Bullied Cinderella - Hollie Hutchins
It would have been like any other morning. My sisters and I would wake up at dawn and collect our deliveries of eggs, milk, and bread. We’d make breakfast together and then help our sick mother to the table to eat. One of us would put fresh flowers on the table while the other opened all the curtains in our little house to let in the light of the rising sun. Mornings were hard work and quiet, but once we were all settled around the table together, we would have so much fun we’d briefly forget about all of our troubles and hardships. After breakfast, those of us that had work would leave and see to it. The others would stay behind and take care of mama and the house. We were a team - a family.
But that morning when I came down the stairs and saw the tears in Jada’s eyes, I knew it would not be like any of those mornings we came to know so well. She stood over the dining table with her hand over her mouth as she held a letter in her hand.
“It’s Elaina!” she cried. “She’s left!”
My heart dropped into my stomach. “Left!? Where!? Why!?”
It was unthinkable. We were supposed to stick together. How could she abandon us in this financial mess? We depended on her for so much. Each one of us had our own part to play, and we couldn’t afford to lose any of that. My heart prematurely filled with anger. I assumed she got tired and gave up. She must have decided to run away rather than sticking it out with her family, for better or worse.
“She’s gone to the auction,” Jada gasped as she read.
The conversation from dinner the night before came flooding back to my hazy, still half-asleep mind. Elaina had argued that the auction was a good thing. Rich Columbian families paid a lot of money for contract workers they obtained there. But we all knew better. We had heard the stories of terrible things that happened to women who resorted to the auction as a way to make money to support their families.
No matter what we told Elaina, she insisted that it was nothing more than exaggerated rumors. She claimed she was the only one with enough education to get a good job through the auction. She had put herself through veterinary school, and while I loved my sister dearly, she had really been on a high horse ever since she finished. Nevermind all of my training as a nurse. I didn’t have an official degree like her, but I had the experience.
The conversation ended when mother forbade her from ever doing such a thing and went into a coughing fit. We helped her to bed and thought that would be the end of it. As I laid down to sleep that night, Elaina’s adamance about the auction stuck with me. She was the oldest, and she did make the most money- more than me and Jada. She handled most of the finances, though we were not entirely in the dark on how bad it was. Even still, her insistence on resorting to such drastic measures made us think it was even worse than we thought.
But I wouldn’t have expected her to leave so suddenly in the middle of the night like that. The following days were unnerving. We didn’t know where she ended up or what might have happened to her. Even worse, women were rumored to disappear after going to the auction all the time. We might never see her again. Something terrible could happen to her, and we may have never known.
Finally, a letter came in the mail. She told us she had gone to work for a nice horse ranch owned by two brothers. She said her accommodations were nice and that they were treating her well. As usual, she promised this would all be better for us in the long run. She wanted to save enough money to take us to America so we could have a better life.
Our mother had an affair with a rich, married American...our father. We never met him and never knew his name. But Elaina always had it in her head that we’d somehow track him down one day. I knew better. If he wanted us to find him, we would have by now. He was well hidden on purpose. He had probably forgotten we existed, and if we did find him - I doubt he’d