Chapter 4: A dress fit for a princess
~ Then the bird threw a and silver dress down to her, and slippers embroidered gold with silk and silver ~
Cindy wished, more than anything, more than jewels, more than the moon.
Cindy wanted to go to the ball, Peyton Charming’s ball.
Somehow Fanny’s whining and the fact that it would be the first time in her life were she got some freedom convinced her whole heartedly that going to the dance would be good for her.
But, of course, she knew that she had to convince Tracy first. Tracy hated whenever Cindy found a way to skip off of work, but Cindy knew that she had to find a way. After all, Fanny was depending on her going.
Cindy walked out of her room on Saturday morning, a new feeling of determination set in her mind. Tracy had to let her go to the dance, she’d already done all the chores the day before anyways.
She walked into the foyer and saw that the step-devil and the two step-demons were watching a rerun on the couch of some soap opera. The twins fighting every minute or so about which character looked more dramatic.
Cindy coughed to get their attention. Tracy gave her a quick look over and ignored her entirely. The twins were too invested in the show to even acknowledge that she had entered the room at all.
Cindy coughed again, this time louder. Tracy paused the TV, much to the twins’ dismay, and turned her head roughly to face Cindy.
“What?” She snarled at Cindy.
Cindy was taken aback by her harsh tone, but recovered quickly enough to ask the dreaded question. “Can I go to the dance tonight?”
The twins laughed and Tracy stared at her in disbelief.
“You?” Drew sneered. “At the dance? Peyton Charming’s dance where he is to pick out a new girlfriend?”
Ana copied her sister’s expression. “You think you actually have a chance with him? An international pop star?”
“Well . . . I didn’t . . . I don’t want to go for that, “Cindy stammered, “I want to go with Fanny. I want to go and have fun.”
“You wish to go to the dance?” Tracy gawked.
“Little Miss Cinders, at a ball!” Drew and Ana laughed together like it was the funniest thing in the world.
Cindy’s heart sunk as the twins laughed at her. Her stepmother wasn’t doing much better.
“Look at the state of your hair!” Drew squealed.
“Look at your clothes!” Ana squawked.
“People would only laugh at you, Cindy.” Tracy’s voice was full of mocking sympathy. “Although, isn’t that what they always do when you’re around?”
Cindy looked down in embarrassment. They were right, she was not the type of girl to go to a dance meant for an international pop star. She was filthy and only a disgrace to her father’s name.
(Plus, it was cold last night and she slept by the dying embers in her basement fireplace, which meant that she was covered in cinders again.)
She took an embarrassing trek back to her room while the whispers and snickers of her step-family faded behind her.
What had she been thinking? Cindy thought. She was the equivalent of a maid in anyone’s eyes, she wasn’t fit to be at a dance like that.
“And, Cindy,” Tracy added and Cindy stopped to turn back to her, “Make sure finish all the chores before you do anything else. Maybe then you can go to the dance.”
Cindy was doing her never-ending chores (which currently meant washing the tiles floors until the bubbles floated above her head) until four hours before the dance, when her sisters called her up to help them get ready. Cindy was used to this routine, it happened every time they had to go to any sort of event.
“Cinders! Come do my hair!” Drew yelled.
Cindy sighed and followed her yelling. When she got to their room, it was in total chaos. Clothes were thrown all over the floor and over the beds; a shoe was hanging from the ceiling light; a discarded straightener was burning through a forgotten book; and the two step-idiots were hilariously attempting to get everything done by themselves.
Cindy got to work immediately. The two monsters might hate her with every fiber in their being, which feelings Cindy reciprocated, but they desperately needed her whenever it came to looking nice on important days.
She went on to give Drew’s hair a quick curl, using a straighter trick that she’d caught onto years ago, and talked Ana through the art of eye shadow.
“Are you really wearing that?” Drew sneered over at her sister.
Ana looked to the bed, which had a pink dress with ruffles and many layers of skirts. “No, I found a tear in it. I was hoping Cinders could hide it with something.”
“Dear, Ana, I think you have too much too expect out of our dear step-sister here. Cindy can’t hide a tear, not even with a hat!”
“Well, fine then!” Ana squawked at her sister. “I’m not wearing it anyways.”
She then preceded to pick up the dress and throw it at Cindy in a heaping mess. “Take it away, Cinders.”
Cindy sighed and let the dress fall to the floor. This happened almost every time as well.
“Ugh” Drew sneered at herself through the mirror. “I looked hideous.”
“So do I.” Ana gave a longing look through the mirror.
“You look beautiful.” Cindy smiled.
“I know” Drew smirked at her reflection.
“She means me!” Ana flipped her hair over her shoulder with a perfectly manicured hand.
Cindy sighed and went back to doing Drew’s hair.
She briefly remembered her mother for a moment as she stared through the mirror. She always told Cindy to be good and kind. Her father always told her to be nicer, especially when her sisters moved in. That was always their advice.
Cindy pushed down her resentment towards her sisters and gave her the little pep talk that she always did when she was around her step-sisters.
Be nice, Cindy. Be good, Cindy.
“Tighter!” Drew yelled at her through the mirror.
But what was the good of being good and kind if everyone around her was blind? What was the good of good deeds if you’re always left behind?
Never mind, she thought, she’d be kind, nice, good . . .
And that was when Drew turned around and slapped her straight across the face.
“Not that tight!”
Drew sneered. “Idiot.”
Ana and Drew looked at each other and let out a small laugh. They smiled innocently at her and proceeded to look at the mirror again.
“Oh, Cindy!” Ana said as Cindy was walking out. “Do please take that awful dress with you.”
Cindy did as she was told and gladly left the room. But, instead of taking the dress to the trash, she took it to her room.
Now, you must understand that Cindy Woods was no quitter. Though Tracy had told her that she couldn’t go to the dance, she wasn’t ready to give up just yet.
Years of never being able to buy new clothes when her current ones broke meant that Cindy knew exactly how to sow back together rips in clothes.
That’s why, exactly three hours after she was given the awful pink dress to be thrown away, Cindy was wearing a pink dress that looked almost nothing like its original form.
Cindy had sewn back together the rip in the fabric, but decided that if she was going to wear something to the dance, she might as well make it look pretty. She’d removed most of the extra layers of skirt and had torn off the horrible ruffles on the sleeves. She’d also added a soft, satin bow near the middle of the dress.
All in all, Cindy had to say that she looked pretty good in a dress that she had all of made in under three hours.
She knew that Tracy had absolutely no reason to keep her from the dance now. She had a dress and she had finished her chores extra early.
Cindy let out a giant breath and made her way to the living room.
“Hurry, Ladies! The limo awaits!”
Ana wore an awful purple dress while Drew wore a putrid green one. They were identical except for the colors, from everything from the stiletto heels to the feather headbands.
Cindy walked down into the room and gave her step-mother a hopeful look. Tracy’s face fell in horror and shock as she stared at her. In turn, her sisters looked at her like that as well.
“Now may I go to the dance? I have a dress and I’ve finished my chores.”
“Mother! She can’t come!” Drew wailed.
“You can’t let her!” Ana exclaimed.
Tracy crossed over to her side of the room and looked Cindy over. “Why, we did have a deal, didn’t we?”
The step-monsters’ faces turned gruesome. Apparently they were just as surprised at Tracy letting her go to the ball as Cindy was.
“Doesn’t that dress just look so familiar?”
Drew’s face came into another sneer. (Cindy was pretty sure that it was her natural expression) “Isn’t that our old dress?”
“It is!” Ana exclaimed.
Drew walked forward and ripped off one sleeve with her perfectly polished nails.
“That’s not yours.”
Ana took advice from her sister and pulled at Cindy’s skirt.
Soon the step-demons were yelling and screaming at Cindy whilst they pulled and yanked at her dress. Cindy wailed and covered her face. Tears poured unwillingly from her eyes.
“Now, ladies,” Tracy’s voice was soft as silk, but sharp as a knife, “You don’t want to miss the dance, now do you?”
“No, mother.” They said together.
(Cindy was pretty sure that it was something to do with twin telepathy.)
“Darling.” Tracy turned to her. “Look at your nails, your dress! Wearing that you’d only make a fool out of your sisters! You’d mortify poor Peyton Charming.”
Cindy stared at her step-mother, hoping for any sign of sympathy. They stared down at her and finally her step-mother spoke again.
“Our limo is waiting, girls.”
Tracy looked back at Cindy.” Don’t forget that we’ll be back by midnight.”
And it was with a flick of her step-mothers hand that her sisters and her left Cindy standing in the foyer, her ruined dress and all.
Cindy knew that there was only one person who she could call.
She grabbed her phone and hastily called her best friend as tears dropped like drum beats on her screen.
“Fanny” Cindy’s voice caught in her throat. “They . . . I . . .”
“Cindy, what did they do now?”
Cindy explained her terrible situation between hiccups and straggled crying. She told her about the start of her day and how it had all turned horrible when she mentioned the dance. When she got to Drew slapping her, Fanny gasped. When she got to the part of her sisters ripping her dress to shreds, Fanny stopped her and she could hear the start of a car engine form the other side.
“I’m coming over, I’ll be there in five.”
In about four minutes and thirty two seconds, (Cindy knows because she counted) Fanny used the extra key under the mat to walk into the house and immediately hugged Cindy (who had fell to the floor at around two minutes and ten seconds).
“No need to fear, Cindy, “Fanny hugged tighter, “you’re fairy godmother is here.”
Fanny Goodman was right, she was the closest thing to a Fairy Godmother Cindy had, and she was grateful for her. God knows that she needed a Fairy Godmother.
Fanny slowly pulled Cindy up from her heap on the floor and walked her to the couch. Fanny then ran back out to her car. When she was back, she brought a huge suitcase full of god knows what.
“You’re still going to the dance, trust me.” Fanny smiled.
“But, look at me.” Cindy sniffled. “I’m hideous.”
Fanny gave her friend a sharp smile. “That’s why I brought you a new dress!”
Fanny was her best friend, but she had never expected her to do something like this. A new dress?
It was then that Cindy noticed that Fanny was wearing her own dress for the ball. A dark blue, silky thing with a silver mask. Cindy had to admit that it looked much better than her step-sisters’ dresses had. It even looked better than her own had been before it was . . . destroyed.
“I’ve gotten you a dress, it even matches with your mask that I got you. Don’t you like it?” Fanny pulled out a gold and silver, long, and elegant dress from the suitcase and Cindy held back a gasp.
The dress was beautiful.
“Now, put in on.”
Cindy looked at the dress and then to Fanny. “But, it’s so perfect.”
“Exactly, you’re going to wear it and you’re going to dance at the ball and you’re going to try to have some fun for once in your life. You might even dance with Peyton Charming, who knows?”
“Alright,” Cindy smiled, “I’ll go to the dance.”