When Midnight Strikes

Her dress was too short and her heels were too tall, but Cinderella felt fabulous. She had never known until that night, that moment, what fabulous felt like. How could she, slaving over hot stoves and taking care of the horses and the chickens and the laundry and the cleaning and the washing and the twelve hundred other chores she did every day of her life?

But there were no chickens in sight. No horses. No hay. Nothing to press and iron. Nothing but light and music and delirious, delicious magic.

Everyone stared at her in awe as she walked down the plush red-carpeted stairs. It was kind of embarrassing. She was so used to being invisible. Just the servant in the background.

But she was not a servant tonight.

Not in that red garnet and ruby studded dress. Definitely not in those red crystal high heels.

The Prince drifted into sight.

She almost fled back to her pumpkin carriage.

But no. she decided. Tonight I am no one’s servant. I am not Cinderella. I can be whoever I choose. I can create the most outrageous falsehoods about myself and no one would ever guess the truth.

She smiled at the Prince and approached him.

The entire room went silent as they watched to see what would happen next.

She curtsied with an easy grace. “Your Highness.”

“Would you care to dance?”

“Yes.”

And they danced.

He led her with such ease and care she never got a chance to accidently step on his feet.

“Who are you? Where did you come from?”

She considered the myriad of answers and decided to go with the truth. “I came from a pumpkin.”

“A pumpkin?”

“Yes. Just an average pumpkin growing in my father’s vegetable garden.”

“I see.” He clearly did not.

“Four silver-white mice ran before my pumpkin and my cat, a gray and white tabby, was the coachman.”

He smiled. “I don’t know if you’re serious or if you’re joking.”

“I’m serious.”

I can be anyone right now, but midnight will strike and the enchantment will be gone. I will be Cinderella once again.

But.

What if?

“I can prove it to you, but you’ll have to wait.”

“For what?”

“Not for what. For when. For midnight to strike.”

Then, he will see me as I am. As I truly am. He will be disappointed. He might be hurt. But I don’t want to play cat and mice games. I want to be honest with him.

When midnight strikes.

We’ll see what happens next.

Maybe disaster. Probably disaster. Very likely disaster.

But who knows? I might be the start of something more.

I’m willing to take that chance.

I’m willing to make that leap.

Come, midnight.

Strike twelve.

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