Saturday 24 June 2023

'Will the Shoe Fit' by Sudha Subramanian

The glass slippers would have fitted me. Everyone ran out when the guards called all the young women to try. My older sisters couldn’t wait to shove their feet in. One pulled and yanked at the toe hold; the other fell hard.
Cinderella and I were left.
I stepped forward but grey clouded her eyes.

Cinderella and I were inseparable. We shared more than just clothes.
On the days I disappeared to meet Prince Charming, she covered for me. Once, she even told Mother I was practicing Yoga when I went horse-riding with the Prince.

Two weeks ago, the Royal Court announced the annual Ball, and Cinderella’s face turned pale.
“I have nothing to wear.” She was inconsolable.
That broke my heart. I summoned a designer who tailored special outfits for us.
Yet on the day of the ball, she complained of a headache.
“Pop a pill and come,” I begged.
But Cinderella can be stubborn.

I left with a throbbing nag.
The great hall, Prince Charming, and laughter eased my nerves.  We locked eyes, laced our fingers, and moved to the music. I was dizzy with excitement when I felt his hand slip.
The music stopped, and everyone turned to see the one standing atop the central staircase.
Was it a dream?

It didn’t hurt when the Prince moved away.
It didn’t hurt when he invited her for a dance.
But a dagger ripped my heart when Cinderella threw a pregnant smile and danced with him.

As the guards shifted the slipper next to me, the familiar nag pricked my back.
“You try.” I retraced my steps.
I saw the light of relief in her eyes.
I always wonder why Cinderella tried it on because we both know we wear the same size.

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