Within the castle was the perfume of summer blooms. It seemed like the brewing night was young, and waited for Ella to put on a show. However, with the constant atrocities of her stepmother, her distressed lips couldn’t curve into a smile. She was a lean girl with a curious style. For all her detrimental thinness, she possessed an almost-breakfast-cereal air of health. Her face seemed to be veiled by a heavy cloak she was tired of carrying. She looked pale and drained—drained of energy, happiness, and the will to live.
“We are not spending another penny on a dogie. You will stay in the ragamuffin style your mother left you in. Balls are for beautiful girls like my daughters,” said Lady Tremaine. She looked affectionately at Anastasia and Drizella, who were constantly gazing at the mirror. If self-obsession were a maze, then this mother-daughter trio would fit right into it. The Lady extinguished her cigar and sprayed the ashes onto Ella.
At this sight, both the girls started laughing hysterically.
“Ella is covered with cinders,” said Anastasia with a giggle.
“Yeah. She is Cinder-Ella,” Drizella chuckled.
“Cinderella. That’s your new name, girl,” both chimed, bursting out in laughter.
Ella was disheartened by the name and sat by the window sobbing on her rotten luck.
Meanwhile, Zeus, the ruler of Olympus, was watching her miserable life. Although he was married, he was known for his amorousness. He’d had numerous affairs with several Goddesses and mortals. However, with Ella, he felt a different and strange kind of voltage. He had never confessed his feelings to her. Unlike the rest of his paramours, he just wanted this particular girl to be happy with no expectations of being loved back.
Hera questioned Zeus saying, “I’ve loved you so much all my life. Yet, you share those intimate moments with your lady-friends—moments you should only bestow upon your wife. Being the Queen of Heaven, I’m sure my pulchritude isn’t the reason you seek other women for your pleasures. Regardless, I’ve neither forbidden you from quenching your desires and nor will I ever do so. I’m just surprised and rather confused as to what is your fascination with Cinderella?”
“Don’t call her that. Her name is Ella,” Zeus prompted.
He didn’t shout. He just respectfully remedied an error. He did love his wife. He loved all the women in his life. He was an honest man who never lied to anyone and always acted respectfully towards everyone. He was even courteous to the Nymphs, considering he had been brought up by one. He loved his wife and was always honest to her about his feelings and erotic wishes.
“I don’t know, Hera. I just look at that woman, and I swear over my thunder that I could give up everything to be with her,” he said with glittery eyes.
“You have much more beautiful women in your life. However, the way you describe her, one gets curious to see her. I see this is the tendency of all you he-elements to be attracted towards damsels in distress,” she replied.
Zeus stayed silent. He didn’t reply. He just kissed her goodbye, and being the ‘Thunder God’, he struck in front of Ella like a lightning bolt. She was taken aback and looked frightened. Zeus comforted her and assured her that he was there to help.
Cinderella trusted this stranger as he was the only soul to ever be kind to her. She began ranting about her grievances and how she wanted to go to the ball, but her stepmother wouldn’t allow her to attend, let alone buy a dress. She broke down while speaking. Zeus looked at her and wiped away her tears. He was determined to fulfill her wish of going to the ball.
“Let’s conquer one obstacle at a time. Since you want to dress up pretty for the night, you shall wear the best dress that compliments you by all means.”
He softly raised his thunderbolt, and the sky turned grey for a few seconds.
‘Clotho’, the Fate who spun thread, appeared instantly. She snapped her fingers, and a thread emerged in her hands. She tied one end of it to Cinderella’s finger and started spinning it, instantly looming her into a gorgeous, giant gown. Cinderella’s dress boasted countless layers of tulle on the petticoat and no less than four miles of thread. The whole thing was built over a crinoline cage which was a clever construction. Clotho snapped again and raised a pair of glass slippers that matched her attire.
Zeus then called ‘Aphrodite’, the Goddess of beauty. She clapped once, and a Dove came flying through Cinderella’s window. She clapped twice, and the majestic bird flapped its wings, and the ashes which covered Cinderella vanished. She still had wrinkles and tan lines. Cinderella questioned as to why they hadn’t disappeared. Aphrodite smiled from ear to ear and replied, “You are one of the most beautiful girls we have in the world. You won’t be adhering to the unrelenting societal pressure to conform to arbitrary, cookie-cutter beauty norms. The worst-kept secret of womanhood is that every girl is the most beautiful girl in the world.” Cinderella was still unsatisfied.
Aphrodite lent her majestic trinket, also called the ‘magic girdle’, to her. It was a Golden Belt that held otherworldly abilities. It had the power to inspire desire and cause men and Gods to fall hopelessly for whoever wore it. Cinderella wore it and looked at herself in the mirror and fell in love with herself. Aphrodite had taught her self-love.
The whole time, Zeus was staring at Cinderella with so much affection. He approached her and whispered, “You look exquisite.” Cinderella blushed.
With another stroke in the air, Hermes and Hectate appeared in the room. He burdened them with the responsibility of safely escorting the lady to the hall. They were both accountable for traveling and ensuring security, respectively.
Hermes picked a pumpkin from Ella’s garden and penetrated his wand’ caduceus’ into it. He called a monokeros the Unicorn. The Pumpkin, now transformed into a carriage, was tied to the Unicorn to carry. Hermes tethered his Lyre to the back of the carriage to make her journey as elegant and smooth as music. Hectate added wheels to the carriage. She blessed her wheels known as stropholos to ensure an unscathed commute.
Now, the only snag left was the self-obsessed trio in Cinderella’s house, who were also embellishing themselves for the same reason.
Zeus launched another stroke towards the sky, and Dionysus appeared in front of everyone. Being the ‘God of Wine and intoxication’, he rolled his fingers, and an ivy plant materialized in his hand. He crushed the leaves and blew the powder into Cinderella’s house. When her mother and sister breathed in the ivy, they started feeling heady and went to sleep. Meanwhile, Zeus called Hypnos, the son of Night and the ‘God of Sleep’, to make sure the ladies did not wake up before Cinderella left the suffocating manor.
Finally, Cinderella was all ready to rock her night. She sat in the carriage with Hecate and Hermes after bidding adieu to all the Gods and Goddesses. Before leaving, Zeus and Ella locked eyes. It was the strongest gaze of passion.