We all know the story of Cinderella, right? Or you think you do. Well, I know all about the details of that fine story. Yes, the Cinderella you know was not the one mistreated, not the one without friends, and definitely not the one who went to the ball in a pumpkin.
Actually, there was no fairy godmother and certainly no pumpkin. Just me, Anna. Ella was my stepsister. I was one of her "evil" stepsisters in that fake tale of hers. The truth be told, she was the bad one, along with my real sister, Mala. This is my account of what accurately happened. It starts when I was but eight years old.
"Wake up, you silly girl!" I quickly sat up. My mother was shaking me. "We're almost to the gates! We want to make a good first impression!"
"I'm sorry," I said in a half yawn. I smoothed my hair, which was utterly useless. As we rode through the gates, I started getting nervous and worrisome. What if my new father was stern, like my mother? Would he be fun, like my real father was? All of these questions and so many more were being churned like butter in my eight year old mind as we got closer and closer to the beautiful manor. It was almost dinner and I could hear my stomach growling. I had slept through lunch on our journey, and I was starting to regret that I had chosen to do so. Finally, the carriage stopped. I peeked out the window. There standing in the doorway was a jolly man and a girl with a look as if she had eaten a barrel full of lemons. Inside, I deeply hoped he was my new stepfather, and the girl some mere scullery maid of some sort, but I knew she was too well dressed to be so.
"Welcome!" the man cried joyfully. He opened the carriage door and helped each of us out. "I am Lord Dullen and this is my daughter, Ella. This is your new home, Hof Wald Manor." I was greatly relieved that he was to be my father, but disappointed the sour-faced girl was to be my sister.
I looked up at Lord Dullen and noticed him looking at me. I was mortified. I had chosen to wear a spring green, rather than the mourning black my mother had wanted me to wear. I blushed deeply, afraid that he saw me as disrespectful and would make us leave. My mother noticed him looking at my clothes, also. "This is my youngest," she said. "Please, don't mind her. I had no idea she chose this dress last night as the outfit she chose to greet you."
The lord laughed heartily. "Oh, that's quite fine. To tell you the truth, I would not let anyone in my household wear black after my wife died." He paused. "I hope you choose to do the same, but I shall respect your wishes."
My mother just stared icily. "I shall continued to mourn my husband," she said respectfully.
"As I said, I respect your choice, madam," he told her. "Now, you all must be very hungry after your journey!"
"Oh yes, sir!" I chirped.
"Anna!" my mother reprimanded. I felt my face flush hot with embarassment.
He beamed down at me, amused, and I immediately felt relief. "Don't fret about it," my new father said, and led us inside.
At dinner, we had a good, hot meal. It was not as grand as my mother and sister had been expecting, but it was the best thing I had to eat since my father died.
"Girls, how far are you in your studies?" the lord asked.
"Oh, I've gotten very far in mine," Mala said quickly. "I was in the top ten of my grade!" Of course she was. There were only ten in her class anyway.
"That's a great honor," Lord Dullen praised. "What of your studies, Anna?"
"I was moved up a class," I replied quietly, shy of the sudden attention on me. "I'm supposed to be two years behind Mala, but now I'm only one behind her."
"Well," the lord said, "it looks like you'll be with Ella at the academy once classes start. She was in the top five of her class last year from what her tutor told me. I'm quite proud of my daughter." At this, Ella beamed. I wondered how many girls were in her class. I dearly wanted to ask this, but didn't want to seem rude on my first night.
Later, after the lord read us a few verses from a book of poems, we went to bed. I had my own spacious and comfortable room. It had a four post bed and a window seat underneath an arched window looking out on the sunset. As I climbed into bed, I thought of how lucky I was to have such a wonderful new father.