Motivated to stretch my creative muscles lately has me brushing dust off some fiction I’ve written in the past. I’ve excavated a short series of fairy tales and fairy tale-esque works I’d essentially tucked in a drawer, to see if I can make something more like art with them again. The following is a Cinderella-inspired short, from my dark and twisted fairy tales repertoire.
If The Shoe Fits
The subterfuge is best begun with lamentation.
Never mind that the word coils around the tongue like Lamia: you can hardly be blamed when, as a woman, you are taught to share the nature of a serpent and then told to disguise it.
The lies you shape must be intricate, the warp so carefully interlaced with the weft of truth they are indistinguishable within the weave of the tapestry. Cast yourself as a martyr, misused and downtrodden but saintly, unstained, always. They must believe you suffer beautifully.
Learn to elaborate and eradicate simultaneously. Invent and wash over your history as it suits you. Rub ashes over your face and speak of sleeping on hearthstones to overlook the frailty of your ailing stepsisters when you compare your household burdens to theirs. Men, too, have been conditioned. Draw them in by casting them as hero. They cannot resist damsels in distress.
Never cry. A careful weakness must be the illusion to serve. Instead, smile bravely, unshed tears glistening bright in your eyes, a tremble in the corner of your mouth. Carefully blend strength with vulnerability, an artist’s mix. Pretend to pretend that you can protect yourself; like a wounded butterfly, your delicate wings should seem to beat futilely.
Always make him give chase. Stir up the hunter’s instinct, the predator within. Add artificial value to your eventual surrender. Do not forget to leave a trail, though; an imprint on memory, a calling card, a Freudian slipper made from glass.
Tell him you are not good enough for him. Tell him you don’t deserve him. Tell him he couldn’t possibly want you when so many others are more beautiful, more well-bred, more suitable, more worthy. Make him remind you there is no one better until you both believe it.
Tell him his parents will never approve of you. He’ll want you more when you become a rebellion.
Beware his mother, the way she watches you closely from the sides of her eyes–sharp like eagles. Like recognises like, and she will be harder to fool.
Bear him sons. Immortalize him with replicas of himself who will also learn to worship at your altar.
And, should you bear a daughter, teach her to become your ally rather than a rival. This way, when she surpasses you, you can be comforted by a small claim on her success. For who knows what she can become? If a peasant can entice a merchant, and her daughter ensnare a prince, is it not possible your daughter should become perhaps a ruler in her own right?
Tell her the subterfuge is best begun with lamentation.
Speaking of dark and twisted fairy tales…
All shoe photography by Myranda. You can follow more of her fun images on Instagram: hermionedangerous