Sophie DeChazal just finished three years of university life. However, she returns home with a debt of nearly £10,000 and no degree in hand. As her once close-knit family adjusts to the news and tries to understand what happens, Sophie attempts to justify her behaviour. The story takes us through those three years of self-discovery and self-mutilation.
How did a responsible straight-A student with great hopes for the future turn into a savage party animal, devoid of principles or morals?


9. My Cinderella Moment

Tree o' mine, O tree o' me, Shiver and shake, dear little tree; Make me a lady fair to see, Dress me as splendid as can be

- Cinder Maid (Joseph Jacobs)

"I've never had prom at school, I went to an all-girls' school and prom's always been something that happens in Hollywood movies to me..." My eyes had opened wide and were sparkling full of hope as that of a child's on Christmas morning.  Demi, Zakir and Hannah stared at me and then exchanged not-so-subtle looks of complicity as a wide grin imprinted itself on each of their faces. A couple of days ago I had told them I had never been one to wear ballgowns or any kind of dress, for that matter. The girls had lamented over my collection of practical flats and training shoes and Zakir had been aghast at the similarities between the contents of his wardrobe and mine. With the prospect of the very first fresher's ball around the corner, they had taken it upon themselves to give me a makeover. Secretly, I welcomed the idea as a greedy child would yearn for that lollipop dangling over his head, but I tried desperately to play it cool and state my ground as a non-chalant tomboy.  The sad truth of the matter, however, was that, to anyone who deemed rest their gaze upon me, I looked like an awkward teenage nerd with a bad haircut and no idea how to take care of herself.  So, when Hannah directed me to her room and laid out some potential dresses that would fit me and Demi brought over some of her heels to match them, I gave out a barely audible whimper of protest and radiated in gratitude. 

That day, I had been ordered in and out of more dresses I had ever been forced to wear in my whole life. I was abruptly reminded why I cautioned myself not to be too excited at trying out dresses. They were either too short for my comfort, too tight around the waist or chest area, or they made me look like a shapeless blob. My face had turned stone cold by the sixth trial as I bore upon myself a punishing stare in the mirror. The girls saw the growing disappointment and quickly tried to point out that our body shapes were all different and that was why they didn't fit properly. Nonetheless, their words of reassurance dissolved in the background as I could only see a fat 19-yr old with ridiculous dreams of fitting in a dress 2 sizes too small for her. I had flushed to such a bright red that my whole face ressembled a clown's nose. I quickly shuffled back between the two open doors of the wardrobe to change back into my reliable large jeans and oversized hoodie when Demi came over holding out what looked like a limp piece of emerald green cloth.

"I know you've probably given up on the idea of going to the ball by now, but I just found this dress and I think it's the perfect match"

I lowered my gaze and shifted my weight from one foot to the other, trying to find the most diplomatic way of refusing her offer.

"Look," she persisted, "the colour's a perfect match for your skin tone and I promise you the dress is going to compliment you. It looks horrible on me because I'm too flat-chested but on you, I'm sure it will look amazing. Please, try it on."

I relented, they had already put so much effort in trying to help me out. I couldn't be ungrateful and say no now. I took the dress from Demi, and hoping for nothing much, unfolded it and slipped it on. It dropped down my head and slid into place in one smooth move. I only had to adjust the buttons at the front and that was it. The dress was a maxi empire-waist one with delicate embroidery at the back and a popped up collar. I honestly did feel like a fairytale princess : my spine automatically straightened itself up and I was no longer slouching, my shoulder blades fell back in the right position and I no longer looked like a hunchback. I walked to the full-lenght mirror and felt as if I was gliding down a runway as both Demi and Hannha admired my appearance, speechless.  If there was ever such a thing as 'beaming', I had never experience it till now. I swear I could have lit up the whole of London on my own if there had been a blackout.

"So, i guess we're back on track for the makeover, then?" Hannah had smiled, whilst laying out a series of makeup products on her desk.

By the end of this tedious part of their mission, I have to admit that my skin looked as flawless as every other girl I had seen in the student hall. I had always thought I had been the only one cursed with bad skin uptil that point, I have to admit, that was quite naive of me. Then again, Nora had left for university before she could teach me about makeup and I had never really considered asking mum, not because I didn't want her to help me out, but because I had never really seen the point of wearing makeup. But, seeing my reflection in the mirror, I was thrust off my high horse in a violent manner, had I not been so naively highly opiniated about makeup turning girls into fake porcelain dolls, I would probably have been able to save me the trouble of not feeling at ease in my own skin. Maybe, then, my judgement of my own physical appearance would not have been through such harsh eyes. Hannah had put the fiery amber colour of my eyes into value and, with a sof pink, brought emphasis on my full natural pout. For the first time since puberty, I appreciated the reflection that stared back at me in the mirror. Even the short hair I was sporting seemed to have acquired a femine touch...I had found my Cinderella moment.

I hugged both girls so tightly that I might have been threatening their ease of access to oxygen. They couldn't stop cooing and ooh-ing at the transformation and both kept stating I should wear make-up more often and buy some dresses. Blushing bride syndrome was quickly coming to rest on me at that point!

As I wobbled into steadiness and fitted my 18th-brithday present silver bracelet from Dad around my wrist, Zakir appeared at Hannah's door. He looked at me up and down and gave a cocky wolf-whistle. I stuck my tongue out at him and smiled indulgingly. We had met that first night at the bar and we had immediately bonded. I was like one of his bro's and he looked over me like I was his little sister. He harboured a secret crush on Hannah and I was trying to help set them up, at his request. 

"Uhmm, just so you know,  I've convinced Bryan to come with us to the ball." The two girls then gave him a look of approval and I realised, horrified, what had just happened. They had plotted to set me up with Bryan, the only guy I had admitted at finding hot. Just as I was having a mini panic attack inwardly and trying to act as if nothing was wrong, that very same person appeared at Hannah's now very crowded dorm room, wearing a black suit and tie.


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