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Step Sister's Anonymous

Prompt: We’ve spoken of wolves and dragons, and touched a little on their portrayal in story. Twist a folktale or any story you can remember, changing the antagonist (the "other" in the story, often considered, but not always, the bad guy) into the protagonist (the most important character, the hero), and writing from the first person point of view (“I”) or second person point of view (“you”). How does the viewpoint change the folktale? Does empathy grow as you look at this character as “you” or “I” rather than as “she” or “he”? Can you find a touch of humor or a distance from ineffective stress as you ponder and write?

Some characters you might use: The stepsisters or stepmother of Cinderella; the queen/witch in Snow White; the little girl (Goldilocks to some) who invades the home of the Three Bears; the “Big Bad Wolf" of the Three Pigs; the absent/neglectful parents of the Hansel and Gretel tale; the wicked witch (or, perhaps, the Wizard?) in the land of Oz.

Here's what I wrote:

To Her Royal Highness, Princess of Charmington

Dear Cinderella,

I know you’ve asked for people to call you Ella, but I just can not get used to calling you that name. I hope you are doing well up there in the castle. I never would’ve imagined you, of all people, would be enjoying the lush gardens, the delicious foods, and the company of the Prince. I suppose you have your own servant to fetch you things now. It must be nice.

I wanted to let you know that I have been taking care of your mice. If you’re lucky, I will keep feeding them until you are able to retrieve them. Of course, if you invited me to the castle for tea, I might be so kind as to bring your pets to see you. Hopefully, I won’t get bored with them before then. I wouldn’t want to forget to close their cage and for Felix to eat them for a snack.

We have a new postal carrier who is not from here. His English is adequate, but could use some work. So, I hope you received my letter last week. It should have come with a photo I let you borrow. I just knew you’d appreciate having a picture of me with Mother and Anastasia.

I am so pleased to have been an integral part in your growth and upbringing before you arrived at the castle. From what I have seen on the castle social media site, you have taken my hairstyle and clothing suggestions to heart. Remember how I always used to tell you the blue was your color, Cinderella?

I look forward to receiving an invitation to visit soon. Gus Gus, the mouse, says to tell you hello.

Yours Faithfully,

Drisella Tremaine

To Her Royal Highness, Princess of Charmington

Dear Cinderella,

I am so utterly disappointed that the postal carrier failed to deliver the last two letters to you. I know if you had received them you would have responded graciously. I am sending this one through certified mail so that I can be sure it gets to you. I saw you on the news last night. You were so articulate. You are such a credit to people like yourself. When I see you on the news, I just see my sister. All of the other things just seem to fade away. You are such a great example to others. You are teaching young girls everywhere that everyone can succeed if they just work hard. I did want to mention, there was a moment in your news interview when you laughed just a tad bit too loud. Remember what Mother always taught you, a closed mouth is a beautiful mouth.

When you do invite me to visit, I hope that you won’t be inviting any of those girls from the Bloomton Chateau. They wear so many flowers that it makes me sneeze. Don’t you also agree that the eldest Bloomton girl behaves improperly, always eating her full sandwich before sipping her tea? Her family must not value proper etiquette. I look forward to enjoying tea with you soon.

Yours Faithfully,

Drisella Tremaine

To Lady Drisella Tremaine of the Tremain Chateau

Dear Miss,

This letter is to confirm that Princess Ella of Charmington has received your letters. Princess Ella sends you well wishes. Along with this letter, a courier is being sent to retrieve the Princess’s pet mice. Thank you for your graciousness in retrieving the Princess’s pets and bestowing them into the care of the courier.

As the lady-in-waiting to Princess Ella, it comes to my attention that there are some things I must share with you. I hope you will receive these words with receptivity and grace. Dearest Lady Drisella, Princess Ella has asked you multiple times to please call her by her name, “Ella.” It is only respectful to call people what they ask to be called. I see how you might want to remain comfortable by keeping your behaviors as they once were. Avoiding hard things and denying change, by your language and actions, is not helpful. You must recognize that you and Princess Ella have shared a difficult past. Pretending as if there is no problem is also not helpful.

I want to encourage you to start a journal and to engage in personal reflection, considering the harm you have caused toward Princess Ella. I would highly recommend you join a Step Sisters Anonymous (SSA) group. SSA is a national network of step sisters working to undermine step sister supremacy and to work for justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SSA moves Step Sisters to act for justice with passion and accountability.There is one that meets at Charmington Parish, just down the lane from your Chateau. In order to more fully entice you to be a part of Step Sisters Anonymous, the castle guards will be sending a watchman to escort you to weekly meetings for two months. After eight meetings, if you would like to continue attending, please let the watchman know and he will make arrangements to continue the guard services.

Kind Regards,

Lady Gloria Lightfoot

Lady-in-waiting to Princess Ella of Charmington

To Her Royal Highness, Princess of Charmington

Dear Ella,

I send humble greetings from Tremaine Chateau. I apologize that it has been twelve weeks since I last corresponded with you. I believe you’ll be happy for my reasoning, though. Upon your suggestion, I have been attending Step Sisters Anonymous meetings for three months. I have learned so much and have a lot more room to grow. I do not want to burden you with too much talk about myself, but suffice it to say I now recognize I am a part of a larger problem that I continue to knowingly and sometimes unknowingly perpetuate. I understand that I benefit when I ignore the problem and that when others point out to me my flaws, I behave as if I am fragile. I am taking steps to continue to seek out questions that make me uncomfortable and I want to undue and repair harm when and where I can.

Thank you for inviting me into a deeper and more full perspective of myself and the world. I find in doing this work that I have become more well acquainted with my place in the web of things. Remember how you used to look into the water well, sing beautiful songs, and talk to the blue birds and chipmunks that flitted by? I used to think you were crazy for spending time in the garden.Now, I find myself welling up with joy for the ways in which I am interconnected with all of creation. Oh, and I love to write in my journal by fire just like you used to. The hem of my skirt is always black with soot.

There is still more for me to learn and unlearn, but I am ever so grateful for the invitation to try. I am humbled that you would see in me any sense of possibility. I will forever be grateful.

Faithfully Yours


Post Script: I am sending a large piece of cheese for the mice. Please extend my apology to them for the way I treated them.

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