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April 24, 2013 / Tina

Going to the Ball

Written by Alan Owens
Where just half-an-hour earlier it had been a huge ball, the sun was now just a tiny sliver of yellow, and as he watched it slipped beneath the horizon, leaving nothing but a darkening sky lined with yellow-white streaks.
It was sunset.
Flurry sighed and shrugged his temporarily massive shoulders. “Nearly over now,” he thought. “Just a couple of hours to midnight.”
He and five other horses were yoked up to a huge silver coach, parked outside a palace where a great ball was taking place. Yet just four hours ago he had been a tiny mouse, frantically scurrying in fear from the sadistic house-cat Sebastian, while a young girl sat weeping, as she usually did, on a stool in the corner of the kitchen. Then a Fairy Godmother (Flurry Mouse had never seen one before, but everyone instinctively knows what a Fairy Godmother looks like) appeared in a puff of smoke (everyone knows that too) and announced that Cinderella, for such was the girl’s name, would indeed go to the ball.
She turned a pumpkin into a coach, made Cinderella’s dress more substantial yet somehow more revealing, and, having found six mice and two toads in a kitchen that Cinderella supposedly spent all day sweeping clean, magicked them into two coachmen and six white horses.
Oh, the sensation! Oh, the joyous feeling of awesome power and strength as his legs grew longer, his flanks grew lankier and his haunches grew raunchier. Cinderella stepped into the coach in her glass slippers (proof, if proof were needed, that there is no shoe so daft and uncomfortable that some woman will not wear it) and Flurry (or Thunderbolt, as he suddenly felt the urge to call himself) led the rest of the team forward.
Covering Sebastian in a pile of steaming poo as he went by was possibly the most satisfying thing he had ever done in his life.
Urged on by the coachmen (for the ball was now well in progress, Cinderella’s sisters had left to go to it hours ago) they proceeded at a gallop towards the palace. Intoxicated by sheer speed Flurry attempted to jump a fence, trailing behind him a large coach, and five horses to whom he had omitted to mention this plan. He cleared the fence by a foot but gravity had varying degrees of effect upon the rest of the party, and as a whole the manoeuvre could not be called a success. Still, they were all in one piece, which was more than could be said for the fence.
They skidded to a halt in a spray of gravel outside the palace, Cinderella clinked her way up the steps sounding like a milk-float, and they settled down to wait.
The sun set, as we have seen, time passed and midnight grew nearer and nearer. Flurry had been given drink from a bucket and a nose-bag disappointingly full of dried grass. When he had finished eating he had instinctively tried to clean his whiskers with his paw and instead had smacked himself in the face with his hoof.
Now he was starting to worry. It was nine minutes to twelve, he had heard the Fairy Godmother say that the spell would end at midnight, and there was still no sign of Cinderella. And their house was eight minutes drive away.
Then suddenly there she was, racing lop-sidedly towards them, one glass slipper bouncing noisily down the steps beside her like a Scottie-dog yapping along beside its owner. Behind her ran what was obviously the Prince yelling “come back!” in a plaintive voice. God, what a wimp, thought Flurry, she’s running in a long dress and one shoe yet he still can’t catch her, his family must be really inbred to produce a specimen like him.
Cinderella leapt into the coach. “Go, go, go,” yelled one of the coachmen, but Flurry had already flared his nostrils, reared his front legs and was off.
About half way home the yelling coachman produced a whip and slapped Flurry on the flank with it. Flurry calmly dug his heels into the mud, watched the coachman fly over his head into a hedge, then carried on, faster than before.
They so nearly made it. They were right outside their house when a nearby clock tower bell struck. Flurry watched the world grow larger as he grew smaller, while from behind him came the most horrendous squelching sound he had ever heard.
No other version of this tale that you might have read describes what it was like for Cinderella as she suddenly found herself sitting inside a rapidly shrinking pumpkin. She trudged into the house with her hair lank with pumpkin juice, her face covered in pumpkin seeds and her old familiar dress looking as if she had barfed Sunny Delight all over it.
Flurry followed her indoors, trotted around a corner, and found himself face-to-face with Sebastian.
Sebastian was not in a good mood. As a cat he had only one means of cleaning himself, and an evening spent licking horseshit off his fur had left a sour taste in his mouth, in more ways than one. Now he was looking at something smaller than himself, something on whom he could take out all his boiling rage. A slow smile came over his face.
Flurry stood to his full height on his back legs and whinnied.
It came out as a squeak, of course, but Sebastian looked into his eyes as he did it and a feeling of unexpected fear penetrated deep into his soul. He turned and fled.
Flurry grinned to himself as he trotted along. He one-handedly ripped a huge piece of cheese from a mousetrap as he passed it, and heard it snap loudly behind him as he headed back to his mouse hole for a late-night snack and then a long, long sleep, during which he dreamt of his tail swishing behind him, the wind blowing through his mane, and the splash of his hooves as he galloped through beach-side surf.

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