Craig jumped up when he heard a loud thump on his apartment door. He swung the door open and saw a young woman, her face all bloodied, sprawled out on the carpeting outside the door. “Jesus, are you okay?”
Still kind of stunned and confused, she looked up at him and said, “I’m so sorry that I fell into your door. I was running up the steps, lost my footing, tripped, and, well, my forward momentum caused me to crash into your door. I’m such a klutz.”
“Your face is a bloody mess,” Craig said. “Come in and you can use my bathroom to clean yourself up.” He helped the woman up, led her to the bathroom, and handed her a washcloth. “Take your time,” he said. “I’ll be in the living room. Call out to me if you need anything.”
A few minutes later, the young woman emerged from the bathroom. She had washed the blood from her face, but a few nasty-looking welts seemed to be surfacing. She was also walking with a slight limp. “I thing I may have sprained my left ankle,” she said. “And I’m missing a shoe.”
“Sit down on the sofa,” Craig said. She did as she was instructed and Craig moved an ottoman and positioned it so she could extend her foot onto it. “I’ve got an icepack in the freezer. Let me get it and we can put it on that ankle to keep any swelling down.” She thanked him and he went to the kitchen to grab the icepack.
She gave him a weak, sheepish smile when he reentered the living room. He gently lifted her ankle and wrapped it in the icepack. He noticed how delicate her ankle was, looked at her long, shapely legs, and then up at her face. Despite the bruises emerging on her face, he could see that she was very attractive.
“So what brought you here to this building?” Craig asked her. “Oh, my name is Craig. What’s yours?”
Hi, Craig. I’m Cynthia,” she said. “My husband lives on the fourth floor. I was heading up to see him, but the elevator wasn’t working so I decided to take the stairs. He hates when I’m late.”
“So you’re married,” Craig said, a little surprised by his tinge of disappointment.
“We’re actually separated,” Cynthia said. “He moved out of our house and into his new girlfriend’s apartment in this building a few months back and he called me this morning and wanted me to come over and pick up the divorce papers.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Craig said.
“Don’t be,” Cynthia said. “It’s been a long time coming and when he said he had divorce papers for me to sign I rushed over here to get them. I just want to put that part of my life behind me. I haven’t exactly lived a fairytale life and it’s time for me to start a new chapter.” She winced and rubbed her left shoulder. “I think I slammed into your door with my face and my shoulder.”
“Let me get you some Advil,” he said. He stood up, went to the medicine cabinet, pulled out the bottle of Advil and brought it out to her with a bottle of water. “Take two of these,” he said. “I’ll go out to the hall and look for your missing shoe.”
When he came back a minute later with her missing red shoe in hand, she looked up at him, smiled, and said, “Just like Prince Charming, you found my Ruby slipper.”
“Actually, it was Dorothy who wore the ruby slippers. Prince Charming found Cinderella’s glass slipper,” Craig said.
Cynthia smiled again. “Well, my name is Cynthia, but you can call me Cindy, short for Cinderella, if you want.”
“Okay, Cindy, and you can call me your Prince Charming,” Craig said as he bent down to kiss her gently on her lips.
That was the day that Cynthia did, indeed, start a new chapter in what would turn out to be her fairytale life.
Written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge. Photo credit: Brooke DiDonato.