Forum Member writings. The Trouble With Cinda - by Scribbler

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Forum Member writings. The Trouble With Cinda - by Scribbler

Postby Scribbler » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:39 am

The Trouble with Cinda


The trouble with Cinda was that she was just plain nasty. She had no time for other women, dismissing them as bitchy, backbiting and trivial, and aligning herself with men, whose straightforward honesty she claimed she much preferred. Jenny and Elaine had long since given up trying to be nice to Cinda. She spurned every effort, her pinched mouth speaking volumes as she sneered down her nose at their kindness. Jenny was a plump, attractive redhead in her early fifties; married with two teenage daughters. Jenny didn't let Cinda bother her, but Elaine was different. She was a pretty, mousy divorcee on what twenty-four year old Cinda spitefully called "the wrong side of forty". Friendly and sociable, Elaine wished everyone well, and couldn't understand what she could have done to make Cinda so nasty to her. But even she had realised that trying to include Cinda in girl-talk was worse than a waste of time – it was asking for trouble. She knew better by now than to breathe a word to Cinda about her new boyfriend, for instance. Elaine was truly happy for the first time in her life; she had a morbid dread that Cinda would somehow find a way to spoil it. The woman had a knack for finding the cloud to every silver lining, as Jenny put it.

Cinda was quietly, discreetly vile to Jenny and Elaine, unkindly referring to them as "The Ugly Sisters" in a complacent reference to her own name. She was engaged in an underhand campaign to get Elaine sacked, but was so thick-skinned that she was quite unaware of the extent to which she herself was disliked by almost everyone at the firm, including those whom she courted: the partners and management and their wives.

For Cinda was obsessed with status. It was only worth being nice to important people; Cinda scorned low status people. One secretary, Jane, whose boss had recently accepted a partnership, was startled when Cinda began smiling at her and saying "Good morning". Until then, Cinda had returned no reply to Jane's polite greetings, favouring her only with an affronted stare.

On the Friday morning when the partners announced that they were to give a Grand Anniversary Ball, there was a buzz of excitement. Tom Maltby, the only son of the firm's senior partner, was to be there. He was the most eligible bachelor in Melston, handsome, successful and affluent. He drove a silver Porsche Boxster and lived in a fabulous seven bedroom house set in beautifully kept gardens of just over two acres. Cinda had made it her business to learn all about Tom Maltby and everything he owned. Cinda was an ambitious young woman and Tom Maltby represented the lifestyle she wanted for herself.

She saw herself arriving at the Grand Anniversary Ball, ravishing in a cloud of designer ballgown and heady perfume. She saw herself, a vision of unparalleled gorgeousness, captivating Tom Maltby, spending the evening at the centre of a crowd of admirers, the magical evening marking the start of a whirlwind romance with Tom, culminating in a fabulous Society Wedding of the Year.

Unfortunately, though she treated herself to a Top To Toe Treatment at the best beauty salon in the town, Cinda's salary did not stretch to a ravishing designer ballgown, nor the means in which to arrive in style. There was nothing for it but to splash out. Her credit card paid for a designer ballgown and matching accessories, all in bright, attention-grabbing pink, and she booked a limousine to take her to the hotel, timed to arrive fashionably late.

At eight o clock on the evening of the ball, Cinda emerged from her limousine onto the white steps of the hotel. The commissaire smiled at her but she ignored him and swept through the door, her head held at an appropriately haughty angle. She stood beside the Master of Ceremonies, marvelling at her own beauty, smiling at everyone she could see, and flirting with the pink feather fan that matched her gown. Her tiara sparkled as she turned round and round, looking everywhere for Tom Maltby. She could see no sign of him anywhere and wandered disconsolately through the ballroom, bumping into dancing couples as she searched.

It was a full hour later that she heard with thunderous disbelief the voice of the Master of Ceremonies boom: "Mr Thomas Maltby and Miss Elaine Hedges!" Surely this must be a mistake – they must just have arrived at the same time. But it was true. Although it was difficult to recognise Elaine in the smiling beauty wearing the gorgeous silver gown, whose beautiful cut effortlessly outclassed her own tawdry pink effort, it was indeed her despised mousy colleague, arriving on the arm of the county's most eligible bachelor. How was this possible?

The orchestra struck up a Viennese waltz and Cinda watched sullenly as Tom led his lady onto the floor and they began to dance. This was insupportable! Cinda had always despised Elaine; now she hated her. Cinda began to reason with herself silently: surely it should be child's play to get Tom away from Elaine. She waited until Elaine had gone to the Ladies, and began to work her way towards Tom, skilfully avoiding the determined pursuit of one of the Postroom boys who had already had rather too much champagne. She was too late though: the orchestra began to play again, and Tom was dancing with his mother, away from Cinda down the ballroom. Cinda was still in the way of the dancers and one of them impatiently snapped "Get off the floor, for goodness sake!"

It was all going wrong. Cinda realised that she had been here all evening and she had not danced once yet, so single-minded had she been in her as yet vain pursuit of Tom Maltby. But she wasn't prepared to give up. She was sure Tom wasn't serious about Elaine; it should be entirely possible to cut her out. Once again she began to weave her way towards him.

Suddenly, the Master of Ceremonies was calling for silence, and Tom's father began to make a speech. This was too much! Why did the boring old fool have to start twittering on now about his firm's proud history? Not bothering to listen, Cinda scanned the crowded room for Tom so that she could at least aim herself at him with some accuracy.

". . . and so it's with great pleasure that I announce the engagement of my only son, Tom, to Miss Elaine Hedges. "

Cinda's legs turned to jelly beneath her and she found herself in an undignified heap on the floor, surrounded by black clad legs and brightly coloured skirts. No-one moved to help her up; all attention was focused on Tom and Elaine. She struggled to her feet, stunned, her chin beginning to wobble in disappointment.

It was true. Something glinted on Elaine's left hand like a small sun. Cinda inched nearer to get a better look. Yes. It was The Ring. It was the Ring she'd always coveted for herself – platinum by the look of it, and at least two carats. She looked at Tom, looking fondly at Elaine, and realised she'd been wrong. Whatever her own opinion of Elaine, Tom loved her and there was nothing Cinda could do about that, however hard she might try.

Wearily she began making her way to the Ladies for a few minutes' peace and reflection, again crossing directly across the dance floor, barely aware of the dancers in her way. This time it was a rumba; suddenly several arms flailed out from all directions and struck her all at once. Trying to leap out of the way, Cinda crashed into one unlucky couple and brought them and herself to the floor. There was an unmistakable sound of tearing fabric and when she was once more on her feet, Cinda could only stare in horror at the wreckage of her brand new designer ballgown. Two minutes ago she'd been mentally preparing to return it and get a refund, so that she could at least recoup some of the crippling financial damage she'd just sustained with the disastrous loss of Tom Maltby. Another couple cannoned into her and sent her flying into a pillar, cracking her forehead painfully and wrenching her ankle. She hobbled towards the Grand Staircase, holding her head, tiara askew and broken shoe in one hand. As she began wearily to climb the staircase, Tom and Elaine danced by. Elaine stopped suddenly, seeing Cinda, and impulsively asked "Are you alright? Have you had an accident, Cinda?"

Cinda glared at her, gave a furious sob and fled, up the stairs, through the magnificent vaulted lobby and out of the doors, leaving Elaine to stare after her in puzzled concern.

"I wonder what was wrong?"
Tom bent and picked something up from the floor.
"No idea," he said, "But she's left her shoe behind."
And he handed it to Elaine.

On Monday morning, Jenny and Elaine arrived at work to find Cinda sitting at her desk, sporting an impressive set of bruises and a more than usually filthy temper. She refused to speak to either of them, and when Elaine gave her back her broken shoe, it was the first time that young lady had ever seen a face literally go black with rage.

There was nothing Cinda would have liked more than to resign and leave on the spot. But her efforts to catch a rich husband had left her with a severe debt problem. The gaudy pink gown was ruined beyond repair – not only was it badly torn, it had been soaked in the rain. So confident had Cinda been that she would be leaving with Tom in his lovely Porsche Boxster, she had made no arrangements for getting home, and had to limp with blistered feet for just under four miles in rain that had grown steadily heavier by the minute.

So there was nothing for it – Cinda was going to have to grin and bear it. She was stuck with Jenny and Elaine and for the time being, they were stuck with her.
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Re: The Trouble With Cinda - by Scribbler

Postby ashbrooke » Tue Apr 01, 2008 8:30 pm

I enjoyed reading this very much, but wanted to carry on and find out what happens next.
Will there be another installment?
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