Charon’s life went on without Dradel, but she managed all the housework with as much precision as she had before he ever entered her life to give her a helping hand. She did take note of the increased workload since he left, and had to admit that he really did help her a lot in the period that he was there. Nevertheless, the process of adapting to his absence didn’t take too long. Sometimes, she wondered how he was, but didn’t have the thought of looking for him—she had work to be done, and Mame Treina to please.
Nearly a year after Dradel’s departure, during her trip to the market one day, Charon caught a few words from the other ladies that were doing their grocery shopping there.
“Did you check your mailbox this morning?” one asked the other.
“No, not yet. What’s the matter?”
“Mail from the royal palace!” the former girl nearly squealed. “The royal family is celebrating the return of Prince Charming—you know, the one who vanished years ago? There will be a ball soon, and everyone is invited!”
“Really? He’s back?” The latter seemed excited as well. “There were so many myths about his disappearance, but—”
“You’d best check your mail first. Maybe you’re not invited—haha!”
“Don’t be kidding me!”
Charon finished her business there, and returned home, without much thought to it. Out of routine, she opened the mailbox. Sure enough, there were two golden envelopes there—one for Mame Treina, the other herself. She creased her eyebrows, puzzled. If what the girls at the market said was true, everyone was invited. But “everyone” shouldn’t include servant girls too, right? That was the norm.
Either way, she placed Mame Treina’s envelope on the table, and hid hers under her apron. It was only that night, when she was alone again, that she inspected her invitation more closely, to verify its validity. Charon reached her bookshelf, and took out a thin book. It was a collection of myths regarding the country. There, a replica of the royal stamp was present. She checked the stamp in the book, and the stamp on her envelope.
It was unmistakably the very same stamp.
She was invited? But she was a servant. Charon wasn’t the type that got intrigued by the thought of being in the palace. Yet, the peculiarity of this invitation perked her curiosity, and she decided to find a way to…well, find out the reason behind. The problem was, she didn’t have any suitable clothes that fit the occasion.
On the day of the ball, Mame Treina left the house early in the morning, as did many other ladies in the country. Charon alone stayed at home, convinced, by the time, that she wouldn’t be able to go. After all, she owned no fancy outfit. The only thing she found was a shoe box under her bed, in it a pair of glass slippers that Mame Treina had once owned, but wanted to throw away after her divorce. Seeing that the slippers were by no means worn out or even dirty, Charon kept the box under her bed instead of throwing it away as Mame Treina had told her to. Despite all the years that passed, even though Charon never did take it out from its hiding place, she somehow had a strong feeling that it was there, safe and sound.
On this afternoon, she took it out, and wiped dust off the slippers. As soon as she did that, there came a voice from above. “Good morning.” It was the voice of a female.
Charon looked up to find a girl sitting on her bed. She had strawberry blonde, wavy hair, accompanied by a pair of gleaming pink eyes, wearing a white dress that glinted in the afternoon sun, like the glass slippers did. Charon jumped just a little bit, startled by the unannounced entry of the girl. “It’s afternoon,” was her first response, despite the fact that she had no idea who this person even was, nor how she suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
“I just woke up, so it’s morning,” the girl replied. “I’m the faerie living inside these glass slippers, you can call me Selene.”
“Selene.” Charon nodded, keeping the name in mind. Should she doubt her claim of being a faerie? The servant girl looked into those pink eyes. Pink eyes…not possible. In the moment that Charon studied the sparkling eyes, Selene stood up from the bed and knelt before Charon, until they were at the same eye level. Even then, Charon continued studying the girl’s unique-colored eyes for a minute longer. Little did she know, that Selene was staring right back. A moment later, Charon realized that the color of her own cheeks must have matched the color of Selene’s eyes. The reason for that, she dared not investigate.
“Yes, that is my name,” Selene said. “Say it one more time, and I shall assist you so you can attend the ball.”
“Selene,” Charon said once more. She said it not for the purpose of being able to attend the ball, but simply because Selene asked her to. “What will you do?”
“Close your eyes, Charon.”
“You can open your eyes now.”
Once again, she did. And when she did this time, there was a sparkling blue gown on her, elegant enough for the occasion. She gave her hair a light pat, and realized that her hair was properly done too. The only thing that was missing…was right in front of her, the pair of glass slippers.
“Wow…” Charon couldn’t help but exclaim. She glanced at the slippers, and then at Selene. “Do you mind…?”
Charon put on the glass slippers, and descended the staircase from the attic, heading towards the front door.
“One more thing,” Selene said. “The spell will wear off by the next sunrise.”