by Ham on Rye
A dark twist on the original tale of Cinderella.
|The day had blurred into one, giant nightmare. Cindy had been yelled, cursed at, pulled, pushed, and generally abused. How hard was it for her sisters – correction – step-sisters, to realise that all she wanted to do was stay in bed and hide from the world? The same world that had taken from her the only person she loved, her father, and left her alone in this hell hole?
And now her step-mother, that bitch, had forced her to clean the house from top to bottom. She was going to have one of her “high society” parties and wanted the house spotless. And when she said spotless, it included no sign of what she considered the biggest stain – Cindy.
Her whole body ached from the labour, her hands shrivelled from being submerged in the scummy cleaning water for too long. Her knees throbbed from kneeling on the hard floor, scrubbing away. But none of that compared to the torment in her head. She scrubbed the floor harder, trying to scour the voices out of her mind “Cindy, you can’t live in there forever, you have to come out here into the real world!” her step-mother had screamed at her that morning. Had kept screaming at her, over and over again.
“But I like it in here” Cindy had thought to herself, “no one can find me, no one can see me”.
But no, that didn’t matter. She had been dragged out, cursing and swearing, from her room by the two hags the devil bitch had produced (surely she must have fucked a demon to get daughters like that), and now, as the clock on the microwave clicked over to 5pm, Cindy sat huddled in the corner, rag clutched in her hands.
In the other room she could hear them talking, the voices barely audible.
“At least the house is clean….”
“Do you think she’ll come out ….Ever?”
“ …… can’t help herself …… such a mess ….. father ….. disappointed ….”
“… they said it’s not worth it ….beyond help …..”
In her mind’s eye, Cindy could see them sitting around the lounge, sitting on the couch her father used to sit on and bounce Cindy on his knee when she was younger. But now it was just those women, probably laughing at her, pointing.
“ … she won’t take them … silly girl ….”
Cindy starting rocking in the corner, moaning quietly under her breathe, tears slowly leaking from her eyes. She could feel the cold tiles of the floor through her worn jeans, the hard cupboard behind her back. Her long, dark hair hung in dirty strings over her face.
“My little princess.”
Her head shot up. In the far corner of the kitchen, a shape moved.
“My little princess.”
It came closer, and as she stared, the shape became clearer, until her father stood in front of her. He was dressed as she always remembered him, his red flannel shirt tucked into his blue jeans, dark brown mop of hair, and those bright blue eyes. Those same eyes she remembered staring into as he bounced her on his lap.
“D … daddy?” She whispered.
“It’s me, princess.” His deep voice rumbled, the smile on his face beaming down at her. He reached out to her, his large, callused hand turned upwards.
Her heart pounded. She hadn’t seen this father since she was young, maybe 12, and yet here he stood in front of her, smiling, happy.
She reached up and took his hand, feeling his rough skin as he helped her up. Then, she couldn’t help herself, and leapt into his arms.
“Oh daddy, I’ve missed you soooo much.” She sobbed into his chest
“I know my princess, and I’m sorry. But don’t worry; I’m here to help you now.” He said, holding her close. She could smell the cologne he always wore, and under that the slight (sickly) smell of his sweat.
“You’re, you’re here forever?” Cindy asked looking up through her tear filled eyes. For a moment, she saw an unshaven face looking down at her, dark eyes peering back. Blinking the tears away, that face was gone, replaced by her father’s warm eyes looking down at her.
“Not just yet, but soon. But I know your step mother is having one of her parties tonight, and I am here to make sure my princess attends.”
“But daddy, you know she doesn’t want me there. She thinks I’ll embarrass her, that others will stare.” Cindy said. She trembled in her father’s arms, thinking about how her step mother would react if she showed up.
“Never fear my princess, you shall go to the party, and I have everything prepared for you in your room. You will look so beautiful, no one will recognise you” her father replied.
“But I don’t want to go, those people hate me, and I hate them!” she cried.
“You must Cindy, for didn’t you know that there will be a prince there, and my princess needs a prince to rescue her from all of this.” He explained.
“Oh daddy!” cried Cindy, the tears soaking into his shirt as she hugged him close. She could feel his arms around her, holding (trapping) her. How desperately she wanted to escape!
“There is one condition though” he continued, “You must leave by the stroke of midnight.”
“Why?” Cindy asked.
“Because at midnight, everyone will see you for whom you really are, and will be jealous and hateful. Especially your step-sisters and mother” Her father said. He looked sad, almost ashamed (the smell of bourbon on his breath), as he looked down at her.
“I can do that daddy, I promise!”
“That’s my princess. Now hurry, go upstairs and get changed, the party starts soon!” Her father carefully prised Cindy from him and turned to walk away.
“But where will you be, aren’t you coming?”
“Oh I’ll be there Cindy, watching.” He smiled back. And with that he walked through the doorway leading out of the kitchen and vanished into the darkness.
Cindy stood there, trembling. Her mind raced and it felt as if her very being was being torn in two. Part of her wanted to go to her room, hide, simply pretend this reality didn’t exist, pretend as she always had. But her father, her dear father, had said she must attend the party, and at the party she may finally meet her prince who would take her away from it all.
Turning, Cindy made her way out of the kitchen, her mind made up. As she left the room, she could hear the front doorbell ring as her mother’s guests arrived. Making her way up the stairs to her room, she could hear laughter from the main living room (the couch, near the couch). As she opened her bedroom door she could hear voices, her step-sister’s voices, faintly.
Cindy flicked on the bedroom light, and saw that her father hadn’t been lying. On the bed lay the most beautiful dress she had ever seen. Beside that, a pair of delicate glass slippers.
Cindy slipped out of her clothes, letting them fall in a heap on the ground. She picked up the dress and slipped it on, and it fit perfectly (too tight). She then turned to the mirror in her room and gasped at the reflection staring back at her. In the mirror was a beautiful woman, dark hair sparkling and clean, blue eyes dancing. The dress (that dress) a perfect fit. She put on the glass slippers, and it was then she noticed the final item on the bed, shining in the dull light of the room. Reaching down, she picked it up with a shaking hand.
It was a masquerade mask designed to cover half the face, however the most striking aspect of it was the material of which it was constructed. A polished surface, almost like glass, reflected Cindy’s shocked face back at her. As she turned it in her hand, the light ran down the edge, glinting.
Cindy carefully placed it over her face and looked back into the mirror. Infinite reflections stared back, and she couldn’t help but smile. ” They will have to look at their own ugly faces if they want to talk to me!” she thought.
A sense of calm came over her as she stood looking into the mirror. No one would know who she was, not with the mask, not looking like a princess (my princess). She could go, and meet her prince.
Clutching the mask to her chest, she walked out of the room and towards the main living room, the noise, and what she hoped would be her salvation.
Laughter and voices could be heard over the music as Cindy stood in front of the door leading into the lounge. Now that she was there, she hesitated. “What if they do recognise me?” she thought to herself.
“They won’t recognise you, my princess” she heard her father’s voice in her head.
Still, her hands shook, and she clutched the mask to her chest. She could feel the sharp edge of it through her dress.
She took a deep breath, held the mask up to her face, and opened the door.
There were people everywhere. Women in beautiful gowns, hair pinned up in elaborate designs, stood twittering between themselves. Their partners stood by, tall men dressed in elegant suits, stood by, sipping their drinks and laughing. Off to the side she could see that the furniture had been rearranged and the couch (the couch, that very couch …) was pushed to the side to allow a large space where couples twirled to the music.
She caught a glimpse of her step-mother, dressed in a long, black gown, standing to one side; talking to a man she didn’t recognise. Her blonde hair was loose, golden ringlets cascading down her back. She tossed her head back to laugh, and her hair was like a golden sun.
Cindy looked the other way and saw her two step-sisters, wearing matching red dresses. They each held the arm of a gentleman who had his back to her. Even from behind though, there was something familiar about him, something that drew her to him.
He must have said something funny, as both step-sisters suddenly threw their heads back, laughing. Both had blonde hair, like their mother, except it was piled up like some kind of ancient structure perched on their heads, adorned with glittering jewels.
As they laughed the man turned to face the doorway, and Cindy gasped. Deep blue eyes stared at her from under a mop of brown hair. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen, and she knew then and there, that he must be her prince, the one destined to take her away from all of her pain and misery.
Cindy started to walk into the room as the man stared at her. Around her, more people stopped talking and turned to stare as well.
“They must see how beautiful I am!” she thought to herself, feeling both powerful and confident, hidden behind her mask.
It was at this time her step-sisters saw her and gasped. They pulled back from the man, their hands flying to their mouths.
“Ha! I am the beautiful one, I am the princess!!” Cindy thought to herself.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl around her as she walked towards her prince. She knew people around her were whispering, shocked, but none of it was important. She must be with her prince.
A hand grazed her arm and she shrugged it off. No one could touch her, no one but her prince.
As she drew closer, she could see the shock on his face (that face) and her breath caught in her throat. Maybe he wouldn’t want to be mine, and I his?
It was then he held out his hand.
Her heart leapt, and she reached for it.
Somewhere, in the very edges of her sense, she could hear her step-mother.
“My god …. No ….she can’t …”
“That’s right, you bitch” Cindy thought to herself, “the prince is mine, not your horrible stinking daughter’s, not yours, not anyone’s!”
She felt his large, calloused hand on hers (on her leg, up her leg), and as he pulled her close, the urge to hide vanished. She wanted everyone to see it was her, Cindy, that the prince had chosen, and he would be hers.
She dropped the hand holding the mask and wrapped it around him, looking up into his blue (dark, empty) eyes. They widened in surprise as she pulled herself into him.
The world around her spun, and they danced. It felt like she was flying as he carried (staggered) her across the room, and she held tight, feeling his warmth seep through her dress (down her hand). Never before had she felt so safe, so blissfully safe, as they glided towards the couch (where you touched me). She could hear the others around her gasp and cry out (scream) in wonder at the magnificent couple.
Then her step-mother was there. She reached out for Cindy, to tear her away. But, with a single wave of her hand, the one holding her mask, she pushed (slashed) her away. She saw her step-mother’s golden locks tumble around her face, the shocked expression (the splash of red).
And they continued to dance. Cindy could feel her prince lean more heavily on her, obviously wanting to be closer. She could feel his breath (the smell of bourbon) on her neck as he whispered into her ear.
“Cin … Cindy … how could you … I’m your own …..” he said (slurred).
“I know my love, you are my own prince”. She whispered back, drawing him closer.
More hands reached for her, and suddenly she felt her prince being torn from her grasp.
“No, you will not take him from me!” she cried. Her step-sisters now held onto her prince (he’s no prince) and she lunged at them, pushing (stabbing) them away. They crumpled, their red dresses seemingly exploding around them, and her prince slowly collapsed onto the couch.
Cindy leapt forward. Her prince looked up at her, his blue eyes half open as she settled into his lap.
“My prince, my sweet, sweet prince.” She said, as she lay (raised) both hands on (down, hard) his chest. She looked into his eyes and she saw his love for her blossom on his chest. A large, red rose.
His eyes widened (in pleasure, they always did when you did those things to me) then slowly close. He felt his hands on her (in her) and then they slowly slid off.
And In the distance, the clock chimed midnight.
Cindy looked around. People stood, staring (crying). The clock (siren) chimed again, and Cindy ran from the room, and as she went, she slipped (red, red everywhere) and a slipper came off, skittering across the floor. Without looking, she kept running, dark hair flowing behind her like a curtain, and out the door.
The house was a mess. Blood was all over the floor of the living room. The first victim was still slumped on the couch, the most obvious cause of his death being the large stab wound in the middle of his chest. The other victim, a blonde in a black gown, lay on the floor, her throat apparently slashed.
Detective O’Connor only had a minute to take in the scene before raising his Glock to point towards the door. The call had said that the assailant was still in the house, and looking at the mess, he didn’t want to take any chances.
“Jim, they said she headed up stairs”, O’Connor said to his partner, a tall, balding man who had just come through the door behind him.
“Jesus, this was done by a sixteen year old?” Jim said.
“Yeah, apparently.” O’Connor replied as he advanced cautiously towards the door.
“Any idea why?”
“She’d claimed that her old man, the vic on the couch, had abused her when she was younger, but there was never enough proof to convict him, and none of the other family members believed her. A mate worked the case, and they all thought the girl was delusional, one of those dramatic emo types.” O’Connor replied.
The two detectives advanced slowly through the house, following the bloody trail of mismatched footprints. it wasn’t until they got to the bottom of the stairs that they heard the voice.
“How could he, how could he do that to me?”
“He was my prince, always, and then …. And then …” The sounds of sobbing came from a room at the top of the stairs. O’Connor motioned to his partner to get a better angle on the door as he moved up, crouching. The door was slightly ajar.
O’Connor could just see inside. A girl sat on a bed, rocking backwards and forwards. A single slipper hung off one foot. The dress she wore, now stained red from blood, looked like the party frock of a young child, and was obviously too small for her.
Blood was matted in her hair and smeared down her face. Two trails cut through it from the tears streaming from her large, blue eyes.
It was the knife in her hand that made O’Connor bring up his Glock though. She clutched it to herself in one hand, seemingly unaware that she was even holding it. In the other she held a framed picture of someone. He could just make out a mop of brown hair and a red flannel shirt.
O’Connor moved closer, his pistol trained on her, and nudged the door open slightly.
“No sudden moves miss.” He said.
She looked up at him. O’Connor had to suppress a shiver at the lifelessness in her eyes.
“You are not my prince” she said, raising the knife slightly.
“Careful with that knife there miss, we don’t want you to hurt yourself.” He said. He could sense Jim moving to one side and imagined he had also drawn a bead on the girl.
“Now, how’s about you put that knife down, and we talk?”
“But …. my prince … he was my prince before …. Before he…” she sobbed and raised the knife higher, and looked down at the picture. A single tear, suspended on the tip of her chin, fell onto the image of the man, who O’Connor could now see was the first victim standing beside a small girl, wearing the exact same dress as the one worn by the girl on the bed.
“Miss, I’m not going to warn you again, lower the knife.” O’Connor said sternly.
“But I …. I killed ….. I can be with him …. I know …..” Cindy looked straight at O’Connor, and there was a brief sparkle in her eyes.
She leapt from the bed, the knife held high. “I’m coming my prince!!”
Two gun shots rang out through the night.