“I was picking up all my papers off the school floor like I always did at 3 p.m. That was when my stepsisters would knock them out of my hands. It had kind of become a daily thing. I heard the bus leaving. WAIT! The bus?! Oh no! It came early today. Stepmother’s going to kill me.”
I was picking up all my papers off the school floor like I always did at 3 p.m. That was when my stepsisters would knock them out of my hands. It had kind of become a daily thing. I heard the bus leaving. WAIT! The bus?! Oh no! It came early today. Stepmother’s going to kill me. I must have had a very panicked look on my face because someone came over to me. A boy.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“I just missed my bus… ”
I just expected him to shrug and walk away, but instead he said, “I’m driving home, wanna ride?”
“Okay… wait a second, I don’t recognize you. Do you even go to this school?” I asked suspiciously.
“Yes, of course- ” he replied, leaning out to grab my arm.
“Don’t touch me!” I yelled.
“Yes, today was my first day,” he replied.
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know! I would have shown you around.”
I was very embarrassed for accusing him of being a kidnapper.
“It’s okay. Pretty girls like you shouldn’t have to worry about little old me,” he said.
He was looking at his shoes. I was pretty sure he was blushing. I felt a blush coming to my cheeks too, and I turned away, smiling.
“I’m Cindy. Nice to meet you, Kai.”
Kai drove me home. As soon as I got home, you can bet my stepmother was upset.
“Cindy, where have you been? It’s 15 minutes after the bus arrived! I told you no after-school activities because you have to do the dishes straight away so the girls and I can have our afternoon tea!”
“I’m so sorry, Stepmother. I missed the bus and-”
“That is unacceptable! Your father spoiled you, and now he’s left me his mess to clean up!”
“Don’t talk about my father like that!” I yelled.
“Talking back, such a bad habit. I have my work cut out for me.”
She had her work cut out for her? Living with her was harder than all the chores I have to do everyday. After that, she yelled at me for a good five minutes more. I went to go do the dishes. Oh no, here come my stepsisters.
“So, missed the bus did you, Cindy?” Britney sneered.
“How’d you get home? Did you walk?” Whitney laughed.
Something about the sentence made me find my voice. “I met this guy named Kai. Today was his first day. He drove me home,” I answered.
Britney glared at me while Whitney gasped. “Kai?! That’s my new boyfriend! Stay away from Kai!” Whitney yelled at me.
Ugh, she must have meet Kai during the school day today. I can’t believe I actually thought I had a chance with this guy. This is what they do with new people: take them right away. As if I didn’t feel bad enough, she grabbed one of my mother’s plates and smashed it on the floor. Then, they ran out. My mother’s china. How dare they! That’s all I have left of my parents. Tears started rolling down my cheeks; I couldn’t stop it. I took the broken china and ran up to the attic. The attic was where I slept. It was my bedroom. I put the china next to my bed.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” I whispered.
“Cindy? CINDY??” my stepmother called. “Where is our tea???”
I ran down the stairs, back into the kitchen. The first thing I did was hide the rest of my mother’s china. One of the things I learned, through acting as my stepfamily’s maid, was how to get tea together quickly. Not but two minutes later, the tea was in the pot and the teacups were on the tray, along with the mini sandwiches. I brought it out to them.
“It’s about time.”
My stepmother rolled her eyes while Whitney glared at me, and Britney stuffed mini sandwiches in her mouth.
“Now, Cindy, go sweep the living room, mop the bedrooms, make sure you feed the cat and give him his bath, wash the windows, and do the laundry. When you’re done with that, I’ll give you the rest of your chores.”
I was happy. So far, she had given me less chores than usual. But, she would give me more later, so maybe I was speaking to soon.
The Next Day
“CINDY! WHERE’S OUR BREAKFAST?”
“Coming right up, Stepmother!” I responded.
I brought out their breakfast.
“Cindy, pour me some tea, dear.”
“Of course, Stepmother.”
I started to pour her tea. The teacups were very beautiful. The design was blue and yellow; it folded out in patterns, creating an image on the cup.
“I can’t wait to see Kai at school today. I think he’s going to ask me to prom!” Whitney said, happily.
In my shock, I spilled the tea all over my stepmother’s lap.
“Oh! Ow! Hot tea!”
She squealed in pain. Grabbing napkins and patting it, she scolded me. “Silly child, look what you’ve done!”
“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean-” I tried to explain, but she cut me off.
“You are more trouble than you’re worth! Go! Grab your things, and walk to the bus stop early! Before you ruin anything else!”
With that, I grabbed my things and ran out the door. Once I made it to the bus stop, I sat down and started crying.
“Ugh! Why am I so stupid?!” I screamed into the air.
“I don’t think you’re stupid,” a voice said behind me.
I turned around to see Kai’s smiling face.
“You don’t know me,” I said, turning away.
Kai’s smile turned to a frown.
“What’s wrong? I thought we were friends?” Kai said.
He sounded pained, but I just ignored it.
“Are you dating Whitney Lockwood?” I asked.
Ugh, why did I say that?
“Um, yes. Why do you care?” he said.
I buried my face in my knees so he wouldn’t see the tears spilling from my eyes. I didn’t even know why I was crying. I really was stupid.
“Hey, don’t cry.”
Kai sat down next to me and pulled me close to his chest. I tried to stop crying, but I just started crying harder into his shoulder. I calmed down and sat up.
“I don’t care. I just heard a rumor,” I mumbled.
“Oh, okay,” Kai said.
He almost sounded disappointed?
Just then, Whitney and Britney came up to the bus stop. With them came a crowd of students. You could hear them whispering, Kai and Whitney are so cute! Look at little Cindy. She’s crying haha. Kai stood up and hugged Whitney.
“Awwww,” everyone went.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey, babe, we’re going to prom together, right?” Whitney asked.
“You two would be the cutest couple there,” Britney added.
“Um, I don’t know. What I mean is… prom is tomorrow. So, I mean, do we have to think about it now?”
Kai trembled. He was obviously terrified. Then Whitney gave him her puppy dog eyes.
“Come on, Whitney, don’t give me that face,” Kai plead.
Whitney started fake crying.
“Oh, don’t cry. Okay, okay, prom together.”
“Yay!” Whitney clapped her hands.
“Yay!” everyone cheered.
She linked her arm in his. Then the bus came, and I cried some more.
The Next Day
I ran down from the attic to the kitchen and started getting breakfast ready. Once the tea was ready, I put the teapot, along with its matching teacups, on the tray with mini muffins, of course. As soon as I set the tray down on the table, Stepmother told me to leave.
“What?” I said, confused. “Shouldn’t I pour your tea like every morning?”
“No. Not after yesterday. Go clean up the kitchen and then head down to the bus stop.”
I went and grabbed myself a muffin and put the dishes in the sink. Then I headed over to the bus stop. I sat by myself until Kai came over a few minutes later. Why was he always early?
“Hey, Cindy, I need to tell you something-” But, he never finished that sentence because just then, Whitney and Britney came over (once again with a group of students).
“Hey, boo-boo-bear!” Whitney exclaimed.
Then, she saw that he was next to me once again.
“Kai, are you cheating on me?” Whitney said in a pained voice.
“Of course not!”
“Then, why are you always with her?” Whitney sneered.
“I-we’re just friends. Right, Cindy?” Kai asked me.
His eyes were pleading for help. I turned around, looking him straight in the face.
Kai just stood there, looking at me with the most hurt look on his face. I turned away.
“Cindy, wait-” he pleaded.
But I just got up and walked into the bus.
“Cindy, help me with my dress for prom,” Britney said.
Prom. I wished I could go. But, I guess it would just hurt to see Kai and Whitney dancing. I wish I could go to prom with Kai! How I wish!
“No! Help me with my hairstyle for Kai!” Whitney said.
Whitney and Britney started arguing about whose needs were more important.
During that, I did Whitney’s hair. Next, I helped Britney with her dress.
“Done,” I said.
Whitney and Britney looked at me, confused.
“Go look in a mirror.”
Both went to look.
“Oh! My gown is gorgeous!” Britney exclaimed.
“My hair! Kai will flip for it!” Whitney gasped.
They did both look very pretty. Kai would think so too. Sigh. Britney and Whitney looked at me.
“What?” they asked.
“Oh, nothing. I just — wish — I wish I could go to prom,” I blurted out.
I shouldn’t have said anything. Whitney and Britney bursted out laughing.
“You at… prom?”
I hung my head down, embarrassed. They kept laughing. I walked out and ran up to the attic. I looked out the attic window as Whitney and Britney left for prom.
“Cindy!!!” my stepmother called. “I’m going out! I’ll be back around 12:30 am! Don’t forget to clean the cinders out of the fire! The girls will be back around 12:30 am, too ! The house better be spotless when I get back!”
With that, she left, the door slamming behind her. I ran downstairs, out to the garden in the backyard.
“I wish I could go to prom! I wish I wasn’t worthless!” I cried.
But, I am worthless, just a maid of a girl. Just a cinder girl.
“Are you alright, dearie? I heard crying.”
I looked up to see an elderly woman smiling at me.
“W-who are you?” I asked.
“I am your neighbor, dear. My name’s Faye Godmother, but my friends call me Fairie.”
“Oh, hi. I’m fine,” I said.
“Oh, but clearly you’re not. Tell me what’s wrong,” Faye said in a calm, soothing voice.
I took a deep breath.
“My stepsisters are at prom, and my stepmother said I can’t go, but she’s right. I don’t belong there. I don’t fit in.”
“Prom?! My dear, you must go. Prom is your night. No one else’s,” Faye said. “I’ll drive you there myself.”
I wiped the tears from my face.
“Thanks, but I can’t go looking like this,” I said.
Faye’s eyes sparkled mischievously.
“I just so happen to have a dress at my house. Would you like to borrow it?”
“Oh no, that’s your dress. I could never. Plus, I’m not allowed to go,” I said sadly.
“What time is your stepmother getting home?” she asked.
“Then, just be back by midnight,” Faye said.
So, we went over to Faye’s house. I changed into the dress. It was the most beautiful gown I’ve ever seen with white lace sleeves and lace trimmings. Then, a bright sky blue covered the rest of the gown. Oddly enough, it fit me perfectly.
“And these shoes,” Faye added.
She held out glass slippers.
“Are those made of glass?” I asked.
“Yup, but they’re quite comfortable.”
She held them out for me to try. I slipped them on. She was not wrong. They felt like slippers.
As if Faye could read my mind, she smiled at me and said, “A bit like slippers, aren’t they?”
I just nodded. Faye drove me to my prom.
“Thank you so much!” I thanked Faye.
“Just be home by midnight!” Faye reminded me.
“Wait, how will I get home?” I asked.
She smiled at me.
“You’ll get a ride with a special someone,” she answered.
“How do you know?” I asked, but she was already gone.
I took a deep breath. Then I walked into the room. The gym was decorated with banners and ribbons. People were dancing, and there was music. Then, suddenly, the music stopped, and everyone looked at me. I saw Kai and Whitney in the middle of the dance floor.
“Wow,” Kai said, looking right into my eyes, refusing to let me look away.
“Um, hi,” I said. “You all can keep dancing. I’m just gonna be here.”
The music started up again, and everyone started dancing again. Except Kai and Whitney.
“Come on, boo, let’s keep dancing,” Whitney said, grabbing Kai’s hand.
He pulled away, not even looking her in the eyes.
He said, “I’ll be right back.”
Then, he started walking over to me. The look on Whitney’s face was priceless as she let Britney lead her to the side of the room.
“Hey,” he said.
“You-you look really pretty tonight. But, I don’t mean just tonight. You always look pretty. I just mean that–” He rambled, but I cut him off.
“It’s okay. I get what you mean.”
We smiled at each other for a second, but then reality sets in.
“You’re here with Whitney. Shouldn’t you be dancing with her?” I asked.
“I-Cindy, you’re the one I like. It’s always been you. I don’t like Whitney, not one bit. I just felt so much pressure to fit in, and I’m so sorry. I was blind and stupid. Please forgive me,” he confessed.
He looked so serious. There were tears coming from his eyes, and he was holding my hand so tightly, like he was afraid to let go.
“I forgive you.” I gulped.
He was so close now. I could feel his warm breath.
“Thank you, thank you! Cindy, I promise I’ll never do anything this stupid again!”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” I grinned.
“Speaking of promises, I better go tell Whitney she’ll have to find a new Prince Charming,” he joked and left.
Prince Charming, huh. This night had been pretty magical. Minutes later, he came back.
“How’d she take it?” I asked.
“Well, I think I took it harder than her. She slapped me,” he said, his hand on his cheek.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Maybe this will make it feel better.”
Then, I kissed him on the cheek.
“Much better,” he said with the brightest smile. “Wanna dance?”
“Sure,” I said, shyly.
Kai led me out to the dance floor. We started dancing. Then, my shoe fell off. Out of nowhere, Whitney ran onto the dance floor and grabbed my shoe.
“I’ve got the shoe! I’ve got the shoe!!!” Whitney screamed.
“Give Cindy back her shoe!” Kai demanded.
“What? No, Kai, babe, you’re supposed to love me now. These shoes… they put you under a spell,” Whitney yelled.
She sounded crazy. Clearly, Kai thought so.
“I love Cindy for her, not her shoes. Now, give it back!”
Kai grabbed the shoe out of Whitney’s hand.
“May I?” Kai asked.
I put my foot out. He slid the shoe on, looked up at me, and smiled. Whitney’s jaw dropped.
Finally, she said, “It must be the dress!”
She reached out, trying to grab my dress. I stepped back. Kai got in front of me, trying to stop Whitney. Then, Britney ran onto the dance floor.
“Whit, you’re acting a little bit crazy. Let’s go.”
“No! Not with my boo-boo-bear!!” Whitney screamed.
Finally, Britney dragged her off the dance floor. I looked at Kai and bursted out laughing. He looked confused.
“What’s so funny about Whitney trying to take your shoes and dress because she thought that they would magically make me love her…” Then, Kai bursted out laughing, too. “She’s crazy,” Kai added.
“Yup. My crazy step sisters,” I laughed.
“Those two wack-a-dos are your step sisters?” Kai asked. “I’m so sorry. They’re horrible to you at school, and you have to live with them?”
“And be their personal maid,” I added.
“That’s horrible,” Kai said.
“It’s my life.”
“Not anymore. I will help you, I promise,” Kai vowed.
I smiled, then, looked out the window to see a car driving away. I couldn’t tell who it was, but the license plate said ‘Bibbity Bopity Boo.’