Ex-Mrs Prince Charming

cinderella____by_magical_lasso Once upon a time, there was this little girl. Her mother had died during her birth and she was brought up by her loving and wealthy father. She lived a happy life, running around the manor they lived in, playing with the animals, and learning to make flower ornaments with her loyal servants. She was loved and was a very kind girl. She also studied very hard, and she loved reading about everything!

     Her father always travelled for long periods of time. As a merchant, he had lots of business in faraway lands. However, every time he returned home, he would bring her a present, mostly books or some kind of antique from the country he had visited. She absolutely loved it, and she couldn’t wait for the rumours of her dad’s arrival. She would jump out of bed, wash herself and choose the most beautiful dress to wear; just to wait for ‘daddy’.
     Cinderella’s most valuable present had been a book. It was a fairy tale, where a prince fell in love with this beautiful girl, and they went through a lot of trouble to stay together, happily ever after. How on earth could our dear Cinderella imagine that one day, she would go through some trouble herself? Yes, I am talking about her love life.
     Her father would always say, ‘Dearest daughter, not all love stories end like that, you know? Be very careful, choose your spouse wisely.’ Cinderella would smile, kiss her father’s cheek and answer, ‘Don’t worry, daddy. I will be careful, I promise.’
     One day, before travelling, just as Cinderella was leaving the safety of their home for the first time to go to university – she had always wanted to be a journalist -, her father called her and said, ‘Dearest daughter, I will bring something different with me in my return this time. I met this woman… we are in love and she is all we need to look after us and our home. I hope you will like her, as I do. Besides, she has two daughters your age. It will be good for you to have other ladies around. When you break up for summer holiday, they will be here waiting for you. Now it is time to go. See you soon. Have a great time at uni. Remember what I always say about boys, be careful. I love you.’
     Cinderella didn’t like that at all. Three other women in the house? she thought. But said nothing, except: ‘I love you too, daddy. Please, be careful,’ she said, remembering her own father’s words to her so many times.
     Well, I guess we all know what happens next, eh? Her father returns with the evil stepmother and the two wicked sisters. Her life becomes hell, especially after her father dies. The stepmother stops paying her tuition, she has to go back home for a while and she is treated like a servant. There is the ball, in which the Prince’s parents hope he will find a respectful wife, AND we also know who the Prince marries in the end: exactly! Our dearest Cinderella. She goes back to uni, graduates with honour and gets a job at the BBC. Well, there is happily ever after, she thought one day in her car, on the way back home after a day’s work. She couldn’t be more excited! She had interviewed Daniel Craig and was dying to tell the Prince all about the new James Bond film!
      But then comes the story our parents – or anybody – has ever told!
     One day, our Cinderella arrives a bit earlier from work. She smells something different in the castle hall; something very familiar, a fragrance. She twists her nose. Uh-oh… something is definitely not right, she thinks. She rushes up the stairs to the master bedroom, and what is her surprise when she sees in her bed, the Prince and one of her stepsisters!
      Ok, stop there a minute.
     What have you heard about Cinderella? That kind, loving girl, who had all those mice and birds as friends, and who wouldn’t hurt a fly? I’m sorry to disappoint you my dear reader, but this Cinderella is a grown up, independent, strong woman. She might have married a prince, but she will definitely recognize a frog! So, what does she do when she sees her once beloved husband, Mr Prince Charming, in that situation? Ah, she throws all his clothes outside the window into the garden – she nearly throws her stepsister as well – and kicks them out of the castle. The next day she phones a solicitor, files for divorce and, guess what: in the end she gets the castle, the carriage and alimony.
     What is she doing now? I heard she is a very happy single woman, who throws amazing parties in the castle gardens. I have also heard that Beckham and Posh, Tom Cruise and Katie, Will and Jada Smith, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are constant guests, and even Mr James Bond, yes, THE gorgeous Daniel Craig, has taken her out for a few romantic dinners. After all, Cinderella has never forgotten her daddy’s advice!
   *Photo: Cinderella – by magical-lasso

A little chat with God

from the vesuvio
Naples bay from the top of Mount Vesuvius (Photo: personal archive/Jan-2016)

 

‘Hi, Henry! Are you feeling better this morning?’ a voice said.

Henry looked up from his book, peering over his glasses, looked around and saw nobody.

‘Hey, I’m right here!’ the voice spoke again.

Confused, Henry thought he was delirious, because of his high temperature the previous night. ‘Ah, I’m going bananas’, he said to himself and went back to his reading.

‘No, Henry, you are not going bananas. I’m right here. By the way, this is God speaking. How are you feeling?’

Henry couldn’t believe his ears and, once again looked around.

‘Well, not too bad’, he answered, ‘I just wasn’t expecting this conversation. Is it too serious, I mean, what I have?’

God replied, ‘Humm, not if you look through the positive side. I’m giving you some time to say goodbye to your loved ones, to make amends, to finish up things.’

Henry was petrified. ‘What? Now, wait a minute, God. What are you telling me? Am I going to die?’

God, in His infinite patience told him gently: ‘As I said, it is not too bad if you see it through the positive side of it. You won’t die; you will just join me for eternal life. Come on, now, Henry, you know how this works. Haven’t you been professing it for the last 69 years, every Sunday in Church?’

He was embarrassed, ‘Yes, I have, but I never thought I would join you so soon.’

God giggled. ‘Soon? Henry, you are a funny man. Always making people laugh.’

‘Well, so I want to keep on making people laugh. I don’t want to go!’ he pouted.

‘You don’t want to go? Henry, don’t be such a baby. You have no choice. This is it. You’ve done all you had to do. Now it’s time. I’ll give you 2 months.’

Henry didn’t know what to say. He was to mad at God.

‘Ah, and son, don’t forget to pray as you always do. I will always be around.’

And then, silence.

He’s there, in the waiting room of a hospital he never thought one day he would be. He was alone; his wife would come meet him later, which gave him some time to think about a few things in his life. ‘Dying, me? You must be joking!’ he thought.

Henry had had a brilliant career as a family lawyer, hired by millionaire men – and women -, so he could his best for ‘their children’s inheritance’.

He had brought up three successful children: Jen was a pediatrician, Luke was an architect and Alyson was the one who took care of his office now.

He had lived with the same woman for wonderful fifty-nine years; Helen, his best friend, his lover, his constant partner in life. She’d been his first girlfriend and he couldn’t be more proud of it.

‘It’s funny.’ he thought. ‘One day you are on the top of the world; the next day you feel so fragile, sitting here and waiting, at a cancer hospital. ‘Two months, God said. Two months. I mustn’t waste time.’

He looked for a piece of paper and a pen in his pockets. He started to make a list, as an organized man he had always been. ‘Ok, what should I do first? Two months…’

*Photo: from the top of Vesuvius on a misty day (from personal archive – Jan/2016)

Dior Homme

                                                                             154_DH_EauForMen_(440x285)_eCommerce_NewCom2016_FR.indd (Based on the Dior Homme Commercial)

You know one of those days you just know things are not gonna work out? You don’t know what it is, right? Call it a woman’s sixth sense, or whatever you like. That was one of those days. She just knew it. Somehow.

It was a Tuesday. A very blahday, if you know what I mean. What is it so special about Tuesdays? Nothing I guess. Right after dreadful Monday, way far from the weekend. It’s a boring day, right? Well, it was just another Tuesday for her. Actually, like all the other days. She’d recently moved to London and just accepted the first job offer out of the hundreds she’d applied for. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly chief editor of a glossy magazine, as she had wished for. It was just a job.

She’s a writer. At least that’s what she had studied for. English degree, MA in Creative Writing. A whole world of imagination in her mind and great ambitions, perhaps bigger than the ones her own parents had for her. And there she was, working as a sales assistant in a huge shopping centre. But it was temporary.

That day, she had got a bollocking from her boss because of some error with the till. She had nothing to do with that; it hadn’t even happened during her shift. It was that other new girl. That bitch. That tall, “Shard-high-legged” blonde from Brazil. Stunning girl, but still a bitch. Anyway, she just accepted it and in her head sent loads of mean thoughts her way. I bet she even felt a bit dizzy. That day, she couldn’t have cared less.

Hey, she’s not a nasty, mean person, ok? It’s just that it had been the final straw. She’s a fair person and hates those who’ll do anything to get what they want. I know what she wants. She wants a spot in the perfume section, that’s what she wants. And I’m sure she’ll get it. No matter what. Bitch.

Anyway, after she finished work, she went strolling around the shopping centre. She’d always loved to window shop. She could see scenarios for her stories, furniture for her characters’ houses, and she could observe people who would most likely become her next characters. She’d also loved to go to Boots and try on different perfumes; for myself and for my characters, why not?

She got to Boots and went straight to the perfume windows. As she walked in the shop, she passed a Dior stand with a huge black and white poster. She glanced at it and walked past. She hadn’t paid attention to the photo, and that made her go back for a second look.

154_DH_EauForMen_(440x285)_eCommerce_NewCom2016_FR.indd

 

 Oh, my… It is Robert Pattinson, she sighed.

She not only stopped to look, but she kept staring at him.

‘Huummm… Robert Pattinson, eh’, she thought out loud, picking one of those perfume tester strips and spraying loads onto it (and I mean, loads). ‘I wonder what you smell like, you handsome. You could even leave some teeth marks on my neck if you wanted to…’

She closed her eyes, savouring the manly, exquisite sense that started to turn her on. She wanted more of that, so she went on to pick up two, three – Ah, one more -, FOUR more tester strips.

‘I guess I deserve it after the shitty day I had, right,’ her voice came out loud again.

‘Wow, you really like this scent, eh?’ She heard a smoky, honeyed voice behind her.

She turned around quickly, embarrassed by having been caught.

‘Er… I’m just… what the…? Edward?’

‘Edward? He asked, laughing. ‘Well, I was born Robert, but if you want Edward, that’s fine by me. And you are…?’

Nobody would believe her if she told them that she was having that conversation. Actually, she wouldn’t believe it if she told herself!

‘Sophie,’ she replied, super self-conscious. Shit. Is my make-up ok? How about my hair? Breath? Phew! I’ve got bubblemint chewing gum in my mouth.

They looked at each other for a while. He was wearing a dark blue suit, with a white shirt, not all buttoned up. His hair was just on the right side of messy. Stubble. S-E-X-Y.

He smiled again.

‘So… Sophie, I take it that you really like Dior Homme? And that you find me handsome? And that you were wondering what I smell like?’ He asked, spraying himself on the neck and chest.

‘Er… well, yes, but, like, just for fun, you know?’

‘Even that thing about biting your neck?’ He pretended to be disappointed.

She really didn’t know what she was saying anymore. To be honest, she had no idea how much longer she would be able to stand there. Her legs were kind of starting to give in. She was nearly giving in herself. Ready to kiss him on 3…2…

‘Come with me,’ he grabbed her by the hand and literally dragged her, running through Boots, through the corridors, till they got to the lifts.

They stood there, waiting for the lift to arrive. He looked at her sideways, and wow… there was nothing innocent in that look. He held her hand a bit tighter. She thought she was going to faint. Right there.

The lift doors opened and they went in.

‘Which floor, son’’ asked a man who was with his wife.

‘Top floor, please’ Edward, I mean, Robert said.

At that point, she was already gagging for it. What the heck is wrong with me that I haven’t tried to kiss him yet? It is Robert Effing Pattinson!

He put his hand on the small of her back and it sent a delicious shiver up her spine, making her throat tight with longing. She had been reading this book, “Wedding Night”, by Sophie Kinsella, and she was starting to get the idea of how Lottie had felt, being unable to consummate her marriage…

The lift beeped on the third floor and the couple got out. The lift doors closed again. They were alone.

‘Are you hungry,’ he asked.

‘Hungry? You gotta be kidding. I’m in a lift, holding hands with Edward, and you ask me if I’m hungry?’

‘Well, just asking. So… are you?’ He laughed.

‘Listen, the minute you sprayed yourself in Boots I decided that I’m not going to be the good girl my mother taught me to be, ok? At least not tonight. So, yes, I’m super hungry. I’m dying to devour something, and it’s not a plate of pasta, this I am sure.’

‘You naughty, naughty girl…’ he smiled and pushed her to the corner of the lift, holding her hands above her head. His lips touched hers, in a warm, minty and wet kiss… His hands softly went down her neck, then his lips… and all she wanted was “The Bite”. The one bite that would sweep her out of her boring, ordinary life and take her to a fancy, exciting world.

The lift doors open on to the top floor. It was a beautiful starry night and the car park was almost deserted.

He pulled her out and took her to the farther corner of the car park. They were all hands on each other again. Oh, my… these lips, his hands under my skirt, up and down my thighs, touching my breasts… How many hands has he got??? She grabbed his hair and brought his face closer for another breathtaking kiss, while her hands fumbled with his trousers zip.

It was then that she heard a clink. It was like she’d been brought out of a trance or something. She looked around, feeling dizzy and hyperventilating. She was alone in the shopping centre car park. Her car keys had fallen on the floor.

‘Eh…? What…?’ She put her hands on her chest, trying to control her breathing.

Her clothes and hair were a total mess, and she was panting.

She felt so annoyed. How embarrassing. She wondered whether anyone had seen that. Well, had seen anything, since she didn’t know exactly what had happened. She had no idea how long she’d been there for.

‘Sophie, you are out of your mind. You need to do more yoga classes, or any other meditation thingy to help you sort yourself out, woman.’ She told herself walking towards her car.

She got in the car, lit a cigarette and drove off.
I can’t believe it. I even lost those tester strips. Sophie, you idiot. But ah, that smell…Those lips…

She was still daydreaming, driving down the first bend when she saw a silver Volvo driving towards her. She tried to swerve to the left, but it was too late.

That’s all she needed to finish that ugly, ugly day… Some asshole to crash into her car.

‘Hey, what the fuck are you thinking, driving on a bend like that?’, she shouted, getting closer to the Volvo’s driver’s window.

‘I really apologise. I didn’t see you coming. You didn’t have your lights on,’ he said, trying to be polite.

It was then that Sophie looked better inside the car. She moved back, so the man would come out. He smiled and asked:

‘Hi… are you ok? Are you hurt?’

Sophie shook her head a couple of times, feeling dizzy again.

‘Edward…?’

He laughed.

‘Well, I was born Robert, but if you want Edward, that’s fine by me. And you are…?’

     (***)

Photograph

Time to tell a little story… 🙂

It had been such a long time ago… Emily drove past her childhood home and stopped her car under the magnolia tree. As Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” came up on the radio, she looked at the two-storey house, with high front gates. The new owners had changed the colour of the front walls and gates, and one of the garage spaces now was a well-kept lawn with a blue hydrangea bush in the middle. Hydrangeas had been Emily’s mum’s favourite.

Emily sat there in her rented car, hoping no neighbour would find it strange and stare, or even worse, call the police.

Emily remembered every single neighbour that had lived in that street. She’d spent some of the best years of her life in that house, in that street. As a teenager in that neighbourhood she had found her first love, kissed her first kiss, and made love for the first time. It was also in that street that two of her favourite women in the world died. That’s odd… I wasn’t here for neither of them, she thought, sadly.

She looked at the tall block of flats at the corner. She smiled, thinking that she knew the every length of the staircases by heart, even if the lights were all off. So many times she’d run up and down, playing hide and seek with her friends, giving each other a fright, and having kisses stolen when there was no one looking.

She remembered a birthday party, when she was 16. It had been her friend’s birthday and all the kids in the street had been invited. Adam, her incredibly cute and funny neighbour,  was going to be there and one of the girls had told Emily that he fancied her too. She couldn’t wait to see him at the party.

She could remember exactly what she’d been wearing then: a short, black dress with tiny flowers pattern, which her mum had made for her to wear at that party. She’d also been wearing a necklace her mum had given her for her 16th birthday. It was one of those necklaces with a heart locket, but it was empty on that day.

At some point, Emily and a few other kids had gone down to the playground area to talk and enjoy the summer night. Little by little they had gone back up to the party she and Adam were alone.

She could remember everything about that night…

**************

They walked towards the swimming pool at the back of the building and Adam sat on one of the white metal tables. Emily followed and jumped back off as her bare legs touched the cold surface.

Adam laughed.

“How long have we been friends, Emily,” he asked, looking at her.

His voice was soft and warm, which made Emily’s heart skip a bit.

“Er, about eight years, I guess,” she replied, looking up and counting on her fingers. “Yeah, eight years. I remember when I first saw you. Haha.  I was playing with Jess in my the garage, and you were playing with Luke, all show offy, riding your huge bike.. and you fell off it!”

Adam laughed his usual delicious laugh.

“Gosh, I remember that. I was so embarrassed. Luke still teases me for that.”

“You were. And as I remember you told me years later, mister, you had a crush on Jess, so it was even worse…”

“Don’t remind me… That day I told my mum I never wanted to leave the house again. And I really didn’t come out-”

“-for a whole week! Haha. I remember that! We all thought you were sick or something. And then Jess took me to your house. She was your sister’s friend, remember?”

“Yeah, I remember. I was so mad at Charlie when she let you in and took you to my room! I swear, I thought seriously about what my life would be like without a brat of a sister! Haha.”

“Aff… Adam, you twit.”

“I can’t believe I had a crush on Jess… I mean, we were what? Eight?”

“I guess. And look at it now… Jess and Luke are an item! Isn’t that cool? And we’re still all best friends”, she had grinned.

When she said that, Adam looked at her and jumped off the table, and stood facing her.

Shit. What did I say? She started playing with her necklace and put it between her lips.

Adam stared at her. “Emily, I feel like getting this necklace with my lips…” Adam said.

“Ahn?” Emily said and dropped the long chain, which fell on her chest, hiding inside her dress, nestled between her breasts.

Adam looked at her, his gaze immediately directed towards her chest.

“Hey, what are you looking at?” Emily blushed and slapped Adam on the arm. They were good friends and, although she fancied him waaay more than a trip to Disney, the thought of being more than friends with Adam and ruining their beautiful friendship was a bit too much for her, especially if Adam was going to start being a perv, looking at her boobs like that. All she wanted was a kiss. Well, that had been the first thing she’d wanted anyway.

“Sorry, Em. I… I couldn’t help it. I… Ah, Em, Come on… I’m here, telling you I want to kiss you and you drop your necklace down to… er, you know what I’m talking about. Where do you want me to look? At your ears?” He laughed, shrugging his shoulders.

Emily froze. Ops, heart skipped another beat.

“What? What do you mean… you want to kiss me??”

He came closer and move a strand of her hair off her face.

“Em, Yes, I want to kiss you. And, to tell you the truth, I’ve been thinking about kissing you for quite a while now…”

**************

She thought about what she’d felt then, the minute he told her that he wanted to kiss her. That was all she’d wanted too. And that feeling stayed so clear in her memory and even after nearly 20 years she could feel the same butterflies in her stomach all over again.

photograph

That night, not to any of their friends’ – or their parents’ surprise – Adam and Emily had become an item. Jess and Luke were ecstatic and the two couples were inseparable for quite a long time. Jess and Luke had gotten married and had two beautiful girls, now 14 and 10 years old. Emily had got a scholarship abroad and then a job abroad, which had been too good to turn down. Adam had preferred to stay close to home. Neither of them had ever married.

Well, that’s how life is sometimes, isn’t it?

Sitting in her rented car, Emily wiped a couple of tears. She got out of the car and walked towards Luke and Jess’s house. She was playing with her necklace. This time, though, a photograph of her and Adam was inside the locket. Emily held it tightly in her hand and kissed it.

She rang the door bell at her friends’ house.

Jess came to open the door. Luke was right behind her. They both started to cry as they saw her.

“We’re so sorry, Em… The doctors tried everything, but  apparently the internal bleeding was just really bad… Adam didn’t make it through the night…”

 

 

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