Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Write... Edit... Publish... April 2021 : Freedom Morning


Keeping to the broad idea of 'fractured' for Write...Edit...Publish... Lite still. Another old hat of mine (from 2012!) repurposed for the prompt -  tad over word count this time, sorry.

Not Exactly a Fairy Tale

Cindy came into the room limping a little, her feet were killing her.  This particular pair of evening shoes was wickedly uncomfortable, she really didn’t know why Rex insisted on her wearing them on every possible occasion.  She didn’t know why she continued to pander to his wishes in this either.   She sank down thankfully, glad to take the weight off her feet. 


Mannie was still waiting up, bleary-eyed. She moved in to help, but Cindy was irritated beyond measure just now by her subservience, by her toeing the line unquestioning, much as she, Cindy herself, was used to do.  That’s all they did, each woman of them, from top down to the last poor female chit in the staff.


“No, leave it,” she said, rather roughly, ”Go to bed now.  Leave me alone.”


“Yes, ma’am,” Mannie looked like a whipped puppy,” Are you sure, ma’am?”


“Yeah, yeah, sure. Go get some sleep, you do look you could use it,” and when the girl still hesitated, ”Don’t stand there, my dear.  I’ll be fine.”


“Good night, ma’am.”


“Good night.”


God, she was exhausted.  And angry with a vague rage.  She wiggled her toes, folded her legs to tuck her knees under her chin and massaged her instep with the tips of her fingers.  Her feet were still lovely, beautifully shapely and small, though not as narrow as they once were, the long toes with their delicate whorls of fine skin on the knuckled joints still ridiculously pretty.  She wished she had asked Mannie to run a footbath, a good soaking would do the trick.  Splash away her blue funk.   She got a basin, filled it with hot water and a dollop of shampoo, she couldn’t find the gel she wanted, who cared what went into the water so long it was hot? She brought it back and wriggled out of her dress. Leaving it pooled in a minimalistic mass of silver lace on the floor, she curled back into the sofa with her feet immersed in the foamy hot water. 


How had she landed up at that gala this evening? Wearing those uncomfortable old shoes that sparkled coldly and beautifully, and pinched her now coarsened feet; that Rex was so insistent that she wear everywhere, as though she still needed to prove anything.   Why did she go to the gala even? When all she had wanted to do was to spend the evening in with her children, play at a board game, get some vastly greasy, sinful meal eaten together off trays, huddled in the boudoir while watching trashy telly.  But no, she had dressed up in that silver lace, done up her hair and looked mind bogglingly elegant. 


Rex had said in his typical mild voice, "You look your usual beautiful self, my dear.  I hope you’re wearing the Timmy Woo shoes?  They are just made for that shade of silver grey.” And soured her pleasure in the dress. 


But she hadn’t protested.  Or to coin a bad pun, hadn’t put her foot down.  She had set aside the exquisite grey and emerald suede statement shoes she had had custom made and worn those cruel old heels again and gone tripping out on his arm and stood and danced and made small talk as though her feet were resting on fleecy clouds.  It was beyond stupid.  She couldn’t imagine the conversation even in her head.  It’s been 15 years, my feet are 15 years older, have you noticed? I have had three babies, life threatening illness, minor and major surgery, chin hair, moles, wrinkles.  I don’t want to wear Timmy Whoever shoes, I’ve evolved beyond them. Jeez, whoever heard of a marriage becoming stifled because of a pair of shoes? It was insane!


Cindy sighed and got up.  Best go to bed, otherwise she would fall asleep here.  She changed into an ancient nightdress, the fabric worn and softened with many washes.  She slipped under the covers, but still couldn’t sleep for the wound up thoughts in her head kept going round like clockwork mice.  Except for his blind spot about this shoe business, Rex was otherwise such a good egg.  He’d been a caring husband and father, within his constraints.   He loved her passionately still.  She couldn’t imagine her life without him, what trajectory it would have followed had he not sought her out the way he had, had she not been out that evening at that specific dance, or not worn that specific pair of shoes.  How tiresomely random it all was; and how tenacious habits became; and how impossible to go on for 15 years wearing the same inflexible shoes grown uncomfortable over time. Old shoes that didn’t wear down to accommodate ageing feet.


Rex came and climbed into bed just as she was drifting off, but he touched his lips to her forehead and she bobbed up, instantly awake and fully lucid, picking up the threads of her anger from where she had left off. 




“Yes, my dear?”


“I hate those shoes! I just hate them, I always have.  I’m not going to wear them one more time. Not one more time!”


He remained quiet for a long moment before speaking, “Why didn’t you tell me?”


“Well, what’s there to tell? It’s bloody crazy to make those shoes in the first place, or hasn’t that occurred to you? My feet were dead sore the first time I wore them too.”


“No need to get excited. Chuck them if you don’t want them.  I wouldn’t want you to wear anything you aren’t comfortable with, you know.”


“Really?! You mean that?!”


“Yeah, of course. They’re only shoes, not your wedding vows.”


How strange! It was suddenly done, in the wee hours, just like that.  She had broken the spell of the shoes, though now she was no longer sure that there had been any spell at all.  All these years. Putting up with so much discomfort, and all for nothing.  She got out of the covers and walked to the closet.  The shoes twinkled up at her, as dainty as they were on that far off day when she had first slipped her feet into them.  She took them out and holding one in each hand, moved to the window.  The summer darkness was balmy and a million stars winked at her.  She threw out the shoes one after the other – each curved a high arc in the air and fell on the paving far below.  A satisfying tinkle of glass shattering wafted up into the room. Cindy stood for a few moments breathing in the summer fragrances.


“Come to bed now, Cinderella. It’s almost morning.”


She turned then and ran across the room and leapt into bed beside her king, as light of foot and heart as she had been once upon a time.


WC - 1140


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  1. Told with your usual evocative consummate skill. My monkey mind has often wondered where fairy tales go after the curtain has been brought down. I am thrilled that this one at least has a happy ending.

  2. Good one. So many problems just need to be spoken out loud.

  3. Hari OM
    LOL - Oh I was just getting to who it was when you shattered the glass slippers.... BRILLIANCE!!! YAM xx

  4. I love fairy tale retellings and you've done this so well. What a lovely, understanding prince he turned out to be!

  5. Hi Nila - this is brilliant - well now Cinderella will always show a different side to her ... what fun - delightfully told. I was expecting horrors or some dark secret to come out. Lovely - thank you ... Hilary

  6. Hi,
    I enjoyed reading this story. It shows a side of freedom that we discover when we decide to step out and live life honestly by growing into becoming ourselves.
    Shalom aleichem

  7. What a lovely story on so many levels. Nice to see a fairy tale played out like reality. And the deeper meaning isn't lost either. Excellent entry.

  8. You spin a wonderful yarn. Glad she could escape the power of those shoes. And learn communication - she had kept herself captive for so many occasions by not "putting her foot down".

  9. Fabulous!! I didn't clue in until the shoes shattered - so very well done!

  10. Wonderful. We can talk directly and sokve everything. Very positive.
    Also especially liked that Rex became king of heart.

  11. Nilanjana I can keep coming back to your writing. I love how you write every single time that I read you. Of course I didn't expect things to turn the way they did. I was thinking that the underlying tone of gaslighting via shoes would lead to a different end. And boom. How fascinatingly you turned it around making me smile.

  12. Oh, so lovely. Unexpected too. I absolutely adore this story.

  13. Ha, ha, it took to the end before I caught on that his was a Cinderella story. I've had shoes in the past that killed me. Glad she tossed them.

  14. It's amazing how much of a difference a little communication can make. I can feel her pain from dancing in those shoes all night. I've put up with my fair share of uncomfortable shoes, and it's never worth the pain.

  15. I really hope I was not the only reader amused by the idea of basing a marriage on shoes. Oddly enough it brought to mind Cinderella and cobblers. Which made the end all the more fitting. Well done.

  16. Beautiful!
    How many times do the silliest of things cause disquiet and hurt. Loved this! Thank you!

  17. How well you captured the feeling of being held to something one no longer believes in, or never did in the first place. I love that she spoke up, however late, and it didn't really matter that much at all.
    Who hasn't been there, only to finally free oneself.

  18. This made me desperately crave a foot bath! I always thought those slippers sounded dreadfully uncomfortable. Cute story. Marriage after the honeymoon makes some of the best tales.

  19. Ha ha ha! I wondered why the shoes would matter so much. I thought you were going to push to the erotica boundary, and he'd tell her to keep them to wear but not stand in... It wasn't until the glass broke that I saw the fairy tale retelling. Very nice! Excellent twist. You really had me curious there, and I didn't guess the ending. Well done!!!

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

  20. It's good to get free of confining things such as impossible standards of beauty and horrible shoes.
    I have extremely hideous feet. They would be a foot fetishist's nightmare.

  21. Oh, I liked that. Such prisons we make for ourselves! I was surprised Rex was so malleable, but... well, he was once very charming, I expect :)
    Great story (glad you went over the wordcount!)