Cinderella Behaved at Midnight: Writing 101

This is from a Writer’s Digest writing prompt a couple of years ago.

We all know the fairy tale, how Cinderella’s evil stepmother and her daughters were so mean to Cinderella and wouldn’t let her go to the ball, but here’s the story no one ever told.

The evil stepmother was actually try to break Cinderella’s bratty streak. You know, most children don’t like their step-parents and Cinderella was no exception. She had been her daddy’s favorite, his little girl. He doted on her and gave in to her every whim. (I”m not doing very weel at this free writing and not correcting mistakes, but I’m trying.) Anyway, Cinderella sort of thought she had a right to more than her step-sisters and she was certainly not going to obey this intrusive woman who married her fatehr. Now that her father was dead, she was the one should be in control of the house, even if she was only seventeen. She certainly had a right to a mind and will of he r own. but when her stepmother refused to let her go to the ball and took steps to insure she couldn’t sneak out she took matters into her own hands. The prince would be her ticket to freedom and she’d have everything she wanted again.

when the night of the ball came and everyne else was out she snuck out a window, having already (after the others had left) gotten dressed in the proper attire. She did her best with her hair, polished her nails, pt on her makeup and perfune. “Dressed to be best,” she said to hersefl.

But when she got to the ball she discovered a hole in her gown, probably eaten by moths. Her shoes were muddy from riding the horse through the creek and her hair had become disheveled. She tried to catch the prince’s attentin anyway but he was totally enamored of her blond haired sister, who was much too plulmp in Cinderella’s opinion. As the prince and her step sister danced she became very jealous, stomped her foot, marched up to them and demanded to be allowed to cut in.

the prince looked at her, apologized to the step sister and took Cinderella in his arms to finsih the dance. “I see you made a valiant effort to look ykour best,” he said, “but your temper and attitude may someday find you dead. You see people who demand their own way tend to make more enemies than friends, and the blackness of your heart destroys your best intends. So I suggest you leave at once, before you disgrace yourelf more. I’ll be happy to have one of the guards escort you to the door. It’s almost midnight now, you see. You’d best behave yourself, if happy you would be.”

The Eviction of Mrs. Pauley-Writing 101

My name is Ayisha. I’m sitting on the broken wooden steps outside my house.  I can’t stop the flow of tears. If mama hears me crying like this I’ll be in trouble. I’m the oldest of three kids and this is my neighborhood. I’m also almost the oldest kid in the neighborhood so people expect me to make sure there’s no trouble. If I see something going on that isn’t right I’m supposed to call 9-1-1 or get a grown up to help. Today I’m looking at Mrs. Pauley’s house across the street. It’s a brick house with a nice porch with a porch swing. But like most of our houses, there are cracks in the walls and pillars. Most of the yards here need mowing and weeding. Some have been vacant a long time and they have lots of trash and garbage dumped in them. It looks really sad, like me.

This used to be such a nice neighborhood. Poor Mrs. Pauley. Her garden used to have irises, tulips, and lilies. I used to help her weed her garden. Now the weeds have taken over and her health is so bad she can’t even hardly come out to the porch anymore. It seems since Mr. Pauley died she has just lost hope and let herself go. I promised I would keep helping her and take care of her flowers, but that mean old landlord won’t let her stay there because she can’t pay the rent. Dear Jesus, I don’t know what to do. She told me to stop coming over because it hurts her to see me doing something that won’t make any difference when they’ve taken her away. Lord, can’t you please do something to help her?

I wipe my eyes and try to plaster a smile on my face as mama pulls into the driveway. She opens the door and I see grocery bags. I call my brothers to come and help carry them in.

“Jordan, you’re little so you find the milk jug and carry it in. Elijah, you grab one of the bags. I’ll grab two.”

“Ayisha,” mama was talking to me. “Your eyes are puffy. You been crying? What you crying about?”

“Mrs. Pauley won’t let me weed her garden anymore. She said it makes her too sad to watch me when she’s only got three days left before they make her move.”

“Who’s gonna make her move?”

“That mean old landlord. Mrs. Pauley hasn’t had any money coming in since her husband died, and she got behind in the rent, and there’s no way to pay it.”

“Ayisha, we don’t criticize people. That wasn’t nice what you said about the landlord. You know he can’t afford to just let people stay there for free. How would she live? She wouldn’t be able to pay the electric bill or water bill either. She’s got six sons, right? Maybe they can help her.”

I didn’t say anything else that day but I couldn’t stop thinking about our sweet neighbor across the street. Doesn’t the Bible say we’re supposed to help each other? Mrs. Pauley believes in God. Why doesn’t He help her? I’m just a kid but I really want to do something.

Mama was watching the news and there was a story about a boy about my age (twelve) that was having his mom, his neighbors, and people at school donate food for homeless people. Maybe I could try to take up a collection for Mrs. Pauley. After supper dishes were done I went to my room and got on my computer. I e-mailed all my friends and asked them to ask their parents if they could donate money to the cause. I went to my church’s website and sent a note to the pastor. I got on Facebook and posted a note explaining the situation and asking people to help.

Three days later, I sat on my broken wooden steps again, watching the landlord and the police try to get Mrs. Pauley to leave. She went to her mailbox first, with the police and landlord watching. Her face looked kind of funny as she pulled out a couple of stacks of mail out. Her mailbox must have been almost overflowing.

Suddenly a smile burst across her face like sunshine and she began ripping the envelopes open. I had to run over to see what had happened. She was my favorite person in the world next to my mama.

“Look, Ayisha. There are checks and money orders in every single one of these envelopes. How did this happen? How did all these people know what I needed?”

Then some other cars pulled up and I watched her sons, who had moved away long ago, get out of their cars. At first they thought something was really wrong. But they surrounded Mrs. Pauley, enveloping her in a group hug. I heard one of them say, “Mom, this is incredible. There’s enough money here for us to buy you a small house. You just have to decide which one of us you want to live near. Or you can take turns staying with us until you decide.

I gave Mrs. Pauley a hug good-bye and went home. “Lord, thank you for giving me the idea to get other people involved. It feels so good to help someone who really needs it.”

The Fear That Cripples Me: Writing 101

Four lanes of traffic. Tractor-trailer rigs edging into my lane, the middle one. Cars hemming me in, cutting too close in front of me. My white-knuckled hands grip the steering wheel. I try to watch the traffic all around me and still see straight ahead. I use my mirrors but there are blind spots. I’m doing the speed limit and people are blaring their horns at me and giving me sign language that doesn’t say ‘hello.’ My exit is coming up in one mile. I need to get over. I turn on my turn signal but no one pays any attention. I’m going to miss my exit. If I start to move over I know I’ll get hit.

And my husband wants me to learn to drive while pulling our 34′ Airstream behind us? What if I have to go through-gulp-road construction? Jersey barriers, narrow lanes, impatient drivers that think I can stop on a dime while traveling 45 miles per hour or faster. Yikes! What if I have to stop for gas? I have a hard time judging where the front end of the truck is, let alone the back end of the camper. I once drove a hundred miles out of my way to avoid the beltway going around Baltimore, Maryland.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have learned to drive our 1-ton dualie and use my side mirrors. I NEVER parallel park. I will find a parking lot to pull into. I can stop and put diesel in the truck. I’ve never hit anyone in the truck. I’m careful because it’s hard to see where the front end is. But congested city traffic? Pulling the camper? Lord, can we find a way around this? Please?