a Women Writers' Showcase
Happily Ever After
by Corinne Torrance

She heard them muttering as she whirled by in the prince’s arms. They seemed to think she was a princess from a foreign land.  Wouldn’t they be amazed to know she was the stepsister they loved to malign?  The music swelled, the prince met her eyes, and she soon forgot her surroundings as she was swallowed up in the moment.  Faintly, she heard the palace chimes begin to sound.  Wringing the last moment of  happiness from the ball, she continued to dance until the stroke of ten.  On eleven, she broke out of his arms and headed for the door.  The stroke of twelve found her starting down the steps.

Too late!  She watched the mice scamper away, the dog resume his doggie ways, and the pumpkin shrink to a lowly squash.  Her beautiful dress disappeared, leaving her in clean, patched everyday clothes.  Her fairy godmother stood at the base of the steps, smiling sadly and shaking her head as Cinderella began to cry.

The prince emerged from the palace door to see a girl pleading with an old woman, but no mysterious princess in sight.  Suddenly the old woman raised her stick and **bling** the prince lost his finery and stood there in homespun trousers and tunic, steel-toed boots, with an axe by his side.  He descended the steps to the girl, nearly tripping over the pumpkin.

“This is so cool!” he exclaimed.  “I’ve been wishing to get away from all that pomp and circumstance.  I don’t know how it happened, but would you show me how to live like a normal person?  What’s your name?  I’m Sam, but you can call me Charm.”

Cindy and Charm made their way into the forest and discovered an abandoned cottage.  Cindy set to work, discarding the broken chair and doing the dishes while Charm explored the bedrooms.

“It’s okay,” he said as he returned.  “There are plenty of beds—a soft one for you and a big firm one for me.”  (He is a prince, after all) Cindy said, “Here’s some porridge I found to cook.  With that axe, you can become a woodcutter.”

And so it came to pass.  Cindy was a capable homemaker, and Charm soon got the knack of swinging the axe and selling the timber.

One day, as he was working, he heard screams coming from a little  house.  Opening the door, he found a big, bad wolf inside.  He killed the wolf with his axe and released the little girl who was hiding in the closet.  Together, they found and revived the grandmother.

“You are a prince among men!” the grandmother pronounced.  “Thank you!”

Meanwhile, Cindy was hanging out the laundry when four and twenty blackbirds pecked at her nose.  Plucky as ever, she caught two of the birds in a sheet and roasted them for supper.

Charm and Cindy lived happily ever after.

A freelance writer, Corinne draws from experiences as a mother (two  highly successful grown children), a long-distance grandmother of two, an elementary inner-city teacher, a student of writing and of Spanish, a Toastmaster (8 years), a minister’s wife, a church volunteer, and a consumer of medical care.

Corinne remembers writing her first story with a green crayon on cardboard salvaged from a dress shirt package.  It was a mystery—a monster that turned out to be nothing but a statue.  Since, she has continued to find writing a good way to cope with the world through journaling.  Her divorce, her mother’s decline through Alzheimer’s
Disease, her own health crises have all been eased through writing.

But writing has been a truly joyful place most of the time.  When someone retires, celebrates an anniversary, or other occasion, Corinne is often asked to present o poem. She writes children’s sermonettes about fifteen times a year and is a member of SCBWI. She no longer says she’s “retired.” Contact Corinne.