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|Cinderella, with a much more plausible ending!|
The young woman sat by the hearth, idly stirring the ashes. The low
fire flickered, sending glowing, golden highlights over her lovely,
unblemished face. She sighed audibly.
Three days later, in the parlor of the house where Cinderella lived, a stern man with a drooping face asked, "Are there any other women in the house?"
"Only Cinderella!" tittered the uglier of the stepsisters.
The stepmother rolled her eyes. "Oh, her!"
The thin, elderly man became impatient. "Well, bring her out then! We must try this glass slipper on everyone in the city!"
Cinderella meekly emerged from the kitchen, where she had been listening. "Excuse me, sir. I do not really want to try on the slipper."
The cadaverous man blinked, and asked, "But why ever not? All of the women in the kingdom wish to be the bride of the prince!"
Cinderella stared at the floor. "But why? I mean, if they all know that they are not the one that the prince met at ball, why do they want to try on the slipper? Are they hoping that it fits, so that they will take the place of the one that the prince truly desires?"
The prince's servant looked perplexed. "Well, when you put it that way, I suppose that they are. Still, don't you want to try on the slipper?"
"No, thank you, sir." Cinderella curtsied and exited the room.
In the kitchen, she met her fairy godmother.
"What are you doing?" The normally kindly old woman appeared both perplexed and angry.
Cinderella looked down guiltily. "Do you believe in love at first sight?"
"Well of course I do! That's the point of all of this. You and the prince were supposed to fall in love with each other! Don't you love him?"
"No, ma'am," Cinderella whispered. "I love another."
"The coachman!" Cinderella's eyes glistened.
The fairy godmother gasped, "But, my dear, that is a horse! I transformed him for the evening, but a horse he was and a horse he shall be!"
"Nevertheless, when I saw him, I knew that he was my love. He is good and kind. It is he that I love. Not only he, but the simple life and freedom that he embodies, even in his captivity here. I don't want to leave this prison for one of another type!"
The godmother sighed, reached into her sequined handbag and withdrew a silver horseshoe, which she held against the sole of Cinderella's bare foot. The horseshoe began to glow. "I'll be damned! It fits!" she exclaimed, as Cinderella's body began to swell and distort. The young woman fell to her hands and knees as her rapidly expanding body burst her clothing into shreds. Cinderella tossed her head up and down, as it lengthened with each movement.
The godmother threw the shoe back into her purse, muttering, "Well, you really won't be needing this where you are going." She opened the door and followed the running mare into the yard, where she could see the young black stallion rearing in his stall. The mare skidded to a halt in front of the stable door, as the godmother waved her arms and chanted, "To a far off land, take this loving couple, away from all cares and danger, to the land of faery..." The horses faded from sight. The godmother sighed. She had given up her charge, but at least she was certain that Cinderella and her true love would live safe and full lives...
Epilogue: The emaciated courtier sat the velvet cushion on the ground, then sat the sparkling, glass slipper on top of it. He leaned heavily on the gatepost, wondering what his next move should be. The panicked stablehand emerged from the barn, his eyes darting nervously from side to side, looking for the missing colt. He stopped as he spied the slipper. "How pretty," he thought, as he was drawn toward it.
The prince's servant turned and his jaw dropped as he saw the young man effortlessly slide the slipper over his foot. "Oh my! That explains why the prince has never shown the slightest interest in any of the women in the kingdom!" His thoughts raced. "Well, at least I don't have to continue this stupid assignment."
"Come with me, boy!" he snapped. "We're going to the palace. I have a feeling this is going to work out for the best."