- Side note: This story was written in response to an Invitation to write a Cinderella story.
- The creators of the challenge are Anne and Theresa and you can click on their names to read their initial stories.
Outside on a stranger’s trampoline, Cindy wondered how she let herself be dragged to yet another party that she did not want to attend. Izelle and Stacia were to blame of course. They’re always to blame for things like this happening lately. Cindy sat with her legs dangling off the edge of the trampoline, with a drink in her hand. It was a Cream Soda. Cindy doesn’t like to drink much (alcohol makes her a bit anxious) so she stuck to the sweet stuff.
She watched the bubbles float to the top of the little plastic cup and took a sip. Caffeine and sugar don’t help with the anxiety either, but they didn’t have much variety at this particular get-together. Cream Soda wins over Coca Cola any day. Besides, maybe if she had a bit of sugar she would feel more inclined to go back to the crowd and talk to a few people. Or dance. Or whatever it is that you’re meant to do at these sorts of things.
She had lost track of Izelle and Stacia quite early on and then she decided to quite literally turn her back on the party and its commotion. Those two girls were the definition of social butterflies. What a stroke of luck that her father decided to marry a woman with twin daughters that were Cindy’s exact age. It’s not that they were bad step-sisters. On the contrary, they were excellent friends to Cindy and they got along very well. The twins are intelligent and they make for first-rate conversation. They just enjoy being social a lot more than Cindy does.
The conflict usually arises when the trio must decide how to spend their weekends together. They made a compromise (after their parents suggested it) and they take turns choosing their activities for their days off from school. When it’s Cindy’s weekend, she usually picks a movie marathon or a trip to the bookstore. Sometimes when she’s feeling especially adventurous, she votes for a day of baking cupcakes and making pizzas. Obviously, this party had to coincide with a weekend when one of the twins got to choose the activities.
Usually when confronted with a social gathering, Cindy makes her childhood friend Faye tag along. At least then she has someone to sit quietly with and avoid the crowds and the incessant music. Not to mention the inevitable mess that occurs when teenagers get together and play beer pong. However, Faye coincidentally had to go for dinner with her parents on the eve of the party. It was her brother’s birthday and her parents always take them out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate special occasions. When Cindy heard about this she went into full panic mode.
“Faye, I can’t possibly go to a.. a party without you!”
“Darling, of course you can. We’ve been to a few together and we survived. They’re not all that bad.”
“Yes, because we went together. I’ve never gone without you before. I can’t do it. I refuse.”
“Cindy that’s nonsense and you know it. You should go. The twins won’t forgive you and your parents will make a fuss. None of us want a mess like that happening again. Listen, I’ll help you pick out an outfit.”
“Yeah that’s all well and good but-”
“No buts. I’ll even spend the afternoon with you guys and have my parents pick me up from your place before the dinner.”
Cindy sighed and folded her arms with a frown before giving in.
“You better pick out one amazing outfit for me then.”
Suddenly, Cindy snapped out of her reverie and she was back alone in the near darkness. The door on the veranda creaked open and the noise from inside the house trebled in volume. Cindy winced slightly and her heart started to beat a little bit faster when she heard the door close again. It was the footsteps heading towards her tiny haven that worried her. It couldn’t be the twins. They were surely still busy flirting with their victims for the evening. She was also quite certain that she wasn’t friends with anyone else at this party. So, the mystery person couldn’t possibly want to start a conversation with her. Could they? She downed the last bit of her soda and turned to identify her enigma.
“Hi there, mind if I join you?”
“Um, no, I mean, sure you can join me if you want.”
It was Henry. She certainly didn’t expect to see him here. They have a class or two together and he’s never really seemed like the partying-type. Even if he is quite popular. Cindy just couldn’t picture him playing drinking games or dancing with the others. They had engaged in a few debates in class before and she thought he would enjoy watching the news or studying instead of this. He’s top of the class after all. Henry took her empty cup and threw it into the dustbin nearby before getting up next to her on the edge of the trampoline.
“Don’t like parties much?” He started to swing his legs back and forth and the vibrations travelled through the springs.
Cindy smiled nervously at the question.
“How can you tell?” She laughed and pushed her hair behind her ears. “It looks like you’re not the biggest fan of them either.”
She turned to look at him properly for the first time since he arrived. In his eyes, she saw the faintest flicker of panic before it was gone again.
“Well I don’t come to them willingly. I was coerced, you see. A few of my friends really wanted to come tonight and they may have brought me without informing me of our destination.” He nervously tugged at his sleeve and sighed.
Cindy didn’t really know how to respond to that so she said the first thing that popped into her head.
“Wanna jump?” She turned around onto her knees and got onto her feet. Then she pulled Henry up with her. He started laughing and joined her in jumping. They laughed and bounced until they were gasping for air. The smiling pair flopped down backwards onto the trampoline and looked for the moon. Cindy had a love for astronomy and started to point out a few constellations. They continued to talk about everything from Greek mythology to their favourite fast food places.
It was nearly midnight when Izelle and Stacia finally found her. “Dad’s here Cindy. Come on. Time to go.”
“Coming.” She jumped down off the trampoline and turned to go, but a hand on her shoulder made her turn back.
“You really are something else.” It was almost a whisper from Henry. “Don’t forget your weird shoes.”
“Oh thanks.” Cindy took her shoes from his hands and giggled while putting them back onto her feet. “I would have left without them.”
“You should definitely wear them tomorrow. That way if I see you in the halls, I’ll know this wasn’t a dream. You should have lunch at our table too. Your sisters are welcome to join. What do you say?”
“I’d like that.”
Cindy looked down towards her flat pumps with the unicorns and pizza slice graphics. She made a mental note to thank Faye for her fashion advice in the morning.
© Bianca Greyvenstein