Day 25: Dog Shit

The town was alight with the word that the Prince was rid­ing out of his palace. Every­body knew what had happened the night before. Half the town had been at the ball, and the other half had heard about the event very quickly after­wards. It was the final thing he said that most people remembered though. “Nobody could have breath that reeked as hers did.” The Prince had instruc­ted his ser­vants to organ­ise a trip to every house­hold in the king­dom the fol­low­ing day, sniff­ing the breath of every woman they could find.

Cinder­ella had returned home instantly after the Tic-Tac had worn off, sob­bing for most of the chariot ride. The tigers had been bet­ter behaved on the return; she liked to think they had sensed her anguish and decided that this was not a good time to misbehave.

She knew she had ruined all chances with the Prince. She should have listened to the fairy god­mother more and made sure that she was gone before the two hours were up. Everything was ruined now. They had been get­ting on so well, laugh­ing and dan­cing and talk­ing and jok­ing, smil­ing at each other and gaz­ing into each other’s eyes. It had been true love, she was sure, but now it was all ruined thanks to her ter­rible breath. She sobbed again. If only her sis­ters had allowed her more access to the mouth­wash or the stronger per­fumes. If only she had drunk more or eaten some of the more fra­grant foods before talk­ing to him. Even gar­lic, she thought, would have been a more pleas­ant scent upon her breath than that which he had been exposed to.

She heard her sis­ters gig­gling upstairs. They couldn’t pos­sibly know, could they? Would they have recog­nised her without the layer of grime and grease which they were used to being spread over her face? Abso­lutely not, she thought, they wouldn’t notice if she was replaced with an anim­ated broom as long as the house­work still got done. So what could they be laugh­ing about? They rarely laughed, unless some mis­for­tune or other had happened to some­body they detested.

Decid­ing that she’d demon­strate a rare instance of bold­ness, Cinder­ella began ascend­ing the steps to her sis­ters’ room. She knocked on the door and waited.

What is it?” one of the sis­ters said scornfully.

I was won­der­ing why you were gig­gling. Did some­thing hap­pen at the ball last night?” asked Cinderella.

Not that it’s any of your busi­ness, but we hap­pen to know that we’ll be get­ting a visit from the Prince today. At the end of the night some woman was talk­ing to him and then fled, and he said that it was the worst breath he’s ever smelt, so he’s going to search the town until he finds her. Every­body says he’s in love!”

No! thought Cinder­ella. It couldn’t be! The Prince had surely been repulsed by her breath! She had seen his reac­tion! And yet, he was search­ing for her. She thought quickly. “Does that mean,” she said through the door, “that you are hop­ing to be met by the prince? Do you think he will believe one of you to be the mys­tery woman? Was it one of you?”

Abso­lutely not!” said one sis­ter, “our breath isn’t nearly as bad as he made out.”

But,” said Cinder­ella, “if you wanted to make him think it was you, then mak­ing your breath smell as bad as pos­sible would be your best bet.”

You know,” said the other sis­ter, “that might not be a bad idea.”

I could help you, if you like. There’s a lot of stuff around the house which could make your breath really stink.”

Cinder­ella,” said the first sis­ter, “some­times you’re not entirely stupid.”

For the next three hours, they received reports from other ser­vants that the Prince was mak­ing his way around the town. Other people had had the same idea as them and were try­ing to make their breath as bad as pos­sible. People had been eat­ing the smel­li­est cheese they could find, piles of raw onion, huge cloves of gar­lic and more, just to try and win the Prince’s heart, but none of them com­pared to what he had smelt last night, he claimed.

Finally, the ser­vants announced that he was approach­ing the long road to the house that Cinder­ella and her sis­ters lived in. “We haven’t much time!” cried one sis­ter, “everything we’ve eaten so far has already been tried!”

Well,” said Cinder­ella, “I have some other tricks up my sleeve.”

Like what?” her step­sisters said.

There’s some com­post that’s been sit­ting for months, get­ting to the per­fect state to grow really good car­rots. That would def­in­itely help.”

Bring it here! Bring it here!” they called.

Cinder­ella brought in two large scoops right from the bot­tom of the com­post bin. her sis­ters devoured it eagerly, their breath able to wilt plants afterwards.

Will this be enough?” they asked her.

Maybe, but some­body in town will surely have tried it already. I have another idea though. The ken­nels are yet to be cleaned this week.”

You mean…” one sis­ter said.

No,” said the other, “abso­lutely not.”

It’s the only way to be sure,” said Cinderella.

Five minutes later, each sis­ter had a bowl of dog shit in front of them.

I can’t believe this is hap­pen­ing,” said one.

Just shut up,” said the other, “shut up!”

And they chowed down.

Two minutes later the Prince turned up. The two sis­ters rushed out to meet him, brown spit drib­bling down their chins and vomit stains obvi­ous on their dress fronts. The Prince recoiled from them. “Where are the ladies of this house?” he asked. The two sis­ters kept run­ning at him, and his guard stepped for­ward to grab them, wrink­ling their noses as they did.

It’s me, Prince,” called one sis­ter, “can’t you tell? I’m your beloved!”

You bitch!” said the other, “It’s me! I’m meant for him!”

Shut your stu­pid mouth!”

And the two sis­ters star­ted grap­pling towards each other.

Sorry about them,” said Cinder­ella, step­ping for­wards, “you just can’t get the staff these days.”

The breath,” said the Prince, “could you be the… No, I couldn’t have found you so easily!”

It’s me,” said Cinder­ella, “we laughed and danced and talked all night. Then mid­night struck and I ran away. You can smell the truth of it.”

The Prince dropped to his knees and pro­duced a ring, hold­ing it up to Cinder­ella and star­ing at the ground.

Cinder­ella smiled, and accepted.

And she lived hap­pily ever after.

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