Those Who Wear Glass Shoes by Toni Artuso

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, there lived a beautiful young Princess. Growing up, she possessed everything she wanted, except for one thing: from the day of her birth, everyone in the kingdom treated her like a boy.

A sweet-tempered girl, she did not want to upset anyone so she went along. Even though, like any girl, she longed to dress up in gowns like her mother, she instead wore the boy’s clothes the court tailor-made for her.

Even in the one thing she loved most, dancing, she did not get her way. Every time the dance master began his lessons for the young ladies and gentlemen of the court, he made her lead, like the boy, when she just wanted to follow like every other girl.

One day, in the privacy of her own chambers, the Princess moped. Then a sound, as if from the full-length mirror on her wall, drew her attention. Instead of seeing her own reflection, her heart leaped as she saw that of a woman—an older woman, true—but a woman. “Are you going to tell me who’s the fairest one of all?” the Princess asked, perplexed.

The woman beamed at her from beneath the glass. “Oh, sweetie, you’re confusing fairy tales. I’m your fairy godmother.” She waved her wand. “Please step back from the looking glass so I can step through.”

The Princess shuffled away from the mirror. As her fairy godmother stuck a high-heeled foot through the mirror’s surface and onto the carpeted floor of the Princess’s bedchamber, the Princess gasped. “Oh, my, I’ve never beheld see-through shoes like that before,” she blurted, pointing to her fairy godmother’s footwear. “Where’d you get those? I totally want a pair! Oh, and by the way”—she looked up—“Are you Alice?”

“No, sweetie,” she chortled, “you’re getting colder. That’s not even a fairy tale.”

“Well, what about the shoes?” she persisted.

“All in good time, my dear,” she reached out a hand, soft and warm as dough, to pat the Princess’s cheek.

The Princess stroked her tingling jaw. “It’s smooth!” she gasped. “The horrible stubble’s gone!”

Her fairy godmother looked her up and down. “What? Are you complaining? Trust me, my magic’s a lot less painful than electrolysis, hon.”

“Electro-what?” the Princess frowned.

The Princess’s fairy godmother clucked, “Oh, dear, there I go again—another anachronism. Sorry, hon. It’s an occupational hazard in the fairy godmother biz.”

The Princess still didn’t understand what her fairy godmother said, but, as a well-bred young person, she never questioned elders.

“I understand that you’re going to a ball. Have you picked out an outfit?” her fairy godmother asked.

She sighed, gesturing toward the blue silk britches, ruffled shirt, waistcoat, and coat she wore.

Her fairy godmother scowled. “Don’t you want to wear a beautiful flowing gown like all the other girls?”

“Yes, of course, but no one will let me wear one in public.” She looked down at the floor, scuffing the carpet with the toes of her boring old boy shoes.

The fairy godmother pursed her lips. “Magic can fix that—at least for one evening.”

With a flick of her wand, the fairy godmother transformed the Princess’s boring boy clothes into a gorgeous flowing gown, a wearable layer cake of a confection. Laughing delightedly, the Princess spun before the mirror. “Oh, Fairy Godmother!” she beamed. “It’s stunning! I’ve always dreamed of wearing a dress like this. Thank you so much! It’s wonderful. I’ve no idea how you did this.”

“It’s all in the wrist,” the fairy godmother demonstrated with another flick of her wand, which started the Princess’s locks growing, and, in moments, curls bloomed on her head like springtime flowers bursting forth. Her fairy godmother looked her up and down. “Your look’s coming together nicely, don’t you think?”

“Is it ever!” the Princess’s eyes glistened. Still, she hesitated, not wanting to sound greedy by asking too much. “What about my face?”

She snapped her fingers, and, with a twinkle, the Princess’s face sparkled with color, shadow, contour.

“Oh, Fairy Godmother!” she cried. “It’s beautiful! Much better than when I snuck into the Queen’s room and tried her makeup.”

Pursing her lips, the fairy godmother tapped her chin with her wand’s starry tip. “Something’s missing, but I can’t think what…”

“Shoes?” the Princess prompted. “You promised me a pair like yours, remember?”

“Oh, yes,” her fairy godmother winked. “Almost forgot…” she teased. With another flourish of her fairy godmother’s wand, the Princess found herself elevated off the ground in a pair of glass stilettos.

“They’re wonderful!”

“Really, you must get going,” the older lady cautioned her fairy godchild. “Magic is amazing, but there’s always a catch. If you run to your coach right now, no one will notice anything different about you, but, at the stroke of midnight, your body—and everything touching it—returns to its former shape.”

The Princess looked down at her miraculously transformed self. “What a shame it’ll all vanish!” she shook her head. “Like these heels. They’re a work of art!”

“Christian Louboutin does red soles. I do glass slippers,” the fairy godmother preened. “Everyone needs a signature item—essential for branding.”

When the Princess shrugged, the older woman tittered. “There I go again! My point is that, at midnight, it all goes away, like that.” She snapped her fingers. 

“I get it.” To demonstrate her understanding, the Princess snapped her own fingers, which suddenly glowed bright red. “Fairy Godmother,” she squealed. “You did my nails!”

Her fairy godmother shrugged. “Did I mention that, besides being a makeup artist and studying couture in Paris, I was a manicurist?”

The Princess threw her arms around her fairy godmother, hugging her tightly. “Thank you so much!”

The older woman laughed again and gently pulled the Princess away. “You’re welcome!” she said, making shooing motions. “Now, go on, dear…”

Upon entering the ballroom for the first time while openly female, wonderful sensations overwhelmed the Princess. While all the other girls peered over each other’s shoulders and updos, struggling to glimpse Prince Charming, the Princess—who’d seen her cousin plenty—examined their delightful outfits. One young blonde lady’s gown faintly echoed the Princess’s, as if the same hand—her fairy godmother’s?—had fashioned both garments. Curious, she tapped the young lady’s shoulder, making her spin about, golden locks whirling around her cheeks. Suddenly, the Princess’s own cheeks glowed pink. She stammered, “L-lovely dress!”

“I-I love yours, too!” the young woman stammered back.

The Princess cleared her throat. “Sorry, I’ve forgotten my manners. I’m Princess Daniela, and you are…?” she prompted.

“Cinderella.”

“Pleased to meet you, Cinderella,” the Princess curtsied, thrilling to the new sensation.

Cinderella returned the curtsy. “Please, call me ‘Cinders.’”

“All right, then, Cinders, please call me Yelli,” she smiled at her.

Another awkward silence descended on them. Cinders dropped her gaze, and the Princess followed her eyes, spying her shoes. “I know where you got those!” The Princess gasped.

The young woman blushed, suddenly self-conscious. “Doesn’t everyone have a pair of glass slippers?” She laughed nervously.

The Princess shrugged. “Well, no. I got mine from my godmother. Is that who gave you yours?”

Cinders nodded. “Yes, that’s who gave them to me, too.”

“Maybe we share a godmother!” the Princess laughed.

Cinders blushed furiously. “I doubt it…” she muttered.

The two of them lapsed into another awkward silence, which, obligingly, the orchestra filled with a waltz. The Princess offered her daintily gloved hand. “Shall we?”

“Yes,” Cinders breathed, grasping the Princess’s fingers.

“Would you prefer to lead or follow?”

Cinders shook her pretty blonde head. “I don’t know how to lead,” she murmured.

To her own surprise, the Princess found she didn’t mind leading again. She just wanted to dance with this enchanting young woman. “Okay, I will. I’ve practiced lots.”

Taking Cinders in ballroom position, she whirled them, in a swirl of skirts, hers and Cinders,’ onto the dancefloor. The waltz ended too soon. After twirling Cinders in a final pirouette, the Princess released her and curtsied her thanks to Cinders for allowing her the pleasure of a dance. The orchestra struck up a sprightly polka. Cinders threw her arms around the Princess. “Let’s dance this, too!” she giggled, giddy.

The Princess beamed, but then a frown, like a cloud on a bright summer’s day, darkened her expression. “Don’t you want to dance with one of the fellows—like Prince Charming?”

“I suppose so,” Cinders sighed. “But you’re such fun to dance with! I’ve got all evening to dance with boys. Now, I’d rather dance with you.”

“Works for me!” the Princess chirped.

And so it went, until the clock struck 11. The Princess shuddered at the expiration of her girl time in barely an hour, but Cinders shivered as well. “Are you cold?” the Princess asked.

“No, it’s just that, well,” Cinder shrugged, looking at the floor, “I really have to go right at midnight.”

“I understand,” the Princess replied. “Listen, if you want to dance with Prince Charming before then, we really ought to get you in line.”

“I suppose so,” Cinders practically moped. “Don’t we have time for at least one more dance together?”

“Normally, I’d say if you ought to queue up immediately if you wanted a prayer of dancing with the Prince. However”—she fixed her gaze on Cinders—“if you can keep a secret, I’ll share one.”

“Okay,” Cinders nodded enthusiastically. “But only if I get to tell you one.”

The Princess nodded then dropped her voice to a confidential whisper. “Prince Charming and I are cousins. I can use my family connections to get you to the head of the line by, say, 11:30, so we can sneak in another dance together.”

“It’s a deal!” Cinders squeaked. Then she cleared her throat. “Now, it’s my turn.” She dropped her voice to a whisper as well. “My stepmother and stepsisters don’t know that I’m here—and shouldn’t.”

The Princess cocked a skeptical eyebrow. “Why not? The Prince invited all eligible young women in his realm, and you certainly qualify.”

“They’re insanely jealous,” Cinders sighed. “Earlier this evening, Drizella and Anastasia, my stepsisters, tore my ballgown to shreds so I couldn’t come tonight.”

The Princess regarded Cinderella with a puzzled expression. “Your dress is fine—stunning, in fact.”

Cinders blushed. “I had a little help from a, uh, friend…”

“Like a godmother, perhaps?” the Princess pursed her lips speculatively. “Who gave you those shoes, too?”

“Maybe,” Cinderella said, coyly. “But that’s beside the point. If my stepmother learned I came to this ball, she’d make my life hell.”

“Your secret’s safe with me,” the Princess assured.

At the bottom of the hour, the proctor for the evening, an officious, rotund little bald man, demanded that couples form sets for a quadrille.

“Come on,” the Princess tugged at Cinders’ elbow as she rushed up to Prince Charming.

“Hey, dude!” she exclaimed, tapping his epauletted shoulder.

Prince Charming turned and screwed up his face, as if his royal tutor just demanded he prove the Pythagorean Theorem. “Do I know you?” he muttered.

“I’m your cousin, Daniela.”

“I have a Cousin Dan,” Prince Charming stroked his chin. “I didn’t know I had a Cousin Daniela. You kinda look like him.”

“Since we royals are all related, we all kinda look alike.” The Princess winked. “I think it’s called genetics. Anyway, may we join you and your partner for the quadrille?”

“Why don’t you guys be a head couple?” Prince Charming suddenly beamed. “We’ll be one of the sides.”

“Great! My partner, Cin—uh …” Remembering her promise to Cinders, she changed Cinderella’s name on the fly. “Cynthia, yeah, uh, Cynthia here is a quick study so we’ll do fine as a head couple. Speaking of which, Cousin, let me introduce you to Cynthia. Cynthia, meet my cousin, Prince Charming.”

Cinderella dropped a practiced curtsy. Her cousin’s eyes bugged out. “C-charmed,” he clumsily brushed Cinder’s hand with his lips. Cinders tittered appropriately. Instead of rolling her eyes, the Princess introduced herself to her cousin’s partner.

“Now that that’s sorted, cuz, let’s complete our set with two more couples.” The Princess raised her right hand to attract attention. “Isn’t that our cousin, Chip”—she craned to see above the crowd—“over there with a lady?”

“Uh-huh,” Prince Charming barely nodded, staring, besotted, at Cinders.

“Hey, Chip,” the Princess hollered. “Over here!”

A redheaded young man with a raffish expression sauntered over, a young woman in his wake. “You called?” Chip asked Prince Charming, who, still staring slack-jawed at Cinders, barely spared him a glance.

“Yo, Chippers!” The Princess offered her cousin a fist bump.

Chip responded quickly enough but looked puzzled. “Sorry, have we met?” he asked.

Prince Charming finally stirred. “Whazza matter with you, Chip? Don’t you remember Cousin Daniela?”

“Uh, yeah,” Chip replied confidently enough. “Nice to see you again,” he bowed, as if in recognition, though his blank expression told a different story.

The Princess introduced herself to the young woman who simpered on Chip’s arm then the Princess turned to Chip. “Let’s find a fourth couple.”

They did, and, with the opening strains of music, the Princess and Cinders curtsied to each other then their corners. In Cinders’s case, she curtsied to her corner, Prince Charming, who gaped at her and nearly missed the cue for the opening grand right-and-left. And so it continued through the first two figures: everyone else staying on track, and Prince Charming flubbing every time—because he kept gazing at Cinders.

When the grandfather clock struck the first of its twelve bongs, the Princess’s eyes darted around the room, desperately seeking the nearest exit. Cinders squeezed her left hand in panic, almost forgetting to let go as they stepped forward to pass by Chip and his partner’s right shoulders. That was when the Princess spotted a small, dimly lit hallway that opened just to the right of the grandfather clock.

The evolutions of the figure dragged on through the second bell, the third. As she and Cinders passed each other on another grand right-and-left, she whispered into Cinders’ ear, “No time for the last right-n-left—run after we pass through the other head couple.”

The 10th bong sounded as they turned to pass by Chip and his partner’s right shoulders again. “Now,” the Princess whirled and gently pushed Cinders’s left shoulder. She didn’t pause to look where Cinders went. Instead, she dove into the crowd that ringed the dance floor, blocking the way to the hall.

“Excuse me!” She plunged into the shadows at the sound of the 12th bong. Kicking off her glass slippers, she prayed they didn’t shatter as they bounced off the baseboard of the opposite wall but hoped they sailed far enough from her to survive her transition. Her dress melted away; her hair shrank into her head; her makeup evaporated. She panted in the semidarkness, fighting tears, as she leaned against the wall. She nearly sobbed when she spied a faint glimmer on the floor across the hall. Shuffling forward barefoot, she reached down and, with a gasp of joy, grasped two intact glass pumps.

Then she heard Prince Charming bellowing out in the ballroom. “Where’d she go? Where is she?”

The Princess, presenting male, staggered onto the ballroom floor now swirling with pandemonium. Prince Charming raced around, a phalanx of servants dashing to keep up, plowing through quadrille sets and scattering dancers. Curious, the Princess trailed her cousin at a respectful distance, right out onto the palace’s grand steps. There, under starlight, Prince Charming skidded to a stop and wailed at the moon, “Where’d she go?”

One of the servants, spying the Princess and, beside her, a befuddled Chip, implored them, “Please, good sirs! His majesty’s gibbering so we can’t tell what’s upset him. Would you two good gentlemen calm your kin so we may have a word?”

The Princess stepped forward, tapping her sobbing cousin’s shoulder. “You’re making a scene!” she hissed.

Prince Charming looked up and, recognizing the Princess as his male cousin, threw his arms around her and bawled, “Danny Boy! Thank God you’re here! Where’ve you been?”

Chip, finally cluing into the situation, looked down at her feet and asked, “What happened to your shoes, man?” Fortunately, he didn’t notice the glass slippers the Princess clutched in each hand.

Belatedly stuffing the shoes, one in each pocket, the Princess answered, “I’ve been dancing. My new shoes were killing me so I kicked them off.”

“But you missed her! The love of my life—my true love!” Prince Charming exclaimed, tears coursing down his cheeks.

The Princess turned to Chip. “Who’s he talking about?”

“He was dancing with some chick,” Chip shrugged. “But he abandoned her in the ballroom.”

The Princess probed, “Did someone else leave the ballroom, maybe left the quadrille early?”

“Oh, yeah,” Chip snapped his fingers. “There was this cousin of ours, Princess Daniela, and she was dancin’ with this hot blonde named Cindy or Cynthia or some such. They bolted before the last grand right-n-left.”

The Princess turned back to her distraught cousin. “Is that who you’re looking for: Cindy, uh, I mean, this Cynthia woman?”

“Yes,” Prince Charming sniffed. “She’s the one—the love of my life! How do we find her?” Prince Charming stamped his foot, frustrated.

“Uh, m’lord?” the servant who’d pleaded for the Princess and Chip to intervene interrupted diffidently. “One of the coachmen brought this.” He held it forth.

For the second time that evening, the Princess’s mouth dried with panic. It looked exactly like her left glass slipper. Surreptitiously, she patted her pockets to reassure herself that a shoe bulged in each one. Then, as she inspected the found shoe, she chided herself for her paranoia. This tiny shoe, around size 6, belonged to someone with much daintier feet than hers—Cinderella, no doubt. After all, who else, aside from Daniela and Cinderella, wore such footwear to this ball?

The servant continued, “The coachman says a young blonde—matching your description of this Cynthia—dropped this on the stairs as she ran.”

Prince Charming grabbed the shoe, fondling it. “It’s hers—Cynthia’s! I’ll cherish it forever,” he gushed, cradling it to his cheek.

“Say, Cousin,” the Princess sounded casual, though she recognized a good idea when it occurred to her. “That shoe may help you find Cynthia.”

“How?” Prince Charming perked up immediately.

“It’s tiny! I don’t know many girls with feet that small,” the Princess shrugged. “If you visited every eligible young woman in your kingdom and each one tried on that shoe…” She paused, leaving it to Prince Charming to finish the train of thought.

Chip got there first. “If the shoe fits, then…” He turned to Prince Charming, who still looked baffled. “Bingo—you’ve found Cynthia!”

Prince Charming’s face lit up, like sun breaking very dense fog. Still clutching the slipper in his pudgy right hand, Prince Charming threw his arms around Chip. “Chip, you’re brilliant!”

“So glad you thought of it!” the Princess grunted.

Prince Charming held Chip out at arm’s length. “We three will visit every eligible maiden in my kingdom!”

“We three?” The Princess arched a skeptical brow. “This is Chip’s brilliant idea; you don’t need me…”

“I need you, cuz,” Prince Charming explained, as if addressing an especially slow child, “‘cause no one I know knows more about women’s shoes.”

“Yeah,” she nodded, “imagine that!”

“Talk about tedious,” Chip groaned under his breath, as they approached what felt like the thousandth house in Prince Charming’s kingdom. “This is as fun as watching paint dry. Your brilliant idea got us into this mess!”

Now, it’s my idea! The Princess rolled her eyes but said, trying to be cheerful, “We’ve reached the outskirts of town.”

“Whatever,” Chip huffed as the herald tapped with the knocker. The occupants, who, doubtless, waited with bated breath for the imminent arrival of royalty, flung the door open.

“Your majesty,” the well-dressed gray-haired woman who answered the door bowed profoundly. “What a pleasant surprise! We’re so delighted you grace our humble little home with your esteemed presence.” She stepped aside and, with a grand sweep of her arm, welcomed Prince Charming and his posse.

As they stepped inside, the woman capered in front of them. “Would your majesty and his party care for refreshments?”

“No, thank you, madam,” Prince Charming bowed gracefully, all business. “We are here to meet any eligible young ladies in this household to see if this shoe fits them.”

With a flourish, the Prince’s servant presented the slipper on a red velvet pillow.

“It will fit one of my girls,” the lady of the house cooed confidently. She turned and called, “Drizella! Anastasia!”

The Princess’s ears pricked up at that. This must be Cinders’ house! she thought, her breath suddenly sticking in her throat, but when only the two simpering young women traipsed into the room, she slumped. Where’s Cinderella? She chewed her lower lip, frustrated. Then she remembered Cinders’ dire prediction that her stepmother would make her life “hell” if she discovered Cinderella attended last night’s ball. As Drizella sat in a chair and stuck out her foot for the servant to shoehorn the slipper on her, the Princess assessed the hopelessness of the situation. My glass slippers might fit her, not Cinders’! She voiced none of this. Instead, she stepped forward and bowed.

“Good Mrs. Tremaine, may I trouble you to direct me to your privy?”

The lady of the house, her eyes riveted on the impossible task of shoving Drizella’s clodhoppers into Cinders’ dainty slippers, waved impatiently at a door behind her. “Through the kitchen,” she huffed, then added, “It’s in the yard. Try harder, you fool!”

Assuming she directed this last at the obliging but inept servant, the Princess exited through the portal indicated and found herself in a deserted kitchen. She mused, If I were an evil stepmother, where would I hide my despised stepdaughter? At random, she opened a door between shelves groaning with crockery. The Princess nearly shrieked when a mouse pelted up from the darkness. Squeaking, it zipped under another door nestled between other crockery-laden cupboards.

Catching her breath, the Princess heard a familiar but muffled voice coming from behind the door the mouse just slid under. “There you are!” it exclaimed, not with alarm but joy.

The Princess stood at the door and hissed, “Cinders, are you in there?”

“Yes!” she cried hopefully. “Princess Daniela? Is that you? Thank heavens! Please let me out!”

The Princess tried the door. “I can’t open it! It’s locked. I could try to break it down.”

“Get the key from Stepmother,” Cinders grunted. “It’s on a chain around her neck.”

“Okay!” The Princess spun on her heel and marched back into the parlor, where puffy-eyed Drizella dabbed tears of disappointment with a lacy, scented hanky while Anastasia took her turn in the chair. The Princess pursed her lips. She judged Anastasia’s feet to be size 8, closer to Cinders’ size 6 but no cigar. She tapped Lady Tremaine on her shoulder, earning such an openly toxic glare from her that, if the woman didn’t just look like a gorgon, the Princess felt certain she’d be a statue right now. “Lady Tremaine, a word, please—in private?”

“It can wait!” she growled.

“Then I’ll ask one of them,” the Princess gestured toward the three helmeted giants behind Prince Charming, “to come to the kitchen—with his poleaxe ready.”

Lady Tremaine paled, swallowing, then stepped away.

“Whatever are you prattling about, young man?” she ground out when out of earshot of the Prince’s party.

“Unless you give me that key from around your neck”—the Princess held out her right palm—“I see no other way of opening that cupboard door.”

A muscle in Mrs. Tremaine’s jaw twitched, but she stood, unmoved.

“Very well, madam,” the Princess bowed. “I shall report to the Prince that you have contravened his proclamation and falsely imprisoned Cinderella.”

Lady Tremaine pulled the chain from around her neck, thrusting it at the Princess. “Meddling whelp!” she spat.

“Thank you, madam!” the Princess bowed mockingly.

Back in the kitchen, she turned the key in the lock, bracing herself for the charge of the annoying mouse. She didn’t prepare for Cinderella falling into her arms. She tried to hold Cinders up but, instead, found herself wrapping her arms around Cinderella, just as Cinderella wrapped her arms around the Princess. Before the Princess gasped in surprise, Cinders stopped her mouth with her lips. When they finally came up for air, Cinders recovered first. “Am I glad to see you!”

The Princess, red-faced, panting, gasped, “So I gathered.” She looked up sheepishly. “Though I’m afraid I don’t look much like I did last night.”

“I don’t look like I did last night, either,” Cinders gestured toward her tattered skirt.

“Yeah,” the Princess looked down at the floor, shuffling. “But you’re not wearing silly boy clothes.”

“I see you for who you are, even through the silly boy clothes they make you wear.”

“Thanks,” the Princess said, still avoiding Cinderella’s eyes. “Look,” she said, suddenly all business. “Time’s a-wasting. We need to get you in the parlor right now so you can put on that glass slipper and prove to my cousin you’re the girl he wants to marry.”

Cinderella straightened up at this, frowning. “Why on Earth should I do that?”

“Don’t you want to marry a Prince?”

Cinderella leaned forward and, putting her unadorned right index finger under the Princess’s chin, lifted it so their eyes met. “I can have true love if I marry a Princess.”

Her mouth suddenly dry again, the Princess gulped. “B-but I thought you liked boys.”

Cinders shrugged. “I like boys and girls, and, especially, this girl,” and she leaned in for another kiss, but before their lips connected, the kitchen door banged open, and Lady Tremaine flew in.

“What’s taking so long?” she huffed. “Prince Charming’s out there waiting for you to try on that glass slipper!”

Cinders looked up at her stepmother, suddenly defiant. “Now you want me to try it on? I thought you wanted Drizella or Anastasia to marry Prince Charming. Isn’t that why you locked me in the cupboard?”

“Prince Charming has concluded that the slipper doesn’t fit either of my natural daughters.” Lady Tremaine crossed her arms below her ample bosom. “Better to keep it in the family, even if you’re a mere stepchild.”

“I don’t want Prince Charming!” Cinders, in her turn, crossed her arms below her bosom. “I want her!” She pointed at the Princess.

“Her?” Lady Tremaine stared. “You mean ‘him’—Prince Daniel of the Kingdom of Arthur.”

“No, I mean ‘her,’” insisted Cinderella, “Princess Daniela.”

The Princess held up her hands. “Let’s take this one step at a time. Cinderella, I don’t need to get engaged and come out all at once.”

“Why not?” Cinderella set her arms akimbo and stuck out her lower lip. “I’m not ashamed of your gender and neither should you be.”

“I’m only thinking of my poor love-sick cousin out there. His heart’s set on finding the lady of his dreams if he can find whoever fits the slipper.”

“Your cousin’s too blind to see me for who I am!” Cinderella placed a hand on her breast. “All he can see is my foot in a shoe. That will tell him I’m his true love? You, on the other hand, see me for who I am. Forget the slipper!”

“We can use this to our advantage,” the Princess said.

When the Princess, Cinderella, and Lady Tremaine strode through the kitchen door into the parlor, Prince Charming sighed with relief.

The Princess clapped. “Let’s do this!”

Cinderella plopped into the chair. Taking the slipper from the servant, the Princess kneeled before Cinderella, whose foot, unaccountably, swung up and booted the glass slipper across the room. A collective, anguished gasp escaped Prince Charming and his entire party as the shoe shattered into a million slivers in a corner.

The Princess stood and shrugged. “Oops! My bad!”

“You clod!” Prince Charming shrieked at his cousin. “Now I’ll never find the woman of my dreams!” He howled and tore at his hair in anguish.

“Chillax!” the Princess beamed. “I’m your wingman, remember?”

Behind the Princess, Cinderella muttered under her breath, “Wing-woman!”

Prince Charming dropped his hands, his stricken face suddenly brightening as he beheld the sparkling right glass slipper in the palm of the Princess’s hand. “Where’d you get the other slipper?” he gasped.

“On the steps of your palace last night,” the Princess replied nonchalantly. “The girl who ran from the ball lost it when she lost the left slipper. I found it.”

The Princess bent down and put the shoe on Cinders’ foot, where it flopped loosely then thudded to the carpet. “Too big!” Cinders bounced up. “Clearly doesn’t fit.” She offered Prince Charming an icy smile as she curtsied in her tattered skirt. “Guess I’m not the one for you.”

The Princess stood, pursing her lips as she regarded the slipper. “You know,” she muttered, stroking her chin. “It really looks Drizella’s size …”

“Impossible!” Prince Charming’s servant insisted. “I tried for God knows how long to fit the left one on her foot. It’s simply not her shoe.”

“Lemme try,” the Princess beckoned to Drizella, suddenly all smiles.

The shoe slid onto Drizella’s foot. “It fits!” she shrieked, flinging her arms around the now-standing Princess. “It totally fits!”

Cinderella tapped pointedly on Drizella’s shoulder. “She’s mine,” she hissed into Drizella’s ear. “Back off and hug Prince Charming.”Drizella complied. Cinderella took her stepsister’s place, embracing the Princess and finally starting their much-delayed second kiss. When they came up for air, the Princess proposed, Cinderella accepted, they wed and lived queerly and happily ever after.


Toni Artuso is an emerging/aging transfemale writer based in Salem, MA. Last year, she retired from a 30-year career in educational publishing and is now transitioning, as well as trying to accelerate the emerging and slow down the aging. She has published, or has short stories forthcoming, in The Literatus, Penumbric Speculative Fiction Magazine, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, quip literary review, 96th of October, Fiction on the Web, and The Broadkill Review.