The Ugly Stepsister 

by Denise Duhamel

 You don’t know what it was like 
My mother marries this bum who takes off on us after a few months, leaving his little Cinderella behind.

Oh yes, Cindy will try to tell you that
her father died. But between you and me, He took up with a dame close to Cindy’s age. 

My mother never got a cent out of him for child support.
 So that explains why sometimes the old lady was gruff. 

My sisters and I didn’t mind Cindy at first but her relentless cheeriness soon took its toll. 
She dragged the dirty clothes to one of Chelsea's Laundromats.

 She was fond of talking 
to mice and rats on the way.  
She loved  doing dishes 
and scrubbing walls,
taking phone messages, 
and cleaning toilet bowls.
You know 
the kind of woman that ma the rest of us look bad.


My sisters and I  weren't paranoid, but we couldn’t help but see this manic love for  housework 
as part of Cindy’s sinister plan.

Our dates would come to pick us up
and Cindy'd pop out of the kitchen offering warm choc-late chip cookies.

Critics often point to the fact that my sisters and I were dark and she was blonde, implying jealousy on our part.

But let me set the record straight. We have the empty bottles of Clairol’s Nic-en Easy to prove Cindy was a fake.

She was what her shrink called 
A master manipulator.
She loved people to feel bad for Her  her favorite phrase was a faint, 
”I don’t mind. That’s O-K “.

 We should have known, 
she’d marry Jeff Charming,
the guy from our high school 
who went on to trade bonds.

Cindy finagled her way 
into a private Christmas party
on Wall Street, charging a little black dress at Barney’s, which she would have returned the next day 
if Jeff hadn’t fallen head over heels.

She claimed that he took her on a horse and buggy ride through
Central Park, that it was the most romantic evening of her life, even though she was home before midnight a bit early, if you ask me, For Manhattan. 

It turned out that Jeff was seeing someone else and had to cover his tracks.

But Cindy didn’t let little things like another woman’s happiness get in her way.  She filled her glass slipper 
with champagne she had lifted 
from the Wall Street extravaganza.

She toasted to Mister Charming’s  coming around, which he did 
soon enough.

At the wedding, some of Cindy’s friends looked at my sisters and me with pity.
The bride insisted that our bridesmaid's dresses should be pumpkin, which is  a hard enough color for anyone to carry off.

But let me assure you,
We’re all very happy 
now that Cindy’s moved uptown. We’ve 
started an on line  business cosmetics and perfumes. Just between you and me, 
There’s quite a few bucks to be made on women’s self doubts.

And though we don’t like to gloat, We hear Cindy Charming 
isn’t doing her aerobics anymore.

It’s rumored  she yells at the maid, and locks herself in her room,  
pressing hot match tips into her palm.