Plugs

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Cinderella Begins Dating Again After a Bitter Divorce

by Luc Reid

“You look beautiful.”

“Don’t be charming,” she snapped.

Cinderella’s date took a swig of chianti to cover his confusion. A peasant’s idea of a nice wine; Cinderella ignored hers. Though Charming probably wasn’t drinking much better stuff these days, after the settlement. He was lucky he’d got to keep the cobwebby old chalet where he now had to live. Hell, he was lucky he got anything at all after his fling with Sleeping Beauty.

Her date smiled at her. What was his name again? Hans or Jan or something like that. He was handsome in a chunky, woodcuttery way. He smelled like ginger. That wasn’t bad, ginger. It made Cinderella think of pumpkin pie.

“So, Cinderella,” he said. “What do you do?”

“Do? Nothing. I used to scrub floors and have forest animals at my beck and call, but they’re not welcome in the palace. Or I guess they weren’t. Now they will be. If they still have any idea who I am.”

“You like animals? I like animals,” he said in a rush. Then his face grew red. “Sorry, that sounds desperate.”

“Better than charming,” she said. There was a long silence, and she tapped one foot impatiently. She grimaced. “When’s the waiter going to be here with our salads?”

Hans or Jan or something sighed and stood up, dropping a few coins on the table. “Let’s try again another time,” he said.

Cinderella stared, uncomprehending, as Hans or Jan or something bowed awkwardly and walked to the door. What was he doing? Cinderella was beautiful, obviously rich, she had a lovely singing voice … he was leaving, just like that?

Apparently he was: she waited for a long moment, and he didn’t come back. Cinderella ran out to the parking lot, not losing her shoe because she had long since taken to wearing ones with straps.

There was nothing out there but the surrounding forest.

Cinderella looked all around her, the anger draining away. He wasn’t Charming. Why had she been taking it out on him?

An ancient bluebird flapped arthritically to the ground and trilled at her, and she saw something beside it: a white stone, gleaming in the moonlight. And there was another, and another: a trail! She picked a breadcrumb off her blouse and threw it to the bird, then followed the rocks into the dark forest.
Hansel, that was his name. Hansel.

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