Today’s prompt was to write a story with a Cinderella structure — one in which the protagonist tries and fails in achieving what they want several times before succeeding.
Overall, I’m happy with this as a first draft, although I think the ending is noticeably weaker than the rest of it. I need to solidify the main character’s motivation and the shift that takes places at the climax.
Anyway, here it is.
As soon as she sat down, she began to shed her hat and gloves and loosen her scarf. It was cold outside, but on the bus it was all too warm. The heat blasted out of the vents and swirled around the crowd of people. She managed to find a seat, one that had gone wanting because of its situation, between a young man who sat slumped, his legs spread wide, and a large woman on the other side, who spilled past her (albeit minimal) allotted space. She squeezed in, pushing her bag onto her lap and grasping the abundance of woolliness in her hands. Except for the gloves, which were decidedly not woolly. They were wool, but they were Burberry and a white and black and brown check, subtle but sumptuous, she liked to think and with a soft leather palm. They were not something she ever would have bought for herself.
She turned her head and tried to look out the window, but the heat inside the bus had steamed up the windows and that, combined with the dirty slush that had sprayed up the sides of the bus, meant that they might as well have been opaque.
The bus moved slowly, at a jerky pace, through the downtown rush hour traffic. The woman beside her got off as part of a larger exodus when they reached one of the main intersections and she dumped her bag and accessories on the seat beside her. It had been a long day.
They finally reached her connection, but the loudspeaker wasn’t working and she almost missed her stop. Hurriedly, she gathered her things and got off the bus.
She stood in the slush as the long line of buses slowly moved along and began to replace her hat, scarf, gloves.
There were no gloves. She checked and re-checked, but she did not have them and they were nowhere near by on the ground.
Her stomach twisted and heaved and she looked after the bus she had alighted from. It was not far yet and the next stop was close enough. She took off as quickly as she could, with her bulky winter boots through the slush.
She caught up with the bus while it was still stopped at the next light. It was about to change, she could see the countdown on the walk sign in the other direction, and she banged desperately on the door. The driver’s head moved slightly towards her. She was sure that he saw her, but he didn’t open the door and the light changed and the bus pulled away.
She stood in the slush and cold and stamped her feet. The anger coursed through her. How dare he.
How. Dare. He.
Her gloves. Her beautiful, precious, wonderful gloves.
The gloves that Gloria had given her.
She felt like crying, but managed to look up at the bus as it retreated and made a mental note of the number.
As she walked back towards the stop for her connecting bus, she realized with a start that she did not know the number to call about buses or lost items or, well, anything liked that.
She pulled out her phone and opened the web browser, bringing up the transit service’s web page. In keeping with their service otherwise, it took her some time to find an actual phone number.
She memorized it, repeating it to herself once, twice, three times, but as she switched from the browser to pull up the phone keypad, the phone powered off.
She swore and trudged off to the next bus stop.
The next bus was no quicker than the previous one and by the time she got home it was well dark and she was sweaty and cold and very tired. Her hands, in particular, felt frozen.
For once, she was glad that she had been too lazy to get rid of the landline and she called the bus number. Navigating her way through menu after menu, she finally found an actual human being to speak to.
“My gloves,” she told them, “I have the number of the bus.”
But the bus had long since finished its route, the marginally helpful woman told her.
Anything that was left on the bus, the driver would have gathered up and sent to the lost and found.
When would it be there, she asked.
Tomorrow, the woman said, between 10 and 4.
She suppressed a sigh. No other time? she asked.
No, that’s all.
She usually worked until four and she didn’t quite what to do. She loathed the idea of asking her boss Bill for the time off. He would, most certainly, hold it over her head.
But the gloves.
The gloves Gloria gave her.
It had been a long time since she had seen Gloria and she was happy enough with that circumstance. But the gloves were glorious (ha ha). They had been her Christmas present the single holiday that they had spent together. They had, quite honestly, not been the sort of thing that she would have spent money on. She wasn’t very keen on leather, for one thing. Or designer brands, for another. But they were beautiful and people would remark on them.
“I mislaid something on the bus yesterday, Bill. Can I leave a little early to see if they have them?”
“Getting absent-minded, are you? Ho ho!”
But he let her go.
It was a long trek, of course, and when she arrived at the building that housed the lost and found she was surprised to find that it was merely a large, otherwise empty space. The walls were lined by tables and the items — all of those items! — were roughly sorted, but only by large categories like clothing or electronics. She looked about her in dismay.
“I was wondering,” she asked the tall, slight woman standing near the door, who clearly worked there.
“What?” she asked in return.
“I lost my gloves…,” she began.
“The clothing is over there,” the woman filled in and turned away.
She spent quite some time going through all of the wearables, but the gloves were nowhere to be found.
There were tears in her eyes as she left the building. Outside, the cold bit at her skin and froze the tears and she felt even more miserable than before.
Her gorgeous gloves that everyone noticed. Her signature piece.
Her breath came in shuddering gasps and she sat down on a bench, partially covered in snow.
Gloria had turned out to be… well, not the type of person she really wanted do spend time with, to be honest. But there was something about being with Gloria. Other people noticed you, it was as if you reflected her beauty, her impressiveness.
Was that what she wanted? That slight reflection of her still that came from those remarkable gloves?
Honestly, though, she suddenly thought. They weren’t very warm.
You would think that for $400 your fingers would not get cold and sore, but there you were.
She could knit warmer gloves.
Or she could go and pick out a nice, cold weather pair of her own. Not flashy or noticeable.
Something Gore-Tex, perhaps. Black and simple.
Nice, warm gloves.
Something of her own.
She took out her phone and pulled up the web page for the really nice sporting goods store that she liked to haunt. They must have something.