Literature & Fiction | 10 Chapters
Author: Priyu Chandra
Samantha is a fifteen-year-old who lives with her stepmother and stepsisters in the hope that someday her life would become magnificent like Cinderella’s. She meets Samuel, a lonely older man who lived to fulfil his last wish to help the poor and orphans and become Santa. Together, they achieve their dreams and establish selfless love. In the belief that their circumstances were behind their meeting, Samantha's world suddenly turns when she hea....
THE CINDERELLA STORY
Gazing at the moon from her tiny window, she faced down at her mom’s picture, which she was carrying in her hands, thinking, Why is everyone’s fate not the same?
She stood up, stepped toward the rusty shelf and put down her mother’s picture. Like every year, this time arrived in her life reminding her of her parents, her mother who expired giving birth to her and a ruthless father who left her behind unassisted and enjoyed his time with other women, when she was just a little girl who needed him.
As the night dwelled further and became more resonant, she kept cursing her life, her dead father and her stepmother. It was her everyday routine. In all these fifteen years of her struggle, she never got her parents’ affection and care like her stepsisters. The wall clock struck midnight, and she settled down on her hard, untidy bed. “Happy birthday, Samantha,” she mumbled and closed her eyes.
“Good morning, mom,” said Claire as she sat down at the dining table for her breakfast. Claire was ready for her school and was waiting for her breakfast.
“Where is Nellie?” Clara asked, “She would be late for school. Have you woken her up?” she asked Samantha.
“Yes, I did,” Sam replied. “Let me check on her once again,” she said and climbed up the stairs toward Nellie’s room.
“Nellie, Nellie, what are you doing here?” she asked as Nellie was resting on her bed in her uniform. “I was expecting you,” Nellie replied.
“You will be late for school. Mother is waiting for you.”
“I know,” said Nellie and stood up from her bed. She went to her wardrobe and took out an item covered with glossy paper. “Happy birthday, Sam,” she said and gave it to Samantha.
Samantha glanced at the present and beamed. “Thank you,” she replied and hugged Nellie. “Now, let’s go. Otherwise, you will get late.”
“But you assure me you will not open it until we come back.”
Samantha nodded and hugged her again. They both reached the hall, and Nellie sat on the chair.
“Where were you been?” Clara asked Nellie.
“I was finding my ID card.”
“You should put your things in place,” Clara said and seated on the chair. “Sam, bring Nellie’s breakfast,” she ordered. Samantha was in the kitchen and walked to the dining hall with Nellie’s breakfast and Clara’s tea.
“Today, I will be late from office,” Clara told Samantha. “Prepare dinner by yourself, whatever you figure out.” Samantha nodded and went back to the kitchen.
It was the everyday routine the Blanchet family followed. But, today, something was unusual. For the first time, Samantha got a present. She was delighted but could not show her excitement. As time passed, Samantha cleaned the residence and kitchen, disposed of the garbage, and spoke to her neighborhood friend, Kitty. She wanted to tell Kitty about the present, but she was afraid of Clara.
“It’s time for Nellie’s return,” Sam told Kitty. “I must leave now,” and bid goodbye to her friend. She came back to her house and started preparing for lunch. She cut apples for Nellie and lay on the couch waiting for her. Samantha was excited about her birthday present. She looked at her present once again and picked it up in her hand. The glossy paper felt nice on her palm, and the sparkle of that wrapper could be seen in her eyes. Still, she had to wait for Claire as she was in secondary school and arrived home by 14 o’clock. I wish I could go to school, too, she thought.
Samantha had never been to school; she didn’t know how to read. Her stepmother never allowed her to go to school. She did not know the outer world. She was only allowed to go to the backyard and to the bus stand where she picked up Nellie when she was in nursery school.
Ding-dong, the bell rang. Samantha ran toward the front door and opened it.
“I am tired,” said Nellie and gasped. She put down her backpack on the table and rested on the couch.
“What happened?” asked Samantha and handed over apples to Nellie.
“School has urged us to raise funds for orphans,” replied Nellie.
“Why? Christmas is far,” Samantha asked.
“Yes, but Mr. Santa has asked the school to contribute to his donation. I guess he is running out of money.”
“Oh, that’s serious,” Samantha laughed and continued, “I’ve never gotten a gift in my entire life. It’s the first time I got something. You and Claire are my Santas.”
Nellie smiled and replied, “No, we are sisters, and we must take care of each other.”
“I am just excited to look at what you’ve gifted me.”
“We should wait for Claire. She ordered me not to open the present without her.”
Samantha nodded and went to the kitchen to make lunch, whereas Nellie got busy watching TV. Both were waiting for Claire.
Nellie was nine years old, and Claire was thirteen years old.
Ding-dong, the bell rang and Claire returned home. “I believe you haven’t opened the gift,” Claire stated.
“No, we were waiting for you. But before opening, eat your lunch,” replied Samantha and started arranging the lunch.
“Yes, that would be better. Then we can concentrate on your gift together,” Claire responded.
They all sat down at the table, recited to God and started eating their lunch. After lunch, Samantha cleaned the table and plates while both Claire and Nellie watched TV. After finishing Samantha’s work, they all ran to Claire’s room to unwrap the present.
“I hope you’ll like it,” said Claire as Samantha was unwrapping the gift.
Samantha was surprised after looking at the present. “It’s a book,” she exclaimed in wonder.
“Not just a book,” replied Claire and grabbed the book from Sam’s hand and opened it. “It’s a 3D book.”
“It’s a Cinderella story,” Nellie said and showed Sam 3D pictures.
“Cinderella?” Sam asked in amazement.
“Yes, Cinderella was a young woman just like you, whose stepmother and stepsisters tortured her.”
“But you both are nice to me.”
“Correct. But we felt your story resembles Cinderella’s.”
“Shall I read it for you?” Nellie asked. Sam agreed and smirked. All three sisters settled on Claire’s bed, and Nellie read. As she progressed, Samantha dreamed of herself as Cinderella and about her Prince Charming. They spent time together and finished the story. As the story ended, both Claire and Nellie fell asleep, and Sam got back to her room with the book. She sat down on her bed, opened the book, and touched the magnificent picture of Cinderella.
I cannot be like her, she reflected. She changed the page and saw the fairy mother. Is magic real? she inquired. But there was no one to explain to her. She thus turned down the page further and saw Cinderella’s prince. He is extremely handsome, she muttered shyly. She looked out of her window to watch for her Prince Charming. I don’t know if I am beautiful enough to get a prince like him.
The street was full of people; she recognized some individuals, but most were strange. She looked straightforward and saw a massive, shiny, pointed pillar far elsewhere. She speculated, What’s in there? Then she glanced at the sky, and it was blue and cloudy. Birds were flying. She seemed elated and thought, I wish I could be independent like them, and turned toward her book. The book was pink and blue and packed with fascinating shimmery pictures. She desired for her life to be as lively and splendid as those paintings.
She was wearing a blue ball-gown and was expecting the fairy mother.
“Why isn’t she here?” she thought and stared at the wall clock. She lay down on the stairs and sounded unhappy.
“This day, I will again miss my chance to greet my Prince Charming,” she said.
“You’re still dreaming? The sun has come up!” yelled Clara.
Samantha opened her eyes and realized it was a dream.
“I am about to wake up, mother,” Sam replied.
“I am not your mother. Now get up and bring the water from the tankers. Otherwise, they’ll leave,” Clara yelled and left her room.
Sam wiped her eyes and took a long yawn. Then she slid her hand below her cushion, and the book was still there. She peered at the book cover and beamed.
“Samantha, Samantha!” Clara shouted in disgust from the hallway. “You’re still up there wasting your day! I am telling you, if you don’t get the water, I will not let you consume a single drop!” she shouted.
Samantha jumped from her bed and went down the stairs toward the gallery. She took the vessels and buckets and ran outside to collect the water.
In Samantha’s neighborhood, most families were using the tanker water for their sustenance. After her father’s death, her stepmother wasn’t able to pay off taxes to the authority, so they had to collect water from the tanker provided by some NGO. Her friend, Kitty, also arrived there to fill the canisters.
“Have you heard about the Cinderella story?” Sam asked Kitty, “Do you expect it to be true?”
“I believe so, but these tales are for wealthy girls,” replied Kitty while standing in the queue of tankers.
“What makes you assume that? Cinderella was not rich.”
“But she wasn’t miserable like us as well,” added Kitty, and brought her buckets under the water hose.
“Even if I find my prince, I cannot wed him until I become eighteen,” Samantha replied gloomily.
Kitty laughed and answered, “Well, you aren’t that beautiful. You won’t get any prince,” and teased Sam.
Sam stared at Kitty with resentment, and later she placed her pots in position. She didn’t answer and watched her reflection in the bucket filled with water.
“Hey, girls, cease your chit-chattering and load your pots,” said the lady behind them.
They both held their canisters and commenced going toward their homes. Kitty’s place was before Samantha’s, so she wished her adieu and went toward her house. On the way back, Samantha was still thinking about Cinderella, fairy mother and magic.
“Forgive me,” the gray lady stopped her. Samantha turned back and saw an aged lady wearing a soft pink blouse and a long maroon skirt, with silvery-white hairs and pale face, wearing broken glasses standing just behind her. She sounded around 80-85 years of age.
Where’d she appear from? Samantha guessed.
The old lady smiled and pleaded, “Can you please lend me some water to drink?”
Sam hesitated as they were already facing a shortage of water, but she noticed the elderly lady and felt sympathy. “Sure, do you have anything to fill it?”
“Yes,” the old lady answered and lifted a two-liter jar. “Can you load it? I am aged, and I require more water,” she beamed.
So big bottle! Sam exclaimed in worry. But she’s old, and she needs water, where will she seek from? the thoughts were growing in her head. But if I gave away the water, mother will hurt me.
“What happened?” the elderly lady inquired. “If you cannot, no trouble,” she replied and turned the bottle back in.”
“No, no, wait,” Sam shouted and grabbed the jar from her. She thus lifted the lid of the bucket and started pouring the water. When the water got filled, she handed over the bottle to the old lady.
“May all your prayers come true,” the old lady blessed her and started drifting aside from Sam. Sam saw her for a moment and thought, She must be new here. I haven’t noticed her before, and commenced going toward her house.
“Where have you been?” inquired little Nellie.
“Um, there was a lengthy queue,” Sam replied and placed the buckets in the gallery.
“You know I could be late for work!” Clara shouted.
Samantha looked worried, as she knew that Clara would punish her upon checking the bucket.
“Why are you standing here? Put the bucket in the shower.”
Nellie looked at Sam with empathy. “Don’t bother; I am used to it now,” Sam said and picked up the bucket for the bathroom. The thought of punishment terrified her, and she didn’t remove the lid. She informed Clara and ran back to the kitchen to make breakfast.
Claire climbed down the stairs and stepped into the dining room. She placed her backpack on the couch and sat on the dining chair. Nellie was already eating her breakfast. Sam walked in with Claire’s breakfast and put it on the dinner table in front of her.
“You smell awful,” said Claire and made a disgusting face.
Sam looked at Claire with a gloomy face and replied, “My cloth is dirty. They haven’t been cleaned for many days.” She then started serving breakfast.
“Why mom did not allow you to bathe?” asked Claire and commenced eating her breakfast.
All three girls got busy in their activity, and after a while, Clara climbed down toward the dining room, dressed in work uniform and sat down at the dining table. She looked at Samantha in compassion and said, “Wash yourself today. I left some water in the bucket,” she added and picked up the cup of tea.
“Aren’t you angry?” Sam asked hesitantly.
“What for?” Clara inquired.
“I hope the water was sufficient for you,” Sam replied in bewilderment.