Half-Hour Cinderella This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It’s so weird
seeing your face again.
It’s been so, so long.
Too long.
We’ve grown up.
We’ve grown apart.
I try not to stare.
You look exactly the same—
pretty as ever—
well, almost.
Your hair is lighter
than I remember.
Did you dye it?
Your eyes are sadder, too.
You’re quieter
than I’ve ever seen you.
I wonder what happened.
I want to ask, but
I can’t make the words
come to my newly-glossed lips.
“Your hair is curly,” you say
awkwardly, as awkwardly as I shrug,
tell you that I curled it
for the dance I’d gone to.
Been at just moments ago—
I should have been here instead.
I look around the room—
I’ve spent so many hours here.
Not recently.
Last time I was here,
I had to jump to touch
the top bunk.
Now, I’m almost eye-level
with the dolphin comforter.
We threw stuffed animals
off of that bed,
made the person
at the bottom catch them,
once upon a time.
I wonder if you remember—
but how could you have forgotten?
My fingers move
towards a pink cardboard
Disney book.
A pop-out, finger puppet stage,
complete with color-coded scripts,
that we should have used
when we had the time.
I smile sadly,
say the first line
in a funny voice,
expecting you to laugh.
You don’t; you pick up the second
with more enthusiasm than
I could have hoped to expect.
You never made fun of me,
never—not for not fitting your clothes,
or for having ratty, ragamuffin hair—
not even for looking
at that Cinderella book
in the first place.
The clock strikes
ten-forty five,
and the Cinderella skit is through,
my head in a whirl
from how fast it went,
how I’m dressed up,
the evil stepsister—
and we used to be sisters,
you know—
and, in your jeans and white t-shirt,
are beautiful,
Cinderella.
At least for half an hour.
Thirty minutes,
and I have to leave
the real royal ball.
That’s all we got—
eighteen-hundred seconds,
just until half-past ten—
when we used to spend
whole weekends
pretending to be princesses,
when Cinderella got until
midnight.
My chest aches
at the awkwardness
as we hug goodbye.
I almost laugh,
even though there’s nothing
funny, nothing at all,
when I realize that there is
one thing that’s still the same.
I always cried
when you left.
I’m still crying.





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