Torching the Castle

You’d think that my name would suggest I know something about fires: Cinder-ella. You’d think that. Right?

Nope. I know how to clean up fires. I know how to scoop up the ashes and dump them in a pail and then dump those in the pile in the farthest corner of the yard so that the wind will carry away the secrets poured into the flames. Midas’s secret was told by the reeds. My step-sister’s secrets are minute embers I tucked into my pockets.

The balls were fun. Don’t get me wrong. Being able to upstage my step-sisters. Piss off the step-mother. Razzle dazzle the town with my good looks, great dancing skills, and helluva sparkly dresses was pretty amazing. They were so obsessed with how the candlelight reflected off the crystals embedded in the skirts that they really din’t take time to look at my face.

Neither did he. Stupid little dumbass man with his own secrets tucked in his back pockets. He needed a beard. I needed an escape. And he had great taste in shoes. Or, at least he thought he had great taste in shoes.

Fairy godmother thought she was doing something pretty remarkable giving me glass slippers. Thought those were the ultimate one-ups on a community that had no problem watching the daughter and blood heir to one of the richest members of the court slide skirt first from her purebred pony to the cellars. No one asked about my dowry. No one even asked about my wellfare. They were too consumed with gossip and snitty commentary about how dirt complemented my sunken cheekbones.

Yeah. Let me tell you. Glass slippers suck. No arch support. They are the worse dancing shoes. Heavy. Clunky. I was terrified that they were going to break every time he stepped on my feet and that I was going to bleed out before someone thought to get me a doctor. Plus, they gave me horrific planters fasciitis, especially on the run home because the band was louder than the stupid clock. But get home I did.

Wedding was pretty amazing. Especially when I walked down the aisle on the arm of the grand duke who is also really feminine (like his “best friend,” the prince). I will confess to the snarky kick I got with seeing my step-sisters who couldn’t quite see me. And were clutching their canes that served the dual purpose of helping them walk, what with their recent, fashionable or revenge based mutilations. Note, dear reader. I had nothing to do with the Hitchcock-esque birds. But boy were they handy when I was feeling just a wee bit vindictive.

So. Yeah. The wedding happened. And then came the wedding night. Bit of a letdown. He claimed he had too much champagne to drink. I did notice that he was boozing it up with his friends. Didn’t care. After another long day of prepping and dancing, I wasn’t ready to start populating the royal nursery. But I knew my duty. I was ready.

Honeymoon consisted of shoe shopping. And that’s when I really figured out who I had married. A man with a shoe and foot-fettish. We spent long hours meeting with elite cobblers, shoe makers, even friggin itty bitty elves who liked to work at night and help out the impoverished. Old princey boy would go down on his knees and shove his hands under my skirts and bring out my feet and rub them. Slip shoes on them. Make me walk around. Then he’d try on the shoes. And walk around.

What really sucked was that he was actually better at walking around in heels than I was. Because he used to practice with his mother’s shoes.

Now. Don’t get me wrong. It was great to go from having to work all the time to not having to work all the time. But when the court was staring at my svelte and flattish stomach and then whispering about me behind their fans, well, that ticked me off. And princy boy and the grand duke thought they would just use me as cover for the fact that I wasn’t getting pregnant because. Well. Because.

He complained that I was prudish. Shy. Refused to come to his chambers. He claimed that I was too self-absorbed, too self-obsessed. Too much into shoes.

Let me tell you. The benefit of skirts touching the floor is the ability to wear slippers (like real, honest to God fuzzy slippers) or being barefoot. What do I hate? Fancy schmancy shoes that make me look taller and rob me of my ability to walk. When I wear the pretty shoes that he likes, I clomp. Like a Clydesdale. Because the natural ability of walking regularly of heel to toe is destroyed when the stiletto part of the shoe hits the ground before I have even taken a full step.

I couldn’t stand it. The gossip. The simpering. The lies. The drunken fairy godmother who liked to show up in them middle of the night and blather on she arrived just at the knick of time to fix my life and pull me out of that terrible house. One night, sick of hearing the same story about how great she is and how grateful I should be, I pegged her with questions about why it took her a friggin’ decade to show up in the first place. That if she loved me that much and felt so indebted to whatever parent who happened to be the one to make her my fairy godmother, then why didn’t she just poof a knife into my step-mother’s back? Poof a big hole in the ground where the step-sisters were standing?

Fairy godmother confessed she had been in rehab. From snorting too much fairy dust. She took off after that night. Last I hard, she had shacked up with Aladdin’s genie.

So. That brings me to the fire. Not pregnant. Not about to get pregnant. About to be given a separation because I’m really not royalty, so I can be given the old heave ho and tossed back to my old estate that has actually gotten even worse because step-peeps really don’t have a clue on how to do anything. Including paying their help.

So. I got sick of it. And decided to do something about it. Figured I’d hit the prince where it would hurt him the most. My shoes.

Set the whole damn closet (and it was one hell of a closet, let me tell you) on fire. And nothing happened. At first.

Fortunately, I am…persistent. A few people would call me tenacious. Others have words that are far less polite. But I found some tinder. Some royal documents. A few important paintings. Wine. Anything that might catch on fire. Or sustain a fire. Hell. I even raided the royal stables and brought up hay. At least I had kept some of the stamina from my years as cleaning girl.

Yeah. I tucked that junk up in my shoe “closet.” And tried again. And this time. It worked. Sort of.

You see, stone castles aren’t exactly known for catching on fire. But it’s great when its contents are. So I raided the royal jewelry box and the princes piggy bank. Snagged me some fine pieces. Things that I knew would fetch me a good price. And I got me a horse too. And while the court stood outside in the courtyard and freaked out about the arson, I took off.

And set a few more fires along the way. Like to my father’s estate. A couple of fields with hay drying in it. Hell. I torched the town. Give the court something really to gossip about.

As for me. Once I find a new place…maybe a couple countries over, I’m thinking about starting an insurance company. You know. The kind that takes care of people when tragedy strikes. Let’s face it. People can be pretty relaxed around a warm, toasty fire.

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