September 30, 2011

Cinderella: A Rat to Riches Story, By Zoe Marzo

Editor's Note:  Zoe Marzo is a baker by day and a writer by night. She is currently living, writing and baking in the Southwest.

I close my eyes. The smell of ripe pumpkins rises from the memories. I remember that night so well. How couldn’t I?

The sound of glass tumbling down stone steps—without shattering. I remember the tickle of a magic spell cast on the body, and the incredible pain of transfiguration. The way it felt to wear shoes and coattails. Not every rat can say he’s been a man.

You’ve heard the tale by now. Gossip travels fast. The girl ,Ella, with the evil step-sisters. The girl who used to scrub the floors, and make the breakfast, and sit by the fire and daydream. A commoner, only she wasn’t common at all. Not to me.

It took incredible magic and a glittering sequined gown for a prince to notice her. It took a rotting pumpkin turned into a dazzling carriage, and rats turned into a footman and coach. But I loved her long before that.

I would follow her around the house while she tended her chores. She never chased me around with a broom. Instead, I’d find scraps of cheese left out for me near the door of my home (a small hole chewed out of the baseboard). When her sisters would torment her, I’d run through their bedrooms forcing them onto chair tops screeching. I’d leave them gifts on the floorboards to their rooms.

Ella’s kindness was genuine. It was easy for me to see past the rags and the soot, but maybe such a thing is easy for a dirty, old rat.

Her fairy godmother recruited me to be her footman for the ball. To take her hand, and guide her into the carriage, and as she climbed in, her eyes met mine with recognition. She knew me, and smiled, and thanked me. If only the godmother could have transformed me from a rat to a prince!

Now, another prince has tracked her down and come to take her. Carrying around that glass slipper from house to house like he couldn’t recognize her without it.

I follow them to the castle, avoiding the carriage wheels and the mighty hooves of the horses. Women scream when they see me clambering down the sidewalk. I don’t care—but still, it would be nice to be seen for who I am, and not just seen as some disease carrying rodent.

I follow without thought or plan. No idea what I will do when I get there. I only know I need to stay with her. To watch over her.

When I find her, she is in her new chamber, dressed in silks. I am captivated. She is alone in her room, with a platter of fruit and cheese on a table beside her. I squeak once, and quickly run my paw repeatedly over my face so I might be somewhat presentable. I am awed and intimidated by her beauty and cleanliness. She turns and looks at me, startled at first, I think. Then, she smiles warmly.

“Did you follow me from home?” she asks sweetly. I knew she’d recognize me! She picks up a generous slice of cheese from the plate in front of her, and kneels down in all her finery, holding it out to me. I move cautiously towards her. Sniffing the air, nervously. I am right beside her now, setting my paw on her hand, just like the night I helped her into the carriage.I take a bite of the cheese.

It tastes better than it has ever tasted before.

Image by AH Watson.


Lissa said...

Sweet story--I love the touch of sadness that he couldn't be the prince.

Teresa Robeson said...

I think I've enjoyed reading Lissa's insightful comments as much as I've enjoyed reading the Cinderella tales!

Todd A. said...

This fairy tale is from an interesting perspective, the rat. I agree with the two previous comments about the love, sadness, and sorrow the rat could not be the prince. Cinderella is a great fairy tale and I have seen a few plays reenacting the story as being slightly altered from the cinema display. I like how this author has written the tale in a different perspective and has not focused on the main person of the story, Cinderella. I would encourage and like to read other fairy tales simulating this style where we hear how the story could go from other characters perspective.

The author here has depicted a great image of Cinderella and her story of the “glass slipper”. I would however like to step back and point out, Cinderella’s “step-sisters” could in fact be her biological sisters. As in the case of “Snow White” it is not too farfetched to assume that the “evil” person is a biological relationship. Again, like “Snow White”, Cinderella herself could have been disliked because of her beauty. It is just an observation worth pointing out. Great story!

Kim B said...

The idea of reading the iconic story of Cinderella from a different view point is interesting. There are versions people can probably find anywhere of the view points of the prince, the sisters, or the step mother, but there are very rarely ones like these. The viewpoint of the rat is such an interesting one, and the author did this perfectly. It is nice to show some light on the fact that even though Cinderella definitely did come from a horrible life, that there was still some love in her life before the prince carried her away.
Another very interesting part was the part when the rat talks about the prince. The idea of the prince not being able to recognize Cinderella always bugged me as a child. Even though it was definitely plausible that a man wouldn't see a girl in the same way if she was in rags and dirty one night, and beautified the next, I think there is some thought into the fact that if he truly loved her, wouldn't he have recognized her anyway? I loved that point in the story. I truly enjoyed the idea that she had love, and that it was so easily shown from a rats point of view.

Anonymous said...

It is really fascinating to read the story of Cinderella from the Rat’s perspective. This story makes one stop and think about each character in a story. When I first read Charles Perrault’ version of Cinderella, the rat seemed insignificant to me, but this story showed him in a completely different light. The rat wanted to take care of Cinderella. He truly cared about what happened to her, because she treated him with kindness when no one else would. This story shows you that the rat longed to be human. He wished that he could be Cinderella’s prince. I have never thought much about the rat in the story of Cinderella. He is loving and kind and just wants to please the girl that he loves. It shows perspective on how the rat felt on the night of the Prince’s ball. He felt honored to be chosen by the fairy godmother to be Cinderella’s footman for the ball. When she moved to the Prince’s Castle, he followed her. He never wanted to lose his beloved girl.

Abbey Ward

Anonymous said...

Cinderella was one of my favorite fairy tales growing up as a child. I remember spending the night at my cousin’s house and watching movies at night and out of all of them, Disney’s Cinderella was one of my favorites. I love how this story is given from the rat’s point of view because the rats in Disney’s Cinderella were such important characters and given human like roles. Cinderella treated the rats as if they were her pets and like most people do, treated them as if they were another family member. While Cinderella looked out for the rats and gave them food, the rats looked out for Cinderella as well. The mouse cared for Cinderella and didn’t want to have to part with her. After all, she had always looked out for him before and now he felt as if it was his duty to watch over her. Not only did this mouse admire Cinderella, I think he has a little crush on her. I also enjoyed the humor in this story particularly when the mouse said he would leave the step sisters “gifts” on the floor boards. Lauren D.