Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Payment Rendered

 This entry is a sequel, of sorts, to a #FridayFlash of many years ago: Payment Due. The original was a...different...take on the Cinderella story: 

"Take Cindy for example. You know the one," as the Fairy Godmother was heard to say.

The below is what happened some time later in the lives of the protagonists. I hope you enjoy.

"I know it's my birthday," the young woman thought, "but they're acting weirder than usual. Even for them."

"They" were the Princess Cinderella and her husband, the Prince.

"And what are all these guards doing here?" the young woman continued. "Are we expecting an invasion in the throne room?"


"Oops," the young woman, Princess Aurora, said. "Spotted."

She stepped out of the shadow of one of the throne room columns.

"You called?"

"I specifically told you to stay in your room, did I not?" her mother, Princess Cinderella, said. "You don't know what's at stake here."

"Of course I don't," Aurora replied. "How could I? No one ever tells me anything around here."

"Now see here, young lady..." the Prince began, his voice suddenly stopping.

Aurora looked at her father to see what had happened. He was no longer looking at her. She turned to see what he was looking at. The great doors of the throne room had just opened. That was surprising. It normally took two burly guards per door to swing them open.

This time they seemed to just open by themselves.

"Huh," Aurora said quietly. "Curiouser and curiouser, I suppose."

"Guards!" the Prince called.

The guards ran forward and established a line across the room in front of the throne.

"Protect the Princess," Cinderella shouted.

Aurora looked at her mother.

"What?" she asked. "Protect me from what?"

The guards looked from the Prince, to Cinderella, to Aurora.

"Behind the guards," the Prince said. "Aurora, get behind the guards."

Aurora stood her ground.

"Aurora," Cinderella said, despair to be heard in her voice. "Why must you never do what you're told."

"Because you've never, ever, told her why she should do something," came a new voice.

Aurora looked towards the door.

A small silvered-haired woman stood there, looking for all the world like someone's grandmother--

"Godmother." The word sounded in her head.

--like someone's Godmother. She was dressed in flowing gossamer layers of pink and gold. Her face was unwrinkled but set with determination as she looked towards the pair on the thrones.


Aurora started. She'd never heard her mother speak with such fury, no matter how hard she'd tried to provoke her over the years.

She looked back at the apparition by the doors. "Whatever did you do to her?" she wondered.

The old woman turned to her and smiled.

"Guards," the Prince shouted.

Aurora stepped back as the guards rushed by her and formed a line between her and the woman standing at the door. The woman did nothing other than smile broadly.

"You can't have her," Cinderella said. "You just can't."

"That's not for you to say," came the reply.

Aurora looked back and forth between the two women.

"What's going on here?" she asked.

Before anyone could answer, her father, the Prince, shouted "Guards!" again.

Aurora briefly heard a "Tsk, tsk" sound from the old woman before it was drowned out by the stamp of the guards' feet as they took a single step forward in perfect unison.

"That should please Dad," Aurora thought. "All those feet in perfect time. He's weird about feet."

She looked at the guards and stepped back, shocked. It seemed to her they'd been replaced by mice, all running this way and that. Aurora rubbed her eyes. If she squinted, she could almost see the guards, but they looked as confused as she. Did they see mice too?

She looked back at the woman by the door. She hadn't moved, but her smile had broadened considerably.

"Who are you?" Aurora asked.

Before the woman could reply, the Prince shouted again.

"You will not speak--croak!"

Aurora looked around at her father, wondering what had happened to his voice. She stepped back suddenly, a burst of laughter rising to her lips.

The Prince seemed transformed into an unusually large frog seated on a small royal purple velvet cushion. A crown balanced precariously on his head.

"Cro-o-o-oak?" said the frog.

Aurora looked to her mother and then back to the woman at the door. She was smiling beatifically.

"Now that all the noise has died down," she said, "shall we to business?"

"You can't have her," Cinderella said, her voice rising.

"What does that mean?" Aurora asked. She was trying to focus on what was being said, but the frog had jumped from the cushion to the small fountain fixed to the right wall of the throne room.

"Croak?" it said.

"Your mother promised you to me before you were even conceived," the woman said.

"Ew," Aurora said. "TMI."

The woman smiled and moved to the center of the room. The mice scattered.

"Croak!" the frog said angrily.

"As if a frog can croak angrily," Aurora thought.

"Not another step," Cinderella said.

"Or?" the woman replied.

"Stop! Everyone just stop," Aurora said. "What is going on here?"

"Your mother promised you to me before you..."

"Right. Right. I get it," Aurora said. "No need to repeat it."

Aurora turned to her mother,

"Why?" she asked. "Why would you do that?"

Princess Cinderella said nothing for a moment. Aurora stared at her.

Cinderella looked away. "She," she said, her voice quiet. "She helped me."

Aurora spun around to look at the older woman.

"Helped," she said. "Helped how?"

The older woman smiled. She gestured towards the frog prince.

"Ew," Aurora said again. "And the price was me?"

The older woman shrugged.

"If their first born their 18th birthday," she said, "then they would hand him...or me."

"No one's handing me to anyone," Aurora said.

"You've never done what you were told," Cinderella said. "You've always gone your own way!"

"The Godmothers like independent thinkers," the older woman said.

"Godmothers?" Aurora asked, turning to the older woman.

The woman smiled. "I was the Princess Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. Back before she was a princess, that is."

"That just sounds ridiculous," Aurora said.

She paused a moment, then spun around to face her mother again.

"Available? Available?" Aurora took a breath. "Is that why you've been trying to marry me off for the past two years?"

"Calm yourself, Aurora," her mother said, rising. "It was for your own good. We were trying to do what was best for you."

"You should have tried asking her what she thought was best," the older woman said, her voice dry.

"I don't need you to speak for..." Aurora said, turning to the woman.

She stopped. The clothing the woman had on seemed to have changed. The billowing pink and gold dress replaced by black leather adorned with silver chains. The previous 2-inch heels by black leather boots. Pink and gold were still evident, but only at the tips of her spiked black hair. The woman was smiling.

Aurora returned the smile.

"You think that will convince me to go with you?" she asked.

The woman's smile broadened.

"Worth a shot," she said, glancing down at her garments. "And it's a good look. For me, and you."

"Just because it matches mine doesn't mean I'll go off with you. What happens if I say 'No'?"

"No?" both the older woman and Cinderella asked at the same time.

"No," Aurora said.

"Then you say 'No'," the woman said.

"Anything happen to my sister and brother, or my parents?"

"Nothing," the woman said.

Aurora glanced over at the fountain.

"Can my dad not be a frog?"

The woman grinned. "In time," she said softly.

"So," Cinderella said. "Get out of my palace, and never come back."

Aurora turned to her mother.

"I think she means me," the woman said.

Aurora nodded.

"But I'm going too." And, turning to the older woman, she said, "By myself."

The woman nodded.

"Aurora," Cinderella called but Aurora strode through the throne room doorway to freedom.

Two years later Aurora was walking through the streets of a town far from the kingdom's capital. She'd been thinking a lot recently of frogs, and mice, and of the stories told of her parents' meeting at a fancy ball.

And of Fairy Godmothers dressed in black leather, chains, and boots.

"Do you think you're becoming available?" came a voice from behind her.

Aurora turned. The Godmother stood in the crowded street behind her, the flow of people parting as they reached her, joining again after passing Aurora. The woman had traded her leather in for the pink and gold dress again.

But pink and gold still adorned the tips of her spiked black hair.

Aurora smiled at the combination.

She nodded.


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