Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When the shoe didn't fit (alternate Cinderella ending)

          Cinderella was patiently waiting for her Prince to come and rescue her. She knew it was only a matter of time before he discovered who the shoe belonged to, but when? She was finding it hard to continue her daily chores while falling head over heels for her “true love.” Days passed without any indication of the Prince’s discovery and Cinderella was just about to give up hope when she heard a knock at the door. Startled and excited, she ran to the door and practically ripped it off it's hinges as she opened it. There he was...her Prince, standing on her doorstep! She couldn’t wait until the moment she could leap in his arms and leave with him to live happily ever after.
            After a few moments of silence, the Prince asked to speak with all of the ladies who lived in the house. Cinderella’s stepmother suddenly appeared in the doorway and told the Prince she’d be delighted to have him speak to her two beautiful daughters. The Prince looked and noticed the two step-sisters sitting on the sofa and was slightly confused. He asked about the girl who answered the door. “Oh, she’s nobody,” the stepmother replied. The Prince persisted and reluctantly, the stepmother obliged and asked Cinderella to join them in the living area. Cinderella appeared and the Prince explained that he was searching for the girl with the glass slipper from his royal ball two weeks prior. He continued by saying that she left one of the slippers behind and he had searched high and low, without any luck of finding his princess. He pulled the shoe from the inside of his coat pocket and presented it to the ladies. He politely asked the stepmother to try it on first since she was the matriarch of the family. A little flustered and slightly flattered, the stepmother approached the shoe and tried it on, noting that it was likely not her shoe and probably belonged to one of her daughters. Upon affirming the shoe did not fit Lady Tremaine, he then approached Drizella with the shoe. After many attempts to force it to fit, she relented and sulked as the Prince approached Cinderella. She could hardly contain herself as she began to slide her foot into the shoe. However, once her foot was in the shoe, she was horrified to learn that the shoe didn’t fit at all! For some reason, the shoe was much narrower than she remembered and she was terribly confused. “Ha! See, I told you it didn’t fit,” said the stepmother gleefully. Dejected, Cinderella slumped into her chair and tears began to stream down her face. The Prince then directed his attention to Anastasia and moved to place the shoe on her foot. With perfect ease, the shoe slid right onto her foot. It fit! Although Anastasia seemed a bit surprised, she jumped up from her chair and squealed with delight. The Prince appeared to be happy that he had found his princess, but also confused because he thought the shoe belonged to Cinderella as well. He stole a glance at her tear-stained face and felt a tug at his heart. He approached Anastasia and said, “Now that I have found the rightful owner of the glass slipper, I would like for you to come away with me and I will make you my bride, the royal princess.” Anastasia took her Prince’s offered arm and walked with him outside to his awaiting steed. Lady Tremaine was beside herself with happiness as her daughter would now be in line to inherit the throne. As the new couple rode off into the sunset, Cinderella was left at the house brokenhearted. How could such a thing happen?! She was the one who danced the night away with the Prince. She was the one who had stolen his heart, yet she was not the one on her way to her happily ever after. While she was completely devastated by this revelation, she was also furious! This was not how the story was supposed to go and she refused to let this ruin her happy ending. At that moment of despair, she was renewed with a sense of courage and determination. She whipped off her apron and informed her stepmother that she would no longer be a servant in her own home, a home that first belonged to her father. Lady Tremaine looked surprised, but was glad to finally see Cinderella stand up for herself. Although she might have still been in a daze from what just happened with Anastasia, she told Cinderella that she no longer had to do the excessive labor she had been performing for years. Drizella looked confused and objected to her mother’s statement. Lady Tremaine cut her off and said that they would all share in the household chores, unless Drizella was offering to do all of Cinderella’s work now. With a pout, Drizella reluctantly agreed.
            Meanwhile, back at the castle, the Prince was questioning his decision about his soon-to-be bride. This was not the girl he had fallen for, he was sure of it. But without any proof (other than the slipper), he had no choice but to honor his new commitment. He began to get to know Anastasia and realized that she wasn’t as hateful as he had previously thought. She told him that he had saved her from many torturous years of abuse at the hands of her mother and how she would not let him down as a wife. She also told him that she never agreed with her mother’s treatment of Cinderella but was afraid to speak out against her. She intended to try and make things right with her stepsister when she had the opportunity to do so. She and the Prince spent their days together, learning about each other and falling in love. Perhaps this was not the union the Prince thought it would be, but he was enjoying himself and Anastasia as well.
            Cinderella now spent her days getting to know her stepmother and Drizella. She found that they were not particularly distasteful people as she once thought, now that they weren’t barking orders at her all the time. She often wondered about Anastasia and hoped they would get a chance to speak someday. She didn’t have to wait long. Anastasia reached out to her and invited her to the castle one sunny afternoon. They sat and enjoyed tea as they awkwardly made small talk. Cinderella looked around, casually eyeing all that she believed should be rightfully hers. Even though some time had passed, it hurt to see her stepsister here with the Prince. She tried to muster a smile as Anastasia described all of the fine parties she had been to and the exotic new foods she had tasted. She told Cinderella that she had a confession. “What’s that?” Cinderella asked, nonchalantly. “That shoe shouldn’t have fit me; it was always your shoe.” She looked down at the floor, as the words spilled from her lips. Cinderella angrily jumped from her chair and screamed, “What?!!!!” at Anastasia. “It’s true,” replied Anastasia. “Why didn’t you say anything?” Cinderella demanded. “Because you don’t know how much I needed an ending like this…you don’t know what life was like for us, Cin. We were abused and the word ‘happy’ never meant anything to me, until I met him,” she replied. Suddenly Cinderella felt pretty awful. She had never taken into account what her stepsisters had gone through or even known them well enough to try! She tried to put aside her feelings and understand where Anastasia was coming from, but it was hard considering her own strong feelings for the Prince. Anastasia knew this and told her that even though it would take some time, she really hoped to get to know Cinderella so that they could try out the possibility of friendship. They idly chatted for a short while longer and Cinderella excused herself to leave the castle. She headed towards home, replaying all the events that led her here and tried to have them make sense. She knew that her life would never be the same again, but perhaps this was how the story was always supposed to end. And maybe, just maybe her happy ending was on the other side of the rainbow.

Moral of the story – Walt Disney lied to us! Real life doesn’t always have a happy ending and issues are not magically solved by riding off into the sunset. Real life is messy and doesn’t always end up the way we think it will. Happily ever after is better left in fairy tales. We have to create our own happy ending with the things (and people) life has given us.