Cinderella’s End – My eighth book

Cinderella’s End: The Revenge of the Witch

By A.F. Winter
 
List Price: $12.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
268 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1514656181 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1514656183
BISAC: Fiction / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology

What happens to the characters in a fairy tale after “happily ever after?” Many cultures have a version of Cinderella because it is the ultimate underdog story of a bullied young girl in rags beating the odds and rising to the top. Cinderella’s End is about what happens after the ball and the marriage and asks the question, did Cinderella actually find true love?

Cinderella and Prince John marry but neither is particularly well-suited for marriage. Everyone important to Cinderella has died. She is an emotional wasteland. Prince John was raised to be a leader of the kingdom, not to be emotionally available. When their daughter is abducted by an evil witch, John goes on a quest to bring her home. Cinderella, left at the castle, is forced to play a role she was never comfortable in, a symbol to placate the peasants. After years of being alone, she develops an emotional attachment to a kitchen servant. The remaining royals do not approve of this friendship, accuse him of spying and throw him in the dungeon. The novel explores whether love can survive through distance and time.


inauguration day 1/20/2017

President Trump
Still can’t get my mind around it.
Get over it. Sour grapes. What is done is done.
Driving home from work.
Turning into my neighborhood.
I have been living here for three years.
Usually I wave to the African-American kid playing basketball.
Sinking baskets in his temporary hoop set up in the road.
He was not there today.
Two white kids riding their bikes,
Look suspiciously as they pass me.
Dressed in camouflage gear,
Plastic AK’s slung over their shoulders,
A taste of things to come.


Love is like Christmas 11/16/16

 

Love is like Christmas

The smell of freshly

Baked ginger cookies

From grandma’s kitchen

The brightly lit homes

Filled with welcomes welcome

The beautifully decorated tree

Holding gently

Memories of a lifetime,

Ornaments passed from

Generation to generation,

From friend to friend.

 

I walk down the quiet street,

Listening to the holiday parties

The Laughter,

The stories

Of good times past

And memories of good friend passed.

Their lives continue

In the retelling of traditions

And of recipes recreated.

 

I walk down the happy street

Where tomorrow morning

Children will rise,

Jumping on their parent’s bed

Gleefully yelling,

Santa was here, Santa was here.

The living room will soon be filled with

Mountains of discarded wrapping paper and

The laughter of children

As they test the warranties of their gifts.

 

I stop outside my home.

The darkened rooms.

There is no smell of cookies.

No tree with brightly

Wrapped presents beneath.

 

Love is like Christmas for me.

Never had it, never will.

And the expectation every year,

Of what Santa will bring,

Of what love will bring,

Makes my home a prison,

Sentenced to my gloomy rooms,

Waiting for release.

I walk away from my prison cell

To a darker corner of my town.

 

Mrs. Wilson’s husband passed.

It is the first Christmas without him.

Their only son died in Vietnam

So very long ago.

She sits alone with a scrapbook,

And smiles with tears in her eyes.

 

Mr. Paneer’s wife left him,

Along with the kids.

She always trimmed the tree.

He didn’t buy one this year.

He wouldn’t, he couldn’t.

He drinks another round while

Looking into the empty corner.

 

Mr. Murry died last fall.

His house is dark.

A For Sale sign sits out front.

And that is all that is left of Mr. Murry.

 

I stopped.

A light snow falling down,

Seemed to glisten in the streetlight’s glow.

Dancing, dancing,

Slowly falling.

I held my hand out.

A snowflake landed in my palm

A moment before melting.

Love is like Christmas,

Like Christmas indeed.


I will not tend my garden anymore. 11/19/16

 

I will not tend my garden anymore.

Let it grow. Let it grow.

I cannot contain it anyway.

It will wilt or grow in God’s own way.

 

I remember when I came to this place.

Four stately pines, three in the back, leaning towards each other

Dependent but independent. I thought they were weak.

I thought they would fall, so I cut them.

I cut them down, not letting them live, their lives,

Without my consent.

 

One in the front, I cut down as well

Too close to the house.

Too close to my home.

Too close to me.

So I cut it down.

Four trees, three of the past, one for tomorrow.

 

And then I cut some more,

Pruning and weeding,

Uprooting and cutting

In order to make my garden perfect.

But I have tended too, too aggressively.

Plants like people need space to grow and air to breath.

They cannot blossom in trifled containers.

 

My Gypsy Sues have died, their thorny skeletons catching me when I pass.

My Lodden Blue has wilted but flourishes far away from my tending.

Professor Anton Kippenburg refused to sprout, never wanting to share their bloom.

The winds and the rains came and scattered what was left.

Broken limbs decaying, hiding in unmowed grass.

 

I will not tend my garden anymore.

Let the weeds grow,

The mushrooms appear then fade overnight.

Let the bugs and the beasts find sanctuary.

I will not run them off.

Let the neighbors complain,

As they battle to control their own small plots of earth.

 

I will let God have his way.

I cannot fight what isn’t there.

My opinion is not required.

My approval is not needed.

What will be will be.

What will be will be.


Goodbyes 10/22/16

 

When I was four

They took off Bozo

For the funeral of JFK.

I remember a small boy

Saying goodbye to his father,

A salute, by his mother’s side.

 

When I was six,

I was left with my mother’s friend

As my parents attended the funeral

Of a small boy killed by a handgun.

Francis took me to the beach

And from a distance, I saw myself

Playing alone in the sparkling water.

 

Robert and Martin

Left me a few years later.

My mother crying softly

While watching the news.

The good die young

But so the bad,

Death doesn’t care

He welcomes all.

 

My best friend Solomon

Moved away

No reason was given

That a child could understand.

But watching Batman was no longer fun,

And Major Matt Mason

Was forgotten on the bookshelf.

 

In high school, my best friend

Was killed by a hit and run

On a lonely country road,

All by himself,

Lying on the cold asphalt,

Staring up at a beautiful night’s sky.

I rode to the funeral with his girlfriend,

My secret crush.

She rested her troubled head on my shoulder

But we never really talked again.

Two losses from one death.

I reminded her of him too much

To be around.

 

Death is always here,

Waiting to appear at some inconvenient time.

Faith is only a way to make life bearable,

A lie we force ourselves to believe

So we can get out of bed.

 

As I grew up

People left me in other ways.

Broken relationships and broken hearts

Scattered along life’s bumpy road.

Holding on to another

In a desperate effort to feel safe

To feel love

To feel forever.

 

The results are the same

Sitting alone hoping my broken heart will mend,

So that one day, I’ll find my happily ever after

One day my princess will come.

 

Then suddenly I just stopped,

Believing in forever.

No sudden deaths,

No abrupt departures,

Only the truth of life

That we are mortal

And there is only now.

 

So find someone to love

And accept that nothing is forever.

But moments can be filled with love, and hope, and joy,

As well as separation’s sorrow.


Eyes of a stranger 09/24/16

The manager looked at me with a blank look. “What was your order?”

“Eight everything, eight plain, and fourteen sesame.”

Her blank expression turned into the crazed worker whose associates screwed up and she was getting blamed for it. Her head slightly tilting to the left as her lips curled into a demented smile.  She had a rough morning.  The take out line was around the corner.  She was understaffed and there were lots of screaming babies. “I’m sorry, there is a fresh batch coming out soon, can you wait twenty minutes?”

That really wasn’t a question. If I wanted my damn bagels, I would have to wait for them.

“Can I get you a coffee while you are waiting?” She nodded to the cashier who took over while she ran to put out more metaphorical fires in the back.

The cashier smiled at me. “What would you like?”

“I’d best have decaf. I’m going to have to call the wife and explain why breakfast will be late.”

That was a lie. I have no wife. No kids, who will greet me like a conquering hero when I return with a freshly baked bagel breakfast. I have nothing to rush home to.  I buy two dozen bagels so I don’t have to come down here for another month.

So why do I feel the need to tell this person whom I never met and probably will never meet again, that I had some semblance of a normal life? She didn’t care.  I am just another customer, one of hundreds she will see today. As long as I am not a prick and make her life a living hell for a minute or two, she will forget about me as soon as I exit the store.

Why should I care what people think of me? Probably some basic human need to be accepted, to be loved. Why look for acceptance in the eyes of a cashier?  Why look for love in the eyes of a stranger?

I took my decaf making no attempt to complete the charade by placing a fake phone call to my fake wife. I headed to the milk bar.  Poured 2% into my coffee but only a few drops came out.

I looked at my almost black coffee debating whether it was worth going back to the cashier to ask for more. There was a teenage girl standing impatiently behind me waiting for a straw. She probably had some important business on her cell phone to attend to and my getting some milk for my coffee was standing in the way of world peace! I took a sip.  Damn, it was too dark to drink!

I headed back to the cashier. There was a customer who thought he was very funny.  He wasn’t.  The cashier smiled at his joke but he wasn’t done and kept going for another thirty seconds.    Tick, tick, tick. She smiled, he droned on, and I waited with the empty 2% thermos in my hand. Tick, tick, tick. Finally he got his change and left.

“This is empty.” I handed her the container.

She took it, turned to the small refrigerator behind her and filled it up. I accepted it back without a word. I filled my coffee cup to the brim but did not put the lid on correctly. When I turned to go, it spilled on the floor.

A older woman at the table closest to the bar looked at me as if to say, “Well, you gonna clean that up?”

If I didn’t catch her eyes, I could have just left. If I didn’t have lingering mother issues, I would have left. But I did, and I do, so now I was obligated to clean it up or else every customer in the place would think ill of me.  Here we go again! What the hell do I care what these people think of me? If I wasn’t stuck here in this coffee shop purgatory waiting for my bagels, I would be gone and life would be perfect.  If someone slipped on my light decaf coffee, it would be their problem.

I smiled weakly and tossed several napkins on the floor and swished them around with my foot. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Now I was going to have to pick up dirty floor napkins that I touched with my foot.  My life was spinning out of control!

I picked up the ball of dirty towels and tossed them in the trash container and then I turned to my coffee cup. Crap, I didn’t put the lid on properly because I was so concerned about the stares of those stupid table people! Now I had dirty napkins hands!  AND I had to wash them!

I took the cup with my left hand trying to balance the loose lid on the top while not spilling anymore of it. I headed into the bathroom to wash my hands.  But the lid was sliding off and I became overly concerned that whatever was flying around in the air of the men’s room would end up in my coffee.

Oh hell, it stunk to high heaven! Why do people do their number two business in public restrooms?  Even though, I didn’t have to use it, I gingerly peered into the bowl.  It was worse than I imagined! What sort of beast could produce something so large? Now I would not be able to get that image out of my mind for at least the next three hours.

I washed my hands quickly and fixed the lid on my coffee cup wondering how much of that thing in the toilet ended up in my coffee. That was not the biggest of my concerns. I turned to the door. There were people beyond.  If I opened the door and the smell wafted out into the dining room, everyone within smelling distance would think I was responsible.  But what was my choice?  Should I stay in the restroom and pass out from the fumes?  What would the headlines in the papers read, “Man drinking coffee in the bathroom dies from the stench of his own stool!”  A picture of me lying on the floor would go viral.

I decided to leave the bathroom. I always wonder about people leaving public restrooms with drinks.  Were they drinking while doing their business?  This was all too much.  I opened the door quickly and got out into the dining area without being noticed.

I sat down at a two top table and buried my thoughts into my coffee. I’m doing ok.  I’m doing ok. All will turn out well if I could just hold on for another minute or two.

“Here you go sir, sorry for the wait.” The manager said bringing the bagels over to my table.

I jumped slightly, startled at the proximity of my bagel bags. I thought I covered it up well although the manager did have a smile on her face that was larger than the regular customer service smile.  I got up quickly and paid for my order.

Stepping outside to freedom I exhaled deeply. I was free, but to do what? Go home and put the bagels in freezer bags, wondering how much I would be able to fit in each bag?  Could I fit eight in a bag?  And what happens if there is an extra one?  Do I mix everything with the sesame or even worse, the plain?  Will the plain retain its plainness in a bag with other types of bagels?  Sounds like a political conversation.

As important as that all seems, I longed for the excitement of the bagel joint; where orders are not filled in a timely fashion and loosely placed coffee lids create danger at every turn. I turned to enter again but realized I couldn’t go back in again. Not now. Ah well, there is always the next time. There is always the next time.


If Only

09/01/16

 

If only Love had left me

When I asked it to

Instead of lingering

Like a scar

From a past

Forgotten injury.

 

If only Love had left me

When I screamed

For her to go.

 

“I do not want you anymore,

Your companionship is painful to me,

When you are here

When you are gone.

So, go,

And maybe soon

I will forget

That time or this

That smile or kiss.”

 

But she, refused to leave me.

Standing sadly,

In the background

In the shadows,

In the hidden corners

Of my mind.

 

Whispering, whispering

Barely audible words

Above the cars in the street

Or the low hum of the office air vents.

 

“Remember, remember when…”

Replacing remember we

With remember you.

“Remember when you and I laughed over our sorrow?

Remember when I helped you through?

I will not help you anymore.

No not again, no not again.

But I will evermore remind you of days I did.

So down a lonely road, you go alone

Because I fill a space in you,

Which would be filled by another

If I would go.

But I will never go.

No, I will never go.”

 

If only Love had left me

When I asked it to.

I cannot ask again.

I cannot, no, not again.