A Slightly Parallel Cinderella
Once upon a time and place, in a slightly parallel universe (for further reading on slightly parallel universe theory please refer to Dr Cod’s excellent Physics For Storytellers) all children were hatched and raised for adoption.
They were named in themes, and Cinderella was hatched during a craze for old fashioned, gender orientated, Disney character names.
She was adopted by a spacious mansion full of fabulous toys. She ate fabulous food. She took fabulous pictures of it all and posted them on her social media. From that she made her two bestest-ever-friends-forever, Lady and Tramp. They each lived in toy packed mansions, maybe if anything a little bit more fabulous than Cinderella’s lavish life but they were good enough to apologise and repeatedly tell her that it was okay not to have the biggest and best all of the time, they would still like her pictures and she mustn’t feel bad about herself, she wasn’t unloveable or shabby or really unfashionable.
Even so, Cinderella began to feel that life was essentially pointless unless she could get a pair of crystal shoes before Lady or Tramp did.
She stayed up all night to create a shopping algorithm that would get her order in first, but then she fell asleep before confirming the purchase and, alas, the order automatically cancelled.
As if this was not tragic enough, the very next day both Lady and Tramp shared pictures of their invites to the Pop Up Library Tea Dance. Cinderella checked and rechecked her mail accounts, but there was no invite.
She cried, posted up a picture of herself with red eyes, pretending she had a terrible cold and would not be able to go to any events, and thanked everyone for their deep sympathies.
Then she hid and cried properly, and not even shoes could console her. It was like a pit had opened up in her very soul, which she didn’t even know could happen!
She cried right into the heart of the night. She stepped onto her balcony and felt the cold air on her un-moisturised skin.
She remembered that she hadn’t cleansed or flossed or dressed or done anything that whole day.
She looked up at the slightly parallel moon.
‘I want things to be different, moon,’ she said, ‘can you help?’
A ping from her computing table broke the reverie.
She ran indoors to read, avidly: ‘Greetings Cinderella, this is a Fairy Godvoucher. You shall go to the Pop Up Library Tea Dance and wear any shoes at all, there’s no dress code!’
‘What? I don’t get the shoes?’
But before despair could well afresh, a cold breeze slid across her shoulders. It seemed that the moon was listening.
‘Okay. I will go to the Pop Up Library Tea Dance. I will wear the first outfit that pops out of the outfit generator. I will put an eye mask on first and get some sleep.’
Cinderella slept most of the next day, so she was truly restored for the Tea Dance that evening. Her outfit generator spat out a skirt suit, but she didn’t press the reject button. She dressed, and smeared colours on her face, and pinned sparkles in her hair, and summoned her carriage.
Lady and Tramp were delighted to see her, though obviously so disappointed she hadn’t any crystal shoes.
‘Never mind,’ they said, ‘emerald sandals aren’t completely out of style just yet, and if everyone has crystal shoes they will go out of style very quickly.’
‘Yes,’ Cinderella sighed. She was bored of their chatter and went to order some tea.
The waiter was dressed in traditional white and black, with dark straight hair in a ponytail.
‘May I please have a pot of the rose and basil?’
‘Of course, which table?’
‘I think I’ll sit here please.’
The waiter scooped up herbs, steamed up water, mixed it all in a china pot. Cinderella, being of a gender orientated name, wondered what gender the waiter was.
‘I don’t suppose your name is Handsome Prince, is it?’
The waiter laughed. ‘No. It’s Waiter.’
‘Oh.’ Cinderella fiddled with a spoon. ‘Well - do you identify as male or female?’
‘Neither. I don’t like to be constricted. I mean I’m all ready a waiter and I’m called Waiter so I suppose I like to at least maintain my inner freedom. In my mind I can be anyone, anywhere.’
‘Oh my lawks,’ said Cinderella, ‘this is the best conversation I’ve ever had in my life!’
She kicked off her emerald sandals.
‘It’s nice to see people happy,’ the waiter said, somewhat bemused.
Cinderella poured herself a cup of delicious tea. She watched steam curl, breathed in fresh basil, perfumed rose.
‘There’s a whole world out there,’ she explained, ‘and any number of worlds I can imagine in my own mind - and I’ve explored none of them! That changes from this moment!’
And she lived mindfully and inclusively ever after.
(Tramp was likewise enlightened, but in this slightly parallel universe I’m sorry to report that Lady was eaten by a bear.)
Picture credits (both via Pinterest)