fetching for her buys no calm
peace comes from within
senryu by M. Nakazato LaFreniere
She sat, staring in the mirror, a bitchy frown marring her beauty.
Snarling, “Wouldn’t you know it? Cinderella gets the prince! With her smudged face and tattered clothes, she still gets the prince. She gets the dad. She gets all the men.”
Her mind flickers back a few years ago, the awkward fourteen-year-old that she was, happy and eager to move into their new home when their mom had remarried. She would have a dad at last! Her dad had died when she was a baby. This was it. She would have a real family just like everyone else.
But no, the new dad only had eyes for his own daughter. Oh, he was kind enough but he didn’t love them. She was just a stepdaughter after all. Her sister too. They were just add-ons because he thought his daughter needed a mother. That swirling letdown gripped her. Politeness, kindness hurt. Bah! Knives carving slices into the soul.
Mom loved them. Mom said give him time. He will see how wonderful you are. Business trips took him away a lot of the time and the precious little free time he had at home, he’d walked in the gardens with Cinderella. Never invite them. Just her. He loved her best. Even mom came second.
Ha! Well, they showed Cinderella. When the new dad died too after not even a year, she and her sister could be mean to Cinderella, show her how it felt to be rejected, to have no one love you. Being mean felt good, felt honest not to wrap it up in parcels of politeness. Each time, the bitch in her would push away the void, the darkness, the murmurous whispers.
No one loves you. No one will love you. You are unloveable. You will never have what you want. You will never have the Prince.
Throwing her perfume bottle, she screamed, “I don’t want the Prince!”
Her own voice surprised her because it was true. She didn’t want the Prince.
“What do I want?” she whispered, cocking her head at her mirrored image.
“Well, I for sure don’t want this hell of namelessness. Always the stepdaughter, always the stepsister, never Sheila,” she snapped at herself.
“And I sure as hell am tired of this pity party I’ve got going since the wedding. I’m a bitch! I get what I want.”
She glared at herself, “Okay then, tell me what do you want!”
“Tell you what I want! I want to write!”
“You heard me.”
Sheila remembered. She used to write all the time until her mother sat her down for a mother-to-daughter talk at age 16. “Darling, I know you want to write novels and your fairytales are very sweet. But you have to marry a rich man first so you will have time to write. Otherwise you’ll spend all your time cleaning and cooking. You need servants to write.”
She remembered arguing with her mom, “Maybe my novels will make me rich.”
Her mother snorted, “All writers are impoverished and starving no matter how creative they are. You don’t want to wander around wearing rags, do you?”
She remembered how she’d made Cinderella wear rags. It was not a good look.
Sheila felt deflated somehow, her rage seeping out. She wanted love sure, but not yet. She wanted to write, to travel, to go beyond the garden.
“You’re not loveable.”
“Oh shut up,” she told her reflection. “Maybe I don’t want to love anyone yet. Maybe I don’t want to be stuck here in this town with a husband and a house. Maybe I want to see the pyramids. I’ve read of those. Maybe I want to write.”
Maybe a bitchy travelogue. I’d be good at those, she smiled. I don’t think I want to write fairy tales any more anyways. That’s for other folks.
I could be an impulsive hipster, hitchhiking across the world. She pictured herself joining a gypsy caravan, going to the big city. She heard writers hung out in the cafes, sold their writing to newspapers and broadsheets. And magazines. How wonderful it would be to see her name in a magazine. Not stepsister to the Princess Cinderella but Sheila. So famous she only needed the one name and everyone would know who she was.
Yeah, right, said her reflection. You’re a rich bitch girl used to having everything easy, making Cinderella fetch and carry for you.
She smiled, “Those were the days. I do like making people fetch and carry for me. But now I want something different.”
“Mother will never let you.”
No, she wouldn’t, would she? And this silk gown would be ridiculous to climb a pyramid in.
With great stealth, she snuck into the attic where her stepdad’s clothes had been tucked away.
She smiled, her biting words rapped out sharply on the paper. It took years and just as her mother said, she’d been impoverished but it hadn’t been so bad. She’d found money hadn’t mattered as much if you were traveling.
She’d been lucky. Her caustic travelogue had been picked up by a magazine. She’d married the publisher too, prompting her to write her bestseller, “Do what you love to find love”.
As far as being a bitch? She rather enjoyed that especially since it paid so well. People both feared and loved her gossip column. Sheila was invited to all the best parties even if she shredded the partygoers and their fashion sense in print. They were more afraid she wouldn’t write about them.
She understood them, those driven by the fear of namelessness, their lives shaped by meaninglessness. Her caustic wit snapped at them, forcing them to see their reflection, to see their lives. Her pen became their mirror. She smiled, it was so much fun pricking people. Sometimes it takes a thorn in your chair to get you to move. She thought, “being a bitch is a good thing.”
Another Happy Ending
— — — —
mindlovemisery challenges us to use 10 out of 12 words in a story or poem. The ones I bolded, I used.
- Elision (n))