This post is to join in on the #cinderellamythmakers
“Cinderella has been told and re-told in myriad cultures around the world, and we are challenging the blogging/writing community to come up with your own Cinderella-themed tale. As co-curators, Anne and I will be gathering the stories for a potential opportunity to publish an anthology of selected stories.” Click here for more information.“
Here is the Priorhouse version of Cinderella for 2017:
It was the Saturday before Christmas 2014 and Ella was exhausted.
She was working hard all month and this was supposed to be a Saturday to sleep in.
Yet there she was – up at 6 a.m. – getting dressed – and filling a travel mug with black coffee. Maybe she could sleep in next weekend –maybe. But for now – she was off to work a fancy holiday banquet.
Ella was 24 years old and she worked as the front-desk manager at a small hotel during the week.
On Saturday mornings, she sometimes worked banquets at a fancy catering place across town. Often, she made more money on a single Saturday shift than she made an entire week at her weekday hotel job.
Ella was a senior employee and after five years of working there, she could pick her duties. She had keys to the building and she could use the facility for hotel functions when needed. The Saturdays were extra fun when the money was rolling in. Ella was never driven to make a lot of money, but it always felt good to have a wad of cash after a quick morning shift. A wad of cash to splurge on some extra groceries, give some to family, or fill an Amazon shopping cart with items from her wish list. Other times she just put the extra money in the bank and smiled with a feeling of security. Sometimes just letting money sit has its own reward and she loved the seasons when she was able to make hefty deposits.
Ella used to help manage the catering business, and while she was mostly grateful to still work there on some weekends, especially because her colleagues were like family, she also missed her parents and the time when her family had their own restaurants. Her family had to shut everything down after the economic crash of 2008 – they even had to sell their houses. Her parents passed away a few years later and even though Ella has a lot of cousins – her family is scattered throughout the United Sates and Canada.
The proprietors of the catering company were very good to her and this was why she was working this busy Saturday before Christmas. Even though they knew she had asked for the day off, they called her just in case…. just in case she could make it in. She sacrificially said she would work – and now there she was – sipping coffee on the early morning train into the city to work on this busy Saturday.
Ella sat up when she saw a lady wearing an elaborate pink ball gown down the row from her. The Saturday crowd was always different from the weekday folks, but Ella had never seen such a glamorous dress on the train. The lady exited at the first stop and Ella smiled as she watched the lady meander the large bell hoop through the aisle and amidst the people. The fabric almost became stuck in the sliding door – but with one slight tug – the dress was pulled through and the doors shut as the train moved forward. Seeing that dress brought back a flood of memories from last summer. Ella began reminiscing about the big fancy dress she had worn while visiting her cousin in Canada.
Last summer, in August 2014, Ella took a month off from both jobs so she could travel and see family. She had made plans to return to school that fall, because it was time to finish her college degree, and some traveling was in order. She traveled coast to coast in the United Sates to visit family and friends. She even visited an old boyfriend, but left a day early because he was still annoying. Nice guy and she smiles to think of him, like all of her sweet ex-boyfriends, but the chemistry was never really there with him – or with any of the guys she had dated.
The final part of her summer trip involved going to her cousin’s house near Toronto Canada and she took a train so she could see more of the terrain.
The Great White North was actually quite green and colorful because it was late August and summer was in full bloom. As her train pulled into Davenport, a lady she met earlier on the train walked up to her and offered her four tickets to the House of Commons Gala, which was going on that weekend.
“No, thank you,” replied Ella as she handed the tickets back.
“Please take them. I paid 500 dollars a seat, but we just discovered that our team has to fly to Dubai for an emergency meeting tomorrow.”
Ella listened as the lady continued. “It is not the loss of money I am worried about because we write off the donation, but this table represents our company and empty seats will stand out and there will be politicians and celebs there. My step-daughters just texted me and said they are taking eight of the seats – they just had some dresses tailored to match some diamond necklaces they have been wanting to wear. Well – if you could fill any of the seats I would be most grateful.”
“Is this the party you were talking about earlier – when we were passing the Falls?”
“Yes, this is the annual ball that is often a highlight of my year.”
“Well, I can see if my cousin wants to go with me – she loves fancy events. I will take two.”
The lady handed her two tickets and then held up the other two tickets with a smile.
“I feel so bad that you cannot go,” said Ella, “but I am honored and I will take all four. I will find someone to give the other tickets to.”
They talked while collecting their bags from the luggage car. The lady, whose name was Ferry G.M., was the CEO of small tech company and this chance encounter, to get some free tickets to a ball, was just what Ella needed for the last part of her vacation.
A formal event where she could dance and experience some glam.
Not her normal preferred activity, but she was in the mood for exactly this – and hopefully her cousin would be as well.
Arriving at her cousin’s house that night – she told her all about the tickets to theHouse of Commons Gala and they immediately looked online for details of the event. Ella’s cousin gave the extra two tickets to a neighbor and the next morning, the day of the ball, the two girls went shopping at the outlet stores. Shoes, gloves, and clutches were easy to find, but finding an A-line gown on a budget was tough; further, there was no time to have anything tailored and so options were limited. They decided to stop in a little boutique that sold used prom gowns and it was dress heaven. In less than one hour, both girls left with designer dresses that felt custom made. The bulky dresses barely fit into the SUV and they wondered how they would make it to the ball wearing such wide dresses. Should they call a taxi? Splurge for a limo?
The rest of the day involved waiting to get in for an up-do and then Ella’s cousin called in a favor and arranged for an old friend to escort them to the ball with a carriage drawn by two real horses. There was one condition – the girls had to leave by midnight because the horses had to be back in the stable by 12:15. There was no exception and if the girls were not outside by midnight, the coachman was told to leave without them.
Walking into the ball was less eventful than they expected. Everyone was wearing fancy clothes: big gowns, tuxes and sheen hairstyles were everywhere.
There was so much color from the many dresses and the abundance of glittering jewelry seemed to out shine the chandelier crystals.
The only snag in the night happened when Ella and her cousin sat down at the table. Ferry’s step-daughters were there and with loud voices began talking about how Ella and her cousin had “hand me out” tickets to the ball. Ella tried to explain that she was asked to come to help fill the seat and that she was not ever looking for a hand out; but the step-daughter who was driving this home, who was homely and had mean eyes, really seemed to feel validated by noting that her aunt was the one who sponsored the table. Ella allowed her some peeps, and when the step-daughter finally finished running her mouth, Ella chimed in delicately and complimented the Lorraine Schwartz Colombian emerald around her neck.
Ella’s compliment was smooth – and as she complimented the million dollar necklace – it elevated the mood of the table to a state of classiness rather then the loquacious one-upping banter that preceded. A natural quietness permeated the table – there might have been different social classes dining at this table, but the playing field was leveled through austerity, kindness, and dignified class that went beyond social class. Ella and her cousin fit right in and even though the dinner presentation talk was totally boring (sometimes the rich get appointed as a speaker because of their money and not a talent for orating and so it was actually painful at times), but the wine, salmon and filet mignon were delicious.
The ending dance session lasted for hours. The girls watched the time closely as they mingled and danced with different folks – while ignoring the cold looks from GM’s step-daughters.
At around 11:00 p.m., Ella began dancing with a guy named Toby. Ella and Toby had been talking earlier in the evening and now they felt like old friends. Funny how a couple of hours can sometimes form a bond in ways that make people feel like they have been connecting for years.
Earlier in the night, Toby and Ella were sitting in the atrium with a small group of folks who were all cracking jokes while enjoying appetizers. Two of the guys were professional comedians, some of the folks were pro athletes from the Davenport ski team, and a few were small business owners. It was lighthearted banter and Ella added tot he rich content of discussion topics. She was sitting across from Toby and their humor seemed in sync. He was so witty and even though he only chimed in with a few jokes – he was hysterical with dryness and he had humble confidence with a cute smile.
When Toby came to dance with Ella later in the evening – she was thinking friend more than romantic interest. But as their second slow dance started, Ella saw something different in Toby’s eyes – she felt something. She felt a familiarity and something in her soul connected with his soul. At one point, she had to look away from his eyes because it was too intoxicating. As she was looking down, his hand gently lifted her chin and he slowly bent down to kiss her. His gentle mannerism was also was invitational – relaxed – no pressure to respond – but Ella leaned in – almost like a magnet to steel – and the softest lips greeted her lips. Their eyes closed for a second and then smiles formed as the pair pulled apart.
“Come on, let’s go and sit down for a few,” Ella said, while dragging him off the dance floor.
“Yes, let’s get a drink,” replied Toby. “Should we try those Vesper Martinis?”
With a big sigh Ella replied, “Oh, no, thank you, I don’t like gin. Just an Irish coffee for me. I actually have to leave in a little bit.”
They sat and began to talk while the waiter retrieved their drinks. Suddenly – two of Toby’s friends came running up, grabbed him, and swooshed him away to the dance floor – and one friend teased, “Come on Prince Tobiath, the night is still young.”
Toby smiled at Ella as he allowed his friends to lug him away….
The waiter gently placed Ella’s Irish coffee on a coaster – leaving an instant stain of green as the whipped cream had too much crème de menthe, but her elbow length gloves stayed spotless.
Ella savored the drink – and the moment.
Feeling so pretty all dressed up – feeling so refreshed by the formality of it all – having fun with her cousin – being moved by Toby’s essence –and that soft kiss!
And now she was feeling the whiskey as it warmed her chest.
Perfect way to wind down the evening.
Ella’s cousin walked up and reminded her that they only had about twenty minutes until the carriage would be back. Her cousin then went back to the dance floor and glided around while Ella soaked up the scene: the silver decor, colorful dresses, tux coats resting on chair backs, half-eaten desserts on porcelain plates, and dressed up people coming and going….
She slowly got up, which was a little encumbering because of the petticoat and layers of dress. After balancing in her glass heels and adjusting her posture, she gracefully walked to meet her cousin at the back door.
It was a few minutes before twelve and even though she looked around for Toby on the way to the door – to maybe exchange numbers – she did not have time to go looking for him. She started looking around, but it was close to midnight – and it had also been a long twenty four hours. Sometimes physical exhaustion can deny a longing heart. She had a sweet buzz from the night and she was moved by Toby’s sweet energy, but she would have to leave without saying goodbye to him – or the many other folks she met that night.
As she sat down next to her cousin in the carriage, right at midnight (they made it right on time) – they began sharing stories from the dance floor. They had split up for most of the last two hours and so there was a lot to share as they took off their gloves and heels. Ella’s cousin let her hair down and the cool air of the summer night had a dreamy quality – the type of night that makes one smile just remembering it.
Even the stars seemed to line up so that Orion’s belt looked more formal. Orion, and his dog, were possibly looking down at the ball with approval.
The coachman was a bit snotty and he abruptly told the girls to exit quickly – they understood he had pressure to get the carriage and horse back and they tipped him generously. He was a little nicer after the generous tip, but still aloof and rushed them out of the carriage so quickly that Ella left one of her high heel shoes behind.
She noticed right away when she came into the house – because her bag was lighter with one glass shoe missing – but the carriage left fast. She looked out the door to see if she could stop the carriage before it left, but all she saw was dust in the air and a row of summer pumpkins – glowing in the moonlight. It did not really matter because she likely would never wear those weird glass shoes again. She only bought the glass heels because they were neutral and she was not sure what color dress she would find so last minute – and so the clear would match anything.
The rest of Ella’s trip in Canada was a lot more relaxing. She and her cousin visited a winery, toured a ski area that was set up with summer slides, and then they visited an old train station where the had some photos of the ball printed.
It was a great vacation…. but it was also nice to get back home.
And now here it was – four months later and it was the Saturday before Christmas. Ella was still waking up as she rode the train into the city to work at the catering place. She could not wipe the smile off of her face as she thought about that summer ball. The glam dresses she and her cousin found, how it all came together, and then she remembered that she still needed to send Fairy G.M. a thank you note for giving her those free tickets. Maybe she could do that with a Christmas card this week.
Later at work that morning, Ella put down a stack of blank holiday cards to write out later that day. The wait staff was coming and going while Ella stayed in the back managing the billing and other paperwork for the event. She noticed that the name on the event sheet was The Canadian Nordine Ski Team. Ella was curious to see if any of the athletes on this ski team were from Davenport – because a lot of folks at the the ball last summer were Nordine skiers.
After checking the invoice she found that this was a group of Nordine skiers from Davenport! Ella threw on some earrings, spritzed her hair, grabbed a formal jacket, and went out to look around in the meeting rooms.
She thought she spotted Toby in the distance, but he now had a beard and looked different. Just as she spotted him – he stood up because he spotted her.
They both exchanged curious looks – puzzled expressions – and then full smiles.
They recognized each other and both made haste to greet the other.
Ella and Toby talked for about twenty minutes and then Toby said, “I have to tell you something.”
“Oh yeah, what is it?” asked Ella.
“Well I tried to find you for about four weeks. All of my September was spent looking for you.”
“Are you serious?” Ella asked with a curious smile and warming cheeks.
“Yes. It was silly, but it felt a little like looking for Cinderella.”
“Oh that is funny. And did you know that my first name is Cynthia?”
“Really?” asked Toby.
“Really,” Ella said with a smile.
“Well after you left the ball that night, my heart longed for you. When I went to dance with the guys, I had no idea you would be leaving the ball so early. I ran after the carriage as it was pulling away, but it was going too fast. I asked the other ladies from your table and the one girl insisted it was her shoe. And even though I was drinking, I knew that was not the woman I met – it was not you.
The following Monday, I went to the carriage company and they had no record of carrying two girls to any ball.I showed them the video recording I had on my phone, which had their carriage in it, and so they allowed me to look inside the carriage. It was spotless. However, under the ledge of the seat I found your glass shoe. I tried to find the owner of that shoe all through Davenport. I then thought I would never see you again…..”
“Are you serious?” asked Ella while shaking her head. “I do not even know how to reply.”
“Well have dinner with me tomorrow tonight, please. The Sunday schedule is wide open and I have so much I want to speak with you about.”
“Oh Toby, I would love to have dinner with you tomorrow night.”
They both looked into each other’s eyes – and even though they could not kiss or hug right then – their hearts connected and the two souls became one that moment. It was fate.
“And let us exchange numbers right now,” said Ella, “Just in case we part ways too soon.”
Six years later, Ella was waking up on a Saturday to a screaming alarm clock. It was 6:30 a.m. and it was her turn to drive their daughter to a weekend kinder soccer match. Toby reached over to turn off the clock, kissed Ella goodbye, and then pulled the duvet over his head.
Ella and her daughter piled the gear into the car and there was a bit of traffic along the way. Ella took a sip of her mocha and placed the travel mug back into the cup holder when her daughter asked, “Momma, could you tell me the Cinderella story again?”
“Which one? The Disney version or the one of how your father and I met?”
“The one about you and dad.”
“Ok. Mommy and cousin Annie got free tickets to this really fancy ball. We wore silky gloves, big poofy dresses, and our hair was put up into a bun with curls dangling. Annie had on a white poofy dress and my dress was yellow – like the one Belle wore in Beauty and The Beast.”
“Don’t forget the glass slipper part momma.”
“I won’t. You’re getting ahead of me.”
“And don’t forget the kiss….!”