jueves, 14 de enero de 2010

Barefoot Cinderella Final Part

As courteous as ever he stood and greeted her,

“Good afternoon highness.”

She gave a slight curtsey he was heir to the throne she wasn’t.

“Highness” she responded “Good afternoon”.

Her stomach was alive with butterflies and glad to be off her feet she could hardly support herself, their royal training permitted the pleasantries to go without a hitch

“I believe you want to set up a bilateral conservation programme.”

“I would like to set up a sustainable farming programme in Madagascar. Some of their native plants are believed to help fight cancer. My idea is to set up the labs locally on the island so the population can have long term benefits without destroying the ecosystem by not having the natural vegetation ravaged. They could have a new industry and anything that helps the fight against cancer needs no justification. And perhaps natural healing remedies as well. The participation of both countries would give greater weight to the project.

“Do you have any specific plant in mind?”

“I have a photo of one of my favourites and the princess with trembling hands pulled from her conference folder the postcard he had bought her at the exhibition shop on their first date. “

As he looked at the card his face darkened. Her stomach felt like she was sea sick.

“Well I don’t know what to say”. He responded as his breathing became slow and controlled,

“I suspected it might be you when the suggestion was made to meet here then I couldn’t believe my luck. Could it be possible? It seems too easy; too perfect the mystery woman is a princess. The press would have a field day we can’t let anyone know you know ever.”

The princess heart sank. The royal education and training were doing their job. However, she remembered the words of the fairy godmother.

“Stephen we know each other, we also understand each other’s background our deception was childish but we know the real people like each other.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” He hissed wringing his hands,
“Do you know how much I have suffered? The lectures from my parents, the political upheaval, the difficult relationship with the duchy.”

“How could I? I thought you suspected me after the ballet. All royal mail is checked we’ve never communicated officially before so why then? I’ve suffered too; do you know what it was like thinking you would marry another woman? Not only that we would have met at the wedding.”

“That’s over we can’t just start seeing each other. It won’t take long for the paparazzi to work it out.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I’m still in love with you; politically our Royal status is perfect. But so much has happened and it’s too soon after the scandal. They have been like blood hounds they have never given up.”

“Not really it’s over a year and the princess from the duchy is now to marry her childhood sweetheart. If they suspect we make an official press release to state we were meeting to plan the blue prints of this project to avoid pressure and failure before it got off the ground. And blame them for pushing the situation over board. It’s about time they have their tables turned. That should alleviate things with the duchy and keep my father happy”
The princess coughed and blushed,

“He wasn’t too impressed by our behaviour. “

The prince looked at her pausing looking more serious than ever then his face broke into one of his heart melting smiles,

“Instead of a glass slipper I have a photo of a star flower!” as he continued wickedly

“We could have some real fun with the paparazzi and if they do get wind then all publicity is good publicity for our plant project” and then the prince began to blush

“I hope we get to live happily ever after like the fairy stories”

The princess’ eyes twinkled

“Well actually there’s something more I’d like to tell you”

While the couple chatted totally captivated in each other, it appeared as if they were in a sparkling cocoon radiating with happiness, the paparazzi antennae sensed something even hotter and more enigmatic. The mystery woman had become yesterday’s news; they took to their keyboards and sent into cyber space their latest headline “Once upon a time there was a princess and a prince”

Barefoot Cinderella 8

“I’ve got it” The princess snapped her fingers in tune with her metamorphic smile

“There is an international conservation forum I know he’s attending as an official observer, my brother won’t mind if I replace him. Conservation and the environment are something we have in common. We can meet and talk in an official capacity about something neutral then if I drop something intimate into the conversation”

“I see you do not need me for much longer. I’ll drop by the kitchen to have a quick chat with our friend.

“The cook” surmised the princess.

“Of course I needed someone here to look after you. She’s being dying to make the wedding cake for ages.”

“Traditional I suppose with lots of dried fruit”

“Well some things do need to stay the same.”, winking one more.

The women bid each other a warm farewell as the mist swirled around them. The queen breathed a sigh of relief as she saw the gauze cloud swirl towards the palace kitchen and five minutes later her daughter burst into her chambers. She was radiant.

Bringing their heart-to-heart to a close her mother said,

“I will speak to your brother about the conference, I’m sure he will be delighted to get out of it he wants to organize the Olympics which is more suited to him. Then I will leave the details of arrangements to the royal courtiers. I will say nothing to your father until you have spoken to the prince then we will decide what and how much he should know. I am glad you have come to your senses, though no rushing and no contact with the prince until the conference. Relax, do a few more royal duties and get your spirits up.

It had been the longest wait of her life, the conference had been interesting and she had found an ideal project which also connected to the first exhibition.

miércoles, 13 de enero de 2010

Barefoot Cinderella 7

“What do you mean?”

“Confucius told me many years ago,

“You are that old!” the princess interrupted cheekily

Winking, she continued “Well I do use a bit of magic on myself from time to time; he was a fascinating man I could listen to him for hours. Cinderella was originally Chinese you know, Could you imagine what the modern day press would have done with her slipper. I’m sorry I always digress. Things come in pairs, opposites. To appreciate one you must experience the other, night and day, hot and cold, wet and dry. Without it’s pair, you cannot understand the other.”

The princess smile emanated deep from within; relaxing from the cosseted feeling produced by this woman’s warmth and wisdom.

“I see you need to be aware of both, to be able to distinguish one from the other.”

“Precisely! I see all this modern education has done something for you. You began on a quest for happiness, in the style of your time and you found unhappiness. Look at Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty look what they went through first before they formed a relationship. And don’t for one minute think they lived happily ever after. That’s just the classic ending. What it really means is they had been unhappy enough and had become sufficiently aware to appreciate their new life when they found it”

“But they’re just fairy tales. They’re so out of date.”

“My dear they are the wisdom of all time, no one can be happy every minute of the day but you have to learn that a sunny day, a bird song, the countryside when it stops raining can make you happy. And never forget, we fairy godmothers know because of our age and wisdom even more than our magic. That also means we know how and when to use it. The problem with searching is you can never win. If you don’t find what you’re looking for it is frustrating and if you do it is often not what you expected it’s even more frustrating. The real journey is to find ourselves and finding what gives us personal peace and that my dear is inside of us.”

Pausing to take breath she continued,

“Enough of these if only’s you’ve got to stop all that nonsense and concentrate on the here and now. You both had to learn lessons; it’s all part of the journey of life. You have hurt each other by not being honest and truthful. Without trust, there can be no respect, and that has been true throughout the ages. Different times create different problems and different tests to find different solutions but real values never change and believing and fighting for love is the most important.”

“But the happiness quest I’ve been so stupid.”

“The folly of youth but you have come a long way, though as your mother has told you we woman live in turmoil until we recognise equality not as everyone being the same but everyone having the equal opportunity to find themselves then they are able to give their best to everyone else and the wider community.

lunes, 11 de enero de 2010

Barefoot Cinderella 6

Her parents were worrying more than ever,

“Something is wrong with our little princess,” said the king

“I know” replied the queen “Her weight is see- sawing, she did hardly any official engagements and now she is leaving me redundant by offering to do so much. I knew that renouncing the fairy godmother to prove how modern she is would lead her to unhappiness. I must speak to her.”

When the queen arrived at the princess’ chambers she said,
“Well” in a tone that only mothers can use with their daughters. The princess sat in silence, studiously avoiding her mother’s gaze twisting her rings around her fingers, finally the princess spoke.

With her suspicions finally confirmed having heard the truth from her daughter, the queen’s parting words were you have only one choice.

“I’ll sleep on it” she replied, as they hugged each other, the princess felt the diminished tension in her mother, she finally fell into a deep restful sleep.

Bathing in peace the following morning, the princess spoke out loud to herself declaring,

“I must stay loyal to my modernity”

“Oh no you’re not. Said a voice ,
“I can’t stand watching you suffer anymore. The first sensible thing you’ve done since you began on this happiness quest was talk your mother.”
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” as the princess wrapped herself in her bathrobe while searching for the owner of the voice.
“I’m you fairy godmother.”
“Oh no”, groaned the princess. “I didn’t call you.”

She beheld a gossamer cloud. An outline forced her to focus and she became aware of the muted presence of an older woman. Beautiful and elegantly attired in a silver silk trouser suit, in the lapel was a wand shaped brooch, the diamonds sparkled, her eyes even more.

“You don’t look like a fairy godmother

“Fairy godmothers have a right to become modern too.”

She carefully removed her jacket, revealing a lighter coloured blouse of the same shimmering material; the buttons were smaller versions of the brooch.

“My shoulder pads are in fact my wing holders”,

and on cue her wings appeared as she smiled mischievously.

“Modern transport and communications make my life a lot easier. On line dating well it was a piece of cake. I need my energy to keep all you princes and princesses out of the gossip columns.”

The princess interrupted as it dawned on her,

“You mean!”she questioned,

“Yes you are an ideal match; you both wanted it to be up-to-the-minute so we got you together the modern way. The problem was neither of you had the courage to fess up you both let the play acting go on too long.

“I know, I know” sighed the princess “I’ve said if only so often “.

“All this modern stuff paf piffle”, while moving her hands like an opera diva,

“Life is much simpler. Look at your own experience. You set out to find happiness and you ended up being unhappier than you have ever been”

“And I can’t even think of a way to get in touch with him.”

“Be patient. I am you fairy godmother “

“What does that means you’ll wave your wand and I’ll be going up the aisle”

“I said be patient but you must realise some things first. To understand real happiness you must first have understood what unhappiness is”

domingo, 10 de enero de 2010

Barefoot Cinderella 5

However the prince’s mystery woman fascinated the press. The paparazzi had followed the trail from the beauty therapy centre but had come upon a dead end. She seemed to have arisen from dust and the Cinderella idea had captured the world’s imagination.

The media in Sestonia had run online line opinion polls which showed that no one believed the official line that Stephen’s Cinderella was merely an acquaintance. The prince looked wooden on his official engagements with and without his betrothed. The official date of the wedding was still to be announced though she wasn’t popular with the people and most were sympathetic to the prince’s secret love, with or without a slipper she had to be found.

Various international papers and internet pages offered money for her to come forward or for any information as to whom she was and there was a deluge of people contacting the media from all parts of the world, a sightings blog was set up and the add your comments section outline had been designed as glass slipper.

The Duke and Duchess, parents of the princes’ betrothed announced the official suspension of the engagement. It was clear they didn’t like the nature of media attention and the implication that their daughter was made out to be a cosmetic expedient.

The princess was euphoric at the news though never ceased to be amazed at the speculation. However things remained difficult, she could not go to the papers it would be an international scandal, her parents would never forgive her, the press would have a field day and would they believe her.

The prince was beside himself. He longingly remembered his months with the princess now he had been liberated from his commitment and with the media still bursting with hypothesis he began to wonder who he really loved. As his mind cleared he recalled, she had been happy not to establish a routine, and see each other at odd times in unusual places. He himself could do nothing, who could he trust to make his own enquires. What secret thing was there between them that would give him a clue as to who she really was. If only he could speak to her again. If only he did have a glass slipper.

Places they had visited together were making it easier for impersonators to make false claims as everyone cashed in on the Cinderella speculations. The beauty therapy centre was booked to the gunnels and they were turning out clones of her in disguise. Fees had always been paid in cash. The on line dating agency had made a fortune in publishing their questionnaires and while undertaking her royal duties she too was invited to speculate

“Princess Papaver who do you think the Cinderella is? Could she be a friend of yours?”

Her reply was always the same,

“My status does not permit me to comment.”

The absurdness of the situation brought a wry smile to her face, so obsessed where they in finding her in disguise they were unable to recognise her when she was under their noses though she knew that was no surprise. The princess looked at herself in the mirror, she was unhappy with what she saw and happiness now seemed permanently out of reach. She would settle for one meeting to tell the truth anything was better than living spinning in this vortex perpetually maintained by the mental lashes of if only’s and should haves.

lunes, 4 de enero de 2010

Barefoot Cinderella 4

“No! What news?”
“Surely, you must have heard in her circles” her friend continued
“Are you so out of touch? Do you not read the gossip magazines?”
“You know I don’t. It would make me far too self-conscious.”
“Well you know Prince Stephen the heir to Sestonia has been having an affair with a mystery woman. The press are calling her the Barefoot Cinderella.

“Why?” asked the princess bemused.

“Because there isn’t a glass slipper! “sighed the friend,
“and as he was caught in disguise they reckon she’s some commoner he can’t marry.”

“Oh” squeaked the princess

“And you know in his country he cannot marry anybody who is not blue blood. You should have got in there he’s gorgeous a real prince Charming.”

The princess cut off her friend blaming royal duties and rushed to her chambers. Before she even turned on her laptop she knew who the prince was going to be. There on her screen on all the internet news on all the servers’ viewers were photographs of herself and the prince. She was devastated.

She called his number. “Sorry the number is no longer a subscriber”.

Dam! she should have guessed that. Her answer machine blipped

“You have three messages,
• First message. Need to speak
• Second message. I’m sorry things could get difficult.
• Third message. We can never see each other again. I love you and always will, but our destinies are not to be together.

The princess began pacing around her chambers back and forth. How could she contact him? Officially, it was impossible. He had done similar things to her, coloured lenses, had obviously used stacked heels to make him look taller, as she had worn her hair short, his had been longer. There was no way to get in touch without exposing her own deception and she wanted him to be the first to know. She must see him, if he knew the truth things would be fine. There had always been good relations between their countries they had met years ago as children but she could hardly remember. After supper she had felt even worse as her father mentioned they had been considered a possible match. Her stomach still sank as she recalled the king’s words, impossible now he had boomed.

Her disguise appeared to have remained intact. Nevertheless, somebody had watched, somebody had suspected and had chosen their moment to expose them.

Sheer exhaustion set in and at last, she slept. However the next day she awoke to heartbreaking news; there had been an official announcement. He was to be married to the youngest daughter of the Grand Duke and Duchess of Ennate. There had been a formal though discrete agreement for some time. He had only been playing with her.

Her thoughts whiplashed through her brain used, cheated, deceived slashed around then she calmed herself admitting she too has deceived. The cycles if only began again if only they had been honest with each other.

They had connected and trying to be something neither one was had ruined everything. She heard the tinkle in her ear but she resisted. She was going to cope in the modern way and began making a list of the positives.

She could go back to being herself, no more bloated lips, coloured hair or lenses. She didn’t care, she would drown herself in official engagements take some responsibilities from her mother, the press were still more interested in possible future brides for her brothers. Her happiness obsession had stopped, her feelings were frozen and she could confide in no one.

domingo, 3 de enero de 2010

Barefoot Cinderella 3

The following afternoon the princess went to visit the cook and she smiled to herself as she saw the look in the princess’ eyes.

“You’re in love” and the princess blushed and smiled gently

“Is it that obvious?”

“It always is with everybody?” the cook assured her. Look at you, normally you come in here in a flap about something, arms flying, today you’re hugging yourself.

“I feel so different, it’s delicious the difference.

“It is a wonderful feeling like discovering a new dish that becomes a firm favourite. However will he meet the royal standards? Does he know who you really are?”

“I don’t think so”
And going on to defend her paramour, he’s intelligent very, attractive very ,very and giggling like a fifteen year old rather, rather sexy.

“Now, now” counselled the cook while wagging her finger and grinning,

He’s cultured with delightful manners we’ve visited lots of places; museums, castles, exhibitions, the theatre and had a couples of quick trips to Paris and Copenhagen, lots and lots of talking and lots of walking.

“Well, what’s the problem?”

“I just don’t seem to be able to find the right moment to come out and tell him.”

“The longer it takes the harder it gets and deception isn’t a good start.”

“I couldn’t agree more but it’s more incognito really. I mean who’s going to be themselves when they know who my royal persona is? Anyway intuition tell me he’s holding back too”

“Is that what you’re worried about? It might be your imagination playing tricks.”

“Could be but I think I’m being followed? ”

“Are you sure? Paparazzi?”

“They’re always around.”

“Do you use your bodyguard?”

“No I’ve been slipping away, you know I hate being stifled. “

“Well be careful. You’ve not done as many duties there are rumours flying around the palace as to what you are up to?

“People who always gossip have boring lives. I’m going now I’ve got a date tonight.”

The princess kissed the cook and left happy to have confided in someone. As she wandered back to her chambers, to do her royal administration before heading out to her town house base, her mobile bleeped it was an old friend.

“Had she heard the news?

viernes, 1 de enero de 2010

Barefoot Cinderella 2

The princess was glad to leave the beauty therapy centre, the therapies had been wonderful, who couldn’t relax after aromatherapy massages and meditation, nevertheless many of the people had been tedious, obsessed with image and the latest diet craze. The fairy godmother option would have been quicker easier and not so boring however she was determined to stick to her guns.

Finally she pulled up at her town house base and without further ado checked her email. There were three possible matches. Nervously she clicked on confirm and waited for the when where details.

The first date was a pea pushing across the plate session as the chat sputtered but never took flight into conversation. The second date couldn’t stop talking on and on; he was totally in love with himself. “Kissing the odd frog wouldn’t have been so bad after all” she mused.

She had arranged to meet the third date in the museum restaurant for lunch. If things got heavy-going she would suggest wandering round the museum. There was a special exhibition she wanted to see on Fairy Folklore.

Fortunately, all the forward planning proved to be unnecessary. Conversation over lunch had been effortless. Both had found the exhibition better than anticipated and over afternoon tea which ran into supper they sat together laughing and chatting trading anecdotes and exchanging world views.

During the flowing months they blossomed in each other’s company their tastes were similar, wide and very far ranging. At Christmas saw they attended Sleeping beauty. The prince began chatting over supper after the ballet,

“That’s the first time I’ve been to the ballet. I enjoyed it more than I expected.”

“I love music and dance I always wanted to do ballet like all little girls but it never happened”

“What I liked most was it reminded me of our first date the exhibition. All those fairy princesses wouldn’t that make life easier” he teased

The princess panicked was he prying? Did he suspect’ trying to control her nerves while diverting the conversation.

“Well if you enjoyed it perhaps we could go and see some contemporary ballet.”

“What’s the difference?

The princess explained

“In Classical the same steps are always used in the same way in contemporary ballet classical steps are used in freestyle. Its more creative as it is the choreographer’s interpretation.”

“Later on perhaps when something unusual comes along, I’d love to go to Africa to do a photo safari”, said the prince

“Me too,” affirmed the princess and as always conversation flowed.