Imagine a world where princesses aren’t what they seem, and life is far from a fairy tale.
For example, Cinderella. According to the popular legend, she was a victim of abuse by a cruel stepmother and stepsisters, but what if I told you Cinderella wasn’t mistreated by anyone that she herself didn’t mistreat?
What if I told you she never really fell in love with anyone, either, especially a rich charming prince?
The truth is, Cinderella only loved herself.
After her mother died, she gladly stepped into her shoes ordering around the servants.
I was one of them. One day, I dared to ask her for a day off.
“My dear Cinderella, I have toiled away for you as long as I remember, preparing your meals, washing your clothes and tending to your needs, even while neglecting the needs of my own children,” I said while painting her nails in the powder room. “My husband cares for my son and daughter as well as he can, but my darlings are growing up fast, you see, and I miss them so … so might I spend tomorrow with my family, oh pretty pleeeeeeease?”
“And neglect me?” Cinderella said, blowing dry her golden finger nails. “Oh, poor you, how dreary life must be! Torn between your duties as a servant and impulses as a mother. Let me end your suffering quickly …”
“Thank you!” I said, kissing her hand.
“Don’t thank me yet,” she said with a smirk.
At which point Cinderella withdrew a sack of coins from her safe and left by carriage to town. When she returned, she said she had arranged with the local magistrate to have my children thrown into prison.
“Problem solved!” she announced to me in the foyer. “You never have to worry about those meddlesome ankle-biters again! They will have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, and your husband can live a life of leisure, which I’m sure he deserves, having suffered you and your lot plenty.”
“Perhaps now he can marry a woman of standing, like me,” she said, “and you can focus your attention on us.”
“But … but … such a life is not what I struggle for!” I cried. “Such a life isn’t even worth living! How dare you … you … cruel snickerdoodle!”
“How dare you, calling me by my middle name!” Cinderella said, slapping my face. “It’ll be five lashings and a week in the dungeon, miss.”
However, my week in the dungeon was not wasted. I found an old book of spells, and I cast a curse on the horrid princess.
The next time Cinderella saw me, she didn’t recognize me as a poor wretch. Instead, she saw a well-rested woman in the powder room wearing one of her gowns and blowing dry her freshly-painted finger nails.
“Oh, my dear Cinderella, wash the curtains and scrub the floors, and then prepare my dinner, will you?” I said. “I’m off to see the magistrate to take care of some family business.”
Cinderella nodded with vexation.
I removed a sack of coins from the safe and pointed at the other two female servants standing by my side.
“Listen to your stepsisters while I’m gone,” I said. “When I return, I don’t want to hear any nonsense about a rich charming prince coming to save you. You’re going to have to do better than that if you expect to get out of this mess.”
“Like what?” Cinderella said.
“You can start by apologizing for being such a b— you know, a less-than-noble person.”
“Well, I’ve never!” she said, and she stormed off to start doing her chores.