Welcome to Monday – yuk right? Okay let’s make it better here’s an exclusive from Budgie Bigelow’s Askharoth, enjoy.

I continued my preparations for the future in secret. I emerged from hiding some time later, and decided it was time to check on Château Tremaine and the young Cinderella. It had been a while since I put Lady Tremaine in charge of Cinderella’s upbringing, and I was eager to see the results of her tutelage.

Cinderella sat on a stone bench in the huge back courtyard of Château Tremaine. It was mid-August and the dragonflies buzzed around the tall grass. She somberly looked over her father’s tall grave. It had been a year since he died, and Cinderella found herself missing him more with every day that passed. Lady Tremaine had become extremely cruel, making Cinderella into little more than a slave.

“I wish you were still here with me, daddy,” the golden-haired girl said to the grass-covered earth covering her father. “I know you meant the best for us when you married stepmother, but I know you would not stand for her cruelty and disdain. I know I do not have many memories of my mother, but from what you told me she would never have harmed the tiniest of creatures. I will keep up with my chores and be nice to stepmother and my stepsisters for you. This home is all I have left of you. I love you, daddy. Sleep well.”

Cinderella planted a small kiss on the head of the grave. Her fingers lingered for a moment before she turned away and left. It was nearly midday, and she had a lot of chores to do before she could even think about relaxing.

Cinderella was young, pure of heart, and innocent. I knew early in my assessment of her that I would not be able to taint her in any way using any of my normal means. Instead, I opted to taint everything around her. I had put my faith in Lady Tremaine, and my faith had been rewarded time and time again throughout Cinderella’s childhood. Her father’s home had become a place of evil and woe, and Cinderella had no choice but to endure the abuses of her stepmother.

After visiting her father’s grave, Cinderella shoveled the horse stables, washed the windows, did her stepmother’s and stepsisters’ laundry, scrubbed the floors, cleaned out the chamber pots, prepared and served dinner, and washed the dishes. This was the norm for Cinderella, day-in and day-out. Her stepsisters snickered and laughed as poor Cinderella would trudge about cleaning up their various messes, growing fatter and uglier in their laze. Lady Tremaine encouraged this in them, of course. Having her own two daughters doted on by this pretty little golden-haired girl amused her immensely. Looking back now, she relished the fact that she had begged me to kill her along with her father. Why would she ever have wanted to be spared entertainment such as this?

Soon after Lady Tremaine began her abuse of Cinderella, the rest of the help in the estate was let go after they started complaining about Cinderella’s treatment. This became the ultimate irony at the Château Tremaine; Cinderella becoming a servant in her beloved father’s house. But Cinderella was resigned to keep her head up and she kept a smile on her face through it all (to the annoyance of her family). At night, she would retire to her room and visit with the only friends she had on the entirety of this Earth.

“Are you there?” Cinderella would ask the empty room. “Are you still awake?” Suddenly, mice came scurrying out of nooks and crannies, wearing coats and hats Cinderella had sewn from scraps of cloth (much like her own ragged dresses she fashioned from her pieces of her stepsisters’ worn-out clothing). Oft times, the cat would excrete a little coat or a hat as well. The mice would come to her out of the holes in the walls, and eat the crumbs and food scraps she kept hidden in her pockets for them. On one occasion, she was even able to dress a bird in a hat and vest, but it could not fly under the weight of the clothes, and it plummeted to its death from the high attic window.

“There you go. Do not be too greedy. There is enough for everyone!” She would sit and watch her tiny friends eat, congregate and then she would have little conversations with them about her day, her family, and their family.

“How are your brothers and sisters doing?” she asked one night. “Oh that is very good. Stepmother had me dust all the carpets in the house today. It was not that bad, and it was a lovely day and I had a good view of Castle Cendrillon. It looks so spectacular up on the green hill. Oh, how I long to see it up close one day!”

So it was that Cinderella’s life went on this way. The long days passed into long years of cleaning and torture under Lady Tremaine’s wicked rule. I would often pass into the house in the middle of the night while they were sleeping in their comfy beds (and Cinderella on her pile of hay and ragged blankets). Other nights, I would walk into the center of their stately front quarters and extend my demonic senses. Ghosts of memories would flash past me and become solid images of pain and torment.

Time slows, showing visions of the past…

“Cinderella!” Charlotte screamed “Where is my laundry? I am having lunch with the Deville’s and I have not seen my emerald green dress!”

“It is hanging on the line outside, Charlotte,” Cinderella replied, looking up from the floor she was scrubbing. “Along with Darcy’s blue gown and undergarments. It should be dried by this afternoon.”

“Make sure that it is,” Charlotte said with sneer as if she were addressing some piece of rotted garbage instead of her stepsister. “For your sake, it better be spotless!” Charlotte ran off, kicking over the bucket of soapy water on her way to the back of the house. Cinderella was drenched from her neck down to her feet. “And you better mop up that water up before mother sees!”

Time passes again. Forward or backwards…. I cannot tell.

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