Previously on THE REAL CINDERELLA STORY…
Cindy was plucking scent leaves and tomatoes to add to her basket of pumpkin leaves, when she heard a swishing sound behind her. She swung around.
“Godmother! You startled me!” Cindy gasped.
“You’ve not seen startled yet. Just wait till your stepmother finds that shoe under your bed.”
“How? She never goes into my room.”
“You this girl! How many times will I ask if you’re a learner? You think she hasn’t noticed the change in you?” The old woman sighed in exasperation.
“Change? But I didn’t vote for the Broom Party.”
A thousand words went through Fairy Godmother’s mind. Olodo. Mumu. Yeye. For all her goddaughter’s intelligence, she could be pretty dense sometimes. The old woman blamed it on her spending too much time with those thickheads back at the house. But this godchild of hers had some promise. After all, hadn’t she gotten the Obong’s attention without any love potion? Hadn’t she, by her own smarts, caused a kingdom-wide manhunt? So she did nothing but sigh again.
“Look here, young woman. As we speak, your stepmother is going through your room with her sharp eyes. If you don’t hurry, she’ll find that shoe. And you know what will happen to you when she does.”
“Oh my God! What! Why didn’t you say so at the beginning?” Cindy wailed. She looked at the basket in her hand and estimated that the veggies were enough. Without wasting a second more, she raced home, her heart pounding, pulse racing, chest bouncing.
“Oh God! Please don’t let her see that shoe. Please. God, if you answer this prayer, I will never ask you for anything again!”
Fairy Godmother shook her head in dismay. Her Chinda was a good girl; she deserved to marry the Prince. She would need all the help she could get. Making up her mind, she tapped her wand on her palm and disappeared in a puff of amala powder.
Madame Teremena could barely see—she’d been unable to find the light switch. The meager illumination that filtered in from the open doorway did very little to improve visibility. She’d almost turned back after the first minute, but her trustworthy intuition told her she was on the right track.
That girl is hiding something and I intend to find out.
After minutes searching everywhere, she lifted the mattress on the old four poster bed. There was nothing there but a heap of clothes.
“Dirty girl,” she huffed, scrunching up her nostrils.
She let the mattress fall back. The fall caused a strong puff of air to stir the heap of clothes under the bed.
“Perhaps I was wrong,” Teremena muttered to herself.
As she began to go back out, she caught sight of her shadowy reflection in the mirror. Never one to turn down an opportunity to admire her trim and toned figure, Teremena walked to the cracked, pockmarked standing mirror and began to admire her slim frame. As she whirled this way and that, a glint in the mirror caught her eye. She squatted on her haunches and squinted at something winking under the bed. Her heart began to race with glee. Leaving the mirror, she went to the bed, knelt on one knee and with the back of her hand, and swept away the pile of clothes to reveal the winking glass peep-toe.
“I don catch am. Yes! I knew it! My instincts don’t lie,” she crowed as she pulled out the shoe.
Carefully, she rearranged the pile of fabrics and hurried out of the room.
As Teremena was tiptoeing upstairs, Cinderella was depositing the basket of veggies on the kitchen table. She tried not to let her panic show, but her cardiac organ was thumping and her breath was uneven from running and fear. She almost flew to the room, so eager was she to secure her possession. As she opened the door, her stepmother called from upstairs.
“MA!” Should she take a quick peek before going upstairs? This one the woman was calling her, maybe she’d found it already. Kai! What kind of wahala is this? Bracing herself, she went up to the living room.
“Is my salad ready?” her stepmother barked.
“Not yet. I just came –”
“Shut up and get back to the kitchen! That salad had better be ready in the next five minutes!”
“Yes, ma.” Cindy curtseyed and left, heaving a sigh of relief. The woman was neither smiling nor looking pleased. That meant the shoe was safe. Giddy with happiness, she nearly whistled as she skipped to the kitchen.
In the parlour, her stepmother gave a quiet snicker. “Olodo!”
The two young ladies, Drusilla and Anastasia, joined their mother for lunch. Drusilla chewed her vegetables like a professional goat; her sister decorated the front of her blouse with enough leaves to make it resemble a tree branch.
“Come and clear these dishes!”
Chinda came in with a big tray and began to stack the plates and glasses in it. Done, she lifted it and walked to the door.
“Cinderella dear,” said Stepmother.
Dear?! Chinda gave a start. Had the woman been drinking? “Uhm…yes, ma?”
“Who has the glass shoe I found under your bed this afternoon?”
And just like that, Cindy’s world stopped.
On the adjourning street, Lieutenant-Colonel Sanusi made his way from house to house, his blood pressure rising steadily like the salary of a civil servant after each promotion.
“What is wrong with these people? They’ll resort to anything in order to get married to the President’s son!”
“That shouldn’t surprise you, sir,” his aide remarked. “This is the Prince we’re talking about. What woman wouldn’t want to be the madam of the Presidential Villa?”
“But not to this level!” snorted the Colonel in exasperation. At the compound they’d just left, the woman of the house had presented her four year old daughter as the one who’d worn the glass slipper.
“Missis – er…”
“Suswam,” the woman had offered, grinning from ear to ear.
“Mrs. Suswam, your daughter is not the one we’re looking for. Her foot won’t fit.”
“How do you know? Forget about her size. She’s the one.”
“Did she shrink?” the colonel muttered.
“You say?” the woman growled, eyes narrowed.
“Nothing, ma’am,” General Effiong said before taking in a deep breath. “Madam, your daughter isn’t the one. She’s a child, not a maiden!”
“With all due respect, Colonel, I won’t let you stand there and unmaiden my child! Try the shoe first. Obey before complain.”
So vehement was her insistence, that if he hadn’t been at the Ball, she would’ve convinced him the Prince was in love with a child. They tried the shoes and of course, it didn’t fit. The look he bestowed on Mrs. Suswam sent her scurrying back inside the protection of her house.
“There are specific shoe sizes for women, abi?” he asked his aide.
“But this shoe, why isn’t it sizing any of the women? Is it that her size is out of this world?” the Colonel asked.
“I don’t know, sir.”
Neither of them knew how close to the truth the Colonel was—that Cindy’s shoes were not ordinary. Fairy Godmother hadn’t only made them unable to turn back, but had also calibrated the shoes to bond with Cinderella’s DNA. For each foot that slipped into it that wasn’t a DNA match, it would either become too large or tighten up so hard, the wearer would be dying to pull it off.
As the Colonel pondered on this strangeness, the S.E.A.R.C.H convoy made a right turn, into the street where Cindy lived.
Written by Eketi Ette