City of Magic

This is my take on the fairy tale, Cinderella, my own modern Cinderella story.

A fellow blogger, Theresa Barker, an extremely talented writer whose creativity I wish I could mirror, has written her own Cinderella story, not only with a twist but from a different perspective. It is awesome. Read it here.

The day was proving to be a little too much for Elizabeth’s exhausted mind. Her body may not be overly tired but the lack of sleep caused by stress wasn’t helping. She suspected that it would be wise for her to learn to say no. Why she was determined to play martyr was a mystery.

She wasn’t delusional about the year being a tough one. Falling, getting back up and dusting oneself off several times can’t possibly be easy for anyone.

She recalled the beginning of the year, full of promise and hope. She had planned to accomplish so much. The year seemed to have breezed through without her being fully aware of it. She couldn’t even see if she achieved anything significant.

She could almost touch the feeling of disappointment, restlessness and melancholy. She badly needed to shake off the negativity that had taken residence in her being.

This was not the time for idealism.

This was a time to treat herself to her favorite pamper place always. It always magically brings calm and comfort to her world.


Elizabeth entered the serene day spa hoping for a miracle. It is a known fact to spa-goers that advance booking is essential but this was an emergency. She was in dire need of some pampering.

As soft as the soothing music that played in the background, the receptionist informed her that they had some cancellations and would be able to do all the treatments for her.

Deep facial, full body massage and deluxe manicure and pedicure later, Elizabeth felt like a brand new person as she walked out of the building. Suddenly, the sun seemed too bright. The pair of Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses she wore was a compulsory accessory right then.

Another brilliant idea presented itself as she drove out into the main road. She was going to the mall for some retail therapy. Her own friends agree that spending her hard-earned cash on retail therapy is more rewarding than seeing the Psychologist. She promised that Jimmy Choo was all she was going to look at.

jimmy choo lance

Inside the lovely minimalist Jimmy Choo store in Sandton City, Elizabeth was holding a pair of sandals, looking at them admiringly. “For the price, these should be able to transport me to Paris and back.” She chuckled.  “Actually, I should probably buy a plane ticket instead.” She paused to think for a second. “Hmm, maybe not.”

“May I?” Elizabeth looked up to gaze upon a handsome face of a stranger. He was smiling.

He looks like a fairy tale Prince Charming, she thought. Oh my goodness! What a gorgeous smile. What regal good looks. Ooh, and I can only imagine how that body must be built like Ryan Gosling’s photo-shopped hot bod in Crazy, Stupid, Love.

“Do sit down,” he repeated, looking at her fixedly. She had not heard him the first time.

“Elizabeth,” she said. She wasn’t sure if he was asking for her name.

“Do please sit down, Elizabeth.” He was effortlessly and completely at ease with not even a slight hint of arrogance. “I’m Andrew.” His eyes were twinkling. It looked as though the smile could turn into a joyful laugh at any time.

On the contrary, she was dumbfounded. She did manage to sit down on the couch but remained incapable of conversation. She was perplexed and chose to say nothing.

Was he the shop owner or the shop owner’s son? Where did he come from? Elizabeth’s conversation with herself continued. Nothing exciting happens to her so she was convincing herself that he was there merely to do his job.

He held the shoes as he knelt in front of her to help her try them on. They were the perfect fit. He then offered his hand, as if she was unable to stand up on her own. She was mesmerized as his hand touched her hand.

“I’d love to take you to Paris,” he said casually as they walked towards the full-length mirror. There was a moment of silence as he looked at her image on the mirror. He was captivated. Recovering, he continued, “And please let me pay for these beautiful shoes. They look exceptionally beautiful, much better on your feet.”

Perfect timing for the pedicure, she told herself just before she managed to collect her wits.

“Oh no, you won’t,” she said to him with a protest. “I can afford my own shoes.” Although that could mean no ticket to Paris, she thought. “And Paris can wait,” she added.

“Oh, I know you can afford them,” he said, his eyes dancing. “That’s why I would like to pay for them. I refuse to spend my money on those who purposely get men to buy them stuff. You know, almost manipulatively. I dislike gold-diggers,” he clarified. “And, I’m serious about Paris.”

She had a quizzical look on her face.

He chuckled. “I’m a good person. And for your peace of mind, I’m going to pay for this perfect pair with my card.” He pulled out a black Investec card and held it out for her to see. “Okay?”

“No, thank you. Really!” There was no way she could accept such an expensive gift from a stranger. And why does he want to buy these shoes for me? She debated with herself.

“You don’t have to decide now. Think about it,” he said, reassuringly. “About Paris, I mean. Jimmy Choo now is non-negotiable.”

He convincingly charmed the cashier to swipe his card and the transaction was finalized despite her objections. She was handed her new treasure.

“I don’t know what to say,” she finally said. She could have gotten angry and called him audacious and presumptuous but he did not come across as an unpleasant or overbearing. “Thank you. This is crazy, but thank you. It feels like I’m being punk’d.” She laughed nervously.

“That’s a possibility.” He teased, giving her his dazzling smile. “Here are my contact details,” he said as he handed her his business card. “I hope you’ll use it. When you’re ready, of course. You’ll call me? We can start with dinner.”

He took her hand and kissed it lightly. “I hope to hear from you… soon?”

He walked out of the store.

The shop assistants’ shocked looks were replaced by grins.

She stood there thinking about the kiss on her hand. She had not forgotten the gift. Surely, no one would forget a gift of Jimmy Choo sandals. The kiss on her hand, however, was totally unexpected.

She decided he was a perfect combination of old-fashioned and contemporary, if possible. She will have to give him a call.

© Anna Jailene Aguilar-Van der Merwe



47 thoughts on “City of Magic

    1. Thank you so so much, Theresa. It means a lot to me especially coming you. 🤗 You inspired me 💖 to get back to fiction after over 20 years. I’m a work-in-progress. 😆


      1. Hi Anne, on second reading, I’m particularly struck by two things: 1) your dialog seems very natural, even in this very unusual (magical) scenario! – not contrived. And 2) the way you gradually “spooled” out your narrative was perfect pacing. For instance, just as the reader is thinking, “what does he want from her,” Elizabeth thinks the same thing. When he offers/insists on paying for the shoes, she thinks, “oh, I should object. But, not this time.” It seems so believable, even though it is clearly a magic or supernatural story! Very nice!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, Theresa, this feedback made my day and I don’t care that my day is only beginning. 😃 Actually, it’s the best Christmas present. It helps a lot to have your writer comment 😊 I’m overjoyed! I read your comment to my 23 year old from SoCal who’s vacationing here and she was happy… then my son asked, “But is it from JK Rowling?” And we both killed him with looks and I asked her to just give him a little slap. Hahaha. We said, AJ can be better than JK… just not yet. 😂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yeah, this story shows your talent for both gradually revealing the narrative and also blending the personal story of the narrator with what’s happening. I think that is your “super-power” – your connection to the personal experiences of the character! 🙂 Have a GREAT holiday!


    1. Thank you so much, Ronel. I bet you’ll have a better one for our anthology. 🙂

      You never know… I am encouraging you. I once – so very long ago – met a Greek guy (at Walnut Grove though – lol!) who offered to send my boyfriend then a truckload of Whiskey in exchange for me. Haha! Men! Youth!

      Liked by 1 person

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