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  • Shivali Yadav


The clock smirks at me, displaying the fifteen minutes I have left before the curtains are raised tauntingly. The mirror laughs at me silently, surveying my ruined gown with a haughty eye. I force myself to take a deep breath, collecting my thoughts.

I’m Sia. I’m 16. I’m Indian. In 15 minutes, I’m going to be portraying Cinderella in the local play, my debut play.

Two minutes ago, I rushed backstage and was greeted with a look of unbridled horror on my manager’s face as he took in my ruined gown, splattered with mud. I looked like a princess who had got lost at a country fair.

With a squeal that was highly unseemly for a middle-aged man, he bolted away to somehow procure another dress of pure white and fine gold lace - something I’d splurged on for the occasion of my debut play. As I watch him rush off, the feelings I had pushed down rise treacherously to the surface and I sit in front of my dressing mirror, watching as a tear slowly slides down.

What was I thinking? Me, an Indian girl with clearly too big a mouth, auditioning to play Cinderella, a stereotypical white princess? My heart shrivels with worry as my mind catches on to my intentions. You didn’t ‘accidentally’ fall, did you? I feel a rush of pity for my beautiful dress, which had been my treasured companion through the practices, now ruined for my selfish purposes.

A small voice speaks in the back. “Stagefright?” A girl looks curiously over at me, compassion in her eyes. She’s dressed in a simple blue dress, but an aura of calm and serenity exudes from her. I nod, not wanting to explain how I’m in way over my head, how I’ll never be able to look at my disappointed parents. She nods, her eyes piercing me and I think she just knows.

“Well, it’s too bad. I was hoping to see something new in the old, boring fairytale. I thought you would add that...spice to it, you know?” I glance at her, and just those simple lines seem to unlock something in me. She doesn’t expect me to be that same princess...even if I’m different, why not own it? Why not add the spice?

God knows fairytales have long been dominated by fair-skinned princesses, considered to be the epitome of beauty. Wasn’t that exactly why I’d auditioned for this in the first place? I can’t sit around waiting for a brown-skinned princess to arrive, I’ve got to try to create that story for myself. A clarity washes over me - I can do this. I will do this.

Suddenly a thought strikes me - my poor dress!

The girl smiles at me, again with that all-knowing glance. Grabbing fabric from the drawer, she adds a lace layer to my skirt, effectively concealing the stains.

“I think you’re my fairy godmother,” I say, awed. She just laughs with a twinkle in her eyes and pushes me towards the stage door.

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