“Filled with joy, Prince Charming and Cinderella lived happily ever after”, I read out before closing the book, to be met with the chocolate-brown eyes of my sister. “What happened to her evil step mother and sisters?” she asked me out of curiosity.
“I do not think anyone wanted to know what happened to them, they were bad people Irene. Ella was a good person, that is why everyone loves her,” I said.
She gave me a small smile and tugged at her warm blanket. I slowly closed my eyes after seeing her deep in slumber. My sister’s obsession with the magical world had started to grow on me as I often wished that I lived the wonderful life of people like Cinderella. Maybe that is something one can only dream of.
When I woke up, I couldn’t feel the presence of my sister next to me. “Irene? Irene?” I mumbled, hoping to get a response but was instead met with a hard hit on my cheek. My eyes fluttered open immediately to see an unknown woman. The woman with her chocolate brown thin curls similar to a bird’s nest while she let out deafening snores, a trail of drool completing her messy appearance.
Suddenly, the door slammed open as a tall lady adorned in a maroon gown marches in. There was an unpleasant aura around her. Her face painted in a frown and her fierce eyes seemed to shoot daggers in a sinister manner. “Anastasia and Drizella, wake up my loves”, her voice boomed around the luxurious room, covered in antique pieces and exquisite tapestry that I had just seemed to notice.
Anastasia? Drizella? The names seemed to ring a bell. Is that Lady Tremaine from the story? Am I in the story? I shot up from the comfort of the silk sheets, chestnut locks of hair that I never knew I had, covered my face. Someone else walking in carefully, once Lady Tremaine left, caught my attention. Her porcelain skin and ocean eyes seemed to radiate certain elegance. Compared to her good looks, her clothes were rather the opposite. “Ella?” I whispered, is that really her?
“Yes sister?” she replied in a pleasant voice as she placed one of the vases back to its place watchfully. “What are you doing? Run me a bath, right now Ella!” I heard Drizella scream beside me. “And you Anastasia”, she faced me with a scowl, “fix that ugly hair of yours.”
I was taken aback by the attitude of her. It was hard to believe that I am really living the story of Cinderella…but just not as Cinderella, instead a character I would rather not be associated with.
I had somehow gotten accustomed to this house quite quickly. I was dressed in the usual puffy gown that Anastasia from the book was described wearing. The pale-yellow skirt flowed behind me as I walked around. While ambling aimlessly amidst the vibrant roses of the garden, Lady Tremaine approached me.
“Honey, do you want to go buy some new dresses and make up? You will look much prettier and I am sure a few men might finally wish to marry you”, she said with a straight face. I really couldn’t tell if she was concerned or if she was picking at ‘my’ flaws. Who tells their own daughter that they don’t look good enough to attract men? I think I am getting too involved; I need to find a way out.
“Maybe later, mother”, I answered with a forced smile before marching off. While I was trying to go back to my bedroom, I felt something pull at my dress. The thing stopped pulling when I looked down. I observed two mice staring back at me. The gaunt one cleared his throat and said, “I’m Jaq.” “The only way to leave this world is by reaching the end of the story Celine. You shall be Anastasia Tremaine as long as you are here”, he continued.
It was as if I had lost my ability to speak. Nothing really made sense; I couldn’t even understand the reason for being pulled into this story. “W-What?” I muttered but the only response was silence. They were gone…
“Ana, what are you doing here?” I heard a loud squeaky voice. “You should come outside, apparently there is some news!” she exclaimed, “News?”, I muttered and continued to follow her. What could this be about? The ball?
At the porch stood a man dressed in uniform. His thick white moustache and round belly being his most noticeable traits. “It is my honour to invite the Tremaine family to the Royal Ball that will be held in the next three days. The respected King and Prince Charming will be delighted to have your presence,” he said with a peaceful voice, before striding off with other soldiers.
Lady Tremaine turned to look at the two of us with a smirk. It felt like she was planning something big and it was not hard to guess what she might be cooking up in that nefarious head of hers. “The two of you should look the best at the ball. Who knows? You might just catch the eye of the Prince?” she giggled.
I could see Ella from the corner of my eye. She seemed ecstatic to join us for the ball. “Miss? Do you think there is a way for me to come along?” she questioned to Lady Tremaine, her eyes maintaining an innocent look the whole time. ‘Mother’ was in deep thought for a moment. She finally nodded her head and said, “I shall only allow you to come with us, if every chore is done perfectly.” Cinderella’s face beamed with joy, “of course,” she replied. I could see Drizella clench her fists, her face painted in an angry expression.
I think both the sisters knew that Ella’s beauty was unique and it really was hard to match up to it.
Lady Tremaine and Drizella had been preparing for the ball with all they had. The last two days were occupied with constant trips to different dressmakers that specialized in dresses with the most luxurious silk along with jewelers that sold exquisite pieces with rare gems. I had oddly been enjoying buying such expensive items but the fact that Drizella continued to prove to me that she is prettier than me had started to get to me. I just hated being treated that way. Furthermore, Lady Tremaine seemed to almost agree with her. It really did hurt to be reminded of having average looks each day.
Without realizing it, I had started to try to look better every day, the body and face of Anastasia was something I had started to get used to. Anastasia’s insecurities had become my own and it was hard to tell who I am anymore.
The glamourous pink dress that I wore fit me perfectly. My usual hair was styled to the top of my head while a large diamond necklace glistened on my neck. I looked different but still not enough. I walked down the stairs with as much care as possible, to avoid losing my footing with the uncomfortable shoes that added to my usual height. Drizella stood right in front of the door in an emerald green gown. “Ah someone looks decent today,” she remarked with a smirk. “Ah! thank you sister,” I replied, trying not to pay attention to her. Suddenly, the sound of slow footsteps started to become evident as we noticed Cinderella make her way down the stairs. She looked unreal and for the first time I couldn’t help but compare.
Her pink dress was adorned with beads and ribbons that suited her perfectly while her usually tied hair was combed straight. It was as if she made the room brighter but it was a light I couldn’t appreciate anymore. Lady Tremaine’s eyes were wide in shock while Drizella was gaping at the sight in front of her. The silence was broken with a disturbingly loud voice, “Are those my beads?” Drizella shouted as she pounced on Ella like she was her prey. Her temper was absolutely intimidating. She started to pull of the beads before Ella could even answer. “No, sister, no!” she said with a quivering voice. The magnificent dress had turned into tatters in a span of two minutes as I stood still. It was as if my body had stopped functioning and my mind had gone blank. My moral judgement had hindered. When I snapped out of my daze, I saw a sobbing Cinderella. Lady Tremaine seemed unbothered as she said in a voice as cold as ice, “I had told you to stay on your best behavior! I believe you shall not come with us.”
I know how this story goes on next but it was only now that I realised that no one here, really was an evil person. They just failed to do the right thing in the moment of need.
I had never sat in a carriage before. I don’t think it is that common to travel in them in the twenty-first century. They have some sort of charm to them, that I enjoyed. I played with the fur on the seat while glancing at Drizella who was fixing her hair for the tenth time in the last five minutes.
“Be at your best, you must try to attract the Prince”, Lady Tremaine said with a stern voice, “especially you Drizzy”, she whispered to my sister. It was clear that my ‘mother’ had a preference. Anastasia deserved a lot more love than she ever got. That was something, I never thought I would ever think considering, I despised her character. But I believe that putting myself in her shoes really gave me a perspective of why she is, what she is!
The carriage came to a sharp halt. I was engulfed with lights when I stepped out of the carriage, right in front of the large gates of the Royal Palace. The two guards welcomed us with a salute and a man dressed in red, velvet robes, led us in. The interior of the castle was enthralling. The diamond chandeliers shone bright, illuminating the ballroom that had people decked in lavish clothing of varied colours. A flight of stairs connected to the dance floor, where a handsome man stood aloof. His looks were impressive; it was not difficult to tell that he indeed was his name “Prince Charming.”
Lady Tremaine forced me to dance with a stranger in a hope that it would somehow bring attention to me. Meanwhile, Drizella was with someone else. I wouldn’t say she was dancing; it was more like falling. The endless chatter and the synchronized melody played by the saxophone players brought the room alive. That was until an unexpected silence took over the room. People couldn’t take their eyes off of the lady at the entrance. Her crystal blue gown fit her just right. Everything about her was breathtaking. I know Anastasia would not have recognized Cinderella but I know it’s her.
Drizella ran towards me, infuriated at the recognition Cinderella was getting. “Who is she?” she asked with gritted teeth. “I don’t know”, I lied in a whisper. Ella is a whole different person and it is time Anastasia learns to stop comparing herself with her. Their difference made them unique.
Last night’s event had tired everyone and left us disappointed. I rushed to the door after hearing a loud knock. I knew exactly who it was. Outside was a man that served the royal family. He bowed at the sight of me. Behind him was Prince Charming, standing tall and proud. “We are looking for someone who happens to be the owner of this very glass shoe”, he said as she showed me the shiny, fragile heel.
“Oh sure, my daughters will gladly try it on”, I heard the familiar voice of Lady Tremaine. All of us except Cinderella gathered at the main room. Drizella was the first to try the shoe on. Her foot was a lot bigger than the shoe yet that didn’t stop her from trying to force her foot in. The thought of being acquainted with the Prince was enough for her to risk her limb.
I went and sat on the armchair and tried on the delicate glass shoe. My foot too was not the right match. “Oh honey! Try it properly, I think it really does fit you”, she said while pushing my feet into the shoe.
“Are you sure there isn’t anyone else in this house who could possibly be the one who owns this shoe?” the man asked. I considered calling Ella whose presence I was aware of. “Ella!” I called out. She slowly revealed herself from behind the door. The intense stares by my mother and my sister expressed their sheer disappointment in me.
She grabbed the shoe and put her foot in, with no hesitation. She was the rightful owner of it after all. “It’s her”, the man whispered. “This cannot be right! It is not she!” Lady Tremaine called out.
“I know it is her. I shall take her with me”, the Prince said with a smile. Cinderella looked back at him with affectionate eyes. The story was over.
I felt something hit my cheek. The thought of Drizella again scared me to death. Thankfully, when I opened my eyes, I saw the face of my sister who looked back at me, with tired eyes. “Please tell me what happened to them, I can’t sleep”, she muttered. I sighed, the exhaustion from whatever I had experienced had started to wash over me. “I think they learned from their mistakes, Irene. I was wrong earlier; it is not people who are bad but their actions. Everyone had a different story and they make mistakes. I would say it is best to believe that it just gets better”, I said with a soft voice. “Hmm I think that makes a lot more sense”, she said before lying on the bed.
I did not want to be Cinderella anymore. I was happier being myself and I could only thank Anastasia for that. She is the person whose story remained untold.