We hope you enjoy one of the Fractured Fairy Tales written by homeschoolers! Here's a wonderfully creative reworking of Cinderella.
by Meredith DeLong
Johnbellai, despite being a maid for her remaining family, was the most beautiful girl in the small town she lived in. The thing was, Stepmother never let her show her face, and so her stepsisters, twins named Bobetto and Bobetti were, to the other inhabitants of Woolhope, the most beautiful. Try as they might, they could not compare to Johnbellai’s scraggly gray hair and mismatched eyes and rotten teeth. To an outsider, this might sound strange, but in the king’s land, dead weeds and roots were appealing, and “beautiful” people were what others may consider “ugly.”
Johnny’s parents had been madly in love, she had gathered, until her mother died from a sort of rare disease. She had been raised by him until he met and quickly married persuasive Holly Hardward. Soon after their marriage, however, Johnbellai’s father suspiciously became terminally ill (Johnny speculated poison), and the poor orphan was forced to become a maid within what had once been her own home.
Anyhow, Johnbellai was sweeping around the mantelplace when she heard a knock on the door. She limped - her legs were of different lengths; she had once finally decided beauty was worth pain - to open it. Standing in the doorway was a brown-haired man of small stature. “Is Madame Hardward here?” he asked abruptly.
Johnny was so surprised that it took her a second to respond. “Oh - yes. I - I shall fetch her right away.”
“Actually, ma’am, I was wondering if I could perhaps come in for a spot of tea - I have been traveling all day, my lady, and it is cold out.”
Johnny hesitated just a moment before leading the man to Stepmother. She purposely passed the clock on their way to the dining room. 1:32. It seemed there would be no meeting with her beloved awful poet.
“Why, Johnny! What are you doing roaming around the house? You should be preparing our meal by now!” Stepmother was screeching in such a way that made Johnny embarrassed to live with her.
“Ma’am, are you Madame Hardward? the little man broke in.
Stepmother looked startled as ever. “Oh, Johnny! This is the boy you've been seeing, isn't it! Well, - ”
The man cut her off deftly. “Madame Hardward, I am the royal postman! Here to deliver an invitation from the Queen!” He then proceeded to pull a big envelope from a large bag he was carrying, then handed it to Stepmother. “Well, I - I suppose I’ll be going now…” The postman let himself out awkwardly as Johnny watched her stepmother tear open the envelope.
“Run along now, little Johnny… Nothing for you to see here.” Johnny decided she couldn’t risk waiting to see what this letter was all about, and went on to prepare her family’s supper.
However, as she was cleaning up their remains afterwards, Johnbellai overheard the three ladies discussing excitedly. “We’ll have to find proper rags for you, my dears - you can’t go to a ball looking like Johnbellai in her cheap dresses!” Johnny ignored their giggles and snorts. A ball? She stopped scrubbing the dishes to press her ear up against the door.
“But mother, how will we find clothes good enough for me?” asked one twin.
“And shoes! Shoes are important, too!” cried the other.
“All in good time, my daughters. We’ll put Johnny to work, but we must’nt tell her of the ball; she won’t be going, and it’s not like we don’t tell her half the things we do.” Johnny could almost hear the grin in her voice.
After days of Johnny preparing her stepsisters for “a great event she could never fathom going to” the time had come for the twins to depart. She shut the door behind them and their expensive scraps of pretty brown clothing, then slowly walked up to her familiarly small room in the attic, planning to do nothing but wallow in her lonely thoughts.
It seemed someone had something else in mind.
Lying on her bed were three things: an extravagant set of rags, gorgeous slippers, and a letter.
She picked up the note first.
My dear Johnbellai,
These items were your mother's; she cherished them greatly, and I believe she wished to pass them on to you eventually. She first danced with your father wearing these garments. Try them on.
Then look outside. Have fun.
P.S. The shoes are not, as you may have thought, slippers. They are slappers made of stoome.
She read the note three times. Had these items really belonged to her mother? And slappers, stoome slappers at that! Slappers were shoes not unlike slippers, only they were more expensive, more valuable. Stoome was a product similar to stone, but prettier, and, once again, more valuable.
Johnny carefully tugged on the slappers and rags, gave them a twirl. It felt wonderful to be out of her silly bright clothes.
Still in her mother's attire, she raced downstairs despite the fact she knew there would be nothing waiting for her, and flung open the door.
"Are you Miss Johnny?" A man. A carriage. She could barely handle the scene before her. "I - Miss Johnny, are you alright?"
She came to her senses enough to say, "Yes. Yes, I'm doing quite well sir."
He then gently took her arm and helped her into the carriage. What in the world was happening?
Later she would decide that she had passed out - from being overwhelmed, perhaps - for the next half hour or so, for she had to again come to her senses.
"Ma'am we're here!"
"Look out the window, Miss!" Was that - the king's palace?
And then it dawned on her. The ball. She was going to the ball! Her coachman saw the realization on her face. "Have a fabulous time, ma'am. I shall wait for you here, but not past midnight."
"Oh - oh, thank you, sir! Thank you ever so much!"
"One more thing - you must wear this mask. Your face, unfortunately, must not be seen." Johnny took the silver mask. Covering her identity, she decided, was a small price to pay for a chance to dance with others, a chance to catch a glimpse of the king and queen. A chance, even, to see the prince.
She hesitated a small moment before stepping out of the carriage.
A doorman nodded at her, swinging open the door.
Inside the castle, the ballroom, more specifically, were hundreds of people, all dressed in gorgeous garments. The light fixtures were dimmed. Thorns adorned the walls as nice decorations. Firstly, though, Johnbellai was searching for three people in particular. It didn't take her too long to find the only familiar people in the room, Bobetti, Bobetto, and Stepmother.The twins were each dancing with men, Stepmother watching her daughters carefully. Johnny made a mental note to keep out of the way of them, especially Stepmother.
Soon, a man came up to her, told her she was beautiful, asked her to dance. She accepted; Johnny was here to have fun! She hoped Demarcus wouldn't mind. She also hoped he wouldn't write another poem.
She had lost count of the number of men who had requested to dance with her, even though not a full hour had passed, when the prince, walked up to her. "May I have this dance?" was all he said.
And so they danced and danced into the night, danced the night away. Eventually, the clock chimed twelve just as a beautiful piano piece was finishing. Johnny noticed that her stepmother and stepsisters were gathering themselves to leave, and she knew she must go, too; they couldn't see that she was gone, and, besides, her coachman would leave soon.
Johnbellai quietly pulled away from the prince when he was looking away and ran off towards the door. The prince began to follow her, but she ran down the castle steps as fast as her uneven legs could carry her and into the carriage waiting for her. Her coachman drove off into the night.
Later, getting out of the coach, she realized that she had only one slapper on. It must have fallen off in her hurry to leave before the twins and Stepmother did. Johnny knew there was nothing she could do about it, but she felt very resigned; it had been her mother's own stoome slapper, after all. Soon she was reminiscing about the night - thinking of the gorgeous prince with his unevenly cut brown hair and deep gray and black eyes, which were of different sizes, and the breathtaking smile he had given her - and wondering, who was this person that had set her all up?
Johnny felt she had shut her eyes for but a second before being shaken awake. “Johnny! Johnbellai, we’ve been waiting minutes for you to prepare breakfast!” Stepmother walked from the room grumbling. It seemed life had gone back to normal.
That day, she heard the three others talking about the beautiful mystery woman in rags and stoome slappers who had danced with the prince the whole night.
Everything had indeed gone back to normal, save one secret outing to see Demarcus, until a few days later when Johnny heard a knock at the door. It was her stepsisters, however, who ran open the door, for rumor had it the prince was looking for his strange dance partner to marry, and was matching women’s feet to a shoe in order to find her.
But it was not the prince standing in the doorway; it was the royal postman.
“I am here to deliver an invitation - an invitation to the prince’s wedding! His suitor has been found! The shoe fits! Size eight and a half! Only problem is she doesn’t have the other…”
Johnbellai was forever left with two mysteries: the identity of the one who had given her so much at once, then nothing more, and why it was just her luck that another girl wore a slapper size eight and a half.