Anywhere Else – Author’s Notes
- Character – Servant Girl
- Setting – Castle
- Genre – Steampunk
Of course these three elements point to an alternative version of the Cinderella story with brass chimney.
Heat and noise, the castle’s heating system was never anything else. Ilene’s leather mitts were as hot as the brass chimney she’d climbed. The broken steam valve screamed like a day old child. This was Cindy’s job before she disappeared but the prince was getting married. Ilene wished she was anywhere else.
“I’m sure we could arrange that dear.” The Fairy Godmother stepped onto the chimney’s platform, a friendly looking woman with gentle grey hair.
Ilene shook her head. “Not with you. I’ve heard the rumors. I don’t want to be one of our girls.”
“Why dear?” The Fairy Godmother smiled. “All their dreams came true.”
I’ve always found Microcosms‘ prompts quite difficult mainly due to the word limit. Every story I start for them seems to run out of words before I can get the plot properly started. This week didn’t seem a problem. When my three-story elements came up, the initial idea of a girl working on a castle’s heating system followed quite quickly. The problem, as always, was the plot. I knew I wanted a fairytale element – especially as Friday was supposedly Tell a Fairy Tale Day, according to Microcosms anyway – it was working out which one. Then I remember about one of my favourite Flash! Friday entries The Godmother. Why not tell the other side of that tale? So that is what I did. Originally the Fairy Godmother was only going to appear as a sinister figure in the background but I couldn’t make that work in the 110 word limit. However, I think it works better with the Fairy Godmother playing a bigger role in the narrative. Finally, Ilene’s name came from the actress, Ilene Woods who played Cinderella in Disney’s famous animated movie from 1950.
How Did I Do?
Microcosms has a competitive element and I’m happy to report that Anywhere Else got an honourable mention from the judges with Dana Faletti saying about it:
I am a sucker for any retelling of a well-known fairy-tale, and the use of Cinderella’s fairy Godmother hooked me right away. What really got me about this piece though was the sassy servant girl’s attitude. I really would LOVE to see this drawn out into a larger story!
I’ll admit when I was writing the story I didn’t think of Ilene as particularly sassy but I’m glad she came across well. Dana’s final comment is something I’m already thinking about, I just need to work out how I develop that story – especially as The Godmother is the flip side of this story. The judges also picked out the line “the broken steam valve screamed like a day old child” as one of their favourite lines of the contest.