My goal with this writing effort was to write seven short stories in seven days. #7, “The Princess Behind the Thorns,” stretched to two days and 9,000 words. After I finished it, I found I wasn’t quite done with the project. So on day 9, I wrote one more story. After that I went on to other projects…until the next time I decide to write a spurt of short stories! I really enjoyed the project, and loved the chance to invest deeply but briefly in new worlds and characters.
I also enjoyed the chance to write in different styles than usual. This last story, “Cinderella’s Dresses,” is obviously a fairy tale twist, but darker than most of what I write. Here’s the beginning, written from the prompt, “The dress spoke for her.”
The dress spoke for her. It said wealth, power, beauty. It said she belonged, amongst this august company who glittered and glimmered in the candlelight. She never had to say a word. The footman let her in without a murmur, without asking her name, without looking for an invitation. The dress said she was meant to be here.
It was the dress that told the prince to approach her, as she stood near the bottom of the stair, suddenly afraid to take the last few steps down to the shining ballroom floor, to enter into that whirling, elegant throng. She knew she would be lost among them, not knowing where to turn, what to do. The dress shimmered and glowed and beckoned the prince away from the girl he had been eying with a considering favor, to approach her instead, to bow and to extend his hand.
The dress seemed almost to dance for her too, its full skirts whisking about her legs, twirling and floating and carrying her along with the music in the prince’s arms. When he whirled her away from the crowd, out into the moonlit garden, the dress spoke for her then too, rustling as they walked, whispering that she had secrets. But the whisper of silk could only hint at elegant secrets, rich secrets, aristocratic secrets. When he plied her with questions and she blushed and demurred, the dress whispered that all was well, that her story was a delightful one, that someday he would be so pleasantly surprised when he learned the truth.
When the clock struck midnight, the dress all but carried her away. She ran away down the path, feeling her skirts growing slight and intangible in her hands as she lifted them to flee. The dress distracted her, its thinning, dissolving remnants twining about her legs, so she didn’t judge the steps correctly, so she stumbled and lost one shoe. The dress was mere cobwebs and air now, and she didn’t dare to stop, even to pick up that one glittering shoe left behind.
She limped home, retired to her small bed by the fire, and lay awake until nearly dawn, trying to decide if the ball had been the most delightful thing that had ever happened to her, or simply terrifying.