“My heart broken, I grab the gray-headed mop and prepare a fresh bucket of warm water and soap as my stepmother and stepsisters stride out of the door — well, only Aditha strides. My stepsisters mouth “I’m sorry” as they shuffle out the door to meet the royal carriage.”
At first, everything was perfect. I was young and my mother and father loved me. Every Friday in the summer we would have a picnic in the castle garden. Now, my mother was dead and my father remarried to a mean lady called Aditha. She has two daughters. One is named Belle and the other is named Stephanie. They are both four years younger than me. They are much nicer than their evil mom. I wish my mother was still alive.
“Elle!” my father, King Hunter, calls.
“Coming!” I sigh as I slam my diary shut and slip it onto my wooden antique bookshelf.
“Hurry up, tonight is the ball!” my father reminds me.
Then I remember; tonight is the ball! The prince is looking for a wife. I hope that he will pick me. I race downstairs to find the servants preparing my step-mom and my step-sister’s hairs. I watch a servant struggle with hairspray to put up my stepmother’s tangled brown dyed hair. I swear, my stepmother has gone through 10 bottles of hairspray this week!
“Hi Elle,” Stephanie and Belle chorus happily.
“Hi,” I mutter as a servant ushers me into a silk chair. I admire my natural golden hair and my blue eyes in a golden-crusted mirror.
“Elle, you’re finally here!” my father booms.
“Yeah,” I mutter.
“I should be off, the kingdom that is hosting the ball is the next village or two away.” He heads for the door.
“Have fun, sweetie,” Aditha coyly farewells to him as she glares at me.
“Bye,” I smile at him.
I don’t know why Aditha hates me so much. Her daughters are so nice. Once my father leaves, she narrows her eyes at me and commands, “Before you go, you have to mop all the floors so they’re as shiny as the top of the Eiffel Tower, clean the windows, sweep the porch, and all the other chores.”
I stare at her with my mouth open and glance outside at the Eiffel Tower in the distance. The servants usually do all that stuff. Also, my father will be expecting me at the ball.
“Mom, she’s never going to finish that!” Belle cries.
“Just let her go.” Stephanie knows what her mom is up to.
“What do you know?” Aditha shoots at her daughters.
Stephanie withdraws and sits helplessly.
“Well, get a move on,” Aditha barks at me.
My heart broken, I grab the gray-headed mop and prepare a fresh bucket of warm water and soap as my stepmother and stepsisters stride out of the door — well, only Aditha strides. My stepsisters mouth “I’m sorry” as they shuffle out the door to meet the royal carriage. I start to mop and mop. Hot tears fill my eyes but I blink them back. My stepmother is horrible.
* * *
I have been mopping for an hour now. I stand back to admire my work. Better than anything I’ve ever done. Then, my eyes fill with tears as I remember how I should be at the ball but I am stuck doing chores. Before I can blink back my tears, they pour out like water from a faucet. Down and down they come as I race outside to the courtyard garden. I lay on the bench staring at the stars.
“I wish to go to the ball,” I whisper.
As if somebody can hear me, a tornado of sparkles form in front of me. I shield my eyes from the bright light. From the bright light tunnel emerges a lady wearing a clown costume?!
“Oops, wrong appearance,” she apologizes.
“Wow,” I stutter, finding my voice.
“Hello dear, I have come to grant your wish,” she promises.
“You mean you’re real?” I stare, forgetting my manners.
“Yes dear, you can call me Annabelle, your fairy godmother,” she laughs.
“MY WHAT?!” Now I’m confused.
Annabelle doesn’t respond. Instead, she flicks her wand and suddenly, I’m standing in a long white gown, a tiara, a lot of makeup, and glass slippers. All I can do is stare at myself. My golden hair is curled and down. I can’t even recognize myself!
“Now, I need your help,” Annabelle approves of me. “Gather a watermelon.”
I skip to the watermelon patch. Groaning, I gingerly lift the watermelon up. It’s so heavy that I drop it with a thump. Seeing that I clearly can’t carry the fat watermelon, Annabelle gives me a hand. She waves her hand and the watermelon levitates, then zips through the air. After Annabelle sets it down I ask, “What else shall I do?”
“Just watch.” Annabelle smiles mysteriously.
She gracefully whisks her hand. Then a swirl of dust gathers. Abruptly, I’m standing in front of a gold carriage with elegant white horses and an attractively handsome usher. I feel a slight pang of guilt that Stephanie and Belle can’t ride with me.
“Have fun!” Annabelle’s lips creep into a smile.
“Oh, I will,” I grin and head for the carriage.
The usher ushers me into a cozy carriage. There is a blanket and pillows. It looks like a bed! I plop down. The carriage lurches to a start. The ride takes forever, but finally, the carriage pulls up in front of the huge grand palace. It has golden pillars and carefully carved stone statues. It is much grander than our castle. I stand up as the usher takes my hand. I step down. After taking a deep breath I head for the grand entrance.
When I get in, my senses are confused. It smells like lamb and pork. There are so many sounds of people laughing and people crying because the prince declined them. My eyes immediately land on the prince. He is wearing a silk suit and a midnight black top hat. He looks around 17. The sight of my stepsisters catch my eye. They are hanging around the food table looking miserable. Their mom is nowhere in sight. I rush over to them.
“Psst, Belle, Stephanie,” I whisper.
“Is that you Elle?” Stephanie looks hopeful.
“You look extraordinary,” Belle is amazed.
“Yes, it is,” I surprise them.
“How did you manage to get here?” Belle is confused.
Before I can reply, the prince comes over!
“Umm, would you like to dance?” he asks awkwardly.
“Yes, yes yes yes!” I exclaim jumping up and down. “I mean, yes.” I calm down and smooth my dress, embarrassed.
He takes my hand and leads me to the dance floor. We start to dance a slow dance. I blush when I step on his feet a few times. I am enjoying myself so much until Aditha interrupts us. She bats her eyelashes and smiles an innocent smile.
“Would you care to dance?” She glares at me. Aditha doesn’t know who I am, but she knows that the prince likes me. I figure that she will probably find out who I am so I race for the door. The prince chases after me. Some people hurriedly move out of the way. Other people swoon over the prince slowing him down. I take advantage of this and hurry down the palace stairs. Midway, I trip and one of my glass slippers slide off my foot. The prince is right behind me so I don’t bother to pick it up. Tripping over my own feet, I climb into the carriage.
“GO, GO, GO!” I holler at the driver at the top of my lungs.
Startled, he slaps the reigns and we are off at the speed of wind. I gasp for breath as I watch a disappointed prince pick up the glass slipper I dropped.
Soon enough, we pull up in front of the palace. As soon as I leap off, the carriage disappears in a poof and in its place is a watermelon? I’m so tired from all the drama from tonight that I collapse on my bed and fall asleep almost instantly.
The next morning, I wake up to find a black-haired girl shaking me. I groggily sit up. Turns out, the black-haired girl is Belle, and Stephanie is pacing back and forth my room.
“Hi,” I stretch.
“About last night,”Belle starts.
“We need to talk,” Stephanie finishes.
“I’m sorry if you wanted to dance with him, it’s just that I was so excited,” I blurt out.
“No, it’s not that,” Belle smiles kindly.
“The thing is, the prince is having every maiden in the kingdom try on the glass slipper that you left behind last night,” Stephanie tells me the truth.
“Well, what’s so bad about that?” I ask.
“Mom is NOT going to let you try on that glass slipper,” Belle warns.
“We just wanted to give you a heads up,” Stephanie and Belle turn around and leave.
As if on cue, the banging of the gold door knocker echos through the castle. Father went to run some errands. Is it possible that he’s back? Aditha rushes to the door and peeks through the window. It’s the prince! Aditha grins wickedly and comes in my direction. Obviously, she does not want me to see the prince. She pulls me up the stairs and shoves me in the attic. She smiles her evil smile as she closes the door and locks it. I sit on the ground and start to cry. I cry and cry until I can cry no more. I plop down on the old ripped sofa, grab a random notebook and start writing.
Right now I am locked up in the dusty old attic. Aditha locked me in here so the prince couldn’t get to me. I plan on getting revenge on her later. Maybe I will swap her hairspray with a chemical that makes her hair fall out. Or, I could razor her hair off while she’s sleeping. I wish she would disappear.
Abruptly, a swirl of dust starts. Then it grows bigger and bigger until Annabelle steps out.
“Oh dear,” she muses, “what has happened here?” she singsongs.
“Aditha locked me up here so I wouldn’t be able to see the prince,” I explain.
“Well, let’s get you out of here,” she pulls her wand out.
“Wait, can you make Aditha nicer?” I plead.
“I guess, but you have to do your part,” Annabelle considers this.
“What’s my part?” I am eager to know.
“You have to be extra nice to Aditha for a day,” she informs me.
“WHAT? I am already nice to her every second I see her.” There must be a mistake.
“Observe carefully,” she waves her wand and disappears.
I sit in silence until I am disturbed by the sound of a lock clicking. Is it possible? Is father home? Stephanie’s head pops in the doorway grinning and holding up a shining silver key.
“Did you really do it for me?” I gape.
“Yeah, now hurry up,” Stephanie’s eyes twinkle.
I race down the stairs just in time to see my stepmother struggle to fit her foot in the petite glass slipper. Her eyes become wide open as she sees me. The prince’s face lights up as he escorts me into a chair and slips the glass slipper onto my foot. It fits! All of a sudden, I am standing in the creamy white dress from the night before. Aditha’s mouth hangs open and my sisters just smile. The prince whisks me away.
I can’t believe this is happening. I am finally meeting Prince Oliver’s family. King Royce is very kind and Prince Oliver is very polite. The townsfolk show much favor towards their King and Queen. Queen Rose cares much about them.
Then, I think of my mother, Queen Alice. The people of our kingdom loved her. She gave the poor money. That is why the news of her death shocked everybody. I will never forget our last walk before she got sick. None of us realized that she would get sick all of a sudden. By the time we found out she had been hiding this secret, she had already passed away.
If I accepted Aditha wouldn’t I be betraying my real mother? Besides, nobody could replace her. She knew how to cheer me up when I was sad. No one else made me feel the same way. Aditha’s coronation day was scheduled to be next Friday. I can’t do anything to stop it. I have tried talking to father but he says to give her a chance. My thoughts are interrupted by Prince Oliver.
“Could Princess Elle and I have some time alone?”
“Why of course dear,” his mother winks at me.
“I don’t see why not,” his father agrees.
“Sure,” I shrug.
The prince and I walk up to his room. It is almost an exact replica of my room except it is blue instead of pink. We plop down on two chairs.
“That stepmother of yours is really … interesting,” he smiles.
“Oh yeah, try living with her,” I laugh.
“How do you deal with her?” Prince Oliver asks.
“Ugh, she’s so annoying,” I roll my eyes.
“So, shall we start planning the wedding?” he offers.
“Sure,” I am pleased.
I lay on my bed full from my delicious dinner. Father was very proud and Aditha kept on glaring at me. It will be super hard to be nice to her for a whole day. I wonder why I even agreed to do it. My work better pay off. Well, I’d better go to bed, I have to be nice to Aditha for a whole day. However will I do that.
I yawn as I get out of my comfy bed. I check my golden clock. It’s ten past eight. Only my step sisters will be up. Should I tell them about my fairy godmother? I pull on a sky blue dress and comb through my silky blonde hair. Then I head downstairs.
Sunlight pours through the silver-encrusted windows. It shines on the royal red carpet. I skip to the den, full of energy. I expect Stephanie and Belle to be sitting on the leather couch playing with dolls or something. To my surprise, the den is empty. It seems spooky almost. I plop down and sit. Now I’m wondering what to do. Possibly take a walk? I get up and trudge to the main hall. I push open the glass door. The fresh spring air welcomes me. The puffy white clouds and the perfect blue sky notified me that it would be a warm day. Maybe I could invite Aditha on a walk around the castle. I make my way around the castle and back inside the main hall. Waken up by my exercise, I zip to the den expecting to see Stephanie and Belle. Sure enough, they are sitting on the couch playing cards.
“Hey,” I casually sit down besides Stephanie.
“You’re early,” Belle jokes.
“Haha, very funny,” I sarcastically laugh.
Just then, father comes in.
“Hate to ruin your party, girls, but breakfast is in the dining hall,” he points his thumb towards the dining hall. We all get up and shuffle to the dining hall.
“Hey, umm Aditha?” I stutter.
“What,” she snaps.
“Uhh, I was wondering if you wanted to go shopping with me at the Central Market today?” I ask.
“If you’re up to something…” she warns.
“No, I’m not, I was just wondering if you wanted to go shopping,” I lie.
“Fine,” she agrees sullenly.
I stare at myself in the mirror. I look fabulous. I’m wearing a white and blue dress. It’s quite simple, but beautiful. I skip down the stairs to meet Aditha so we can go shopping. Soon enough, Aditha comes gliding down the marble staircase in her red velvety dress.
“You look pretty,” I fib just so I seem nice.
Aditha’s expression softens and she smiles.
“You look pretty good yourself,” she remarks.
“Let’s go,” I lead her to the big carriage.
“First stop, the Central Marketplace!” the driver, Trevor, jokes.
I jump off and wait for Aditha.
“Where do you want to go first?” I ask her.
“How about we go to Fashion 101?” she replies.
“Sure,” I head for the brick store which has a huge sign saying: Fashion 101.
“How does this look?” Aditha strikes a pose in a blue strapless flowy dress.
“You look perfect!” I smile.
Aditha has became nicer, so I think maybe Anabelle’s spell worked. I’ve been nice to Aditha for a WHOLE day. Aditha has been nice and she has a pretty good sense of fashion. Usually, I don’t pay much attention to what she wears. I’m beginning to think that maybe Aditha has a good side.
“Do these shoes match?” she stands up straight. On her feet there are a pair of silver high heels.
“Definitely.” She actually looks good. “Umm, Aditha, can we leave?” I am getting so impatient.
“Sure, let me check out first.” She goes into the dressing room to take off her outfit.
We have been shopping all day and I got a few outfits. I’m starting to think she is nice. Aditha comes out. She goes to the cashier and pays. Then, we stride to the carriage.
“Thanks for helping me pick out some clothes; I really like your fashion sense,” Aditha surprises me.
Today was interesting. I was nice to Aditha for a WHOLE DAY!!!! You wouldn’t believe this but she’s actually nice!! I hate to admit it, but I’m starting to like her.
Suddenly, my fairy godmother pops out behind my dresser. She smiles.
“So, how’s it going?” she casually asks.
“Great! Your spell worked!” I slam my diary shut and grin.
“No, actually I didn’t cast any spell,” she informs me.
“WHAT?” I’m so confused.
“I tricked you into thinking that I had casted a spell,” her eyes twinkle.
I finally realize. The only reason Aditha was mean to me was because of MY actions, not hers. I didn’t even realize it! Abruptly I recall: flipping my hair, admiring my blue eyes, glancing warily at Aditha’s hair; I was the one who had problems. Of course, she could have been nicer, but still, it was me all along! I look at Annabelle with my mouth wide open. She gives one more of her sly smiles and disappears into thin air. I rethink all of this. From now on, I will be nice to Aditha. I pledge to myself as I lay down on my soft bed.
Suddenly, my head lands on a hard box. I sit straight up. There is a fancy box. On it, there is a card that says:
I open it and find a pair of delicate glass slippers. They gleam in the moonlight that floods in from the huge window by my bed. It’s like a truce. Even though I’m not ready to forget my real mom, I will make an effort to be nice to Aditha. I have learned an important lesson: look at yourself before you pick out other people’s problems. I carefully slip on my glass slippers and I smile.