heart, but also gained much wisdom. And because the wizard restored the sisters to their former selves, rather than disguising them, Cinderella knows who they are. But Cinderella and the king have plans of their own. Thus the sisters find themselves as scullery maids instead of ladies in waiting.
“That Cinderella is as horrible as ever,” they complain.
One day a magician and a troupe of singers come to the castle to entertain the King and his Queen. Cinderella welcomes them and offers them refreshment in the kitchen until it is time to perform. The magician being the last to perform is left alone in the kitchen with the two sisters. He turns on them with scorn.
“What fools,” he says to the sisters, for he is really the wizard in disguise. “I see you’ve done nothing, so I have come to destroy the King and his Queen myself.”
“But we need more time,” they plead.
The magician, cape billowing, leaves the kitchen to perform his magic act. He is brought into the hall and bows before the King and Queen.
“And now I shall make your majesties disappear,” and with smoke and words he does just that. To the delight of the sisters Cinderella and the King are never seen again.
A-h-h-h, but far away lying on the white sands of a tropical isle surrounded by exotic fruit and warm sunshine lieth King and his Cinderella.
“…that Cinderella,” the King says, “and her brilliant plan. It was worth giving that wizard the kingdom. Isn’t retirement great?” Cinderella beams as she snuggles up with her prince charming.
Oh, and the step sisters. The wizard has found out they could cook. So he let them retain their youth and beauty. But they must remain in the kitchen as scullery maids with the added task of cooking. From their perspective, as long as they believe Cinderella got it in the end, they’re happy. So, let’s leave it at that.
Moira Gardener’s background is eclectic: from dentistry, to administration, then geriatrics and now writing. She enjoys her rural lifestyle on the Pacific West coast, and spending time with her husband of many years walking in the woods and on the beaches.