Living the Fairy Tale

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Chapter 1

Once Upon a Time....

Once upon a time, in a little village in a little valley, there was once a fine Prince that was looking for a wife...blah, blah, blah, Eva Winter thought. As if something like that had ever occurred in all of history. Sure.
So when I heard that the Royal Family of Rumbrick (our kingdom) was holding a Ball to find suitable nominees for the Prince to marry, I was floored. Seriously? I thought. In this day and age, where the Royal Family has no use to the country other than to meet up with Presidents/Royal Families of other countries, they were still going to have a ball to find someone for their Prince to marry?
Well, I thought, I should probably win: I have two older sisters that would be pretty if they didn't scowl so much and engrave lines on their faces. I do all the chores around here, even cook their breakfast, because they have 'duties to the community' at a convenient time of 8:00 a.m., and I don't, which somehow makes me the obvious choice as servant. The only missing was 'cinders' in my name---after all, my name's Eva, and that's so close to Ella it isn't even funny.
I stared at the newspaper headline for several minutes, wondering what possessed the Royal Family of Rumbrick to decide to pull this three-day-long ball nonsense, before being startled out of it by a scream.
"EVA!" Grace Winter screamed. I ran out of the kitchen and saw that she had fallen down the last three steps of the staircase again. It was as if naming her Grace endowed her with the very opposite: the woman could walk across a completely flat surface in her bare feet, and somehow trip and fall flat on her face.
Belle Winter wasn't any better. The older she got, the uglier she got, simply because she frowned so much. The lines around her mouth and on her forehead were becoming quite noticeable, and even Mother was getting worried. Now the eldest Winter girl was always at the movies and the theatre; Mother was trying her hardest to get Belle to smile more often...which only left more chores for me to do.
I helped Grace to her feet, and examined the ankle she was moaning about.
"It's a little bruised, and probably sprained. You'll be fine," I told her.
"Oh, whatev, Eve. I just know it's, like, broken! MOTHER!" Grace retorted.
I sighed. One, she's called me 'Eve' again. It's Eva. Two, the likes are getting seriously annoying, and Three...she's overreacting yet again. I hear Mother fling open her bedroom door and hear her quick footsteps approaching the staircase. I braced myself for the worst.
When Mother appeared at the top of the stairs, Grace twisted around to see that she was there before speaking.
"Mother, I've broken my ankle!" Grace sobbed, tears flowing rapidly down her face.
"Eva what have you done to your sister!" Mother snapped. I gasped.
"What? Grace fell down the last of the stairs is all. I think she twisted---"
"You don't think! You can't think!" Mother stormed, hurrying to Grace's side. "There, there, dear, come along, Mommy will help you to the couch."
"Do you think I'll need a Z-ray, Mommy?" Grace asked.
"Don't be silly, dear, you'll need no such thing." Mother said soothingly.
"That's only because there's no such thing as a Z-ray!" I exclaimed. "It's called an X-ray!"
"Like, whatev, Eve." Grace said, sniffling as Mother helped her along to the couch.
"Go do the dishes or something, Eva, and leave your poor sister alone," Mother said sharply. I just stood there, stunned.
"I haven't done anything!" I called after them.
"DISHES!" Mother shouts.
"Yet," I mumbled as I went to the kitchen, slowly as I dared.

Grumbling, I went to the sink, and fill one side with hot sudsy water. Just I as I got the first dish started, someone knocked on the door.
"Get that, Eva. I'm tending Grace, so I can't." Mother called in the snappiest voice she could manage. I rinsed my hands and grabbed the nearest towel, and went to get the door. On the other side of the ornately decorated front door was a short fat little man carrying the mail bag.
"Yes?" I asked, still wiping my hands.
"Urgent message for the Winter family."
"That's us," I said, and took the proffered letter from the fat little man.
"Good day!" he squeaked, and hurried away down the drive.
"Okay..." I mumbled, tucking the towel under my arm and ripping open the letter. It's a thick envelope, with fancy gold script on the front, and an important seal on the back.
"Eva! Shut the door!" Mother screams. I sighed, tucked the letter and envelope under my arm with the towel, shut the door and hurried back to the kitchen before Mother can see the letter. Once there, with the door shut behind me, I took the letter out again, and began to read.

Dear Winter family,
You are all invited to a Royal Ball on the 3rd of this month, lasting until the 6th of this month. The Ball will result in the finding of several nominees to be considered as the future wife of Prince Sergei, eventually to become Queen of Rumbrick Kingdom upon the deaths of the present King and Queen. All of you are to make an appearance on all three of those days. Best formal wear is required. Anything above the knee or with thin or clear straps will result in no admittance. For all rules on dress wear, please visit the below web address, or check the special section in the daily newspapers, running until the final day of the Ball.
The Queen Mother

"Huh," I said, and grinned. Having a letter like this appear one day is just like living out 'Cinderella.' Suddenly, the kitchen door opened.
"Eva, who was at the door?"
"The postman; there was an urgent letter--"
"Well let me see!" Mother snapped and ripped the letter from my hands.
"Ow!" My hands have giant paper cuts running up the fold of skin between my thumb and palm. There's no way I can do the dishes now.
"Oh for goodness sake!" Mother hissed when I told her. "But I can't get Belle to do them, she'll frown more."
"Then the dishes will have to go undone," I said as politely as I could, which was quite politely. Mother sighed and read the letter.
"Fun! Gracey darling will have to get better before the 3rd because she and Belle just HAVE to go!" Mother rushed out.
"What about me?" I called after her. Mother ignored me completely---I can hear her talking to Grace and then rushing upstairs to talk to Belle. Sighing, I went to find some band-aides or something...then there's another knock on the door!

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