June 18, 2014

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.


Anonymous said...

I was not expecting a retirement for Cinderella and her prince. That was a humorous little twist. What I take from the story in its entirety is that people never change, and if they do, they do not change very much. Cinderella, referring only to the rendition of the titular story by Charles Perrault, has always been a thorough thinker. It does make sense that with time, her responsibilities as queen would grow considerably, and her wisdom would grow along with them. The step sisters are just as snide and rude as ever; not to mention, selfish, which is on full display as they are made youthful once more but remain just as unappreciative and full of discontent. I really enjoy the matter-of-fact tone the narrator adopts for this tale. It is almost as if I as the reader should know that all of this has occurred, and I am being quickly, and slightly spitefully, reminded of this. Great read!


kathy g said...

So true, some people never do see the error of their ways and change...
I love the feeling and tone of this piece, like an epilogue to the original; I always felt "and they lived happily ever after" a rather unsatisfying ending to any faery tale. As a kid, I always wanted to know more...

Moira said...

Thanks for taking time to comment JP. It let me know it worked as it should. It was fun to write. And I’m glad you enjoyed the read and saw the humor.
Moira G.

Jennifer Gardener said...

SO AWESOME!!!! :-). Congratulations mom!!

Anonymous said...

very nice story, Moira. I enjoyed seeing a continuation of the fairy tale and it still did end happily ever after.

Anonymous said...

A humor filled epilogue for Cinderella, this telling seems to stay true to the more original versions. Cinderella herself, for example, seems to stay true to her old self by being cast as the forgiving princess – at the end of the original versions, Cinderella forgives her step-sisters; therefore, this story is very mindful of the way it portrays these classic characters. Also true to the original Cinderella, this character possesses and employs a level of cleverness in her endeavors – this isn’t the first time Cinderella has hidden something from her sisters! She doesn’t let anyone know about her appearance at the ball initially and likewise silently plays along with her step-sisters’ schemes. (Also, she’s even forgiving to them in letting them get what they want! She could have just as easily shut down their plans on sent them to the dungeon or something to that extent.)

Additionally, JP touches on this a bit, but the step-sisters act as an antithesis to the correlation between looks and morals, while fairy tales more often than not are very clear about equating outward beauty to inner beauty. All in all, great story!~

--Dylan Richardson

Anonymous said...

I like this story of Cinderella. It tells the story of what might have happened after “happily ever after.” Like most fairy tales, this story is about revenge as the evil stepsisters look to get back at Cinderella. As usual, some sort of magic creature comes along to make a deal with the sisters. In most fairy tales, making a deal with a wizard might as well be considered as making a deal with the devil. The plan may sound good, but there is always a catch. The sisters are caught up in their revenge that they do not care what it costs them. They believe they are regaining their life of ease in the castle, but wise Cinderella has other plans for them. In the end, Cinderella wins again and along with her prince charming retire from royalty on the white sand beaches of some Caribbean island.
-Brad S.-

Anonymous said...

This is the first post “Cinderella” story that I have read, and I found it quite enjoyable. I wondered that Cinderella might recognize her sisters, as their youth and beauty was only restored. I imagined them looking as they once did. I’m glad the author used that as a key in the story line. While the story is not too long, the author was still able to pack information into each paragraph, adding suspense and wonder to the story. This made me think of how Hans Christian Andersen was able to be so impactful in his short story, “The Little Match Seller”. It’s great that Cinderella and the king are able to go into retirement to enjoy a true happily ever after, while the sisters, still bitter and nasty as ever, were still punished for their misbehavior. They learned nothing from the results of their first round of spiteful behavior towards Cinderella. Perhaps a lifetime of kitchen duty will provide them with some humility. Doubtful, as their beauty and youth remain intact and were contributing factors in their inward ugliness to begin with.

Benni Chisholm said...

THAT CINDERELLA is short, succinct, and suspenseful. I started reading it and couldn't put it down. The stepsisters are unable to overcome their personal qualities of hate and envy but Cinderella and King remain kind and wise. The twist of ever after happiness in retirement is great. This story gave me a new appreciation of fairy tales.

Lissa Sloan said...

Fresh and funny--I really enjoyed this!