Cinder Girl: Reluctant

Willow leaves her home after being fed up with the emotional abuse of her unstable mother, who has remarried since her father's death. In search of a job and livable circumstances, but a bit too proud and untrusting for her own good. She has difficulty seeing kindness for the sake of kindness itself. So, how will she react when she meets a young man who seems too quick to trust others. A twist on the classic fairytale.

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1. leaving home

"How dare you give those dishes away! Those were not yours to give," the woman was on a tear again.

The girl had been generous with hand-me-downs to a friend in need. The dishes had been given to her, a used and incomplete set, four years ago when she had moved out. She had had to move back home a few months ago when she lost her job. She had no use, nor space for the dishes in question. But, her friend was broke and desperately needed some new dishes after breaking her last bowl. Things added up.

So, why was her mother making a fuss about it now?

Well, that's what she did. She took, she kept, and if she gave... Well, she must've kept a record of it somewhere. You definitely owed her back. And the things weren't really yours. They were on loan. Return them when you're done. Your paternal grandmother's wedding ring? It's dear to me, even though we never got along. You're father's old working coveralls? No, you can't use them for an art project. I have to keep them in the closed to be eaten by the moths.

This was what she did.

"I want those dishes back."

Well, that's too bad.

"What did you say?"

The girl hadn't realized that she'd spoken out loud.

"How dare you speak that way to me! I am your mother. If your father was here, he'd..."

"What? Take my side? Show you how ridiculous you've been since he died? You can't hold onto him by holding onto things. He's already gone."

The woman slapped the girl hard against her cheek, her glimmering new wedding ring leaving a deep red mark on her daughter's face. Every line in her face showed through the caked makeup on her tight and heated expression. Her hair had gone wirey from years of coloring over grays. Her eyes were mean and selfish. Long gone was the loving and vibrant mother the girl had known growing up.

"I'm gone, too. I can't live with this treatment anymore."

It had started when her father died, but gotten so much worse when her mother remarried. The man was wealthy. A widower, he'd had two younger daughters of his own. They were prettier and more fashionable than Willow ever was. And they didn't remind her mother of her father when she looked upon them. The mother took to drinking and hoarding. The stepfather bought a larger house with a storage building to keep the ever growing pile of things. Instead, that's where Willow ended up living.

"The movers put your things in here by accident," the mother lied. "We can call them back next week to have it all moved into the main house, but you'd probably be better off sleeping here for the meantime. It's a long walk up the lawn to carry your heavy things on your own."

The movers were never called.

This is what Willow had left when she turned eighteen. And, it's what she'd returned to a few months ago by duress. She was twenty-two. She was ready and able to work hard. She'd make it out in the world. What made her come back to this?

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