An alternative fairytale in bite-sized portions
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Suitable for family reading
For almost a week, a gaggle of reporters and TV cameras had covered the Prince’s search for the woman who left her dainty shoe on the palace steps.
By the second week, a single cub reporter still followed the hunt, in hope of an exclusive scoop. The palace Press Officer told Alfred that this was the son of the newspaper’s owner, so nobody complained about his prolonged absence from the newsroom.
Another day, another street, and the Prince’s team arrived at yet another front door. This one belonged to a grand house on the corner of an elegant street. Curtains stirred as they approached. Mounting the steps to the front door, Alfred heard scurryings inside.
An attendant pounded the heavy knocker.
In the silence that followed, the door creaked open and a tall woman peered out. She redirected her gaze downward, and the door opened wider. She curtseyed, while three ungainly young ladies bobbed in the hallway behind her.
He almost said, ‘Sorry, wrong house.’ But everyone knew why he was there, and he didn’t like hurting people’s feelings.
An attendant handed him the shoe, and he repeated his line about looking for its owner. The older woman curtseyed again and produced another exactly like it, only for the other foot.
‘It belongs to my daughter, Your Highness.’ She gestured towards the three giants behind her. ‘This is its pair.’
For a frantic moment, Alfred wondered if someone could have slipped an enchantment into his drink at the ball. A camera flashed behind him.
Buttons looked on from the stairwell’s shadows as the Baroness claimed the sparkling shoe was her daughter’s.
The Prince looked from one to another as the sisters continued bobbing like plastic ducks in a bath. Behind him the camera flashed again, and one courtier smiled at something another one said. Buttons thought he’d asked what the Prince had been drinking at the ball, but dogs aren’t good at lip-reading.
‘Are these all your daughters?’
The Baroness simpered. ‘Indeed, Your Highness, all three are my chicks.’
‘Actually, I meant…’
The Prince cleared his throat.
‘P-procedure must be observed. Whose foot fits this shoe?’
Buttons had watched the Baroness struggling to push her great claw into the shoe she now held. She wouldn’t lose face by trying the one the Prince offered. She left its twin on a chair and pushed Tabitha forward.
Tabitha’s foot hung over the back of the Prince’s shoe.
Abigail’s bulged over the sides.
Harriet shook her head, but her mother pushed the shoe over her toes so hard they bled. When Harriet whimpered, Malegra pulled it free with a curse and threw it at the wall where it shattered into slivers of bloodied crystal and stardust.
Buttons darted forward and seized the other shoe from the chair. He ran with it down the basement stairs while the Baroness thundered, ‘Leave! Bad dog. Bu-tt-o-ns,’ her voice sharpening to a point.
The Prince followed him down, and the Baroness blustered after them.
Alfred heard the dreadful woman protesting behind him and shuddered at the thought of her as a mother-in-law. He remembered her now from the reception line at the ball. And her daughters – what were their names?
The dog dropped the shoe in front of a cupboard door and barked. Hadn’t she called him Buttons?
Someone answered from inside the cupboard.
The tallest sister ran down the stairs. ‘Cindy, the Prince is here. It’s going to be alright.’
Cindy? He looked down at the dog.
He tried the door handle, but the cupboard was locked. He couldn’t trust his voice, so he held out his hand for the key and let his face tell them what he thought of them. The old witch backed away.
‘UNLOCK THIS DOOR.’
It didn’t sound like him. For the first time in his life, he sounded like someone who expected to be obeyed.
He tried it again.
‘NOW! . . .please.’
The tall one – Harriet, that was her name – came forward with a large pair of scissors and lunged at her mother. What further crimes were these people capable of?
Harriet’s dark eyes flashed as she snipped a cord around her mother’s neck and caught the key that fell from it. But she trembled as she held it out to him.
When their hands touched, she flinched as if burned.
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The Godmother is now available in e-book and print from Smashwords and your local Amazon
90 pages, no illustrations