Probably NOT The Most Childfriendly Retelling of Cinderella
Cinderella was not having it. Any of it. So many promises of what she was born to want, to believe, Ashe has caught herself staring in contempt and jealousy at the serving girls. Did they know the freedom of the scullery?She could feel herself hardening from within. Hardening, forging, and freezing inside a castle.
Even without the fervent help of Lucifer all of her mice had died. Gig Gus in her palm. She buried him in her glass slipper. He filled half of it. The rats and mice of the castle did not speak to her. They must have known she did not belong. Smelled the soot and ash still clinging beneath the scent of Lillie’s and milk baths.
Her maid never said but on occasion the girls nose would crinkle at the center and that smile would reach the side of her mouth but never her eyes. It was the same look of the nobles when Cinderella’s eyes lingered on the fire too long.
So very many hours to sit and stare at fires. She could hardly pull apart her own thoughts anymore. They had grown listless and lazed under inactivity and heavy skirts. Seasons passed and her belly swelled and flattened gifting her country with a battalion of princlings and princesses. “The time if the entrants.”
The people crowed or laughed. Sturdy lass they named her in pubs. A sturdy lass teetering in glass slippers. Feet no longer than her second eldest daughter’s. The one still wearing rolled thighs and cheeks fat as her old friends readying themselves for winter. Her eldest girl could no longer play in her mother’s shoes. She had turned sylph thin and always had her eyes hungry and terrified at the nursery door. She would hold her foot to her mother’s and cry, “How can mine be larger?”
“Mon Cher, why would you wish it other? Look how you can run and dance so steady and certain.You would not wish for something so small and impractical. You would stumble and fall.”
“Your feet brought you father and a crown.” What could Cinderella answer to this? No other accomplishment had brought her this far. She could not boast cleverness, perfect taste in dresses and drapes, not even a wit that could cut and entertain. She had a possible voice and was kind. But was that her? The kindness. She had few choices in her life Was her defining virtue a cloak? A clever trait for safety.How quickly she would have been bruised and starved for any look that echoed a sullen nature.
Cinderella sat in the nursery for hours watching her children. She was fond yes but she tried to find shards of her true nature in their wildness. Staring deep into each babe, toddler, and child looking for herself in their squeals and naked tantrums. Could anything that wild life in her cultivated patience and second nature kindness? Did a wild thing still lurk under her skin wanting, screaming, flailing?
Perhaps when she is old and bent as the grand duchess she will leave the draft and eyes of the castle for a country cottage where mice are not snobs and the birds do not judge. She will play small mischiefs on the maids, speak loudly, tell jokes the horses overheard in the stables, and she will eat pastries and drink wine until her feet grow fat.