Once upon a time, there lived a wealthy onion merchant. But for all his fortune in gold, he was most unfortunate in marriage.
The first wife he married died after eating poisoned mushrooms. The townspeople offered their condolences and tutted their disapproval over such carelessness. Before the end of the season, the man married again. His second wife died within a month. When asked what befell his second wife, he would reply mournfully, "Ah, she died after having eaten the poisoned mushrooms." The people sympathised with the ill-fated and careless man.
When he took his third wife, she bore him a daughter. At her birth, the priest said to the mother, "Beware of poisoned mushrooms, for you have a child to care for now." The mother was a pious woman and she always avoided mushrooms anyway, for mushrooms and toadstools alike are the spawn of dark creatures and it is sinful to partake in the consumption of fungi of any nature.
Nevertheless, the third wife died shortly after their daughter grew to be a young maiden, who was so normal she bored her father to tears.
"Did she die of poisoned mushrooms, too?" the townspeople would ask the merchant.
"Alas, no," he would always reply, "she refused to eat her mushrooms. She died when she accidentally fell down the stairs."
After this debacle, no woman in town would marry the merchant, no matter how much gold he possessed in his coffers. The merchant then travelled often to faraway lands in search of exquisite onions, his daughter too plain and too simple to provide him with much entertainment. During his travels, he learnt that his daughter's deficiency was due to the mother having not eaten any mushrooms in her pregnancy and so a nutrient essential for brain and personality development was omitted in her diet. It was also on this journey, that he met a greedy widow and her two beautiful daughters. She became widowed when her husband died in a tragic accident which began with a slight miscalculation at the top of a stairway and ended with the cleaving of his upper body by the guillotine, which was placed haphazardly at the bottom of the stairwell after having been sharpened just an hour before.
It was a match made in heaven, to coin a phrase, and the rich merchant married the greedy widow. She became the stepmother of the young girl, and her two exotic daughters, the two stepsisters.
Not only was the stepmother greedy, she was also miserly. Her first act as lady of the household was to fire the staff and have her plain-faced stepdaughter do all the chores. It was not enough to have her stepdaughter launder the clothes, cook the meals, and clean the house: the stepmother had no job and so to pass the time, when she was not gossiping with neighbours or wasting her husband's hard-earned money on frivolous items, she would purposefully cook up inane chores to have her stepdaughter complete. One of her favourite tasks was to throw a bowl of peas into the roaring fireplace and have her stepdaughter pick out each pea before the hungry flames devoured them all. This task always left the girl dusty and red with angry burns on her skin, for the idea never occurred to her thick skull to put out the fire first. She was named Cinderella in commemoration of the ashes that always clung to her and the dust clouds that followed her like the shadow of a puppy.
The stepsisters indulged in the same pastimes and were even crueller for it, owing to their unsurpassable beauty that juxtaposed the emptiness inside of them where their hearts should have been. One stepsister possessed a deliciously curvy body and boasted ravishing red hair and skin the colour of the perfect milk tea. It was the perfect contrast to her willowy sister, with the calming silken black hair and porcelain white skin. Together, they were like the sun and the moon; the dawn sky healing the bruises of the dark night and in return, the cool embrace of night would extinguish the fires of a demanding day.
Now it just so happened that the current king was getting worried that his son did not yet have a bride. His majesty would have rather left this odious task to his queen, but she had died when she had paid no heed to the stairs due to the fact she was immersed in the mushroom pasty she was eating. The prince was nearing his thirties and all he did was throw wild parties, go hunting with his men and spend summers at his hunting lodge. Never did he entertain potential brides at court. The king did everything in his power to persuade his son to take a wife; he cried, he laughed, he lied until he barfed. On one such occasion, as the king was vomiting his fanciful meal of roast duck stuffed with sheep innards over his son's dainty shoes, he began to choke. He managed to gargle a strangled "help" but was refused any assistance as the prince was certain his father was pretending to choke to death in an attempt to get him to marry. The next day was the king's funeral.
To celebrate the death of his father and the end of his incessant nagging, the prince – who refused to accept the title "king" but kept "prince" since it implies less responsibility – proclaimed an extravagant funeral bash and the handsomest young men and beautiful girls in the land were invited. Without a doubt, the two stepsisters were invited and they could not contain their triumph that at last they have been given the chance to snag the prince in one of their traps.
The stepsisters would have made Cinderella comb out their hair, polish their dancing shoes and lay out their skimpy clothing, but it was foolish to let such a simple and dirty girl – who wept ashes and left dust like a slug leaves slime – to handle the delicacies of prepping for the wildest party in the kingdom.
Truth to be told, Cinderella did not care much for the party for she did not comprehend its importance. However, she wanted to go anyway, for her uncomplicated mind was an effective sponge and although it had no opinions of its own, it soaked up those of others.
"Go to the prince's party?" her stepmother scoffed. "I shall acquiesce this once, but only because your plainness and dancing inability will enhance the beauty and elegance of my daughters."
To make Cinderella as unattractive as possible, the stepmother hacked off Cinderella's ashen hair, whose natural colour was indeterminable, into a mockery of a man's short style. A copious amount of ash was smeared over Cinderella's face, so no one would recognise her. She proceeded to dress her up in her husband's oldest, most mouldy shirt and breeches. For shoes, Cinderella would have to content herself with her father's hunting boots for her stepmother did not bother to provide her with any. Finally, as a precaution lest all her other preparations are foiled, Cinderella would travel to the castle separately, in her father's onion wagon so that the eye-watering stench would imprint itself onto her clothes and render her presence intolerable.
The party was wild, indeed it was. Men roughhoused freely over the rights of which girl to take to bed, women bitch-slapped drunken men who mistook their breasts for pillows, and the prince condoned it all, dancing with anyone and everyone who took his fancy.
When Cinderella arrived in all her splendour, everyone wept when they smelt her. A deluge of onion-induced tears flowed endlessly and many delicate women fainted, her stepsisters included. This did nothing to deter the prince. If anything, it attracted him all the more.
"Mmm I like someone who is true to their nature. Dance with me," he said, grinding his hips against Cinderella's.
Just as her stepmother had predicted, Cinderella could not dance for all the beauty and intelligence in the world. Her legs jerked randomly and her arms flailed and flapped in useless attempts to keep herself upright. The prince found her strange dance moves endearing and turned to rub his backside against Cinderella, a cat enjoying the presence of its master. Her right leg chose that moment to have another of its unpredictable spasms and her right boot connected heavily with the prince's royal ass.
Cinderella was horrified. What had she done? Her primitive instincts did the first thing that came to mind. Flee. Getting up on to his feet, the prince stumbled to the castle grand entrance. "Wait!" he yelled into the darkness. "You have not told me your name! Come back!"
The prince became obsessed with the stranger he had danced with at his somewhat successful funeral bash. Never had he thought he would fall in love and now that he had, he must find a way to declare his feelings. He had no way of identifying his dance partner, save for one clue left behind – literally behind. The footprint on the seat of his trousers.
A royal proclamation was issued:
The person whose foot matches the footprint here on his Royal Highness's ass shall marry the prince, providing they are of the right gender.
Every house in the land was visited by the prince. None of the girls had feet big enough to fit the boot print. None of the boys had feet small enough. It was demeaning, bending over at every household and allowing everyone to place their right foot on his butt but it was the only way, the prince concluded. Everyone had to be checked, for the prince was uncertain of the gender of his dancer, the one with the androgynous good looks. It was a race, a competition, one that everyone in the kingdom was losing.
Finally, the prince arrived at Cinderella's house, the last in the kingdom. Fluttering her eyelashes and flashing the prince as she bent to put on her dance shoes, the redheaded stepsister placed her foot over the prince's ass.
"It does not fit," the prince's footman announced wearily.
Pouting prettily, the stepsister opened her mouth to argue but was silenced by the stepmother. The prince heaved an inaudible sigh of relief. Now it was the second stepsister's turn, the one favoured by everyone. Once again, the prince was treated to a glorious view up another girl's dress while she put on a show of struggling to fit her foot into her shoes. Again, the shoe was just a tad too small for the print.
"Oh well," the raven-haired stepsister said, and goosed the prince as she walked to face his front. "I'm the last girl in the kingdom and my shoe probably shrunk since the bash." She shrugged. "Obviously, your dance partner was me."
"No…" the prince whispered. How can this be? He cannot bear to stand the rest of his life with this insufferable wench. "You." he pointed at the footman. "Is this the last house?"
The footman glanced down at his sheet. "Yes, Your Highness. Although it appears there are three possible contenders of this household and we have met only two."
"Send the third to me. I WILL NOT BE DENIED!" the prince fumed when the stepmother tried to argue.
Moments later, Cinderella clomped down the stairs in her father's hunting boots. Her family hid their faces in shame. Cinderella had cobwebs in her hair, dust particles swirling around her like a crude cape. Her face was clean, for once, but her arms bore third degree burns where she had thrust them into the fireplace again.
She placed her foot over the prince's ass, and the boot fit the print wholly. The prince bounced up and around in glee.
"It was you," he said in a breathy voice, "marry me, my handsome buck. We will make fine princes and have unimaginable parties with the rest of my men in my hunting lodge."
"I'm a girl," Cinderella said, unaware of the truth although everyone else was, "I don't like hunting."
The prince looked at her askance.
"You're a couple of cents short of a dollar, aren't you?" he laughed.
"I haven't any cents at all, Your Highness," Cinderella said.
"I agree you have no sense at all. Let me tell you this then: I would rather rescue a young man than a young woman, if you know what I mean." He elbowed Cinderella conspiratorially and winked.
"Not really, but I'll be a young man for you if you so wish."
For, up until now, no one knew of the prince's sexuality. Everyone had assumed he was celibate, but not gay. It mattered not that he was marrying Cinderella even though she was female because she never really cared much for marriage. The only thing she cared about was that her stepmother and stepsisters got a healthy helping of mushroom stew and warm comfortable beds to lie in. Rather than attend their funerals, Cinderella had their bodies cremated and the ashes scattered over the floor of her bedroom so she can stomp, step and walk all over them, as they had done to her for many years. Cinderella was happy. Her father was made an honorary member of the prince's hunting party. The prince used Cinderella so he can legitimately become king – and then passed a law allowing gay marriages, so that he can take on a husband who will become his prince consort. Life was passably good and the prince, Cinderella and the prince's husband all lived happily ever after.