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Here I am, darling, here I am.

With new shoes, a pretty dress and my hair all done up—

Oops. That was a lie. My hair is all cut up on the floor. Sorry about that – you use to think it was so pretty, didn't you? You'd whisper that it's so long, so lovely, just like our mother's. (I think that's why I broke it and punished it. Just like mother).

I know how you hate liars, dearest brother of mine, so what will be my punishment – belts like daddy, or chains and whips like the boys in the back alleys?

None, your eyes say, touching my cheeks while your lips mutter something about how I should probably stop screaming. I wasn't screami— (and I touch my own lips and, surprise, surprise, they're open and letting loose a terrible, terrible note).

Turns out I was screaming. Sorry. My lips and voice move on their own nowadays, you know? I suppose you don't, sane boy, your lips follow your every command (but even your lips sometimes itch to do what you won't).

(Every word muttered between us is in a note so low that the Gods can't hear us.)

"Pretty boy," I tell you (and force those word outwards, outwards, like the time we'd force pizza boxes deeper and deeper into Mother's tiny bin, like choking—choking—), "you should go home. Nothing good will come from following insanity through shady back alleys."

(I heard, nowadays, you have a wife – a pretty wife too, with blonde hair just like mother's — and a stable job, which is more then daddy ever had. I hear from whispers that, brother, you have a life).

"Go home."

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(I can't, you say, I need to help you. Dear boy, no one can help me.)

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Cockroaches run across your feet as you tell me, "You're not quite right, Princess. Something is very, very, very, very wrong with you."

I laugh and wonder what gave me away (like the way I drink my tea, brother? Trust me; I've always spilt it, even before my head got all broken and smashed. Or, was it that you've heard that I scream your name when I should scream someone else's – someone else who I love in a million different ways then I love you, or, at least, meant to? Even I know that that is very, very, very wrong. But oh! I'm babbling - babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble babble).

Best friend of mine (or, at least, that is what he tells me he is to me. I doubt it. Marcus – that's his name – is far too selfish to be anyone's best friend) tells you that I cost more then you could afford and that you should leave right away.

(Business men, Best Friend used to tell me, need to protect their assets.)

"You have a life now, Pretty Boy, go live it. Leave monsters to their own devices."

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(So you go home, alone. I can't help but feel you're abandoning me again – even though I asked for this.)

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Surprisingly, when the nice boys come pass to pick a girl to take home (just for tonight) they're been picking me, lately. The nice boys touch you and ask so nicely if they could, perhaps, kiss you (and who are you to say no? Just whisper beforehand, their lips lightly on yours, 'Don't tell Marcus, just God's sake don't tell Marcus.')

Sometimes they ask, beneath the blankets, if you could just stay a little longer. Most girls whisper no, because what would Marcus think if we were late?

I say yes. Marcus understands that sometimes I get lost on the way home. He understands that sometimes the darkness seeps into my skins and I can't get it out and it won't let me go home. Marcus understands that. (He understands I'm crazy.)

Beneath the sheets, client of the hour touches my leg softly and I nuzzle into the pillow. He whispers of his childhood and present day (—"Mother of mine doesn't understand why I can't get a girl for beyond a night"—) and I listen.

He asks me of my childhood. "You," I say, smiling, "don't really care about that," because it's true.

(Oh wow, my head isn't spinning and my mind is okay, it seems. Infection of a kind soul and half-home, I guess, must get to me. I feel straight and narrow and so-not broken. Because of that, the time become apparent and, God, have I been here that long? This isn't right, this isn't right. I shouldn't infect this poor nice boy with my selfishness and childish clinging). I pull on my dress and my too-tight transparent heels.

"Glass-like slippers," he laughs, running his fingers down my leg to my shoes, "isn't that what Cinderella had? Tell me, are you going to leave one for me?"

"My shoes are made of cheap plastic. Trust me, I'm no Cinder Girl."

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(Am I jealous? Just a little, but who isn't jealous of girls with a Happily Ever After?)

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Hair is such a filthy, filthy, filthy, disgusting toy for children and whores (child-whores, too) and, oh God, it's disgusting to touch and feel and run along my back so, so, so like the feathers of dead birds. I pull at it, tug at it, wound it away my fingers and destroy it.

When I touch my head, I touch blood. Oh, I didn't think I tugged that hard.

(I should probably stop tugging at it. It just feels so filthy and disgusting, like the way Mother would hold me tight and let her hair touch my shoulder ever-so-lightly. With mother's hair on my shoulder and scent of cheap lavender shampoo, this feels like hell-home and, oh God, I hate that place).

There's a knife Maryanne was using for cooking earlier on the bench, so I slice off my hair at my ears. I'll never have to feel mother-like filth over my shoulder ever, ever again.

And I cry.

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(I wonder, but never aloud, if you still care. I hope, aloud, that you've stopped.)

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"My feet hurt," I mutter.

"Your shoes are far too small, sweets," you reply.

"But aren't they pretty?"

And I think about leaving one behind for you, in your pretty shiny car where it would almost fit in with glass. I've forgotten that you can't, can't, can't be my Prince Charming when I so desperately want to be a rescued-Cinderella, but I remember again and know that I simply can't, can not be this selfish.

I say to myself, "You're no Cinder Girl, girl."

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I wake up a week later in some old back ally covered in sought and wonder if, perhaps, I could be wrong this time.

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(I've started loosing weeks at a time; not knowing where I've been, who've I've talk to. Every moment with you, I remember, though. Maybe this is a sign.)

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There's blood on me, but I can't remember how, so I tell you that—that I'm ready to be better again. I need to be better because, otherwise, I'm just a loose cannon and the though of you in that path kills me. I need to be better, I need to be better, but I half-expect you to say NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, because even I wouldn't wait for me this long.

But you touch me. I think you're trying to reach through the broken glass and mirror pieces (not to mention cloth and skin) to touch my heart.

"I'll put you back together," you whisper.

"Like a puzzle?"

"Just like a puzzle, sweetie. I'll put you back together, piece by piece."

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(I am not Cinderella. Never had a villain in my story that wasn't me and, God knows, I never had a prince. Nevertheless, he'll play my hero and I'll be his damsel in distress.)

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NOTES:

1. - I saw the prompt a while ago for 'piece by piece', and started writing this. I have no idea what's wrong with her.