"The Cinder Girl"


Once upon a time (as any good tale should start),

There lived a tragic heroine of pure and noble heart.

Her name was "Cinder-something" (don't ask, I haven't a clue),

But I may have turned her life around—with some rats, a pumpkin, a shoe.

It all began with a simple wish, some tears on a star-strewn night;

Cindy looked so sad and desperate, I just had to make things right...


I first noticed her in the market, when she bought an apple from the hag

(The girl was kinder than common sense—there was blood upon the bag).

Out of curiosity perhaps, I followed her home that day.

Her innocence confounded me, I couldn't have stayed away.

What made her sing so cheerfully? What made her steps so light?

The girl seemed only stranger, after what I saw that night.

xxx

Under the cover of shadows and shrubs, I watched young Cindy sweep;

The manor house was luxurious, and odd, since her clothes were so cheap.

Three other women arrived then, in pearls and lace, and so much cleaner,

But they scowled away their beauty, screamed, sneered, and were plain meaner.

I doubted that they were Cindy's blood, they couldn't possibly relate,

But it seemed that greed and jealousy placed a daughter in slavish fate.

xxx

Their family history, as I overheard, was brief and rather sordid:

The father loved too deeply, he was lonely, she less horrid;

Dear Cindy suspected nothing, and welcomed her new kin,

But daddy dearest died, without a will, and consequence sunk in…

The widow was bitter, the sisters thought better, and gentle Cindy fell,

She faded from society, gave up dreaming, home became hell.

xxx

So the former heiress cleaned and cooked, played the servant hard at work—

Each day without fail, she followed their whims, and went to sleep in dirt.

On the outside, this girl was smothered by cinders, but inside burned a fire.

To say I was unmoved by this—yes, even I—would make me into a liar.

I could not help but linger in the garden, to hum and haw and plot.

Cindy deserved another chance, but when and how and what?

xxx

Opportunity arose at last, on my third night outside spying.

A pompous man from the royal court came to the door a-crying:

"Tomorrow night, the King and Queen will invite one and all!

For the Prince to marry, each and every maiden must attend the ball!"

"Marriage?" I thought, while Cindy beamed, and the stepsisters shrieked with glee.

With a little time and some magic—I could work with this, we would see.


My Cinder-girl was not permitted to attend the ball, of course.

They piled high the dishes, spit on the floors, ripped her dress without remorse.

After Cindy fled to the garden, seeking comfort among the flora and fauna,

I pondered my options, potions and spells, weighed the girl's need against potential trauma.

Fat tears dripped down her porcelain cheeks, "I should have known it was just a dream!"

Sympathy gripped my tiny heart, and my mind raced to form a scheme.

xxx

Cindy was quite startled by the display of tinkling bells and glittering gold;

I stepped out of the shadows looking gracious and wise and far too old.

"As long as you believe," I said, "your dreams will always come true."

"Oh, but how?" Cinderella begged. "My child, with bibbity, bobbity, boo!"

Now, I'll admit there was some chanting, and some unnecessary waving,

The things I did for this girl—never mention how I was behaving!

xxx

I conjured up some footmen (lizards) and the driver (once a rat),

The kitchen mice became six horses, sleek and white (yes, a little fat)

I know, the parts were rough, but it was between a rodent and a roach—

Then the roundest pumpkin on the ground burst into an orange coach.

I graced her last with a sapphire gown, pinned her hair and made it neat,

A shard of glass became her bobbles, with matching slippers on her feet.

xxx

Tucking away my wand, I urged, "Midnight, be back by then."

I met her gaze quite seriously, "Hurry, please, as the spell will end!"

Cindy swore to leave the ball by ten—no, twenty minutes early, but, still—

I couldn't help but follow, into the castle, past the guards with a little skill.

The dance was something to behold, my grown-up girl the belle of the ball.

The other maidens seethed with envy, her wicked stepsisters worst of all.


Three nights I played the fairy godmother, rewarded by smiles of joy.

I joined in secret just once more, to protect my daughter and study the boy.

The Prince was handsome and polite—charming in all the ways that matter.

He was also courageous and clever—maybe a little less so in the latter.

My magic was rather simple, just some glamour to make him drool,

So, his lack of recognition made the Prince an utter fool.

xxx

But Cindy was besotted, bewitched and sick with love

(Believe me, I had to hear her sing his praises often enough).

On the very last night of the ball, I had planned to say goodbye,

Cindy would get along fine, and my magic was running dry.

It was just my luck that the girl slipped up, distracted by her beau.

The clock struck midnight in the midst of a waltz, and Cindy forgot to go.

xxx

I only learned these details later, from an irritable rat (last a man),

But as the Prince made to kneel upon the twelfth strike, Cinderella gasped and ran.

She caused quite the scandal for the group of royal guards giving chase,

She toppled several girls, a suit of armor, and her stepmother in her haste.

The Prince pursued her valiantly, and he caused some mischief, too,

But, in the end, he missed the girl, and only picked up her left shoe.

xxx

Cinderella, as I warned would happen, lost both remaining shoe and dress,

But I forgot about the carriage—now a pumpkin, what a mess!

The lizards slipped out safely, the mice and rat were scuffed and hit,

But that stupid girl stayed in the carriage, and changed along with it.

Forget that gleam of innocence, the blonde curls and bright blue eyes—

Cinder-something was a pumpkin now, orange, of medium size.

xxx

She sat upon the road that night, three miles short of base.

She wobbled and whined in panic, pointless without a voice or face.

A familiar hag just happened to find her, "A free meal, what good luck!"

She heaved dumb Cindy into her cart, drove off, the girl was stuck.

And I—yes, I—was still in the garden, awaiting the good news.

Instead, I woke to the cock's crow, and a proclamation about glass shoes.


I had to admire his persistence, as the Prince searched high and low.

He checked on every single maiden—the process was painfully slow.

But nary a lady fit the lost slipper (Cindy's feet were freakishly small),

And the Prince was still an idiot—some girls were much too wide or tall.

All throughout the kingdom, they tried and failed and tried,

One stepmother was so desperate, that both her daughters nearly died.

xxx

It was a pity and a poor idea to carve up their feet for gain,

Yes, it took a mighty effort, but wounds hurt and bleed and stain—

Not even this Prince, blind as Cupid, could take tears of pain for bliss,

But I readied the talking doves—and a rock to the head—if he should miss.

At any rate, the Prince went home, empty-handed and still obsessed.

Between the screaming and the scolding, a doctor arrived at prompt request.

xxx

Pumpkin Cindy, in the interim, knew plenty of her plight;

All of her dreams were guaranteed, if I could set things right.

This lack of gratitude was galling, and her faith in me too sweet—

But I couldn't leave her high and dry, the hag I had to meet.

My orange daughter, steeped in spells, was not too hard to track;

The trouble, on the other hand, was convincing a witch to give her back.

xxx

This hag hungered for more than plain old pie, Cindy was just her taste.

I had to threaten, cajole, and plead, "Would you leave the other children to waste?"

The German tots were already plump and piggy, squeezed into their cell.

Cinderella would be greatly missed (a small lie), and I wouldn't tell!

(You may think me heartless, to leave the siblings to their grisly fate,

But I knew the hag was careless, and I advised them to use the grate.)

xxx

With some words (in Latin) and waving, I left the witch with stinging pride.

Cindy, in my arms, shook with relief—discomfited, I glared and sighed.

Despite all of my efforts, I didn't have time (or the power) to fix her yet.

The sun was sinking now, it began to rain, and we were getting wet.

But above all else, I must reach the castle—and the Prince, if he were there.

Unfortunately, I looked a fright, somewhat mad—But you think I cared?


The Prince was home—thank fortune—and his guards all too easy to beat.

But how to prove I held Cinderella? The glass slipper, if only she had feet!

But, at last, the Prince surprised me—he knew his love upon first sight.

He snatched the pumpkin from my arms, and kissed Cinderella outright!

I blinked, bemused, his parents balked, and I heard the herald snort.

Then a flash of light, and Cindy appeared, naked before the entire court.

xxx

What a hassle these granted wishes were, should I ever feel pity again.

All rushed to comfort the snow white maiden, but what did I get then?

A hoard of knights with sharpened swords, set upon this innocent fairy.

The expression on my face, the crack of thunder, probably made them wary.

Behind this backdrop of rising tension, there was a clamor as the queen fainted;

She'd seen her noble son—and his princess—getting reacquainted.

xxx

I won't bore you with the details, the confusion, and my almost arrest—

The Prince and Princess lived happily ever after (such tales are really the best).

The wedding was simply splendid, though I attended in another disguise,

I look forward to the christening—a baby girl—my first magical baptize!

I never intended to enter a fairy tale, stereotypical, morally upright—

But I'd like to play the villain next time—I'm more suited to black than white.