Catherine was living the true Cinderella story. Her stepfather and his daughters ill-treated her severely, tearing at her self-confidence. But everything changed after her mother led her to a gift from her deceased father as she was cleaning the basement.
It was Catherine’s 18th birthday party. Most people her age would have been over the moon with excitement, but not Catherine. She was far from your average teenager.
While she was hitting a major milestone in her life and should’ve been merry in celebration, Catherine found herself mopping floors and working the kitchen pots in preparation for guests to her own party. In theory, it was her party, but Evan, Catherine’s cruel stepfather, insisted she made herself useful before “his” guests arrived.
It had taken Catherine’s mother, Linda, a great deal of convincing to finally get her husband, Evan, to fund a party for her daughter. And even though he agreed, he still felt the need to make her a servant at her own party.
“Make yourself useful! Your mother begged me to spend money on this party of yours, don’t make me regret it! The guests will be here anytime now, and I need this house looking like the Garden of Eden. You understand?” Evan sneered as Catherine continued to work tirelessly.
“Catherine, the has-been!” Catherine’s older step-sister, Kelly, called mockingly to her as she waved an empty glass in the air.
Catherine had become accustomed to being treated as a second fiddle by his stepfather and his daughters. Catherine’s father, and Linda’s first husband, had passed away some years back. Her mother eventually remarried Evan, her stepfather.
Evan initially seemed like a decent guy, but as the years passed, he showed an apparent disdain for Catherine. He treated her as inferior to his own daughters. Linda was too afraid of Evan to defend her daughter as she ought to and blamed herself for the evident ill-treatment of her daughter.
But she restrained her opinions and frustration because she had unfortunately become solely dependent on him for her and her daughter’s survival. Nonetheless, she loved her daughter, trying her best to give her the life she deserved.
Catherine continued to serve, cleaning and cooking as the guests piled in. By the time the party had eventually kicked off, Catherine was far from what the birthday girl and woman of the hour ought to look like.
She was dressed in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, without makeup. As a result of her physical scar, in addition to the emotional scars caused by her stepfamily’s ill-treatment, Catherine always considered herself ugly.
She struggled to see her beauty, which was understandable because her father, the only person who reminded her of her worth, was gone. When he died, so did any part of her that felt worthy of being loved.
While Catherine had low self-confidence, she had a beautiful heart as well as an unassuming beauty about her. However, her self-image was masked by deeply-rooted insecurities. As she continued serving the arriving guests, her sisters would mock her and send her about crudely.
“Catherine, the has-been!” Catherine’s older step-sister, Kelly, called mockingly to her as she waved an empty glass in the air. “Just jokes, my dear sister. Well… step-sister. Be a darling and get me a refill,” Kelly said, handing Catherine the glass and then turning to her friends.
“Oh, poor Catherine. Eighteen years old and you still haven’t even experienced a kiss. And here I am, soon to be married.”
It was Catherine’s party, but it seemed everyone invited was either Evan’s guest or his daughters. Furthermore, all the snide comments and blatant disrespect were getting to her.
Catherine found herself periodically going to her room to cry. Her mother tried her best to comfort her, but deep inside, she knew she was partially responsible. While Catherine never blamed her, Linda innately knew the passive role she was playing in her daughter’s maltreatment.
The evening proceeded, and Catherine finally got to sit with the rest of the guests at the table. She was dismally tired, and the official birthday dinner was the one event she had looked forward to the whole day.
Not only was it a chance for her to get a little rest from work and join everyone else, but, as she dearly hoped, it was her chance to finally get a little recognition on her birthday. As Catherine settled at the table with the rest of the family, Kelly stood up to make a toast, tapping her glass with a spoon.
“I just wanted to thank you all for joining our family on this momentous occasion,” Kelly started. Catherine drew closer, eager to hear the toast her sister was about to make in her honor.
Catherine’s heart melted with joy. This would be the kindest thing Kelly had ever done for her. She couldn’t believe what she was witnessing. However, as Kelly continued her speech, she realized her hope was in vain.
“I’d like to take this moment to announce that me and Brad will be getting married,” she said, holding her boyfriend, Brad’s, hand. Everyone applauded and cheered for Kelly. Catherine feigned a smile, trying her best to be happy for Kelly but dying slowly within.
As the night proceeded, everything became more about Kelly’s engagement rather than Catherine’s birthday. Her stepfather and sisters even made jokes at Catherine’s expense.
“Oh, poor Catherine. Eighteen years old, and you still haven’t even experienced a kiss. And here I am, soon to be married,” Kelly once said as everyone burst into unrelenting laughter. Catherine finally decided enough was enough and tried to stand up for herself.
“Yeah, well… all I can say is good luck, Brad. You don’t know what you’ve signed up for,” Catherine retorted.
“Catherine! How you dare talk about my daughter like that!?!” Evan barked.
“What? I was just…” before Catherine could finish her sentence, Evan was at her neck again.
“I don’t want to hear a word from you! In fact, get out of my sight! Make yourself useful and go clean the basement!” Evan snapped. Bewildered, Catherine glared at her mother, looking for sympathy, but Linda simply looked away helplessly.
Catherine excused herself from the table. Linda, noting her daughter’s discomfort and despair, excused herself and followed Catherine.
“Cathy!” Linda yelled as she followed Catherine to the basement. Catherine turned to Linda in tears.
“Oh, my baby. I’m so sorry! This isn’t how tonight was supposed to pan out,” Linda explained, embracing her weeping daughter in a warm hug.
“Why didn’t you say anything, mom?” Catherine cried.
“I’m sorry, my baby. But you know how that man is,” Linda replied.
“I do! And so do you! Which is why I don’t understand why you put up with him. You deserve so much better,” Catherine said.
“I know, my baby. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to to get by. But forget him. I have a special surprise for you,” Linda said.
“A surprise?” Catherine asked, confused.
“Yes, a gift from your father for this very day,” Linda explained.
“From dad?” Catherine asked, her face instantly lighting up with hope.
“Maybe you’ll find a man with a scar on his stomach. You’ll be perfect for each other!”
“Yes. He left it for you four years ago and asked that I wait until this very moment to give it to you,” Linda said, handing Catherine a key. “Here, you’ll need this to open it. It’s in the basement, hidden under the junk near the chainsaw. Just make sure nobody sees it,” Linda concluded, kissing Catherine on the forehead before she left.
Catherine continued to the basement, rummaging through a pile of junk near the chainsaw, looking for her hidden treasure. She suddenly came across a wooden box with an engraved symbol that looked exactly like the scar on her back.
Catherine unlocked the box cautiously, severing every moment. Inside, she found a beautiful, expensive dress, which she had once wanted to get when shopping with her father. However, she couldn’t muster the courage to buy it because the dress had an opening in the back which would reveal her scar.
She also found very expensive high-heeled shoes and a set of luxury cosmetics in the box. On top was a note written, “You are unique! You are beautiful! Love yourself!” Catherine burst into tears, huddling the dress dearly as if it were the very essence of her deceased father.
After having a moment, she noticed something else in the box. There were pictures of famous people, successful people, and models with defects and scars similar to Catherine.
A few weeks passed, and it was the day before Kelly’s wedding. Catherine’s stepfather had put her in charge of supervising the cleaning and catering at the wedding.
“Maybe you’ll find a man with a scar on his stomach. You’ll be perfect for each other!” Kelly rudely added with a cheeky giggle.
This still made Catherine feel like an outsider. The day of the wedding, Catherine was still feeling demotivated by Kelly’s words as she searched through her clothes, looking for something to wear for the big day. She finally came across the box from her father.
Catherine looked at the box in deep contemplation. Then, with a determined smile and a newfound confidence, she grabbed it and fiercely laid the dress on her bed. Something had awakened in Catherine.
The wedding venue was bustling as guests swarmed in. Everyone was lively and beautifully dressed. The ambiance was one of true elegance. While everyone seemed cheerful, something bothered Evan as he sat at the main table.
“Where the hell is Cinderella? I swear, your daughter better not mess this day up for me!” Evan barked at Linda, overwhelmed by bitterness. Linda said nothing, simply rolling her eyes at Evan’s harsh words.
As Linda turned to the side, her heart almost stopped at the view before her. And she wasn’t the only one. It was as if the whole room completely froze as Catherine entered the wedding, looking like a character straight out of a high-end fairytale.
Catherine entered the venue in high heels, wearing the dress her father gifted her with a huge cutout on the back. She was incredibly beautiful. She completely stole the show.
However, even as she walked in, she was still concealed by her shell, lacking confidence as she walked in shyly. Overwhelmed by the eyes on her, she did her best not to turn around and run out. Seeing her in all her glory, Evan saw this as another chance to break Catherine down.
“Where have you been? Do you think this is your school prom or something?! Have you forgotten your place? Huh?” Evan yelled at Catherine in front of all the guests. This was the last straw for Catherine. She’d had enough.
“Go to hell, Evan!” she simply said, grabbing the bottle of wine before him and strutting off confidently. Everyone looked on in awe as Catherine’s scar looked majestic, as everyone watched her leave with an awakened confidence.
Evan couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Everyone at Evan’s table gave him a shameful glare and laughed at him. Most of the guests even gave Catherine a large round of applause as she walked out gloriously.
An infuriated Evan, unable to take what he so often dished out, ran after Catherine, roughly grabbing her by the arm. He raised his hand to hit her when a voice yelled, “Evan!”
Evan turned to see his boss, Sean, the young, handsome CEO of the company Evan worked for.
“You lay a hand on her, and it’ll be the last thing you do!” Sean said assertively.
“Boss… uhm… lay a hand on her? Me? No, never. She’s my daughter,” Evan said nervously, letting go of her arm. Catherine continued on her way. Sean shot Evan a disapproving look before running after Catherine.
“Hey! Wait up!” Sean yelled, trying to catch up with Catherine as she sauntered, drinking the wine from the bottle. Catherine turned, giving Sean the side eye.
“What? Do you want to apologize on the jerk’s behalf? You can save it!” Catherine said.
“No, actually, I’d like to join you. Just to make sure you’re safe,” Sean said.
“Hmm… okay. Some company wouldn’t hurt. And I’m not sure about you, but something tells me you’re good company,” Catherine said, sizing Sean up.
“Oh, thank you,” a flushed Sean said.
“But… who’s that?” Catherine said, pointing to a man behind Sean who ran after them.
“Sir!” the man yelled. He finally reached them, lost for breath. “Do… You… Need… A… Ride… Sir?” the man said, panting heavily.
“No, I’m good, Mark. You can take the day off,” Sean said.
“Thanks, sir,” Mark said, taking a seat. Sean and Catherine continued to walk.
“Oh, and to answer your question, that’s my driver, Mark,” Sean explained.
“Oh! Wow! Look at you, Mr. I’ve got a driver. Okay, big shot,” Catherine said, passing Sean the bottle.
“I’m Mister Big Shot? Did you see how you told Evan off back there? That was gold, Miss… ?” Sean asked with his hand out, anticipating a handshake.
“Nope! you’ve gotta drink first,” Catherine said. Sean chuckled, then took a sip before holding out his hand again.
“Great. I’m Catherine, Evan’s stepdaughter,” Catherine said, shaking his hand.
“Interesting… I’m Sean, Evan’s boss,” Sean said.
“Nice to meet you, Sean. From this point, no more talking about Evan,” Catherine said.
Sean chuckled, then simply responded, “Agreed.”
Catherine and Sean walked down the embankment drinking the bottle of wine. They spoke about everything from politics to their favorite cereals. Catherine danced to the songs of street musicians, shouting with joy as she experienced newfound freedom.
At some point, they stopped on a bridge as they gazed into each other’s eyes. Sean hugged her and said, “You are unique! You are beautiful! And this may sound strange, but I think I love you!”
At that moment, Catherine’s father’s words began to sound in her head, saying, “You are unique! You are beautiful! Love yourself!” What are the chances? Catherine thought. She instantly pulled Sean towards him and kissed him passionately.
The next day, Sean and Catherine arrived at Catherine’s house. The minute Evan saw Sean, he began to plead before him.
“Boss, I’m sorry about what happened yesterday. It was all just a stupid misunderstanding,” Evan said.
“Hi, Evan. So, I’ve good and bad news for you. What would you like to hear first?” Sean simply said.
“Uhm… the good, I guess. No! The bad,” Evan said, confused.
“Alright. Evan, you’re fired! Your attitude towards women goes against everything our company stands for. I can’t let you ruin my image.”
“But, sir…” Evan started before Sean interrupted.
“No, no, no! I’m not done. There’s still more. Onto the good news, Catherine and I are getting married. Congratulations! And can’t wait to be part of the family,” Sean concluded, walking up to Linda and hugging her lovingly.
Over the next few months, Catherine and Sean moved in with each other and were in the process of planning their wedding. One day, Sean came back home with a surprise to show Catherine.
“So, what did you want to show me, my love?” Catherine asked curiously.
“I just wanted to show your beautiful self that you weren’t the only one who was unique,” Sean said with a smile as he took off his top, turning his back to Catherine. Catherine’s heart melted as she saw the tattoo on Sean’s back. It was an exact replica of Catherine’s scar. Catherine welled up with tears and embraced Sean lovingly.
Sean and Catherine eventually got married. Linda left Evan and moved in with Catherine and Sean in their new mansion.
What can we learn from this story?
Whatever oppression you’re going through is temporary, not permanent. For a good while, it seemed Catherine’s oppressive environment would never end. However, things finally turned in her favor.
Be careful how you treat people. Evan had mistreated Catherine for the longest. But, in due time, things changed.