I remember the extreme sadness that pervaded our household when my mother died during the birth of my baby sister Louise.
As a baby Louise thrived under the doting care of my father and myself. But I know my father languished from the loss of his wife, his love.
In time, as we know, a healing did take place and we were able to rejoice in the sight of Louise growing into the child who so reminded us of my mother.
Father also grew to relax in his widowerhood and one day he found a new ladylove. Petronella. Or Putrid as Louise and I called her.
What father saw in her was beyond us as we saw her for what she was a modern day gold digger who pandered to his every want and who found a way with her shallow words to lull him into a false sense of security.
Her lure of comfort and pleasure was enough for father and the two eventually married.
Once ensconced in our home she lived up to the name Putrid.
With a face like a dried up prune and a manner that rubbed you the wrong way from your first sight of her each morning it wasn’t long before Louise and I found the going tough having to spend our days during each school holiday alone with her. She would dismiss us from the kitchen each morning and announce she didn’t want to see us until dinnertime. That worked fine for us, as we loved to play outside and make up our own games and stories of fairies in the garden.
Louise grew into a beautiful girl the spitting image of our mother. She was smart and thoughtful but lived in fear of Putrid’s scorn.
She was top of her class at school and on her sixteenth birthday she announced a desire to go to the end of year social function at the school.
Putrid saw this as an opportunity to thwart Louise’s dreams and went about doing everything to take the glow off her plans.
Shopping trips to buy a new dress, appointments to have her hair done and the online orders of a new set of fashion accessories were either cancelled or never arrived.
Putrid was always apologetic about each setback saying that they still had a few days before the function and she would make sure that Louise was outfitted as she desired.
But by the day of the social nothing had been organised and Louise in her usual polite way announced that as she didn’t have anything to wear she’d cancel her plans and resigned herself to stay the night at home.
Putrid who had spent the previous days in her bed complaining of migraines and an upset stomach did upon this announcement suddenly experience a miraculous recovery and went about things in her underhand way offering Louise sympathy, saying there would be other occasions and that she was sorry she couldn’t get out of bed to take Louise shopping.
Father who was away working at the time knew nothing of this only that Putrid had been ill and she had each night rung him to tell him of her alleged woes.
I found Louise that night after our dinner and after we, as always, had cleaned the kitchen, in her room crying.
It had become clear to us over dinner when we couldn’t help but notice the pleased look upon Putrid’s face that she had manipulated the situation to her own ends.
I sat beside Louise as she sobbed uncontrollably unable to understand the vile behaviour of our stepmother.
In my mind I heard the voice.
‘Should I?’ it asked.
‘I think she is old enough to know,’ I replied.
‘I hate to see her upset.’
‘I think she’ll handle you well.’
‘Well hang around she’ll need you here. It was a nightmare when I made myself known to you.’
‘Well you did sort of come out of no where.’
‘We do that you know. Here one minute gone the next.’
‘You’d better get on with it the dance will begin very soon.’
Meanwhile Louise was lying there using tissues ten to the dozen…. I touched her on the shoulder and called for her to sit up that we needed to talk.
Louise and I did I lot of talking and we confided in each a lot as we grew older.
‘There’s someone I want you to meet Louise.’
‘What?’ She said looking at me.
‘I want you to meet our Fairy Godmother.’
Louise looked at me as if I was mad.
What Louise saw at the end of the bed was a bright light inside of which stood the most beautiful woman. I know because its what I saw the first time as well. Since then the Fairy Godmother had lived happily in my head, which at times made me think I was going mad. But she was real and now more real than ever in making herself known to my sister.
‘There’s a function you have to attend,’ said the Fairy Godmother.
‘I have nothing to wear,’ moaned Louise and began crying again. ‘I was so looking forward to it as it’s to be my last chance to be with my school friends.’
‘Then you shall go.’
‘Good question. Now tell me about the dress you wanted to wear.’
In the next five minutes Louise, I am sure feeling she had nothing to lose, explained and described to the Fairy Godmother the outfit she wanted for this evenings function.
As she went along the Fairy Godmother uttered a series of grunts and nods and watching Louise as if sizing her up.
‘Like this?’ Announced the Fairy Godmother.
In a flash of light Louise was transformed into the image she described complete with her hair as she had dreamed.
‘Not bad, you’ve good taste,’ said the Fairy Godmother.
Louise looked across the room at the mirror on the opposite wall and saw herself in the beauty that was hers.
‘You look so beautiful Louise,’ I said to her standing behind her.
‘But how?’ was all she could say.
‘We Fairy Godmothers work in mysterious ways,’ she said finally. ‘Go enjoy yourself. You sister will drive you. Wont you?’
‘Of course,’ I said taking Louise’s hand.
‘But,’ said Louise. ‘What about Putrid?
‘Taken care of.’ said Fairy Godmother.
As we walked through the house on our way out we saw Putrid asleep on the lounge.
‘She’ll sleep through the night. You go have a fun time Louise.’
She turned to the Fairy Godmother, then looked at me.
‘Is this real at all?’ she asked.
‘Get a move on,’ said Fairy Godmother. ‘You don’t want to keep your friends waiting.’
I took Louise’s hand and squeezed it.
The Fairy Godmother at that juncture moved a part of herself into Louise’s mind.