Twisted from Cinderella
Once, there was a man who had fallen in love with a fairy, and for many months their love had flourished. They shared the same fondness and passion, thinking that what they had would last for a lifetime.
But the tides abruptly shifted after the fairy confessed that she cannot bear a child. The fire that once blazed with their affections for each other slowly burned out. She loved the man dearly, but still she felt him slip away, discontented with their fruitless relationship.
And one night, the man came to her, his face ridden with guilt but painted with a mask of determination. He told the fairy he loved her no longer, that there was another woman he loved. And that nothing more could be done, for that woman already bore his child.
Anger swelled within the fairy’s chest. How dare he cheat on her? How dare he replace her with a mere human?
The man apologized and turned, but before he could walk away, the fairy made sure she would have the last laugh. Hatred and contempt fueled her magic, and she spoke the words of a dark oath borne out of her pain and her wounded pride. She placed a curse of eternal misfortune upon the man, his new lover, and the child in that woman’s womb.
True enough, the man’s wife died while giving birth to their daughter nine months later. The man grieved in the wake of his loss, but the curse wasn’t quite done just yet.
The daughter grew to be a soft-hearted, obedient, and beautiful lady, though the man became weaker and weaker as time flew past. He married again after a few more years, this time to a well-heeled widow with two daughters. But before long, their riches started to wither, and the man had to leave home to seek for new sources of profit. He rode a carriage, which lost control on the road and went over a ravine …
… leaving his daughter Cinderella to the grip of her foul stepmother and sisters.
I’m quite sure you think you know how the story ended: Despite all the adversities, Cinderella wed the man of her dreams and her stepfamily wretchedly suffered from karma.
But no, that was the fairy-tale version.
Because after the death of Cinderella’s father, the fairy still watched, a malicious grin on her lips. It was now the daughter’s time to pay for her father’s transgressions. And pretending to be a kind, fairy godmother would do just the trick.
The sound of galloping horses on the graveled front yard made its way through the ground-floor walls, and reached Cinderella’s ears. She perked up, abandoning the fireplace she was tasked to clean. She knew who it could be, and the thought made her heart hammer wildly inside her chest.
A definitive knocking made Cinderella stand up from having sat on the hearth. She hastily removed her apron and brushed away the cinders that somehow still dirtied her ragged clothes. She brushed her hair with her fingers in an attempt to look presentable.
When she opened the door, there stood the Prince’s attendant who later, after careful scrutiny, gave her a distracted look. “All the young ladies of the kingdom are requested by the Prince to try a single glass slipper,” he started reading the parchment of notice he held. “For that slipper was left behind by the maiden who enraptured his Majesty’s heart in last night’s ball. His Majesty would marry the lady whomsoever the slipper fit.”
The attendant revealed the intricate glass slipper, of the pair Cinderella lost.
The slippers had been given to her by her fairy godmother, and they were the only things that didn’t disappear after the clock had struck midnight. She silently thanked the fairy, seeing that none of this would’ve happened without her grace. And Cinderella was, of course, beyond exhilarated. At last, things were finally working out for her.
The wicked stepmother suddenly rushed down the staircase and went for the door, her high-pitched voice exaggerating welcomes after having snatched and read the notice from the attendant’s hand. She shoved Cinderella to the side. And after snide comments on how disgusting she looked, discreetly ordered her to go up to her room and not make a sound.
Cinderella obeyed, but did so at her own pace, deliberately slowing her gait while heading toward the stairs. She was already halfway up when the Prince entered. She was again astonished by his breathtaking face. He smiled the most charming of smiles, the kind that would make you want to melt, the kind that would make everything else drift in the background. And his eyes, oh! How Cinderella remembered the way those azure eyes pierced through her, how they twinkled, and how they never left her face. She remembered the way his arms held her while they danced into the night, reveling in the knowledge that Cupid’s arrows were fired and aimed true. For she was deeply in love with the Prince, and he with her.
Her stepsisters took a seat, and Cinderella watched as they tried on the slipper, the first one to do so being the youngest. The Prince kneeled down and held her right ankle still, and placed the slipper on her feet. It didn’t fit, of course. And no matter how many ways they tried to place it in, it just won’t do.
So, next was the eldest stepsister. She flirtatiously smiled at the Prince and meaningly raised the right side of her skirt up to her thigh, then lifted her smooth and flawless leg for the Prince to hold. Cinderella wanted to laugh at the trivial attempt at seduction—she knew the Prince didn’t care for looks, because the heart is what captures him.
The Prince held the eldest stepsister’s right foot. He sized it up, stilled it, then put the glass slipper on it.
And it fit almost too perfectly.
Cinderella was aghast, her dreams of a new life with the man she loved swiftly crumbling down. No, this couldn’t be happening. It was impossible!
She went down the stairs, interrupted everyone’s joyous cheers, and asked the Prince if she could try on the slipper. She ignored her stepmother’s glares and just looked pleadingly at the Prince, hoping he would recognize her somehow.
But no such spark of recognition came.
The Prince gave her a pitied look but nodded. Cinderella sat down on the chair and let her feet slide into the slipper, just like how she did before.
Except this time, it didn’t fit her anymore.
She tried and tried to put it on, but the slipper was two sizes smaller than her feet. She was almost crying of desperation when the Prince ordered her to stand up because he’d already found his wife.
Cinderella felt like weeping. She told the Prince that it was her, the maiden he met and danced with at the ball, and recounted everything that happened between them. She begged him to believe her, but the Prince just gave her an incredulous look and told her that it was impossible. “The lady I had fallen in love with is beautiful and pristine and is of noble birth,” he had said. She was on her knees, on the verge of tears, trying to keep on explaining, but the Prince cut her off with an annoyed remark, “The maiden I danced with in the ball did not look like a grimy rag thrown into the fireplace, and was nobbut forgotten to be burned.”
Every word the Prince said stung and left Cinderella appalled, making bile rise up her throat. No, this wasn’t the man she met at the ball. He couldn’t be.
But it was him, and Cinderella just made a fool out of herself. She dashed up the stairs and into her quaint room. She locked the door and there on her bed, surrounded by the four peeling walls of her bedroom, she cried herself to sleep.
Cinderella woke up the next morning with her fairy godmother sitting on the edge of her bed. She sat upright and told her the entirety of what happened. And by the end of everything she said, she wept once again.
But the fairy just peered at her, and laughed. She laughed and laughed, until her laughter turned into sinister cackles, her voice getting louder and more menacing. Her benevolent demeanor vanished in a wink. “You poor, naïve girl. You truly thought he loved you?” she asked in feigned sympathy. “You truly thought that you’d win the one you loved by dint of listless midnight dances? Even more so, you actually thought I’d aid you without conditions?”
Cinderella watched in surprised confusion as she saw the true colors of the fairy unfold before her. “But, you said you were here to help me, that you’re my … fairy godmother.”
Another mirthless laugh resounded from the fairy’s mouth. “I was already under the impression that you’d be as dense as your cheating father, but you are quite worse.” And there she retold the story of how she was wronged by Cinderella’s father. How she was used, lured into thinking that he loved her, and how he’d forsaken her when he found another woman who suited his needs better. Cinderella knew her father was a good man, that he’d never be able to do that, so she accused the woman of being a liar. But fairfolk couldn’t lie—they could mislead, but they do not falsify.
The fairy’s eyes glinted as she narrated her tale of revenge: how she caused the death of Cinderella’s mother and watched with euphoria as her father almost went mad with misery, how she jinxed her father’s horses and relished in the pleasing sight of him plummeting to his death. “You are the finale to the vengeance I’ve so carefully orchestrated,” she said and cackled with deranged glee.
It was all too much to take for Cinderella. She just had her heart broken the night before, and now the fairy whom she thought only wished her good turned out to be the vindictive rogue that caused her parents’ deaths. She had never been this furious before. She felt wrath seeping through her every pore, and all of a sudden, she found herself screaming and clawing at the fairy. But the fairy just evaded her and, with magic, expressed annoyance at her audacity by slamming her hard on the wall.
Cinderella lay there, sprawled on the cold floor, crying with anger. Anger at the fairy, at her stepmother and sisters, at the Prince, at the universe, but above all, at herself. There stood the one who murdered her parents, just in front of her, but she couldn’t do anything. She was helpless. Just like always.
“I shall spare you, but merely for the reason that you will suffer greater that way,” the fairy said, her malevolent laughter echoing through the walls. “And do realize that you cannot have ever-afters handed down to you on a silver platter. You must toil for it—die for it, even,” she snickered before disappearing in a flash, leaving Cinderella alone in her empty, cast-off house.
And that was where the fairy committed her biggest mistake.
For Cinderella might have been just human, but it was with unbridled emotions that humans often turned into the monsters they once feared and loathed.
She packed her belongings and, with what was left of her father’s funds, set out to leave, promising herself that she will come back for the fairy and for all the people who once kicked her around. She would drag them through the mire, and destroy them just as they had destroyed her.
Years and years passed and Cinderella had already walked through scores of different lands. She worked, and learned, and earned. Time did nothing to temper her anger or lessen her bitterness. She was determined to get the very thing she was craving: retribution. And she was not going to let anyone get in her way.
Cinderella came upon a strange, forgotten land, and there she was drawn to the teachings of ancient black magic, thinking that only magic itself could oppose the fairy. She had sifted through books upon books, paid witches upon witches to verse her on the dark spells. She had studied long and hard, and finally, after all her persistent endeavours, she succeeded.
The awaited day came, and Cinderella stood in the middle of the room she had occupied for the past months. She was already through with wrapping up her things when she noticed something glistening out of the corner of her eye. She turned and saw some glass object poking out from under her bed. Curious, she reached it and her lips quivered at the sudden rush of memories after recognizing what it was.
It was the glass slipper, the one left in her keep. She couldn’t remember bringing it with her, but it was here. And it gave her a pang of ire.
Cinderella faced the mirror on the bedside table, holding the glass slipper out in front of her, letting it catch the light. She remembered the time she first wore that slipper and felt like she could take on the world, that time when the Prince came searching for the owner of its other pair, and she let herself believe that things would finally be fair and reasonable for her. It felt like eons ago.
And she couldn’t believe how stupid she’d been.
But now, things had utterly changed. Gone was the girl who believed in sympathy and love, for she had already witnessed the evils of the world. Gone was the girl who let people walk all over her dignity, for she was done being weak. Gone was the girl who could have given her all without expecting anything in return, for she had come to realize that life was made up of infinite quid pro quos.
Gone was the girl who was named Cinderella, the girl who cleaned fireplaces, wore stained hand-me-downs, and was always regarded with disdain. That girl was long dead.
That girl was now a lady out for vengeance, and she didn’t need the assistance of a damned slipper to do it.
“Now, come home I shall,” she said with a wicked smirk. And from having furiously clenched the slipper in her hand, the glass finally shattered.