You know the story, the good hearted beautiful girl who was treated so poorly by her arrogant evil step mother and two ugly nasty step sisters. Somehow pretty people are always thus beset by others not so blessed. Cinders did all the chores in the house, cooking the food, laying the table, washing the clothes and sweeping the fireplace, toiling away while her step sisters sashayed around taking selfies and posting funny status updates. Cinders didn’t even have a phone, forget about data or Netflix. And so she had no friends, except for this dorky tinkerman who would come by every day, his cart full of weird and interesting things like light sabers and rings with letters carved in them.
“Oh I wish I could go to the winter Ball,” she would sigh as she made some tea for the tinkerman who looked particularly unkempt these days. “The Prince is so dreamy!” She chatted often with him about all the things she wanted to do, and he told her stories about the places he visited, the people he met.
“He’s ok I guess. Looks soft. Doughy.” He muttered as he watched her clump from the sink to the dishwasher.
“Oh he is fabulous. And have you seen his car? And his guitar? And he is the quarterback you know?” She twirled and tripped over the kitchen cat, and he swiped at her as she fell. “If only I had a dress. And some shoes. And a ride.”
Her sisters had the cutest outfits, and looked pretty ok once their hair was curled and pinned. They left in a whirl of goodbyes and the family Mercedes swished away in swanky dignity. Cinders looked up at the palace and two big fat tears fell from her eyes.
“You really want to go?” The tinkerman asked gruffly.
“I wish a fairy god mother would appear and help me!” She sobbed.
“Well, dunno about that, but I have a dress and some shoes. If you want. And I can take you there in the cart. No one will know.”
Cinders hugged him and squealed and soon, with mascaraed eyes and flowing curled hair she was off for the ball.
“So, how was it?” The tinkerman asked casually the next day.
“It was ok. The decorations were beautiful, the food delicious, the music and DJ were the best.” She looked up from the stockings she was darning, her eyes luminous and her cheeks flushing slightly.
“And the prince?”
“Oh he was so handsome, and he said all the right things, his voice was so deep and his eyes like windows into his soul.” The words were what he had expected but the tone of her voice was flat, dismissive. “It was fun being one of the popular kids for a while.”
“Oh? He didn’t declare his undying love for you? Didn’t kiss you in the moonlight?” He gave up all pretense of not caring, and looked at her with a certain urgent appeal.
“He did all those things. But…” She looked away, her voice softer, more reflective.
The service bell rang stridently, and. Cinders jumped up as her younger step sister ran into the kitchen.
“Get the good champagne, Cinders!!! Quickly. The Prince is going to marry Anna. Mom
is out of her mind with joy! It was so romantic, Anna was so determined to fit into the slippers the Prince is using to find that girl from last night. So when she saw they were too small, she sliced off a piece of her big toe, scrunched the others together, and she managed to fit!”
“Why is he using the slippers to find the girl? Can’t he know who she is just by seeing her or asking for her by name?” The tinkerman asked.
“Apparently he never really looked at her or talked to her or even asked her name,” Serena replied. “After all those things don’t matter. All that matters is that the girl fit in, you know, be like him, pretty and popular and well dressed. “ Serena’s voice floated back to them.
“He didn’t even ask your name?” The tinkerman sounded flabbergasted.
Cinders looked up with a curious expression on her face, and she smiled at him. “He never bothered to get to know me. Who I was, what I wanted was just not important. And you know, I think I want someone who knows things about me. I think I’d rather have a friend. I think I’d rather have you.” She waggled her eyebrows at him and grinned cheekily.
“Come here, you brat,” and he kissed her, and she kissed him right back. And guess what, there was no fairy godmother, or wands, or sparkling stars or pretty music, but there was definitely magic in the air.