A knock at the door startled both of them to their feet once more.
“Dang it, they’re home.” Ella whispered. “Moriarty, go back to your kennel before they see I’ve let you be on the hardwood.” The dog growled at the door as keys jingled in the lock. Clicking his kennel door shut, Ella rushed to grab her prosthetic leg off the couch.
Her step sister’s and ‘mother’s voices could be heard now as they struggled to fit their shopping bags through the door of the apartment. Spinning a screw into her thigh whilst simultaneously locking her knees joint into place, Ella only just finished attaching her leg as her step-mother turned her rather pointy nose in Ella’s direction.
“What are you doing?” She asked harshly. “Why is there rust in the sink? I thought I gave you instructions to clean, not make more of a mess.” Turning back to her daughters before Ella could answer, her voice changed to a sugared tone. “Darlings, go put your new clothes away, assuming she’s cleaned your closets.”
Chattering away in their much-too-shrill little voices, the two of them walked past Ella, being sure to take up as much space as possible so she had to move out of their way.
“I was cleaning,” Ella turned back to her step-mother. “The rust is there from cleaning the gears on those ridiculous vintage bikes that London and Paris insisted on buying.”
“London found a wonderful deal on those, and Paris was wise enough to go along with it. Are you really so uncertain in your own choices that you must laugh at those of your sisters?” She frowned down at Ella, but their was a cruel smirk hiding behind those botoxed lips.
“Wise, yes.That’s definitely the first word that comes to mind when I think of Paris.” Ignoring the snide comment about her insecurities with herself, Ella though back to last week when Paris had started crying because she couldn’t remember how to spell ‘Magic’ and forgot that Google could help her with things like that.
“Oh, shut up.” Step-mother replied lazily. “Where is that little abomination of yours?”
Ella bristled. “Moriarty, you mean? He’s in his kennel, like a good boy.” For years it had been a battle for Ella to keep Moriarty. Ever since her Father’s death 6 years previously, his widow, Adri Tremaine, had done her best to make Ella wish she’d never been born.
Now forced to clean not only her own messes, but those of her step sisters and mothers, along with any other requests Tremaine could think of to keep her busy, from sweeping to cooking to dusting to scrubbing the grime off of unnecessary vintage bikes, Ella barely had a moment to breathe. Not to mention trying to keep up with her online schooling and acting club.
“Well it appears you completed the list I left you.” Adri peered over her spectacles at the piece of paper she’d put up on the fridge. “Throw this away and then go help your lovely sisters put away their new dresses. I’ve got a date with Maurice, I’ll be back sometime late.”
Sighing, Ella crumpled up the list and walked down the hall to Paris’ room. When she got to the door, she couldn’t help but pause and take in the beautiful girl sitting in her window looking over Central Park. She was wearing what must have been one of her new dresses, an exquisite pink thing so light it seemed almost to be floating around her.
Ella held up her metal hand, flipped open a hatch, and pushed a small button that clicked as it took a picture. She wanted to make a watercolor painting of the sight later.
Paris looked up. “What are you doing?”
Ella lowered her arm. “Just trying to get your attention. Your mother wanted me to help you put away your new dresses.”
“They’re over there.” She turned back to the window.
“Thanks for the help…” Ella muttered. A pile of dresses was on the floor by the closet door. They must have all cost a fortune. Shaking her head, in awe at the amount of precious money that her roommates wasted on trivial things, she lifted the first gown.
It was another pink, this one ruffled and shorter in the skirt.
When she was done hanging up all 13 of Paris’ new outfits (not all of which were dresses, a couple were complete pantsuits, for why no one knew), she headed in to help London.
She had more of a taste for shorter dresses, and in a wider range of colors rather than just pastels.
She too was wearing one of her new items, however, unlike her still sister, she pranced back and forth across the room as though she was on a catwalk.
Both of the girls could have been models if they wanted to, with their long legs, high cheekbones, thin waists and perfect blonde hair, they were the spitting image of the dolls you saw in magazines.
Ella cleaned up everything in London’s bedroom and then finally was released from her duties. Back in the living room, she slumped back onto the couch only to jump right back up to let Moriarty out of his kennel. When Adri wasn’t around the other girls didn’t seem to mind his cuddles.
Covering her eyes with her metal hand, Ella imagined for the trillionth time what life would be like in less than a year, when she would finally be an adult and would be legally allowed to leave her guardians house. She and Moriarty could find a flat to share with a stranger who would do their own chores for once. Ella could finally get her job at the local animal shelter where Moriarty had originally come from, and continue her secret passion for art…
“Where’s my dinner?” A shriek came from London’s room. “I want my spaghetti!”
“Coming right up, your royal highness.” Ella called back mockingly.
Back to work again until the twins were asleep. Looking forward to those few blissful hours before morning, Ella went to heat up some pasta from last nights dinner.
Maybe someday she would be the one dancing in a ballgown, people waiting on her every whim. Someday she might have been royal- if she hadn’t been born daughter to a poor mortician, that is.
Ah well, maybe she’d marry a prince.
Laughing to herself, she grabbed her tablet and turned on P!nk as loud as she could. If Adri wasn’t around to tell her to turn it off, there was nothing that London and Paris could do about it.
Moriarty jumped over and cuddled her feet while she cooked, occasionally howling along to the songs lyrics. Even though she only had feeling in her left foot, she always loved having the puppy’s warmth against her.