Previously on THE REAL CINDERELLA STORY…
“Are you not the one I’m asking? I say, who has the glass shoe I found under your bed?” Teremena barked.
Cinderella stood there mute, terrified.
“I always knew you were a witch and a thief! Where did you get those shoes from? And that dress? In fact, where did you get everything you used that night of the ball? Answer me!” the woman screeched, bouncing up from the sofa she’d been reclining on.
“Please, ma. It’s not what you think.”
“Is that how you got them?” she yelled again, evenly misting Chinda’s face with saliva.
“No, Ma. I’m sorry, Ma.”
The old fear, the one that plagued her since her father passed away, that she would one day be thrown out of her home by her stepmother, suddenly cloaked Cinderella. What possible explanation could she give, save for the truth? And the truth was so bizarre, Teremena just may kill her.
“You won’t talk, eh? Okay. Just wait there. By the time I am back, you’re going to sing like a local fawul!” She marched off in the direction of her room.
Frightened and desperate, Cindy turned to her stepsisters, who’d been gawking and smirking the entire time.
“Heu! You people should not just sit there nah. Beg her for me. If I have ever done you wrong, forgive me. Just beg her.”
The younger of the two, Drusilla, often spoke on their behalf, for she had a better command of the English language.
“Beg her for what? I was even defensing you, saying is impossicant. How does you thinks that I feels as I found is a lie? So all this time that we was crying that we lose the prince, it was you, under our very nostril!”
“Please, don’t be annoyed. All I wanted to do was attend the ball like everyone else.”
“Shurrup!” Anastasia ordered. “You was pretending in our behind, making a funny of us. I hope Mummy cuts off your ears. Better confess o. Who’s the sugar daddy that sponsor you?”
As the three young women went back and forth, Fairy Godmother glided unseen into the room. But she didn’t stay for long; the horrible grammar of the sisters convinced her to go outside and hasten the process.
Outside, the convoy rolled down the street. They’d stopped without success at four houses and were now moving on to the fifth.
Espying the Colonel, Fairy Godmother flitted inside his car, still invisible. She adjusted the settings on her wand and thrice, she tapped her throat with it, leaned forward and whispered in the Colonel’s ears.
“At two-hundred metres, turn right and drive to the third to the last house on this street,” Colonel Effiong Google-mapped the driver.
“Shouldn’t we search house after house?” asked the aide, wondering at his boss’ sudden change in protocol.
“I have a hunch.”
“That must be some specific hunch.”
“It’s actually a gift of foresight, a voice that speaks in my head, sort of,” explained Colonel Effiong, beaming with pride. “It has been in my family for generations. Once in a while, I get these glimpses of the future or something and I act on it. ”
Unseen, beside him, Fairy Godmother rolled her eyes until she could almost see her brain. Gift indeed. Readjusting settings on her wand from ‘hunch’ to ‘normal’, she returned to the Babalola household, hoping the two sisters had stopped talking.
“Where is she? Where is that lying witch?”
Chinda stared with shock as her stepmother sailed into the room, brandishing something. Her children stared with shock at what their mother held. Fairy Godmother who’d just come in too nearly had a heart attack.
Teremena was wielding a brand new DC-Plyne 230 Reset Hand Machine, designed by the famous Nigerian child psychologist, Dr Wupim. B. Hind. As everyone looked on, she turned the settings dial on the handle from ‘correct’ to ‘punish’ to ‘kill am’.
“Are you ready to tell the truth?” she rasped, slashing the air with the long, black, thick, shiny, bulala aka D.C. Plyne 230 aka Everlasting Durable Rawhide Whip of Eternal Correction. The thing whistled wickedly as it cut through the air,
Cinderella was the first to get over her astonishment “Hian! Who are you going to use that thing on?”
“What?! You still have the guts to ask me stupid questions? So, in your mind, this looks like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, shebi?”
“More like Fifty Shades of Grey,” one of her daughters giggled.
A heated glare from Teremena silenced the offender, and then, she returned her attention to Cindy. She began to advance towards the girl, slashing her bulala, the senior brother to koboko, left, right and centre.
Saved by the bell.
Chinda ran to open the door, nearly faint with relief at the interruption. She beheld the royal entourage with astonishment and delight.
“We bid you good afternoon, fair maiden,” greeted the aide. His gaze lingered a little longer than normal on the pretty girl. “May we please come in for the Royal Shoe Ownership Determination Process?”
“Sure…sure,” Cinderella whispered, quite awestruck in their presence. In delight, she thought of the shoe upstairs. Then she remembered that her stepmother was now in possession of it. Her face fell and tears stung her eyes. A royal pageboy went past her, bearing the other glass shoe in a box made of transparent, reinforced glass. Two others followed closely behind him. Then came the Colonel.
“How many ladies are in this house?” he bellowed.
“Four, sir,” said Cinderella curtsied, got up and led them down the corridor to the living room, which was now empty.
“Please, sirs, sit down. May I offer you something to drink?” she asked.
“No, thank you,” said Colonel Effiong. “You know why we’re here. Go and call the others.”
Before Cindy could do his bidding, Madam Teremena came floating down the wide stairway, cloaked in a heavy cloud of Grishtian Diyor’s eau de parfum. Her daughters weren’t left out; both were dressed to the nines and smelled like they’d fallen into a tub of expensive French perfume.
“Welcome, gentlemen,” said Teremena to her guests. “To what do we owe–”
“Let’s cut to the chase, Madam. You know why we’re here. Let’s get to it, for there are yet many more houses to visit,” the Colonel interrupted. He didn’t like the looks or smell of this woman; her eyes glowed with insincerity and across her lips was a plastic smile.
“Of course. As you wish, Mister…”
“Colonel Effiong Sanusi,” the Colonel corrected stonily.
“A Colonel…well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. Come along, girls. Time to try on the shoe,” she announced to the simpering duo.
Drusilla started forward but Anastasia pulled her back. Not to be deterred, Dru shook free of her sister’s grasp. But a painful kick in the shin halted her movements. She screamed with pain. From a corner in the room, Cindy giggled.
“That’s enough!” Teremena snarled with eyes that promised retribution. She motioned for Anastasia to go first.
The girl marched forward and plunked her bony rump into an armchair. One of the pageboys went to her, knelt on one knee, lifted her feet and placed it on a soft pillow.
“Before we begin, Colonel, I’d like to assure you that you’ve come to the right house. You see, my daughter Anastasia is the one who wore the shoe,” said Cindy’s stepmother. To prove her point, she brought out the hand she’d been holding behind her back and in it, was the other glass shoe.
Everyone gasped at the revelation, each expression of surprise followed by other emotions. On Effiong Sanusi’s face, was disbelief and something akin to disappointment; somehow, he’d hoped he was in the wrong house. The smug expression on the woman’s face rankled.
“It appears you may be right, madam. As you know, it is not sufficient to have the other shoe. We still have to carry out His Majesty’s orders, which is that every maiden in the land must try on the shoe in my presence.”
“Buh…buh…I have the other shoe,” Madam Teremena sputtered, “and that should –”
“You know the rules, madam. Let’s begin,” said the Colonel. The woman’s shaky protest restored his hopes. Something was amiss here and he meant to find out what it was.
He signaled the pageboy, who quickly raised Anastasia’s foot and put it in the shoe. It slid in smoothly, and then stopped halfway.
“Push it inside!” Anastasia shouted. “I will be queen and nothing gonna stands my way.”
“There’s no pushing to be done, Miss,” said the pageboy, curling his lips in disdain.
Pulling out of his grasp, Anastasia raised her leg and tried to force her iroko-tree sized foot inside the shoe. If the shoe could’ve laughed, it would have.
“Arrghh! You this stupid, stupid shoe!” she screamed.
“Please, stop. We don’t want you to injure yourself now, do we?” said the aide, although his real concern was that she’d break the shoe.
No one noticed as her mother sidled next to her younger daughter and spoke softly into her ears.
“You’re next. If the shoe refuses to fit, make sure no one else gets to try it on.”
She winked. Drusilla winked back.
“I’m sorry, my dear Colonel. I think I made a mistake. The shoe belongs to Drusilla, my second daughter.”
Yeah right, thought everyone else.
“Very well. Come forward Drusilla.”
Written by Eketi Ette