Cinder to Ash

Image of Megan Neely

Megan Neely

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You've been told the story of Cinderella, right? It's been told since antiquity, manipulated and contorted to hide the sad truth of that night. Would you believe me when I say her story is actually a ghost story? It started as you remember, with the death of her mother, then her father, and with the evil stepsisters and evil stepmother (who were never the true evil of this tale).
 
One day, Cinderella met the prince in the woods. It was love at first sight, a love to rival her parents'. But while this encounter took place, something else was watching. From the shadows, It watched their sweet words and smiles. It heard them flirt and it felt the affection that started to grow between them. So, it waited for the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the situation.
 
On the night of the ball, Cinderella prayed and prayed that by some miracle, she could go see the prince once more. She cried out to her late mother in complete despair. In the pink rags that used to be her mother's dress, everything seemed hopeless. It was still watching. The timing was perfect, it could take advantage of Cinderella's kindness. What answered the prayers wasn't God or an angel, or a fairy godmother. It was far from the stories of her mother, far from tales of magic or happy endings. It appeared to her clothed in light and glimmer, the image of sanctitude and virtue. 
 
"Why do you cry, my child?" It appeared to Cinderella like a vision.
 
Cinderella jumped, startled and astonished she had been heard. "My goodness, who are you?"
 
It smiled, Cinderella was unaware of the motives behind that smile. "I am your fairy godmother of course. Your mother has heard your cries and answered them!"
 
She reaches out to touch the skirts of the ‘fairy godmother'. Feeling the silky fabric between her fingers, she gasps. "You are real. Oh, fairy godmother, are you here to help me?"
 
"Of course, of course," it becomes impatient, "I am here to help you to the ball! But..."
 
"But?" Cinderella's voice shakes as more tears spill over her cheeks.
 
"But my magic is limited. I can only offer you so much and..."
 
"And?"
 
It enjoys the anticipation on the girl's face. Its impatience is gone, knowing it has Cinderella wrapped around its finger. "And I need something from you in exchange. If I help you, I request your help in return." It leans down to meet Cinderella's eyes.
 
"Oh, name it and it shall be so!" It nods happily at the girl's desperation.
 
"Perfect." With the flick of its wrist, not a wand, it created a carriage, horses, a footman, and a lovely dress with glass shoes to match. All of it was too good to be true. What was way too good to be true, was the promise of happiness. Before Cinderella could leave, it stipulated a few conditions. "My magic, unfortunately, is not all-powerful. This spell will only last until midnight. Then the carriage, the horses, the footman, the dress, and the shoes will turn back to what they were. Do you understand?"
 
"Yes! Thank you, fairy godmother!" Cinderella left for her ball, completely unsuspecting.
 
It did not stay in the garden. It followed Cinderella and continued to watch her. It watched her dance and smile. If you think the conditions laid out were because of its lack of power, you are sorely wrong. The midnight deadline, meant to leave Cinderella wanting more. The approaching change of the carriage back into a pumpkin, meant to ensure Cinderella went back home. What would happen if the prince saw who she actually was? And the glass slippers you ask? Quite impractical, but slippery. The prince had to come find Cinderella after she inevitably ran from the palace. As you know, its plan went off without a hitch. When the prince came calling, so did it.
 
It permeated through the locked door of the attic. "My child, you are crying again!" Cinderella couldn't help but jump. Her crying stops momentarily.
 
"Oh, fairy godmother! You can move through doors! You have come back. Are you here to help me again?"
 
The smile that spread across its face was not a nice one this time. "Help you?" It laughs. "No, I'm here to collect!"
 
"Collect?" Cinderella repeats, horrified.
 
"Yes. In my lifetime I was cheated out of love by a beautiful girl like you! You agreed to do anything in return if I helped you go to the ball. I want your prince."
 
"My prince?" Cinderella begins to cry again. "He has come looking for me! He is in love with me!"
 
"Exactly!" It shrieked. Its skin starts to morph. Its clothes begin to burn, turning from glitter to ash. Its teeth turn to spikes and its eyes glow red. Its skin is pale and sickly. It's the monster under your bed, but worse. As the transformation finishes, it reaches its slimy hand toward Cinderella. "I will get my happy ending!"
 
Before Cinderella could protest, it reached into her and grabbed hold of her soul. It took control of her, possessing her mind and body. And so, Cinderella never got her happy ending. Her being turned to ash as she burned with the possession of the demon, a fitting yet haunting end for a woman named Cinder-Ella.

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Image of Abigail Haworth
Abigail Haworth · ago
Mysterious and creepy! The ending left me curious to know more, but it was a good resolution!