Little Hansel and Cinderella were having a terrible year. Their mother died and their father remarried. Their new stepmother doted on her interchangeable twins, but wasn’t ever very pleased with Hansel and Cinderella. And then, their father died while away on a trip.
Their stepmother sent Twin A and Twin B off to some magical boarding school. When Hansel and Cinderella asked if they could go to school, their stepmother gave them a list of chores to do instead.
The list was too long. Luckily, they were able to trick neighborhood children, passing strangers, and small animals into helping with the list. Each day it was a struggle to find new ways to complete the list.
“Would you like to try the latest workout? It’s called weeding the garden, and it’s going to be the next big thing.”
“I know you don’t like your mop booties, but you’re going to be running around the patio chasing squirrels anyway. Just leave them on, and I’ll throw a stick for you to chase later.”
“I suppose I could let you try painting the fence. It’s my favorite thing to do. If you wash the front window first, I’ll let you paint three feet of fence.”
Completing the list of chores each day, even with help, left little time for anything else. One evening, Hansel and Cinderella dared to ask about going to school again. The stepmother narrowed her eyes and ordered them out to the carriage.
She drove them to the middle of the woods and left them there. Hansel and Cinderella watched the carriage drive away in silence. “Do you think we could find our way back? Cinderella asked after it was gone.
“It’s worth a try. The carriage had to have marked a path, even where there wasn’t a road.”
But the ground was dry, and the night was windy, so the tracks of the carriage quickly blew away. The forest was full of many roads, and they were soon hopelessly lost. “Now what?” Hansel asked.
“Let’s sleep here and look around in the morning.”
In the morning, they found a promising path that led them to a candy house. When an angry woman stormed out, yelling and ordering them around, they knew they’d found their stepmother. She might look different and be living in a new house, but they weren’t fooled.
“It would have been nice of her to give us the address of her new house instead of making us look for it,” Cinderella muttered. Hansel snorted. Their stepmother stopped yelling, narrowed her eyes, and dragged Hansel into the house by his ear.
She locked Hansel up and gave Cinderella a familiar list of chores. Then she left to do whatever it was that she normally did. Build candy houses in the woods, apparently.
Cinderella picked the lock and freed Hansel. She showed him the list. He sighed. “And here there aren’t as many people to trick into helping out.”
“I don’t think she’s going to ever send us off to school,” Cinderella said sadly. “I wish we could go to school.”
Just then, an old lady appeared in the garden. “I’m your fairy godmother. Do you really wish to go to school?”
“Of course we do,” Cinderella said. “All we do around here are chores, and the list is much too long.”
“I can send you there, and spell you into a school uniform, but it’s up to you to figure out a way to stay. Oh, and the uniform will turn back into your regular clothes at midnight.”
Hansel and Cinderella looked at each other and nodded. “We can work with that,” Hansel said.
In no time, Hansel and Cinderella were scholarship students at a far away magical school. The school faculty were delighted with the bright young students who had so persuasively and charmingly argued their case. Their year had definitely improved. The children found a way to stay at school year-round, and eventually became successful politicians.
Meanwhile, the stepmother and the witch, who were not the same people, were never quite sure what happened. Twin A and Twin B didn’t remember Hansel and Cinderella at all. That was fine, because Hansel and Cinderella had forgotten all about them as well.