021. Cinderella

*This post is part of A Grimm Project, a series of short fiction pieces using each of the Brothers Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales as writing prompts. For more information about the project, click here. For more about the story which inspired this freewrite, click here.*

At first, I did not know that anything at all was happening to me.

But then as my skull grew, and my brain with it, I began to realize that something unnatural was occurring, and I became afraid.

It was not until I drew myself up from staring at my own feet, and found myself tall enough to look into the kitchen maid’s eyes, that I also felt large enough to love her. And I did—all at once. My heart, which only that morning had been the size of a kernel of dried corn, beat at a volume that would have terrified my once-minuscule self. It beat for her.

She, too, was undergoing a change: a new gown and precariously delicate shoes. The dirt had disappeared from her ankle-bones and between her fingers. But almost as soon as I was large enough to know that I loved her, I knew that her transformation had nothing to do with me, and my new heart felt its first breaking.

When, at the evening’s conclusion, I began to shrink back to my former smallness, I felt at first as though I was dying. I couldn’t bear the notion of leaving her—I was finally capable of understanding all her kindness throughout the many days of my life, and my gratitude overwhelmed me. Instead of killing me or setting traps for me, she had left lentils out on the floor for me and my brothers. She had sung both to herself and to us as she lay by the fire, attempting sleep. I remembered all this, and I hoped I always would.

Then the world was so much bigger—my toes extended and became knobby and clawed. The garden path was as wide as I was used to. Goodbye, I tried to say, but the few words I had known in my quick time as a man became no more than a clearing fog in my mind. On the grass of the garden, I saw dewdrops looming. Goodbye, my brain echoed, the last fractured thoughts before the ordinary fright of survivial: Scurry. Go. Goodbye love goodbye goodbye good bye good go go go

Illustration by A.H.Watson

Illustration by A.H.Watson