So often, humans find in themselves in the midst of tragedy, they have to create a masterpiece out of it. All the greatest artist had to endure their tragedies first before their masterpieces were created. How did Van Gogh create his beautiful starry night without first seeing all the pain the world had to offer him? Do you really believed Shakespeare didn't have to suffer any before writing Macbeth?
Yes, our world has to create masterpieces out of tragedies. It is the way our grand creator made us- we have to be able to see beauty in the broken shards of our lives. So often we revel in the masterpieces, not even thinking about who suffered to make them...
Once upon a time, there was a cruel stepmother and stepsisters, and a poor girl named Cinderella who had to do all the cooking, cleaning, and whatever else others asked of her. She sneaks off to a ball with the help of a fairy godmother, captivates the young Prince of the kingdom and disappears at midnight, leaving only a glass slipper behind. The next day the Prince shoes almost every maiden in the country with the slipper, trying to find the owner. He finds her and they fall in love, she becomes the princess of a beautiful realm and eventually, the Queen.
Once upon a time, there was a cruel stepmother and stepsisters, and a poor girl named Cinderella who had to do all the cooking, cleaning, and whatever else others asked of her. She does sneak off to a ball, but she does it without the help of a fairy godmother, for there is none for her. She does not captivate the prince, but rather somebody else. She is now not only captivating, but also captured.
She is drug from the main room outside into the cool, stinging winter air.
"Who are you?" the man asked her, holding a knife to her throat. She doesn't answer, and the minutes slowly go by.
No, there was no Prince to come to her rescue , no glass slipper to leave behind as a clue. Only the slow trickling of blood left behind to follow, and though she screamed, nobody heard. nobody cared.
Yes, this is the story of Cinderella, the true story the timeless masterpiece sprouted from. For that story that we all know and loved came about much, much later, when young boys and girls heard the true tale told to them, it is inevitable that someone, somewhere, along the way of the telling, thought to "How should this story really go, in the world we all wished we lived in?" Of course, since that person's story was so much nicer, so more like a fairy-tale than reality, it is the story the world has come to know. But the truth always has a way of revealing itself, no matter how many lies and platitudes it becomes buried underneath. For you see, here is the truth. No, it's not pretty. No, it's probably not for the eyes of the small child. But this is the world we live in, and this is what happened...
Once upon a time, there was an evil stepmother and her two daughters, just as evil, who through an unfortunate hunting accident-or maybe it wasn't so accidental- became a widow. Now, the man's daughter from his first marriage, Ella, was her father's pride and joy. He showered the young girl with lavished riches, and his promise that as soon as she was old enough, would buy her the best gown for the best ball of the year. For Ella, only five at the time, was already in love with the balls. She would watch from the window all the older girls step into their carriages, their gowns skimming the floor with graceful movements one usually attributed only to nature, as they rode of into the sunset, going to the fabulous balls that no one every stopped talking about.
However, the man's wife, the evil Stepmother, had no love for the child. For her, the young girl was a symbol that there was someone else out there who had been close to the man and even though the Stepmother, a cold and calculated woman, had no love for the man either, she was extremely possessive. For as soon as the guest from the funeral had left, and the Stepmother had dried her false tears on her delicate handkerchief, she asserted her new-found authority over Ella.
Now, I am sure so far this story is nothing you haven't heard before. There is no reason for me to repeat it. The evil Stepmother puts the girl to work, and the Ella grows up in poverty. However, in this distant, back corner of her mind, there is always a feeling of "I am above this." a feeling that somewhere, to someone, she means something more than just a pair of working hands. A feeling that somebody loves her.
But the years slowly recede her feelings of her father's love. Now she is almost seventeen, and the memory of her father has been almost completely worked out of her. She wakes up in the morning, earlier than any one else. She irons her step family's clothes by hand, working fast to make sure they are done when they wake up, for she knows the punishment if she doesn't, her hands floating towards her bruised rib as she remembers the last time she did not work fast enough.
Of course, in the story we all know, all of nature is on her side, helping her to evade the wrath of her step family. But pray, tell me, how many times have you seen a bird help hang clothes up on a line?
In the mornings right as her family is waking up and putting on the fresh clothes, she heads to the kitchen. Cooking is one thing she doesn't always have to do, since they still have kept a hired cook on, but Ella still cleans the dishes and prepares the table, which is not an easy task. She always puts a small plate to the side for herself, which she eats cold after she had cleaned up after the three.
By now it is already nine in the morning, and no time to waste. She washes everything, from the staircase to the walls, making the house shine and sparkle with each ray on sunlight that pass through the magnificent windows. This is what she does until it is time for dinner, in which her routine starts over again. Afterwards, she makes all the beds, takes five minutes to wash herself off, goes to bed after everyone else has, even the cook, and rest before the routine begins all over again.
Yes, this is the sad, pathetic life of Ella. Now, in the classic childhood tale, Ella is portrayed with a huge amount of hope, a light heart, and an almost annoyingly cheery mood. This, of course, is nonsense. If the truth is to be told, Ella was wearing. Quickly. There were many nights, in fact, when her last thought was that death had to be better than the life she was living. However, there was something that kept her from acting on these thoughts. Something tied her still to this cruel, cold, world.
However, there was more than one night when Ella actually stood from her bed and retreated down to the kitchen, standing only inches away from the knife that could end her misery. She never did it, and she was almost certain she never would, but she got close all the same.
This particular night happens to be one of those nights. Ella, never having time to eat a true meal, was so thin and light-footed her footsteps made virtually no noise on the cold, marble, floor.
She used her pale, sickly looking hand- for she was never outside except to hang the laundry up- to open the heavy, wooden kitchen door. She may have been small, but due to the excessive work and scrubbing she was stronger than she appeared at first glance.
Ella picked up the long, slender, gleaming knife. She didn't even put it close to her skin. She was not ready to give up hope, not yet, but she was wearied far more than any seventeen year old should be. However, for right now, the fact that she could come down to the kitchen, pick up the knife, and do anything with it she desired was enough. She needed to be in control of some aspect of her life, and right now, the only thing she could have any control over was whether she still had life left in her or not.
Ella had already put the knife back in its spot and was heading back up to her closet of a room when she felt footsteps behind her. She turned, tense and scared to see just who her stalker was.
A young man, not much older than herself, held up his hand, showing that he meant her no harm and asking her to be quiet. All Ella does is point him with a hard, stony glare until he mouths the words "follow me."
Ella is not sure why, but she obeys the man, following him into one of the spare rooms, not much bigger than her own. She is carrying a lantern with her, and she sets it on one of the elaborately decorated tables that are now layered with dust from not being used.
"Who are you?" she asked, with more control in her voice than she really felt.
"My name is Lind." The young man's wispy black hair fell into place, slightly covering his left eye. "I've been courting your sister in secret."
"My sister?" Ella asked softly, her eyes flashing. She never claimed kin to the family she considered herself a slave to.
"Are you not Amila, Maren's sister?" Lind asked, his green eyes confused by the entire turn of events that had happened after he was found out.
Ella sighed, wondering whether to tell the truth or not. She figured she had no hope and nothing to lose, so why not be truthful? "I am Ella, Amila and Maren's stepsister." She looked down at her pale, bony, fingers. She was more afraid of this mysterious stranger than she wanted to admit.
"Ella? You are nothing like the Ella Maren described. She said you were insane. Though, after being around her for a while, I began to believe that she was the insane one."
Ella gave a soft laugh at his account of Maren. She actually didn't know her stepsister all that well, as her strategy for dealing with the two had been avoiding them, but the little she had seen all seemed to confirm Lind's view.
"So if you think she's crazy, why are you still meeting here in the secret of the night, where no one trustworthy stirs?" Ella asked, stepping a little closer to Lind to put less distance between the two of them.
"This was going to be our last meeting." Lind replied, his voice no more than a whisper.
"Your idea or hers'?" Ella couldn't help asking.
"Mine. She was just too much for me. Too crazy. Besides, I've found someone more breathtaking." he replied.
"Who?" Ella replied. They were now so close they were almost touching. They both keep moving on their feet, but in a soft, round, motion, almost like a dance.
"You." Lind replied, whispering towards her. She was unable to resist his charms, and, craving affection, gave herself to him that night.
For Lind, the event left him with a bond. He didn't know how or why, but he knew that he loved Ella. The occurrence that tied them together permanently bound them together for life. Lind was in love and he knew it- he may have never believed in love at first sight but he did now.
For Ella, the event left her empty. Broken. It may have won Lind's love, but it was an affection that Ella was searching for and while the heart that Lind poured out to her was touching and warm, it was not what she wanted...not what she needed.
Lind did call off his courtship with Maren, which meant that Ella had to attend to her personally during her grievous time. She had to bring her food directly to the bed, keep the temperature exact, and never let the flame in the fireplace go out. In fact, she had to attend to the hearth so much that this was when she got her name the world knows her by, Cinderella.
Before, Ella might have resented her new name, but she felt it fit her now. Her heart inside was as black, as cold, and as empty as the cinders that covered her. Even at night, when she scrubbed herself down, there were faint marks that she could never scrub away. Those marks were the last things Ella saw before her restless sleep and the first sight she opened her eyes to at dawn.
During this time, Lind still came to the house every night, this time for Ella. However, years of avoiding everyone had left their mark upon her and she never let herself get caught unless she wanted too.
A few times she allowed Lind to see her, but she was always polite and detached. The only time she ever initiated the conversation with him was when she told him the sentence that haunted her, "My name is Cinderella now. That is who I am." She never added the last part orally, but it stayed in her mind until the day she died, because of what we did, I am now Cinderella.
It was the last time Lind ever saw her. Eventually, about a month after the incident, he gave up. Did he really love her? The world may never know, but one thing is certain, and maybe it will give some of you small hope: He truly, down in the deepest part of his heart, thought that he loved her.
Coincidently, this was about the same time that Ella- or rather, Cinderella now, started experiencing her morning sickness. At first she did not know what it was, but after the second week things started clicking in her head.
She wasn't sure what was going to happen now. Her stepmother and sisters would find out eventually, and they wouldn't be happy about it, but she wasn't sure exactly what they would do to her.
She didn't have to wait long. She started showing early, and one morning her stepmother pulled her aside after she cleaned off the breakfast table.
"You are pregnant." It was a statement, not a question, and the first thing her stepmother had said to her in the past ten years that wasn't a command or order.
Ella just gave a small nod to the affirmative.
"From now until you deliver, you will work the areas of the house nobody goes in. I don't want to see you or the baby, ever. When you deliver, give the baby to the head cook, she has already agreed to take the child in and raise it. Now start on your new work, start in the spare bedroom on the third floor. It hasn't been touched in years."
Nine months passed. Ella now held a screaming, red-faced, angry, adorable, miraculous baby in her arms. "What should I name you?" She whispered softly into the fuzz of the baby's head.
"Linda. After your father." The idea came to Cinderella quite suddenly, and she was not quite sure why. After all, thinking of Lind was painful, it reminded her of who she now was, Cinderella, and it was nothing something she wished to think about. But she knew that Lind needed to be a part of the baby's life, even if it could only happen in one small way: the name.
"I will take her now." The head cook was standing in the frame of the doorway, ready to claim the child. She and her husband had always wanted a child- this was their only chance.
"No." Cinderella said, a mere whisper at first, but grew louder, "No...No!" By now, the stepmother had heard the commotion and was also in the room. "Ella, hand her over. Now." The older woman stated as if talking to a three-year-old trying to convince them to hand over a ragged doll.
"No! You have taken everything else away from me! My father! My dignity! My life! My reputation! Leave me this one thing that I have born myself, leave me what has been bound to me for the past months! Leave me my child! Leave me my child!" Her screams grew louder and louder, until they could be heard throughout the entire house. Tears were now streaming down Cinderella's face. It took her entire step family to hold her down as Linda was wrestled from her arms. Cinderella knew as soon as the baby left her arms, that she would never see the child again. They would make sure of that.
Her cries and screams continued. It was said that she went crazy that day.
Three months later, and still Cinderella's mind stayed focused on Linda. Her step family had given up on having her as a maid; they kept her constantly locked in her room, sending food and water her way once a day, as they continued to talk about some place they could send her.
However, after a time, Cinderella became pushed to the back of their minds. She became no more than a ghost, the remnants of her were only seen whenever Linda was around. For their was more important affairs going on in the country; the annual ball was to be held in a week, and this year was special: for the King's young son, the Prince, was of the age to start looking for a wife.
Every young lady in the city was seen making preparations for the ball. They bought their dresses and jewelry, they played with their hair trying to find the right style, and they rehearsed their speech for the night.
Cinderella may have been out of sight, but that didn't mean she was blind. She could still see the ladies' preparations through the single window in her room, dusty though it was. It was the ball she had been dreaming of going to since she was old enough to talk- the ball her father had promised her. Well, her father may be dead but she was going to get that promise, no matter what it took.
Cinderella watched through her window as her stepsisters went off to the ball. She watched the sun slowly set, and she knew she had to act quickly.
She did not eat her supper that night, but threw the mush of food into the waste basket beside her bed. She set the plate near the door, hiding in the corner in the shadows. When the cook came up to retrieve the plate, she slowly stuck her spoon through where the two parts of the door lock met. From the outside, it would appear lock to anyone, but they would be deceive.
When she was quite sure she was gone, Cinderella snuck into Maren's room, taking the first gown she saw down. Cinderella was quite a bit shorter than Maren, but it was an easy enough problem to fix.
She raced out of the house, walking to the grand hall where the ball was held. She would not have a carriage, but she would make do. The important thing was the ball, not how to get there.
The place was beautiful beyond her fancying. She had dreamed about places like this. This was her fairy-tale, this was her dream even as a little girl...she was convinced that nothing could spoil her evening, not even if her stepfamily found out.
She searched for the Prince, and though it took a while, finally spotted him. As she tried to move across the ball room floor, she felt a hand on her shoulder, pushing her back out through the same doors she came in.
The man drags her outside in the cold, stinging night air.
"Who are you?" the man asked her, holding a knife to her throat. She doesn't answer, and the minutes slowly go by.
No, there was no Prince to come to her rescue , no glass slipper to leave behind as a clue. Only the slow trickling of blood left behind to follow, and though she screamed, nobody heard. Nobody cared.
Nobody cared about Cinderella.