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So there I was, staring at his face. My dancing partner was intoxicatingly beautiful. He seemed perfect in every aspect, a gentleman with humor and vivacity. His beautiful eyes floated before me, like sapphires floating on crystal-clear lakes; his smile shook me to the core, and made me so dizzy I could hardly stand. I wondered how I could possibly have gotten so lucky, considering all events that have led up to the event thus far.
Unfortunately, I only had up until midnight. After that I would be gone and I would never be able to see him again. Then I would be forced to go back to the she-devil that was my stepmother and the miserable and mundane life that was, unfortunately, my own. Oh, joy!
‘’You are a good dancer,’’ he told me. ‘’What is your name?’’
Cynthia sounded so boring and overly elegant. With it all I saw were prissy, snooty, old women with stiff and elongated voices. I wanted something that sounded more vibrant and eloquent than that. Quickly, I searched my mind for a better name to provide this dizzyingly charming boy in front of me.
‘’You may call me… Cinderella.’’
I tried to say it as seductively as I could. Mysteriously, too.
He curled his lips in a half-smile sexier than anything I could ever conjure, sexier than even my stepsisters could ever conjure. I couldn’t tell whether the regard he held for me sprung from libido, bemusement or both. I wondered at that moment why guys (especially hot guys) had to be so damn confusing.
‘’Cinderella,’’ he then said, ‘’I like it. It’s different.’’
Different. The word sounded like a good thing on his lips. Compared to the context I heard it used in, it sounded so foreign. Whenever someone I knew had called me different, it was usually in a tone that contained contempt, revulsion and occasionally, pity.
‘’And you?’’ I asked, although I already knew who he was.
He sighed. ‘’I am just Prince Andrew. My name is nothing interesting like yours, unfortunately.’’
I widened my eyes in feigned shock and awe. ‘’Prince Andrew?’’
He cringed. ‘’Yes, unfortunately.’’
Oh no, I thought. I made him uncomfortable. I turned him off. Oh why, why do I always turn the guys off? Obviously a different tactic was necessary with him.
“Must be hard.”
The look in his eyes changed to something I could not quite recognize. ‘’It is,’’ he said, ‘’All the people you have to please, following you around and thinking you’re so great when you’re not. I mean people think it’s so great but it’s not…’’
His eyes grew distant and far away from my reach.
Oh no, I thought again, all I wanted was a good conversation. Not a deep one. All I wanted was an escape. My life was so depressing as it was. Why did I have to think about even more depressing things?
But he was the prince. I could deal with it.
‘’Psst.’’ A loud hiss sounded in my ear. I looked around but I saw no source for it. Thinking it was nothing, I continued to dance with him.
‘’I can only imagine,’’ I said, purposely making my voice soft and sympathetic.
‘’And…’’ He droned on to say things I can’t recall. They were boring things, though, relating to how hard being a prince really was.
Oh toughen up, I thought, thinking of the thankless drudgery I was forced to endure daily. You have it freaking made for you. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover you have servants to wipe your princely ass. What about me?
I continued, however, to listen because he was the prince, kind of hoping that somehow things would change.
“But you can make my life happier, right?” he asked, his eyes shining.
“Yes,” I said.
Hopefully he could make my life happy too.
It was getting really creepy. I didn’t know why but he started to look at me with a really intense look in his eyes.
Oh and his teeth, I noticed in the light, were yellow. Yellow! Whoever brushed those royal teeth needed to do a better job.
Suddenly, I’m filled with the urge to flee.
And, just then, I get the perfect getaway.
‘’Yo, blondie!’’ I heard someone in my ear yell, ‘’Don’t you have friggin’ ears? Come out tah dah pavilion already!’’
I looked around, but saw no one.
‘’Are you all right?’’ the prince asked me.
‘’Fine.’’ My voice, to my surprise, was clipped and annoyed.
He was taken aback by this. ‘’Did I do something wrong?’’
No, of course not, I thought sarcastically, You were kind, courteous and thoughtful the entire time we were together.
‘’BLONDIE!’’ I heard again, ‘’What are you stupid or somethin'? I said ta come ta da pavilion. If ya don’t, you gonna pay for it.’’
‘’I have to go,’’ I told him. “Sorry.’’
“See you later,” he said. “I love you.”
“I’ll make sure your life isn’t as hard as mine!”
Crap. He was already saying “I love you”? I barely knew the guy. What was wrong with him? If he was trying to get me to sleep with him, it so wasn’t working. Hadn’t the queen given him a Girls 101 course or something?
I ended up running out of the ballroom, with surprising (or, considering my guest, not-so-surprising) speed, my ankles throbbing.
I ran out to the pavilion, following the command of the unknown voice.
The source of my voice stood out there waiting for me. He was a sleazy- looking fairy with a tacky red suit and tattered breeches.
He was not a stranger to me, though. He had come to me the night before, when I was praying that I might somehow be able to go to the ball. He offered to find a way to go to the ball, completely dressed up and disguised. He told me that, because of fairy community service, he had to grant three wishes to three different desperate people. Already offering food and fertility to two other people, I apparently was his last wish. Seeming to be too good to resist, I accepted.
‘’I know humans is stupid an’ slow, but I don’ think it even humanly possible tah take dat long.’’
‘’I was having fun.’’
He raised his eyebrows. ‘’Didna’ look like it tah me, hon. Look like ya rather have all ya teeth pulled out.’’
He was right but I wasn’t gonna admit it. I didn’t need another “I told you so” in my life.
I rolled my eyes. ‘’What do you want? It’s cold out here, and there’s a million things I’d rather do than to be in your company.’’
He feigned a wince. ‘’Harsh, ‘specially considerin’ all I doin’ for ya.’’
‘’And I supposed forcing me into the company of Prince Whiny-Ass is supposed to do something for me?’’
‘’Ooh, chick wit’ attitude. I like dat.’’ He winked at me and nodded his head.
I rolled my eyes once more. ‘’So, per se, why did you call me out here again?’’
‘’Chick wit’ attitude and smartness.’’
‘’Can you just answer my question?’’
He forced a sigh. ‘’Maybe I just want, ya know, some company…’’ His eyes fluttered in earnest. Any consideration to the thought left as I saw those eyes wander to my cleavage.
Right. Company in his bed.
‘’No,’’ I said, almost immediately, forcing him to make eye contact with me again. ‘’You’re out of luck.’’
‘’Ouch.’’ He paused and looked at his gaudy, gold watch. ‘’Sorry, Cind, I can only do ten not ‘til midnight.’’
‘’Doesn’t that…’’ I said, looking up hopefully, ‘’not count then?’’
‘’What dah cops don’ know ain’t gonna hurt ‘em.’’
‘’Can I have my wish back then?’’
‘’No,’’ he said. “Haven’t ya evah heard ‘Be careful what ya wish for’.’’
I sighed, wishing that I had followed it. ‘’Yes.’’
He looked back down at his watch. ‘’Ya have an hour left. Might as well enjoy it.’’
‘’Please don’t.’’ I tried to keep my voice from filling with the pathetic desperation that I was feeling. It did anyway.
‘’I reward good behavior.’’
With a flick of his hand, I was back in the ballroom.
‘’You’re… back again,’’ the prince said, smiling at me in a way that made my insides crawl.
“Yeah,” I said.
“I have flowers,” he said, bringing them out.
Flowers? How did he get the time to get flowers?
“Thanks,” I said, trying to ignore how weird it was that he got me flowers after such a short time with me.
“I love you,” he said again. “My life has been so empty without you.”
I forced a smile as I screamed inside. ‘’You know what?’’ I said, ‘’I think I have to leave again. I’m sorry.’’
He took me and held me in his arms, sliding his hands down to my butt. And then… He kissed me.
His breath smelled like onions. I had to resist gagging. What did he eat while I was gone?
‘’Until we meet again, my love,’’ he said, his voice filled with longing.
I couldn’t run fast enough. I heard the clock toll behind me, marking ten o’clock, and I swore I also heard that damn fairy’s laugh in the wind.
It turns out that I ran so fast that I left behind one of the slippers I wore, which I would later turn out to regret for the rest of my life. But…. That’s a whole other story.