It was early morning when Jane was awakened by screaming. She ran out of her room to see the commotion.
Her Stepmother was prancing back and forth across the living room floor as her two daughters flitted after her.
"It will be me!" One cried.
"No it will be me" The other proclaimed.
"What on earth is the matter?" Jane asked. "Who will be what?"
"You foolish girl" Her Stepmother replied. "You never knew much of anything. You are just an ugly thing who has no idea".
Her stepsisters ran over to her and grabbed her hands. "Plain Jane" They sang. "If you were not asleep you would have heard that the Prince has found the shoe of the one he danced with yesterday night. He wishes to find her. Whomever the shoe fits shall be the one he is to marry!".
"Oh!" Jane cried. "Oh goodness! I thought it had been a dream!"
"A dream?!" Her Stepmother cried. "What on earth are you talking about? What dream?"
Jane rubbed her eyes. She thought it had been a dream. She thought the night before had been a figment of her desperate imagination. She thought her imagination had lead her to a fairy tale dream. Yet now, she was awake, and the Prince was looking for her! The Prince was looking for the owner of the missing shoe! She had lost the shoe! She was the owner!
"I must try on the shoe!" Jane cried.
There was silence. A pin, if it had been dropped would have been heard. Jane's Stepmother and two stepsisters turned to look at her.
In unison they screeched and laughed and fell and rolled about on the floor holding their stomachs and slapping the ground.
"Ha ha ha!" they cried, tears rolled out from the corner of their eyes. "ha ha ha ha haaaa!".
Tears rolled down Jane's face.
"Am I that bad?" She cried. "Am I really?"
Her stepsister got up off the floor and ran for the mirror. "Look, dear Plain ugly Jane, look for yourself".
Jane stared at her reflection. Her face was distorted. Eyes too big, ears sticking out, chin too long, long gangly body.
"Are you that bad Jane?" Her Stepmother taunted. "What do you think after seeing yourself? Who would ever want you? Look at yourself? Go back to dreaming dear girl. You are nothing, and you will always be nothing!"
"But yesterday" Jane sobbed, pushing the mirror away, "I was beautiful, I was not who you say I am".
"Yesterday?" Her Stepmother exclaimed. "Yesterday?? Go back to dreaming my child. Yesterday you were still my silly little niece and that is who you will always be!"
"A good for nothing!" Her stepsisters cried. "Who gets nothing right. Mother, she didn't even buy any food yesterday, what will we offer the Prince when he comes?"
Jane remembered that she hadn't bought the daily supplies, as she felt a cold slap across her face from her Stepmother's hand.
"Now you will go and leave and go to the market and do what you were supposed to yesterday" Jane's Stepmother spat. "At least you will not be here to try on the shoe. Now Go!"
Jane ran back upstairs and got herself showered and dressed. She was surprised as she stumbled across an object on the floor before her. She picked up the tattered shoe that she has worn just yesterday. Absentmindedly she stuffed it in her bag then fled and left the house holding her swollen cheek in her hand, her face flooded with tears.
She ran and ran seemingly forever. She ran and ran and ran and felt a sweet release as her feet hit the floor below her with maximum impact and speed. She ran so fast that she did not see the car that swerved to miss her, but instead careened into her and hit her knocking her flat to the floor.
Jane wiped her eyes and tried to focus. She tried to sit up but her head was fuzzy and everything around her began to spin. She settled back down onto the soft downy pillow that offered comfort to her throbbing head.
''Just relax'' a voice spoke softly as a glass was lifted to her mouth for her to sip water.
''Where am I?'' Jane asked. Grateful for the cold cool liquid that soothed her throat. ''What is going on?''
She felt a hand smooth out her hair and pull the soft covers up to her chin.
''Just relax'' the soft voice said again, a soft and familiar voice. ''You are safe''.
Jane let her body relax as she sank back into the comfort of her surroundings.
''Do you think she will be OK?'' a voice asked. ''She took a pretty hard hit, I mean, thank God that she isn't dead''.
''She will be fine'' another voice replied. ''Nothing a little rest won't cure''.
"She's waking up'' another voice said softly as Jane stirred her head once again.
''Where am I ?'' She asked, as she slowly tried to focus her eyes before her. ''What happened?''
Jane slowly learned from the recollection of those around her that she had been hit by a car. She had been running blindly, tears staining her view that she had not seen the car that had pulled out in front of her. The car that had been driven by her newly found Parisian friend. A deja vu experience of their first encounter.
He had been on a mission to find the keeper of the missing shoe. He had been all round town, but the shoe simply did not fit any of the ladies that had a choice encounter to claim. He had almost shouted for joy even though the circumstances did not give for elation, that the exquisite girl that had danced with the Prince lay before him. There she lay, she was the one. How unfortunate to find her in this way, but what hope that the end would be good. His car had been in a rush to find the one, when out of nowhere the young girl had bolted out in front. He made haste to get her to the nearest hospital and have her tended to.
The Parisian had been all around looking for the girl with no name. A house he had visited in particular stood out in his mind. In it were two young girls of questionable appearance, with their warts and buck teeth as they guffawed gleefully at his presence. Their mother stood intimidating and menacing as she forced the shoe to fit. Both girls tried on the slipper, but their feet had been too big. Each argued inexplicably, pulling and tugging at the shoe until it eventually it flew out of their hands and smashed into tiny glass pieces.
The Parisian cried and wept as it was evident the Prince would no longer find his Belle after the unruly mishap. He was amazed that as he was driving back to the palace to break the bad news, this young exquisite and familiar beauty had crossed his path. He was enthralled that he could have caused her life to be taken from her, and upon impact, had carried her back to his car and off to the emergency room.
The Parisian stared at the Prince as he held Jane's hand and wiped her forehead.
''How now, will I prove and keep to my word, that the one whom the shoe shall fit will be mine?'' The Prince lamented.
He sat regal by Jane's side, as she fell in and out of consciousness. On the third day, Jane's eyes were able to focus. As she opened them, she was able to focus albeit with a squint. She stared at the man holding her hand who sat by her side. Why was he so sad, she wondered. What made him hold on to her hand with such tenderness.
''You are awake'' the Prince exclaimed. ''We have been waiting for you''. Jane stared at his familiar face as she began to remember and recollect her memory.
''I danced with you'' she whispered. ''You are the Prince, this I know now''.
''My Prince'' the Parisian spoke. ''You know we can do nothing. You are bound by your word. If there is no shoe for Ma Belle to try on, she can not be yours to claim". he said as he gently laid his hand upon the Prince's shoulder.
The Prince looked woeful as he buried his head in his hands.
"A shoe you say?" Jane whispered. "So it was not a dream".
"Ma Belle" The Parisian said "Pleaze do not exhort yourself with empty words, you must rest". His accent was stronger the more agitated he became.
"Empty words" Jane whispered, "Yes I am speaking empty words" She replied, resting back on her bed. She lay silent for a while as she tried to make sense of things. "My bag" She croaked, "Please bring me my bag".
The Parisian reached for the bag that had been with Jane when she had been knocked down. From within the bag, Jane pulled out an object and held it tightly in her hands.
"It was not empty words" she smiled slowly, "And it was not a dream". The Prince and his assistant looked as she slowly held up the worn and tattered shoe.
"I was so sure" the Parisian said as he looked disdainfully at the shoe Jane held. "She has the same look in her eyes. Let us go my Prince" He turned to leave.
"This may be what you are looking for" Jane said as a laugh escaped her. She could not help but laugh.
"Wait!" The Prince cried. "And I swore I would never forget that laugh!" He turned to stare at Jane.
"Please" Jane cried as they made a way to leave. "Please do me good and place this filthy shoe upon my foot".
The Prince and his assistant stared at her.
"You owe me that much" Jane said. The Prince took the worn out shoe from her hand and placed it upon her foot, surprised and taken aback that the moment he did so, the shoe turned into the beautiful glass slipper she had worn the day before.
"Ma Cherie!" The Parisian cried. "The shoe had to fit! And off course, it did!" He danced around the room elated.
The prince rushed to Jane's side and held her head in his hands, knowing at that moment that he had found what was always meant to be his....