January 27, 2011

Fragments by Monika Kim

Cinderella stared blankly out her fogged window, tugging loosely at a tendril of hair that had fallen wispily out of the tightly wound bun behind her head. The new ring on her left hand gleamed brightly, but she barely glanced down at the way the magnificent diamond reflected the light of her enormous room.

Suddenly, her clock began clanging noisily, and she jumped back from the window in alarm. She took a last glance longingly toward the window before slowly walking back to her splendid double-king-sized bed, a frown appearing on her lovely face. It had been six days since she had been wed to Prince Charming, but Cinderella was already so unhappy that she was ready to jump out from the window of her seven-story mansion.

Prince Charming, although neither intelligent nor amusing, was the talk of the town with his side-swept blonde hair and dazzling blue eyes. He had the weak, toothy grin of a wealthy and spoiled child, yet girls swooned at his feet at even the slightest glance. In spite of the hushed, jealous whispers around her as she walked through the town, Cinderella felt nothing; no thump in her chest or tightening of breast as she felt when she was with Jason.

Cinderella had met Jason the day of the wedding. She was immediately smitten with the handsome waiter who grinned as he stared her down, squeezing her hand as he passed by her table. In her head, she saw red flags and grew hot with guilt at the thought of innocent Prince Charming, sitting attentively at her side.

In comparison, Jason was nothing--he was a mere waiter, and probably had less than one-tenth the fortune Prince Charming had in the bank. Yet she was fascinated by him; Jason was tan and muscular, with dark hair and thick eyebrows. He was witty and inexplicably charming, with his booming laugh and corny jokes.

Jason really was entertaining, she thought, her mind wandering back to the wedding. She had made a fool of herself that night while trying to stay near the handsome waiter. It was not until later--just as Jason was handing her a second glass of wine--that she realized the hideous, gaudy golden ring that glistened horribly on his left ring finger.

Later, after she had reluctantly danced with Prince Charming and desperately gulped down three glasses of wine, she became aware that she too had a silver band on her ring finger that held an ostentatious six-karat diamond.

A quiet knock came at her door, shaking her out of her thoughts. Hesitating, Cinderella went to the door, listening keenly for the sound of her husband’s familiar footsteps.

“Prince?” she asked, her voice quivering nervously.

There was no answer. Instead, the knock came again, louder this time. Butterflies erupted suddenly in her stomach, and she spoke again, her voice stronger this time: “Honey, is that you?”

The answering murmur was so quiet she would have missed it had her ear not been pressed fervently at the hard wood of the door. “It’s me.”

Her pulse quickened suddenly, and she felt a hitch in her breath as she pressed her hand to the knob. It was the voice she had heard reverberating in her head the entire week--the same husky, mellow tone she had dreamt about as she lay, curled up in bed.

Fearfully, she turned the knob. Jason stood in the doorway, a lamp held up high in his brawny hand, his eyes dark and unreadable. “Jason...what are you doing here?” she asked.

Jason did not answer. He stared intensely into her eyes, and she could see purplish bruises under his tired eyes.

“Jason, you can’t be here. What is it you want?” she repeated.

Swiftly, he pulled her body into his, closing the door deftly behind their backs. “Cinderella,” he whispered. “I am madly in love with you, utterly smitten with you; I have been driving myself crazy these past few days thinking about you.”

She groaned at the feel of his callused fingers digging into her hips and the salty taste of his lips on her own. This was nothing like the gentle kisses Prince Charming had trailed on her skin; Jason’s lingering lips ignited fire under her skin and left her wanting more. At the thought of Prince Charming, she wavered, her heart skipping a beat.

“Jason, stop. We can’t do this,” she pushed him away, fighting his groping fingers. “Your wife...”

“What about my wife?” Jason pulled away from her, his body tense. “I don’t love her. She’s changed. I’ve changed...and I need to be with you. You are lovely, beautiful--”

“I’m married, Jason. And so are you.”

He cursed loudly. “Cinderella, don’t be a fool! Don’t you see...can’t you see? I’m in love with you. I need you. You would rather be with that stupid boy who knows nothing? You aren’t in love with him--don’t lie to me,” he added as she opened her mouth to retort.

Jason was on top of her again, kissing her slowly, languidly, as if they had all the time in the world. Somehow, Cinderella was pressed firmly against the cool glass of the window, although she had no recollection of moving away from the door.

“Run away with me,” he said, grabbing her hands firmly.

“No.” The voice came from underneath the bed, and the two lovers flinched in surprise. Prince Charming emerged, his hair disheveled, a wild look in his eyes. A small pistol was firmly held between his shaking hands, and he pointed it directly at Jason. “Let go of my wife, you bastard!”

Jason lifted his hands in surrender, and at that exact moment, Prince Charming pulled the trigger. His aim was misguided; there was a small bubble of blood where the bullet met Cinderella’s thin chest. She staggered back as Jason and Prince Charming watched, horrified, and her shoulders knocked sharply against the window. A spiderweb of cracks spread across the fragile glass and for a moment, all was still.

The window shattered in a deafening explosion; fragments flew across the room and the dusky evening light flooded in, illuminating Cinderella’s translucent white dress. Her limp body was suspended in the air, her face frozen in almost humorous incredulity, and then her delicate figure was flung gracefully down the building, cutting sharply through the silence of night.

Jason and Prince Charming looked at each other, aghast, before sprinting toward the window. Leaning against the windowpane, Prince Charming whimpered. Cinderella’s corpse was hidden in the brush, but her left hand was extended toward the twinkling sky, the diamond on her ring still glittering maliciously.

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