January 30, 2011

The Slipper and the Faulty Wand by R.F. Marazas

       In the year since the magnificent fairy-tale wedding (second only to his own twenty-some years ago), the King had experienced a range of emotions; from hopefulness to perplexity to simmering anger to present fury. Where was his promised grandchild? Had he not organized the ball that brought Cinderella, the loveliest girl in his kingdom, to the attention of his idiot son, Prince Charming? And had he not encouraged and blessed the marriage? And what had he gotten in return? An heir? A continuation of his lineage?

      The King stalked the castle, intent on finding his son. Instead, he spied Cinderella emerge from an alcove which fronted one of the castle’s many rooms. As she hurried toward him, eyes downcast, his heart thudded at the sight of her beauty. And then he noticed her flushed face.

      “My dear girl, whatever causes you such sadness!”

     Cinderella stopped short and stared, not having seen the King. “Oh, your majesty!”

     “Tell me.”

     “The Prince,” she stammered.

     “What has he done?” the King demanded.

     Reluctant, Cinderella lowered her gaze and confessed that the Prince did not love her.  The astonished monarch listened as she told him of the Prince’s dalliances, with everyone, it seemed, but her. Ladies of the court, chambermaids, Cinderella’s stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella, all had succumbed to the Prince’s passions. Why even now, he was making love to her stepmother, Lady Tremaine.

      The King started for Lady Tremaine’s room but Cinderella stopped him. Her hand on his arm sent electric warmth up his spine and her smile stemmed his anger. She then explained she suspected the Prince was under a spell, perhaps mistakenly cast by the same Fairy Godmother who had helped her win the Prince a year ago. She was convinced that if she could only bring the Fairy Godmother back, the spell would be reversed and all would be well again.

      “But how can you bring her forth?” the King asked.

     “I have thought and thought,” Cinderella answered, “and decided that the glass slipper is the answer to my predicament.”

      “But the glass slipper was broken.”

      “Only one. I kept the other. I didn’t know why then, but don’t you see, it must be fate that made me keep it. I shall go to my room and find a way to bring my Fairy Godmother back.”

      Her expression was so sincere and determined that the King bobbed his head briskly. “Yes, yes, go quickly now and do what you must.” Cinderella kissed the King’s cheek and hurried away while the King stood transfixed and watched her nubile body glide down the hall.

      In her room Cinderella found the slipper where she had hidden and forgotten it. She clutched it to her breast and closed her eyes and wished hard. Nothing happened. Again. Same result. Fifteen minutes of wishing passed. Frustrated, she shut her eyes tighter and began to rub the slipper as if it were a magic lamp. Another fifteen minutes and her fingers grew numb. She stamped her foot and flung the slipper across the room where it shattered against the life-sized portrait of Prince Charming.

      A puff of smoke and a loud thunderous noise made Cinderella turn and gape at the figure sprawled on the floor. Fairy Godmother struggled to untangle herself from her disarranged hooded cloak and reach for the wand that had slipped from her fingers. She brushed back her disheveled bray hair.

      “What’s this?” she cried, peering up at Cinderella. “Why have you summoned me?”

      Cinderella wept as she explained the turn of events. The old woman stood and cast a malevolent glance at her wand.

      “Before I left last time, I cast a spell over the two of you which I thought was a blessing for your lives together. But this blasted wand doesn’t always do what it’s told. Over the years it’s gotten worse. Perhaps it’s time to replace it.”
 
     “But you must reverse the spell!”

     “Of course, my child, of course,” Godmother said as she patted Cinderella’s arm and stared at the portrait of the Prince. “Such a handsome young thing. Send him to me at once and all will be well.”

     Cinderella listened at her door but heard nothing through its thickness. She had found the Prince at lunch and sent him to their room under the pretext of retrieving a scarf she particularly liked. Impatient, she eased the door open and slipped into the bedroom. There on the marriage bed, the naked Prince frolicked passionately with an equally naked, voluptuous young woman. On the floor near the bed were the Godmother’s undergarments, her hooded cloak, and her wand, which seemed to pulse in rhythm to the lovers’ exertions.

     Cinderella cried out her anger and rushed to snatch up the wand. The lovers parted in shock and the young woman thrust out her hands in defense. “I’m sorry my dear, I was under the Prince’s spell and I just couldn’t help myself.”

     “You old toad!” Cinderella shrieked, waving the wand in circles and aiming it at Fairy Godmother. Another puff of smoke ballooned. When it cleared, an ugly glass toad sat next to Prince Charming.

      “She’ll make a fine paperweight,” Cinderella said.

     The Prince tried to scramble away but Cinderella now aimed the wand at an area just below the Prince’s navel. Poof! The Prince howled and leapt from the bed and stared down in horror. Between his muscular thighs stood an appendage in the form of a large glass slipper.

     Cinderella smiled and blew across the tip of the wand. “Right on target.”

     After the King secretly banished Prince Charming to the dungeon below the castle and announced to his court the sudden and unexpected demise of his son while at sea, and after a brief period of feigned mourning, he asked Cinderella to be his bride. She wholeheartedly agreed, delighted that she would be Queen much sooner than expected. She would give him male heirs to continue the line.

     On the wedding night, as she prepared herself for her new husband and approached the marriage bed, she slipped the wand from her sleeve, intending to cast a loving spell on the King. The puff of smoke was a foul smelling black. Wide eyed, she looked from the bed to the wand.

     “Oh my, what have you done this time?”

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