With a slam the window was blown shut. Maria looked up startled, and glanced over at the Lady Ella. Not a movement. Sighing Maria looked back down at her stitching.
Silently the Lady Ella rose and threw open the window again. The wind shot through the room, blowing about the Lady's long blonde curls. A visible shiver went through the Lady, and Maria rushed to shut the window.
Gritting her teeth, Maria helped the Lady back into her chair. The bastard! Maria kneeled besides the Lady, stroking her hair, but the Lady's eyes remained blank and unseeing.
Slowly the eyes of the Lady closed, and Maria returned once again to her embroidery. She spread out the pale blue fabric and admired her handiwork. In silver stitching was a slender shoe. In the candlelight the silver flickered as Maria set to work on filling in the outline. Her mind wandered.
Walking past with an armful of laundry, the pretty laces and gowns the Prince had bought for his lovely new wife. They had been together for a little over a year, and all could see there undying love for each other.
A shout came from behind the closed doors of the Master bedroom. Maria paused and listened. She knew the punishment for eavesdropping, the humility and eventual death. Still she stayed, her ear pressed against the thick wooden door.
Another shout, followed by whimpers. Words were spoken, the words are now lost, but the anger was there. Unforgiving anger and rage. Maria's knees trembled slightly, she had never heard such anger. The Prince was the gentle sort, loving and kind. A loud crash, followed by a painful scream echoed, chilling Maria's very bones.
Quickly Maria continued, and heard the door slam open. There was a tinkling of broken glass, and Maria dared a look behind her. The Prince stood looking at his hands in horror, and the pieces of glass fell. Blood dripped red from the Prince's fair hands. Maria fled. That was the last the Prince was seen.
The Lady Ella had been found hours later, face down unconscious. The court physician was rushed to the Lady's side, but nothing could be done. For months the Lady slept, and the whole castle was silent. No one spoke of the incident. And no one knew what Maria had seen.
Pale faced, Maria rushed into the Prince's room. There lay the Lady, her face pale and shocked. Swallowing Maria gently turned her over, as she could not bear to see the tragically beautiful face. Even in near death the Lady's beauty was evident, and Maria was choked with emotion.
The Lady's hand was curled around something. Gently Maria opened her hand to reveal a beautiful, sparkling glass slipper. Maria lifted it up the light, gazing at it in wonder. She recalled the glass, and supposed the other slipper must have been crushed.
Footsteps echoed in the hallway, and in a flash the slipper had disappeared into Maria's front pocket. She rose to greet Edward, the manservant and told him what happened. He alerted the others.
Maria rose and dared a look out the window. The sky had begun to darken, and there were no stars. Maria looked at her Lady. Ella's long slender fingers were now gnarled from cuts. Her face remained young, and smooth, with skin the color of milk and lips as red as roses.
Maria gently tapped the Lady's arm, and the Lady woke with a start. The Lady had been asleep for almost a year when she awoke. But something was not the same. Things that once gave her joy held no affect. She displayed no emotion, just constant indifference, her eyes glazed over.
Maria had volunteered to care for the Lady, when all thought she was dead. Maria gently coaxed Ella out of her chair and guided her down the hallway, where she prepared her for bed. The Lady was like a living doll, perfect in everyway, but missing life.
Once the Lady was tucked in, Maria retreated to her own room. Once in her room she opened the chest by her bed, and lifted the false bottom. Wrapped carefully in pieces of cloth, the slipper glittered. Maria unwrapped the slipper and sat on her bed, gently running her finger over the smooth surface repeatedly. Her mind flashed and she remembered her dream from the night of the happening.
She wandered through silver hallways, lined with hundreds and hundreds of mirrors. Her mind spun and she fell to the ground, utterly lost. She stared at her reflection. A pale golden light began to appear, slowly growing brighter and larger. Maria watched in fascination as her reflection was replaced by an ethereal being.
"You know me child." the woman whispered, her hair floating gently behind her. "You know me. You know why this had to happen."
Maria nodded before replying. "The curse..." she whispered.
The golden woman nodded, her green eyes tender. "She wished. But with wishes come consequences."
Maria nodded again, and soon she was left by herself, in a hall of mirrors.
Maria gasped at the slipper cut the edge of her finger, staining it red. The jagged edge of the slipper seemed to grin at her, and in anger she almost threw it down. but something stopped her.
Her green eyes gleamed as she walked down the stairs and exited the palace. The wind whispered through the starless night as she disappeared into the shadows.