The Stepmother This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

January 18, 2016
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My story has never been a happy one. I have grown older, watching the passing of all things good, rushing by like the wings of birds flocking southward towards the anticipation of something better. My mother always ran a tight ship. I remembered naught but tight buns, the piercing grey eyes and the permanent sallow look etched upon to her face. The only thing I ever inherited from her was the ability to attain perfection, and I carried it with me, a burden upon my shoulder. I was raised with one purpose; to marry into wealth. I was never the pretty one, but I was quite skilled at portraying an image that society desired. Not a hair or eyelash ever out of place, a dab of lip color and a spot of rouge painting my cheeks a blushing pink. Lord Richelieu was my first love. He was an older, well respected, and mature gentleman of 34 years. I was only 19, and yet I was already adept in the art of running a household. But it was a lonely life, carrying on in a large cold house. The drafts in the morning always roused me from my drowsy state, allowing slivers of light to barely escape from the thick grey curtains. The master bedroom had little comforts of my own. The double doors seemed miles away from the king sized bed with flowing canopies of a dark red, swooping down to kiss the ground. The rich wooden floors seemed to sparkle whenever the curtains were drawn from the floor to ceiling windows, but they rarely were. I didn’t care fro the light.
Mother had always used to say, “Melaina stay indoors. The light is no good for one’s complexion.”
Each day my husband would stroll through the doors of the house, and hung up his coat. I would greet him in the entryway, and accompany him to the drawing room, where he would sit in his favorite chair embossed with my own stitching. I listened to the exploits of the day, and the troubles and the memories of life. He would surprise me with gifts of elaborate proportions, but despite the size, each gift was thought out to the smallest detail. I was happy. The days presented routine and structure. Security. And I truly loved my husband, the Lord Richelieu. We were happy. When I was 21 I had my first child, a daughter, Alea. When I was 23 a second daughter was born, Mary Anne. The two girls became the center of my life. They began to grow and race down the newly uncovered halls, rid of the shadows and dust I had grown accustomed to. My husband, the dear he was, could not have been more aesthetically pleased. The two girls brought us closer together. I remember my husband used to pat their tiny heads when he returned home each day; their hands tugging on the lapels of his coat, begging for attention. He was quite a bit older than I was, but his face would light up with joy every time he looked upon their smiling faces. He seemed to grow young and his cheeks restored to a rosy jovial color. I had hoped it would last for all of eternity, this happiness. He and the girls were the whole world to me. But the world isn’t kind. The world is cruel and fate spits in your face. My mother always warned me that good things never last, that it was never wise to get attached and entangled in affairs of the heart.
Eight years after Alea was born, disease struck the land, and my husband passed on. The curtains were closes, never to be opened again. I fired all the remaining staff, save for the cook and the nanny. I had to look out for my daughters of course. I never went back into the drawing room. The days I had spent there would be left behind in the dust that gathered on the remains of his belongings, untouched. I was 29 and already a widow with no money, no title, and two girls to care for. For the second time, I would walk down the aisle for the sake of my family. But there would never be another Lord Richelieu. I never wore white again. For my marriage to Charles Mercier, I wore a scarlet red. I was certain I would never love another like my late husband, but did not believe that it was impossible to love again. When I met the young tradesman, I learned of the unfortunate series of events that led him wifeless with a daughter and no mother figure. He was handsome and charming, I believe fate had given me another chance to learn to love another. His daughter was 8, like my Alea. She had childish golden curls that bounced along with her excitement, and showed on her rosy cheeks. Her lips were perfectly heart shaped, and seemed to compliment the innocent look in her baby blue eyes. It was not hard to tell her mother was quite a beauty, and one could see this child would grow into a beautiful young lady as well. I despised her.
“Evangeline, how many times must I tell you that a lady…” “Doesn’t put bugs on the table, yes yes, but they look so pretty, Mother!”
Her toothy smile almost canceled out the mud drenched all over her frilly pink day dress, not to mention the filthy bugs she cupped preciously in her chubby fingers. Mary Anne peaked curiously over her shoulder to glance at the creepy little creatures.  I sighed and leaned back in my chair muttering about a cold compress. Alea handed me a cold cloth, brushed the bugs into a glass jar, and promptly dumped them out the windowsill. A child of nearly 12, and already acting mature. She grabbed Mary Anne’s hand and marched out of the room without another word. Evangeline’s lower lip began to pucker as small tears framed between the creases of her eyes. I pulled her up onto my lap and tutted, “ Now now, I’m sure there are plenty of fun things a lady can do to enjoy herself?” I smiled at her and smoothed her curls and wiped the tears from her face.
“Now then…” I started, as the grand doors to the drawing room opened with a creak. “
PAPA!!”
Evangeline flung herself into his arms; mud, tears, and all.
“Now now my little angel! What a mess you’ve made of yourself. “ Charles glanced over at me in my chair and furrowed his eyes into a mock frown. “Did mama out you out to play with the pigs again?” He winked at me as a huffed and stared at the window as a response.
Her small angelic voice twittered, “No, but mother wouldn’t let me play with my friends, the bugs!”
Her eyes began to water again.
“Evangeline,” I scolded, rising from my seat. Charles raised a gloved hand and silenced me, while bopping Evangeline on the nose.
“Sweetness, there are many friends outside, you just have to find them!” “Charles it’s hardly appropriate for a young lady to be frolicking in the mud and bringing bugs into the house!”
My voice grew shrill in anguish. Charles laughed, “Mel, it’s quite alright. Children should be able to have fun and play as they wish. Now then, lets go get you cleaned up shall we?”
He hoisted her up with a laugh as she giggled down the hall. I watched the doors swing close, and sank back into the plush cushions. I would not show any weakness. My eyes burned as I clenched the seat of the armrest, my knuckles turning white. I glanced down at the thin gold band on m finger. I was alone in this house. The weight of understanding crushed down upon my heart like a boulder. I was back in the drawing room, but this time the hearth was empty. I glanced out the window of the drawing room, the only light source for it. The garden below grew wild and untamed, as Evangeline wished. She was Charles’ light, his angel, his love. A cloud passed over the suns rays, casting a shadow upon my lap. Charles and Evangeline danced among the flowers and potted assortments. No longer able to bear it, I ripped the thick velvet curtains closed. The rippling fabric enclosed me into darkness. I slowly turned to face the door and walked out with all the dignity I could muster. Mother was right. I would always be second loved. The light of my life was the one exception, but there would be no second chance. Good things cannot last, I knew that now. I would never be truly happy again, for happiness did not exist for people such as me, but for her. For the angels of the world. I resorted myself to this miserable fate, but I swore that my daughters would not end as I did. They would receive a father’s love, marry well, and prosper. If no one else would love my poor pitiful daughters then I would.
Charles was rarely home, for work consumed his life. He would visit for a while, but then left to travel for months at a time. I lived for the few days he came home, and the scarce moments he would spend with my daughters and I. he would bring gifts of cloth, jewels, and elaborately dressed dolls. Hats, brooches, scarves, purses, parasols. Everything a young lady could possibly desire. But as the loaded boxes made their ways to our chambers, I spied Charles and Evangeline, hand in hand. It was never anything so grand, a music box or a book, but that girl had the greatest gift I could not receive. His time. I made do with what I had, and focused on my girls. The years passed and life possessed an unbroken routine; day to day, week to week, month to month. I ran the household alone. Charles was always away. By now I was used to the cold empty feeling of an ever looming emptiness where my heart had once been. I filled the void with my daughters, teaching them French, art, history, and etiquette. All the things a fine lady should know. Alas Evangeline did as she pleased. The older she grew, the more obstinate and unruly she became. Playing in the henhouse and riding horses without the proper gear; not to mention she rode as a man would! She refused to let me be her mother, for every time she looked at me she didn’t see me, but an evil replacement for her mother.
When Evangeline had just turned 15, Charles wrote he would be returning in a few days. Of course the day he arrived, she was was out riding. For his arrival I dressed in my finest array, I even added a spot of darker rouge, and let my dark curls flow loosely. Today would be the day. I felt giddy at the thought of it. There was no way he could not resist my charms this time. I spent all day laboring in the kitchen preparing his homecoming dinner. The house was all a glow, save for the drawing room. I would surprise him, I thought. He would be so overjoyed to see the family together. Nodding my head in conjunction to my own thoughts, I smiled. It had been a long time since I had been this excited about anything. Today he would stride in, and tell me how gorgeous I was. He would embrace me and kiss my lips. He would tell me he loved me. My fingertips grazed against my bottom lip in anticipation. I yearned for his touch to feel love again, to fill that aching void. I heard the sounds of horse hooves on cobblestones and dashed out of the room. Halting my self before I reached the staircase, I placed my hand above my chest and took a deep breath. Throwing my shoulders back I made my descent down the stairs. I was graceful, I was powerful, I was beautiful, I was… The door opened and along with it came the dazzling white light brightening his entrance.
“Charles! The girls are so very excited to see you! How was your trip? I..”
“It was lovely dear. I have brought gifts for you, Alea, and Mary Anne. But first where is Evangeline? I have her Birthday present!”
My heart stopped. The little piece left of my heart began to fall, until it smashed into oblivion. My eyes grew lifeless and cold as I clenched my skirts until the knuckles turned white. It was always her, it would always be her.
With a steely gaze and a sharp voice, I clasped my hands together and said, “She went out riding today, Darling.”
I turned and began to walk up the stairs.
“Right,” he mumbled, scratching his head.
“I..” I turned back , but he was gone.
That night my daughters ate in silence on either side of me. The only sound that could be heard was the clink of silverware against the glass plates. The lights began to grow dim, when Evangeline burst through the door, hair a raggedy mess and her dress soiled. Cringing in disgust I looked towards the door waiting for Charles to come in. Evangeline daintily plucked a bit of cheese and slid it into her pockets. To feed her mice I suppose. I always saw right through her, every time. But for some reason I didn’t have the heart to scold her for it. I cleared my throat.
“Evangeline, where is Charles?”
Startled she whipped her head towards me and frantically jumped up from her seat, the silverware clanging to the ground.
“Papa’s back? Where is he!”
I rose, the anger inside me boiling.
“He was with you! You, you selfish little girl.”
He had scorned me for her, and she had the audacity to complain!
Her eyes furrowed and she stared at the floor, “Well, I said I went riding, but I went to meet a friend of mine in the market place. He’s an attendant at the palace you see and,” She was talking so fast her curls bounced with her mouth keeping the pace with her animated, erratic movements.
“ENOUGH!” I slammed my glass on the table and rose, my cheeks burn in anger, “Charles went looking for you, while you couldn’t be happy that you had his attention. So you gallivanted off to throw your affections to a mere boy!” 
“MILADY, MILADY!!!”
I turned to the caretaker, his face stained with tears of despair. Shouts came from outside.
“It’s the Lord Mercier, he’s…”
“no,” I whispered.
Evangeline beat me to the door, we ran from the table rushing at the door and through the grass. I could see his figure, on the backs of two men, slowly being dragged towards the house. Alea and Mary Anne hovered by the door, while Evangeline screamed.
“PAPA!!”
She collapsed by his feet and sobbed, grabbing fistfuls of dirt, wailing like a newborn child. I couldn’t move my feet, stuck to the earth. I watched as the gut wrenching screams echoed across the fields. My husband dead in the dirt. The maids and servants scattered about. I had not a tear left to shed. My one chance of happiness had been ripped away from me. I slowly crumpled to the ground, and sat on my knees, my hands stiff in my skirts. I looked towards Evangeline, still bawling and crying. How dare she. How DARE she! She did not deserve his love! She had killed him, it was her fault! Her fault for lying, leading to  him following her! She was the reason I could never be happy, she had taken everything from me! I began to rise. It didn’t matter now. None of it did. Charles was dead. I clapped my hands together, commanding the help’s attention.
“Listen closely, the men will take care of the body. We will prepare a funeral for my late husband. The maids, come with me. We have work to do.”
With that, I turned on my heels and walked back to the empty house. At the doorway, I turned to see Evangeline alone on the grass, frozen in shock.
“Evangeline dear,” she turned her head towards me. “Into the house, now. Night is upon us.”
My heart had been shattered beyond redemption. I had no love left to give, only the instinct to protect my daughters. The funeral for Charles was held, and with it, I buried any human emotion except for anger. The anger burned deep within my core. I could never forgive Evangeline. I could let his death lie blameless. I blamed the child for everything. For my unhappiness, for the lost love I could never regain. I never smiled again. I didn’t remember how. My mother was right. Nothing good can ever last. Happy endings just didn’t happen for people such as me.






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This article has 12 comments. Post your own now!

deathshadow said...
Mar. 27 at 7:44 pm
dang I meant awesome
 
deathshadow said...
Mar. 27 at 7:43 pm
you are awesoe
 
EnnaGirl replied...
Jun. 12 at 7:55 pm
Thank you so much!!!!!!! XD
 
Tomboy203 said...
Mar. 20 at 8:50 pm
I love this sooooo much, very unique and I adore you writing style!
 
EnnaGirl replied...
Jun. 12 at 7:56 pm
AWWW I appreciate it :)
 
xx_Pillowcloud_XX said...
Mar. 20 at 8:47 pm
NICE :)You are so talented
 
EnnaGirl replied...
Jun. 12 at 7:57 pm
Im glad you enjoyed it!
 
Umm-Me said...
Feb. 19, 2016 at 2:25 pm
This is REALLY good, I will definitely be checking out the res of your stories (if you have any)
 
EnnaGirl replied...
Feb. 25, 2016 at 6:36 pm
Thanks!!! My other short stories were written when I was younger so they're not as good
 
Maculate_DreamThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 14, 2016 at 1:18 am
The story seems to be a fairytale, except the opposite. I felt as if I was reading a fairytale. Feel like there is a bigger lesson in here though, but besides that, very enjoyable to read.
 
Bebe18 said...
Feb. 3, 2016 at 11:34 pm
WOW! You know this reminds me of Cinderellas step moms story. I like how you made us feel sorry for her and not think she was just a cold hearted women when she was just heart broken. I like you story a lot. It just has some spelling error and gramtical errors. You should proof read it aloud to fix them. Other than that, I really like your story. I think your a really good writer. Keep up the great work!
 
SkycreeperThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 23, 2016 at 10:58 pm
One side is always empty
 
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