Step-Momma

Contrary to popular belief, I am not evil. Yes, I am Cinderella's step mother but I do not qualify as evil. You see, she started it. When her late father introduced me to his precious little girl, that dear Ella put a rat on my supper plate. Since then, our relation has been less than friendly.

When my dear husband died eight years ago, I remember his parting words to Ella. They were nothing striking, just the routine, "Oh, take care my dear heart, I love you and am so proud of you" spiel.

He did not say who she was to take care of, so I put her to work taking care of my daughters and me. I moved her into the attic, where she could begin her care-taking and out of her old bedroom, which I gave to my eldest daughter. It worked out quite nicely for everyone involved. Cinderella became closer to her rat friends, and Anastasia got a better room.

Families are kept together by the people who work together. At the time, I did not see what was wrong with making Cinderella work with me. After all, I paid the bills so that she could afford to go to the grocer and buy the food needed to make meals for her sisters and mother. See, it all comes out in the wash.

But I have been told that that is not the makings of a good story. Things get interesting when it is announced that Prince Charming was to have a ball. Now balls are perfectly normal in this part of the country. But this one was special because it was the prince's birthday party. Now people don't get excited over each and every birthday of a royal. This was the spoiled brat's twenty-first. And you know what that means…

No, he didn't get to legally drink beer for the first time. It was time for the prince to marry! And he was going to invite every eligible bacholorette in the kingdom! This was simply perfect timing. My Anastasia is just the right age to find a husband. It would have been a match made in heaven! So I dragged my girls, Cinderella included, to the most spectacular boutiques in town. Everything had to be new and exquisite for the ball--Anastasia's future depended on it.

Imagine my surprise when Cinderella asked me if she could go to the ball! She was only sixteen at the time! Sixteen is far too young to be worrying about marriage. Anastasia definitely has priority over some measly-mouthed brat but I cut a deal with my step-daughter.

"If you can get this house to shine like the top of the Chrysler Building, I'll let you go to the ball, if you can find something appropriate to wear, that is." I told her.

For the first time, Cinderella looked at me with sheer adoration. Thanking me profusely, she went about singing and sweeping. Dancing around the house with a rag mop, Cinderella managed to clean the house in a relatively short amount of time. But still, she needed to get a hold of a dress. None of the things she had were anywhere near suitable for a royal ball. And I was not going to shell out a brass cent for a gown, not for Cinderella.

Against all odds, on the evening of the ball, as I stood on the curb waiting for the carriage with Anastasia and Elizabeth, Cinderella rushed out the front door, fully garbed in pink tulle.

"What do you think?" She asked, spinning to show off her gown.

Personally, I thought it looked like a rat had chewed on the edges of her skirt. But I was not going to say anything. For once, I was going to be fair. I did not have any intention of stopping her. Anastasia and Elizabeth on the other hand…

Well, the rest is history. The next day the kingdom was buzzing about a mysterious beauty who captured the heart of the prince but fled at the witching hour, leaving only a glass shoe for the heartbroken prince. In the days following, little prissy men tried to shove a strange little shoe on every eligible maiden's foot.

Disinclined to let my daughters try on the shoes after so many other women had done so before them, I advised them all to powder their feet before and wash them thoroughly afterwards. For a while, Cinderella had a real fear of the shoe. She skipped meals and rarely left the comforts of her room for fear that at the most inopportune moment the royal footmen would barge in and cram her foot into the slipper.

When they finally came around to our little house in woody suburbs, the foot men scoffed at my daughter-scoffed! As if they weren't pretty enough for them, let alone the prince.

"Are there anymore eligible maidens in house?" the leader of the footmen drawled in his snottiest of voices.

"Wait! Let me try it on! Please wait!"

Much to my surprise, and that of Anastasia and Elizabeth, Cinderella stood at the head of the stairs. She trembled madly, but her jaw was set with resolution. The leader of the footmen nodded twice in approval and clapped twice. One of the lesser members of the group waddled forward and blushed upon sighting Cinderella. I could hear, in the corner of the room, the remainder of the footmen ribbing each other about my step-daughter. So hasty to finish the job, the man with the slipper stumbled as he scaled the stairs.

As glass was proved to do when tossed into the air it shattered into a million tiny pieces. The leader covered his hands and wept over the pieces.

"Ruined! Ruined--damn you Jacques! Now what will we tell his highness? He will be crushed!" The man wept openly over the mess.

Cinderella knelt by his side and offered him her handkerchief. After the man had taken a minute to collect himself, he looked to see what she held in her hand. A shining glass slipper identical to the one that lay broken on the floor was in one piece and fit to be worn. With the urgings of the lead footman, Cinderella tried the shoe on--and of course, it was perfect.

It was a perfect fit, as if the shoe had been made for her and her alone. Of course, the footmen left in a great huff with Cinderella in tow. Everything was working out smashingly for my beloved step-child.

Now do not mistake me, I highly doubted that I would receive in the mail a gilded invitation to live in the palace with her. But I must say that the string of tabloid articles publicizing our less than perfect relationship was a step too far!

I guess the rat on my plate was not enough for Cinderella. Well, she had everything now. What was she going to do next--throw me into a furnace?

No wait, that was my cousin Mildred…