By day I swept the floor, cooked their meals, washed their trenchers. By night I slept in the hearth cinders. I was no better than a slave, an indentured servant, bound by my stepmother’s rules and the whims of her spoiled, guffawing daughters.
When the Prince’s ball was announced, my stepsisters were giddy with glee. He was the Prince of their dreams. They wished only to wed him and from this lot of attendees he would pick an eligible maid. Silly women! As for me, I wanted no part of it. A marriage to the Prince? Such a thing would be little more than a step up in my indentured servitude. I could just imagine it. “Yes your Highness. No Your Highness. Good morrow Your Highness. What bid thee, Your Highness?” Bound to the Prince just as I was now to my stepmother. Oh no. I’d have none! But what I DID have was an escape plan…
On the evening of the ball my stepsisters fussed and preened. I brushed their gowns, tied their bows, even pinched their cheeks to add color to their pasty, sallow faces. “Cinderella,” they said, “You are to remain here. Do not wait up for us. Surely we will be late. That is IF we return at all!” With that they cackled loud laughs like crowing roosters. My stepsisters planned to seduce the Prince and stay in the palace the entire night, scandals be damned.
They will tell you a fairy godmother appeared to me, offered me a fine gown and made a carriage from a pumpkin. That is rubbish. The truth is, I weaved my own gown, from discarded lace and damask thrown away by the Queen’s dressmakers. (You’d be surprised how much the Palace let go to waste.) I needed no carriage, for my feet were good enough to carry me to the ball.
But it is true I had a godmother of sorts. Old Nelly lived in the wood. She eked out her living by blowing glass figurines. Such beautiful sculptures they were! Fit for the King’s Court. The palace knew well of her work, but Old Nelly lived in squalor, never adequately paid for her creations.
It was at Nelly’s hovel that I weaved my ball gown till it was finally complete, rich blue, the color of sapphire with a taffeta train, fine enough for any castle. I now needed decent shoes. I had only my tattered wooden patterns, worn from trudging to market, soiled with soot. If my plans were executed correctly, I’d have far to walk that night.
Old Nelly blew her glass into a fine pair of slippers, a perfect fit to my rugged feet, which were, by the way, not small. I was no delicate thing; my chores had made me strong and sturdy. My slippers too were strong , made of unbreakable glass, with hard cleats, fit for any journey. Nelly then braided my hair and rubbed my skin with her own perfumed creams. “This,” she said, “will help a good deal.” I smiled, for I knew Nelly was wont to put a bit of magic in all her creations.
When I entered the ball, I was myself, but not myself. I looked like some otherworldly creature.
The Prince was well taken with my beauty. It took no effort to catch his eye and engage him in a sparkling conversation, which he quite enjoyed, for the Prince was not used to women of my bold manner.
A servant girl such as myself is no stranger to the world of men. I had lain with many, and proud I was of my skill. The Prince was no virgin either, and eager he was to partake of my gifts. Together, we rolled in lust upon the satin sheets of his palace bed. Oddly, no one at the ball seemed to notice his absence. When it was finished the clock struck midnight. The Prince was so exhausted he could no longer entertain his guests. How sweetly he slept, so innocently. I even felt a bit guilty when I took the pouch of gold from his chamber. Ah, but no matter! My services were worth it. Besides, he would not miss it. That gold, although it meant the world to me, was a mere tuppence to him!
I left the Prince sleeping and vanished away in the night. My glass slippers carried me like the wings of Mercury, cool on my feet.
I walked all the night and still felt no fatigue. When daylight broke a coach approached along the cobblestone road. The driver pulled back the reigns and studied me. His eyes popped at my blue glass slippers, for who else in the kingdom wore such a thing? “Your Majesty,” he called to the Prince inside the carriage. “I believe we have found your woman.”
The Prince offered me marriage but I refused. What I accepted instead was his eternal friendship. That and more gold. Which I would use as seed money for my new glass factory!
Old Nelly and I created a line of fashionable glass slippers, available in every color, custom-made to fit to every foot. We sold them at cut rates to the women of the village, peasants and gentry alike, so all could own a piece of that beauty. When the women wore our glass slippers, wonderful things happened, for each shoe was imbued with a bit of Nelly’s magic. Most of all, with each pair came knowledge; no women should ever sell herself short of her skills, talents and ambitions, whatever they may be. My stepsisters even bought a few pairs, though they complained they never got another servant as good as myself.
The Prince? As my business prospered I paid him back tenfold! Besides that, he and I had an eternal friendship that was mutually beneficial to us both.
This story is in response to the Daily Prompt Glass