Cinderella is evil, p.1
CINDERELLA IS EVIL
CINDERELLA IS EVIL
Copyright © 2013 Jamie Campbell
Jamie Campbell asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.
Mirrors have never been my friend. They told me the truth, they showed me all my flaws and didn’t mention anything positive about me. They didn’t know I was a good person on the inside, or that I was kind, they just showed me my pimples, the dark circles under my eyes, and my impossible to manage hair. I should have had them all covered, shown them they couldn’t hurt me.
But I knew they could. I knew I was ugly, I had been told that my entire life. Yet I couldn’t do anything about it. All I could do was hope I found a man to love me for who I was and not who my mother wanted me to be.
The door to my room opened and grabbed my attention away from the horrid mirror. I quickly wiped at my eyes so nobody knew I had been crying to myself. They couldn’t know, they couldn’t see my weakness. Not in that world.
“Good morning, Anna,” my step-sister said in her usual sing-song voice.
“What’s good about it?” I asked, never expecting an answer.
I watched her, the one with the fancy name of Cinderella, as she restocked the kindling in my fireplace. She was dressed in an ugly grey dress but still looked breathtakingly beautiful. I couldn’t stand the way she was always so perfect. Everyone loved her, she’s charming. Every time I looked at her I couldn’t help but think of my inadequacies. It was torturous.
To make it worse, I was sure she rubbed it in my face. At every chance she got, I was sure she told whoever would listen how horrible we were. She didn’t like my family – my mother and my sister. She didn’t want to be there with us but wouldn’t leave. Instead, she liked to remind us how terrible and ugly we were.
Life had been that way ever since Cinderella and her father entered our lives. At first it was exciting. Mother fell in love with him, a real Lord. She doted on him, she thought she had a real shot of happiness forever. I had never seen her so happy.
The wedding was magical. My mother wore this dress that shone like a thousand diamonds. All three of us daughters were bridesmaids. It was probably the first time in my life that I actually felt beautiful. In the rose red dress, I couldn’t have felt any different.
I should have suspected Cinderella wasn’t happy with the wedding that day. She didn’t smile very much, she just clung to her father like we were taking him away or something. We weren’t, of course, but she feared it anyway.
My sister, Zelly, and I were actually excited about having a father again. He wouldn’t replace our own that died many years ago, but he was a chance at a new beginning. I longed to have a father protect me from all the evil in the world or the even just the bullies in town. We were going to be a happy family.
Then he got sick. For the few months in between, it was blissful. My mother danced around the manor house singing and smiling to herself. She was full of hope and happiness. For a time, nobody dared to tease me because I would tell my step-father on them. Everyone was happy and it felt like it would last forever.
But it didn’t. My step-father got sicker and sicker until he passed away. It was one of the darkest days for our family. My mother wailed at his passing, taking to her bed for the months afterwards. My sister and I were left to manage the house, despite the fact we didn’t know what we were supposed to do. We didn’t get told if we were doing it right, only yelled at if it was wrong.
During that time, Cinderella barely spoke to us. I knew she was grieving too, probably more than any of us, so we left her alone. After a time, I thought it would be helpful if she helped out around the house, perhaps take her mind off her loss. She agreed, throwing herself into her duties.
Before we knew it, our home settled into our new family. Mother eventually left her bed but it was only to boss us all around. Cinderella continued cleaning, even though I told her she didn’t have to anymore. She liked to think we forced her into a life of slavery but really I know she only did it so that she didn’t have to think of her father and experience the grief all over again.
My mother tried to avoid Cinderella, she preferred not to be reminded of her husband. They did look remarkably alike. I never knew what Cinderella’s mother looked like, but she was certainly the spitting image of her father. I couldn’t help but think of my step-father either when I saw her. She was a constant reminder of him.
Even her mannerisms were the same. When she ate, when she smiled, when she spoke, everything was a flashback to the man who had changed our family forever. I was sure Mother saw it too which made her sad again. It was not a happy way to live.
I waited until Cinderella finished with the fire before going down to breakfast. She didn’t eat with us anymore, not after my mother told her to chew differently. She took it as a personal attack on her, but we all knew it was only Mother’s way of trying to deal with the memories. She could have come back and eaten with us at any time but she preferred to eat with the help now.
Zelly and Mother were already at the table when I arrived. I took my seat, looking at the breakfast laid out before me. There was barely anything on my plate, just a few tiny slivers of meat and fruit.
I said my good mornings, trying to be upbeat for the sake of the others. We ate in silence, just like every other day in the house.
“Is there anything more to eat?” I asked, still hungry from my measly meal. Surely we couldn’t be so poor that we had to ration our food now?
“That’s all you’re getting,” Mother snapped at me. I must have looked confused because she continued. “You need to watch your weight if you’re ever to find a husband. Nobody likes a pudgy woman to hold on their arm.”
I knew better to speak back to her. She was always telling me what I should and should not do to find a husband. The rules would be a mile long if I wrote them all down. I would rather go hungry than suffer another one of her lectures.
“You’re going to sulk now?” Mother said to me when I didn’t reply.
“No, of course not, Mother. I was just thinking how wise you were.”
Zelly snickered at me across the table, enjoying my torment. She was naturally thin and tall, although not a beauty in the traditional sense. Her plate of food was at least twice as large as mine.
“You should be more like your sister,” Mother said, only making it sting all the more. She didn’t just stab me, she liked to twist the knife too. As I stared at her, I tried to think of how wonderful she was before Cinderella’s father broke her heart. That was the mother I loved, I knew she was still in there somewhere.
She seemed satisfied for now with my submission. “So what are you going to waste your time on today?”
I wished she didn’t ask, she never approved of my activities – no matter what I did. “I thought I might go riding, the weather is beautiful today.”
“No, you’re not.”
“But nothing, no daughter of mine is going riding like a commoner. You are a lady and ladies do not ride horses,” she rolled her eyes at me. “You will never find a husband if you insist on carrying on like this.”
Everything always came down to finding a husband, l
“What do you propose I do instead?” I asked, trying to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. I genuinely wished to know what would please her.
“You can do your needlework.”
I nodded and excused myself from the table. Apparently I had some very important needlework to do.
“Oww,” I muttered as the needle pricked my finger yet again. For all the time I had spent doing needlework, I was still not good at it. My pieces never looked complete, only that they could have been done by a five year old. Actually, a five year old could probably do much better.
Out the window, I spotted Cinderella. She was in the vegetable garden, picking out carrots. Mud was caked on the bottom of her dress and shoes. She never had to worry about being ladylike, she could do whatever she pleased on the estate. It was annoying and completely unfair. If Zelly and I had to have rules, then so should she. But not Cinderella, she was too perfect.
“Anna, did you hear?” Zelly burst through the door, snapping my head in her direction. I put the needlework down, glad of the interruption.
“What was I supposed to hear about?” I asked, completely in the dark. Nobody told me anything so it didn’t surprise me.
“The king is putting on a ball. Every girl in the kingdom is invited.” She twirled around in a circle with the thought of dancing all night in the palace.
“Oh,” I replied, I was sure it wasn’t the answer she was hoping for. I didn’t want to go to a stupid ball where nobody would dance with me. All it would mean would be sore feet from standing around. “I’m not going.”
“You have to! The king has invited us all, we cannot refuse his kind invitation.” Zelly sat on the chair beside mine. “There are rumors he is trying to find a wife for the prince. Can you imagine getting to dance with Prince Charming? It will be magical.”
“I’m sure the prince won’t find a wife just by dancing with all the girls in the kingdom.”
“Why do you have to be so sour? It will be fun, can’t you just be excited?” She crossed her arms, already starting to sulk.
“I shall be excited when there is something to be excited about. This is not it.”
“Well you have to go, Mother has ordered us to. We are to go and be lovely and wonderful and find husbands,” Zelly said defiantly. I shouldn’t have been surprised, of course Mother would see it as an opportunity to marry off her desperate daughters.
Still, I didn’t have to like it. “Fine. Is Cinderella going?”
“Every girl is invited.”
We both looked out the window at our step-sister. She wouldn’t have a problem getting twenty marriage proposals if she tried. We had no chance.
I spent the next four days hearing every little detail about the ball that Mother had managed to find out. She actually left the house, which I hadn’t seen her do in a long time. She spoke with all the other ladies, trying to find any detail she could that would give us a head start on the other girls.
I knew my mother meant well, but she didn’t understand what it was like to attend those balls. She was always beautiful, she still was even though she was in her forties now. People looked at me and they only saw the ugliness that was on the outside. They never got a chance to find out what I was really like on the inside. Unfortunately, no amount of make-up could hide my skin problems, despite how much my mother caked on my face. It was humiliating.
A ball like the king’s was just another chance for others to look at me and pretend they didn’t see me. Or that one glance at me wouldn’t put them off their meal. It would be a torturous evening, I could say that without being able to see the future in a crystal ball.
Yet our dresses arrived anyway and the tailor fit them to our bodies. Mine was too tight, as usual. Mother ordered them that way so I wouldn’t overeat in the lead up. I wasn’t fat, I would like that to be clear. But in her eyes, I was. The thought only made me hungry for something sweet like a piece of cake. Or pie.
Cinderella also got fitted for a gown. It was not as fancy as Zelly’s dress or mine, but it was still a wonderful butter yellow colour. She would look good in anything, even if she went to the ball in her house dress she would still be noticed. And she would be sure to let us know all about it.
I didn’t know what all the fuss was about for one prince. I saw him once, at the palace. Mother took us there for the winter feast celebrations. He sat on his throne and didn’t talk to anybody. It appeared he liked to sulk just as much as Zelly – perhaps they would make a good couple. I knew I certainly wouldn’t be suited to him.
If I were to marry, which apparently I had to because I didn’t get a choice in the matter, I wanted a man that was strong and adventurous. I wanted a husband that was fun and didn’t care about what his wife was wearing or how she must be ladylike at all times. I wanted a partner in crime, someone to enjoy life with. Not someone who told me I must be something I was not. Prince Charming definitely didn’t fall into that category. In fact, I was certain that all the men my mother had tried to introduce me to doesn’t. Perhaps I was destined to spinsterhood.
“I hope you’re not daydreaming again,” Mother interrupted my thoughts, reminding me I was trying to sit still while she fussed with my hair. “Dreaming is for peasants. Now remind me what you must say to the prince.”
I wasn’t exactly paying attention to her lecture, what was it I was supposed to say? Something about my step-father? “I must say… that my step-father was Lord Trevane and I am pleased to meet him?”
She pulled my hair a bit harder than was necessary. “Say he was your father, it will make it sound better. Lord Trevane was a friend of the king, he will think you are somebody special. You have to fool him in order to reel him in like a big, fat fish.”
“Oh, my dear girl, do you even want to please your mother?” She sighed as I wondered what I had done wrong this time.
“Of course I do, but I fear nothing I do will please you.” I searched her face in the mirror, trying to determine how the rest of the conversation would go. Half the time I expected her to give up on me and try harder with Zelly. She had a better chance with her.
Mother finished with my last curl and took a step away, making sure my hair was sufficiently bound for the ball tomorrow. “You can please me by finding a husband tomorrow night.”
I turned around to face her. I was either being incredibly stupid or incredibly brave, I wasn’t sure. “Why is it so important that I find a husband? Do you not love me as I am? Do I need a man to make me lovable?”
She looked me directly in the eyes with a love that I hadn’t seen for a very long time. Perhaps the mother I knew wasn’t completely lost to her grief. “I want you to find happiness, just like I did. A husband gives you comfort and security. Something I fear I cannot offer you for much longer.”
“What do you mean?” A pit was forming in the bottom of my stomach. What was she talking about? I feared to hear the answer and yet I needed to know at the same time.
“Our money is running out,” she cast her eyes downwards, staring at her hands. “This house is expensive to keep. We need new money and I am too old to remarry. It is up to you and Zelly now.”
“What about Cinderella? Can’t she get married too?”
“You know her loyalty was to her father, she doesn’t care about this family like we do. We can’t count on her to save us.”
I nodded, understanding. If the roles were reversed, I would probably have felt the same. “Would it be so bad if we had to live in smaller accommodations?”
Mother looked horrified, I had my answer before she even needed to speak. “We have Lord Trevane’s memory to uphold. We will continue with the life we have grown
I let it go, I knew I wouldn’t be able to talk her around. We had lived in a much smaller house before her marriage, I’m sure we would be able to again.
She squeezed my shoulder. “Sleep well tonight, my girl, tomorrow will be a big day.”
I let her go without another word. At least I now understood why marriage was so important to her, yet I still couldn’t help but feel it was her dream and not mine. I didn’t want to marry a man just for his money, it wasn’t right. Nor was it fair to him or me.
Not that I should have been worried anyway, no man came near me. Our futures depended entirely on Zelly.
“You’ll have to do,” Mother said as she stood and did a final check of my gown. I stared at myself in the mirror. The dress was a beautiful light green, embellished with cream lace and ribbons. I had never worn anything that stunning.
When I twirled around, the dress swung too, creating a wonderful swirl of colour. I felt pretty and delicate, perhaps for the first time in my life. Still, I didn’t want to go to the ball, but the dress did sweeten the inevitable just a little.
“Don’t spin around, you’ll mess up your hair.”
She dressed Zelly next. Her dress was a deep red, the colour of fresh apples from the garden. Its lace and ribbons were black, making the red even bolder. With her hair in curls, Zelly looked very nice too. Mother had gone all out, trying her best to make us noticed.
The last dress in the package was Cinderella’s. I helped Mother pull it out and we held it up to take in its beauty.
“Mother, what’s happened to it?” I exclaimed, seeing the rips through the back of it. It looked like it had been dragged through a bed of muddy nails.
“I don’t know, it must have been damaged when it was delivered. This is terrible,” Mother agreed. It was such a tragedy seeing such a beautiful butter yellow gown broken like that. It was heart breaking. “The tailor is going to hear from me about this, we need this dress tonight.”
“What did you do!?” The shriek came from behind. We all looked around, seeing Cinderella with her eyes wide open in horror. “That was my dress, you ruined it!”
Cinderella is Evil by Jamie Campbell / Fantasy / History & Fiction have rating 2.7 out of 5 / Based on35 votes