Living the Fairy Tale

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Chapter 2

....there was a Kingdom in the Valley....

I went slowly to the door, and gingerly twisted the knob, trying not to hurt my hands more than they are already. On the porch were six teenage girls, all nearing the age of twenty, all with letters in their hands that have the gold seal on them.
"Oh no way," I muttered. The girls just looked at me, and their eyes told me to just drop dead already. "I guess you want to talk to Grace and Belle, then huh?"
"DUH!" One snapped, tossing her straightened hair back from her face. "We are so totally going to the ball. Just think, I could like, have a super-expensive car if I, like, married the prince, and it would all be so totally awesome to be in a palace!!"
"Imagine the shopping trips all on the Royal Bill!" another sighed, looking dreamily up at the porch roof.
"Yeah, okay," I said, and stood back to let them all in. "Grace is in the living room, and Belle 'has retired to her room,' " I quoted in a lofty voice. Another collective venomous glare.
"You know there is no way any of you will get into the ball. None of you have even halfway decent dresses to wear--they're indecent at both ends." I said, laughing.
"Oh, whatev! What do you know? Security are going to be so, like, easy to charm!" And with that they all disappeared either up the stairs or to the living room to talk to their friends. I shook my head, and went to my room to read the latest magazine I had found in Belle's throw out bin. I wondered briefly how many people will turn up at the ball, and how many will think it's just a joke. Just as I had settled in to the latest celebrity story that I didn't really want to read (but it was something), Mother stalked into my embarassingly bare room.
"There you are! I've been looking for you for the past five minutes!" she exclaimed. I just huffed and continued reading my story.
"Father called. Apparently the news is all over town. He's got the strangest mind: do you know what he said to me?"
"No!" I snapped, irritated, throwing the magazine aside.
"Well, he said that he would fund the purchase of Belle's and Grace's dresses if, and only if, you were permitted a dress of equal or greater value, and were also allowed to go with us to the ball! I told him there was no way she would want to go..."
Now I'm seriously irritated; my own mother is talking about me as if I wasn't there!
"And then he said, fine, tell her to go along and get all the accessories you want!"
At that I sat bolt upright. Father rarely had a spine, which was why Belle and Grace could hardly get out of their rooms in the mornings, and why my room looked like a military barracks with one single trunk of clothes at the end of my bed. But this....this could very well get me going to a ball if it meant free rein to get what I wanted!
"And so, I have to convince her to go with us, or Belle and Grace can't attend the ball, and that is just SO unfair, and all of the girls are whining, and now Belle's frowning even more than she did when I told her to do the dishes! The prince will never want her as his wife if she looks like an ugly old witch, and I told her so, and she just frowned--"
"MOTHER!" I said sharply, trying to get her to STOP already.
"It's alright. I'll go! I'll go to the ball so Belle and Grace can go!" Mother stops and beams at you.
"Now, that's my girl!" she said sweetly to me, so nicely that I could really imagine her being a good mom. Then she surprised me even more, and gave me a hug.
"Thank you, sweetheart! You're such a good girl!" Then, smiling at me again, she turned and left the room. I just stood in the middle of my room, staring the door, absolutely dumbfounded.
"Maybe I should make it sound like I'm doing things for Belle and Grace more often!" I muttered. That had to have been a fairy godmother there, it had to be....there's no way my mother just acted like a normal human being who actually cared for her children! Shaking my head, I bent and picked up the magazine again, to finish the story I had been attempting to read before.

I stared around at the dresses around me. Mother had taken the first opportunity to get the three of us out to buy dresses and accessories. There weren't many dresses that were appropriate for the ball, but we eventually found the limited section at the back of the store the employees had set up for those attending the ball. There was only one type of each dress available (after all, no one wanted to make the horrendous mistake of wearing the same dress as another person--I rolled my eyes at this. The entire country was attending, and out of everyone the chances of wearing the same dress as another was slim), and the selection was going fast.
I saw the owner of the shop ordering dresses by the bucketload, his job only made harder by deciding to buy only one of each size of each style and color of dress. That was going a bit too far.
Belle found a ruby slip to wear (that's what it looked like. One long tube of almost-black red fabric with flowing sleeves, and no decoration. She purchased the dress in her size, then went next door to get all the necessary accessories.
Grace found some horrendous eggplant coloured atrocity that Mother quickly talked her out of. Eventually Grace settled for a shimmery sequined bronze gown that just happened to have a matching set of shoes displayed right next to it. Mother chewed her lip--so far, no one was picking anything that looked really good. She went and found a simple chocolate brown outfit and a lacy black hat to go with it--displaying the fact that she was already married.
Then she sat down and waited for me to make my selection.
Having never gotten a dress for anything (I hadn't attended any school dances since the Halloween party in the sixth grade, where I had gone dressed up as a Devilless), I had no idea what to get or where to start. Plus, I had to find something that was as expensive as either Belle's or Grace's gowns, otherwise, I would have to have a long chat with Father, insisting that I had chosen the gown by myself, without duress...it was just easier all around if I got something expensive. Which hardly made sense, but hey...
I flopped down on the bench beside Mother, after searching through the racks for a while. The employees were adding a few more dresses to the section now that they were down to about ten. I waited until they were done before getting up and searching through the new ones.
In the new batch were a couple of good ones, and I finally decided on a pale blue dress with a puffy skirt and draping white lace sleeves, that fell to my wrist and reminded me of some Medieval Fair outfit. I chuckled as Mother bought it--I had just realized what the dress reminded me of: take away the long sleeves, and it was Cinderella's dress...though the skirt wasn't quite that puffy!
Mother took me to a jewelry store next, and I bought my first set of new earrings since I'd gotten my ears pierced--a set of sapphires that set the blue in the dress off nicely. Mother hurried over to talk Belle out of diamonds, as they wouldn't go too well with her gown, and then had to convince Grace that, no, pale green stones and pearls were not the best match to a bronze, sequined, gown.
I picked a simple pearl bracelet, and sapphire-pearl necklace that draped over my collarbones but no further. I smiled again when I saw an onyx set choker--if I got that, it really would look like I was trying to be Cinderella! I almost got it, but decided against it. I really didn't need the nightmare Cinderella had had at the ball, in either the original Grimm's fairy tale, or the Disney movie. I checked through the shoe store next with Belle and Mother, and Grace went to get her hair trimmed, seeing as she had already gotten a pair of shoes.
When I found a set of white, satiny pumps, I turned to see Belle trying to fit my pearl bracelet on Mother's wrist. I was surprised on two accounts: one that Belle was attempting to get my bracelet on Mother's wrist, and two that Belle was smiling wider than I'd ever seen her do.
"Umm, what are you two doing?" I inquired, setting my bags down.
"What's it look like we're doing?" Belle asked playfully. I was worried Belle was coming down with something.
"It just won't fit, Belle! You try it on," Mother said, laughing so hard her breath came in pants. She took the bracelet from Belle, and started attempting to put it on Belle's wrist. It didn't fit on her either.
I knew why. My wrist was skinnier than anyone's I'd met. It wasn't like it ran in the family, or something, mine just ended up tiny. So when I'd bought the bracelet, I'd gotten a specially shortened one, so it wouldn't slip off my hand while I wore it at the ball. Now, no one but myself and anyone who had an exceptionally (I mean exceptionally!) wrist could wear it. And that meant no one else in my family could take my jewelry, since they couldn't wear it.
I grinned and took my bracelet from Mother, before handing the shoes over.
"Those are the ones I want, Mother," I said, and she took them up to the counter. Grace returned before Mother did, and Belle attempted to put the bracelet on Grace's pudgy wrist. I stopped them before they broke the poor thing, and packed it away.
"Mother," Grace whined when Mother came back and handed me my shoes. "What about the other two days of the ball? We can't attend in the same clothes!"
"Grace, these are the ones you will wear on the final day. You will wear your other dresses, the best ones you have, for the first two. We want to knock them out with how beautiful you two can be, so we will progress with better and better dresses. And don't protest, there are two fabulous dresses both of you have in your closets that will meet the Queen Mother's regulations. And shoes and jewelry, so don't pull that excuse."
"But, Mother," I began. She huffed, and turned to me, all traces of her earlier merriment vanished. "I don't have any other dresses. Remember, I wasn't invited to that wedding. Or that birthday party. So you didn't get me anything."
"WHAT?!" She exploded. "You mean, you don't have anything else??" I shook my head slowly, a little afraid of her. She put a hand to her forehead.
"I suppose we can get you other dresses.....and jewelry.....I won't have you wearing a dress without matching jewelry.....but you'll have to do with those shoes."
"Um, why?" I inquired, puzzled as to why that was so important.
"Don't make me spend a penny more on you than I have to, you beggar!" Mother screamed. Everyone in the store stopped to stare at us. She calmed herself quickly, and grabbed my hand. She tugged me to another dress store, and grabbed the first dress she saw, and threw it at me.
"Do you have this in her size?" Mother demanded, filling the trembling sales clerk in on my fitting. She nodded, and hurried to the back to get it for Mother. I looked down at the dress. It actually wasn't bad. It was empire-waisted, a dark, midnight blue, with small white pearls sewn on, and over the whole dress was a layer of fishnet black lace, letting the pearls peek through and glimmer in the lights. I knew my shoes would not go with this dress.
I tried the dress on, a little uncomfortable with the tight-fitting sleeves, that finished in an annoying point on the back of my hand. It was so starched that it held its position no matter what I did, and dug into my skin. I came out, and Mother nodded approval, a little peeved that the top was filled out nicely--better than either Belle or Grace would have done.
Mother bought the dress and dragged me to the last dress shop in the mall. She rushed to the back of the shop to the Ball Section, and grabbed the first dress on the rack.
This wasn't so nice as the last one. It was a lemon yellow dress with a tight lime green overlay that tied tightly over my breasts, and clung to the sides of my hips. The yellow dress showed from collar to the floor, with green on the sides, and green laces drawn tight over the bust. The green sleeves were poofy and slashed to show the yellow underneath. There were butter yellow gloves that reached to the elbows that I had to wear with the dress (or be shipped to Siberia, Mother's glare threatened). White satiny shoes wouldn't go with this either.
The dress wouldn't be so bad if the colours weren't so garishly bright. I winced at the glare I got from seeing myself in the mirror. At least this dress dragged on the ground, so it would hide the mismatched shoes.
Then Mother jerked me over to the jewelry store again, where Grace and Belle waited rather patiently. They were talking with their friends, showing off their purchases, but not revealing that they were wearing older dresses for the ball.
Mother hurried me to the jewelry station, but the clerk started talking to me again, remembering me from ten minutes earlier, and, knowing my wrist size, began by directing me to the bracelets. Mother stood there in a huff, disgruntled that she couldn't embarrass me with chunky jewelry.
I picked out a bracelet with small orange and green Topazes for the green and yellow dress, and a small yellow rose hair comb that had just the right shade of green. Mother made sure I was getting necklaces for everything so I hurried to get them before she did. I got the match of the bracelet for the necklace to go with the green and yellow dress, and moved on to the midnight blue dress. I loved that dress already....if I could but cut off the annoying points on the sleeves.....
I did get the onyx choker this time, and a midnight blue stone bracelet. Then Mother bought it all, grumbling about cost (though I knew that she spent twice that on each of the girls every three months), and we left. The store clerk waved at me as I left, and I smiled and waved back at him. Thank goodness he had saved me from Mother....
In the car, Mother rang up Father, and started in on how much money she had had to spend on me. I couldn't hear his responses, but I could pretty well figure it out from Mother's responses. She was very angry with him by the time she handed the phone back to me.
"Hello, Father?" I said, ignoring everyone else in the car.
"How are you?" he asked. We went through the pleasantries, then he asked about the trip, and what all I had gotten. I described everything, and promised to model it all for him. He told me he had hired a professional hair dresser to come over to our house for the ball. The woman was one of the few that were left available--people had been calling their hairdressers the moment they saw the headline declaring the ball.
I glanced at Grace as he spoke. She wouldn't be happy about that news. She had just gotten her hair pixie cut--no hairdresser was going to be able to do much with her hair past a quick style and a spritz of gel.
At that moment I was glad Father had the highest paying job the Rumbrick had to offer, as well as have an enormous inheritance, plus was a high court member, and got a bonus from that as well.
Very glad.

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