Natalie Reilly-Johnson: Cinderella’s Slip-up

The Fairy Godmother arrived in a puff of smoke and surveyed the chaos.

‘What the hell is going on here?’

Cinderella opened one eye, still lying in bed dressed in last night’s clothes. Empty wine bottles and a month’s worth of washing-up littered the floor. The dirty clothes pile reached the ceiling.

‘What time is it?’ she muttered.

‘Midday. Why are you in halls at University instead of at the palace?’

‘Oh, I left the boring prince ages ago. Decided to come to Uni, but now we’re in lockdown and it’s no fun anymore. Can you believe my ugly sisters happened to be on the same corridor as me?’

‘What is that smell?’ said the Fairy Godmother, opening a window.

‘Ah. That. Um… that’s why I messaged you last night. You’d better look in the bath. Please don’t be mad – they drove me to it!’

The Fairy Godmother opened the en-suite bathroom door to a swarm of flies and a foul stench. She pulled back the shower curtain to reveal the two decomposing bodies of the stepsisters slumped over one another in a tangle of limbs in the bathtub.

‘Cinderella! How long have they been here?’

‘A week. They were making my life a misery! I couldn’t escape. We’re not allowed to leave the corridor. I snapped in the end. Bludgeoned them with a glass slipper. I don’t know what to do with them now.’

‘This isn’t a Tarantino movie, Cinderella! I’m Felicity the Fairy Godmother, not Mr. Wolf “The Cleaner”. You’ll be in a different sort of lockdown situation if this gets out. I’ll have to make it look like they died of Covid. Stand back.’

With one flick of the wand the bodies disappeared.

Cinderella clasped her hands together in wonder. ‘Wow! Where did they go?’

‘Their bodies will be found in their beds with no trace of your fingerprints after you make a phone-call to Student Welfare to say you haven’t seen them for a few days. But first, you have some serious cleaning up to do.’

‘What? Can’t you just do that magic wand thingy?’

‘Absolutely not! You used to be so good at cleaning, remember?’

‘I get such terrible flashbacks to those days whenever I try to clean and tidy.’

‘That won’t wash with me, young lady. Come on! I dread to think what the shared kitchen and lounge look like.’

Cinderella dragged out the dusty hoover whilst the Fairy Godmother knocked on all the doors and ordered each hungover student to help with the clean-up.

‘Why aren’t Anastasia and Drizella helping?’ whined one disgruntled teenager.

‘They’re self-isolating,’ said Cinderella.

The Fairy Godmother had gone home by the time Student Welfare arrived and discovered the stepsisters’ bodies. Cinderella feigned horror along with everyone else.

‘Anyone recognise this shoe?’ said one of the officers, holding up a blood-stained glass slipper.

Cinderella did what she did best: As the midnight chimes rang out across the city, she turned and ran from the scene.

Natalie Reilly-Johnson is a Clinical Psychologist and Writer, living in South Wales, U.K. She won first prize in Mum Life Stories Micro Fiction competition, and her short stories have been short listed in Retreat West’s Micro Fiction competitions and long listed in Flash500 Flash Fiction competitions. Her work has appeared in Reflex Fiction, Paragraph Planet, 50 Word Stories, 100 Words of Solitude and the Listen, Rinse, Repeat podcast. Natalie is writing a psychological thriller.