There was a knock at the front door. This is always a sign in a story of something dramatic about to happen, unless it's a very poor story and it turns out to be only a double-glazing salesman or a Liberal Democrat councillor.
Mother answered the door, and in came a beautiful young girl called Cinderella, wearing a sparkling ball gown which shimmered in the evening lamplight of the pigs' living room. 'I'm so sorry,' the girl said, wringing delicate hands. 'It's just that I'm trying to find my way to the palace, but we've got lost. Does anyone know the way?'
None of the pigs was surprised that she couldn't find her way to the palace; someone who so easily stumbled out of their own story into someone else's was never going to be a world-class geographer.
Father Pig said he knew the way and would write it down for her. He trottered off to the study for some paper and Mother Pig went to the kitchen to put the kettle on.
'Are you not going to the Prince's ball?' Cinderella asked the three little pigs. They told her no and the oldest pig said miserably, 'Being this fat and this pink and snorting your way through polite conversation doesn't get you many royal invitations.'
Cinderella smiled sympathetically and each of the young pigs felt his little porcine heart beat faster.
|Appropriate dress would probably have been another hurdle for pigs going to balls at palaces|
Cinderella looked happier now. 'Look, I'd better go and tell the driver of my pumpkin to wait,' she said cheerily, as though turning up at people's doors having clambered out of a giant vegetable was a normal state of affairs.
The three little pigs peered from behind the curtain to watch Cinderella dance down their garden path. She was singing 'Some Day my Prince will Come' in a very high voice. She obviously hadn't realised that this was actually from Disney's version of 'Snow White' and was now trapped in two stories in which she did not belong.
'Just think,' said the youngest pig excitedly. 'There we were, thinking of going away to seek thrill and excitement, and then we have an adventure like this! Pff to the silly old wolf, I say!'
The other two pigs looked at him with disdain. 'What wolf?'' they scorned.
'Oh, nothing,' the youngest pig said, crossing his fingers behind his back and vowing never to tell his brothers about the stack of 'Young Psychic' magazines underneath his bed.
Cinderella arrived back in the room for all the world like sunshine and they guided her to the sofa. All three little pigs waddled over to see if they could bring her a cushion/a pouffe to put her feet up on/a book to look at/a
But Cinderella said, 'It's very sweet of you all, but as soon as I have the directions, I must be off to the palace.'
As she sat and waited, the three little pigs squeezed next to each other on another sofa opposite Cinderella, swinging their trotters back and forth, contented to gaze intently at her rosy complexion. There was no doubt about it; the way she did pink, and the way they did pink, were worlds apart.
Cinderella shifted awkwardly. She was unnerved at being scrutinised by three hundred kilos of under-age pork, although she'd have to admit that it still beat clipping the Ugly Sisters' toenails and scraping out the fungus from inside their navels with an egg spoon.
Father Pig arrived back in the room with directions neatly written out and the three little pigs looked at each other, dismayed. This surely meant that any minute, Cinderella would disappear out of their lives.
Suddenly, even though suddenly is a very hackneyed adverb and to be avoided at all costs by proper writers, suddenly there was a flash, and a Fairy Godmother appeared. 'Hello all,' she said. 'I am Goldilocks, Cinderella's Fairy Godmother.'
The five pigs in the room, Cinderella, and Goldilocks the Fairy Godmother all glanced at each other nervously in an 'Are-you-too-having-an-identity-crisis?' kind of way. Mother Pig, who was just lifting up the teapot, froze. Father Pig stood by the fireplace, checking through the directions. The three little pigs' eyes were wide with bemusement and their jaws were slack with the wonder of it all. And Goldilocks the Fairy Godmother held her wand in the air as if about to wave it. It was like a scene from a Beckett play, with its long silence, and ..... no, maybe just because of the long silence.
Suddenly, even though using suddenly twice in one story is as bad as having a double-glazing salesman knock at the door for no narrative purpose, there was another flash, and only the pigs were left in the room. The little pigs darted to the window and peered outside, but no, the road was clear, with no sign of a giant gourd masquerading as transport. They sighed with disappointment and made their way back to the sofa where they sat, dejected.
|Not a picture of one of the sofas in the Pigs' living room|
Mr Pig folded up the directions resignedly saying, 'Oh well. I'm guessing Fairy Godmothers aren't in need of this kind of help. I'll keep them, though, in case we ever get an invitation to the palace.'
Mother Pig looked at him as if to say, 'In your dreams, my Piggy Spouse.' And she carried on pouring tea.
But the youngest pig felt a stirring in the depths of his pork belly and sensed future adventure. No way was he going off to seek his fortune and risk being huffed and puffed at by a wolf. If tonight was anything to go by, pigs could end up in other people's stories and marry princesses, and that was worth staying around for.