‘The Local Production Of Cinderella’ by Allegra Goodman


The Local Production Of Cinderella by Allegra Goodman, 1999

The magic trick:

A happy ending that’s maybe a lie

Roselva and Helen are an odd couple of sorts. Different backgrounds, different points of view; one earnest, one sarcastic. But they’ve worked side by side at the Hawaii Department of Human Services for 15 years.

Isn’t that sweet?

And this story of enduring but maybe slightly uneasy friendship ends in sweet fashion, with Helen promising that they’ll grow old together and still be working side by side even in heaven.

So perhaps, you think, I just spoiled the ending.

Yes, I guess, technically that’s true. But not really. The ending papers over a lot of unresolved questions and concerns the story throws out along the way.

In fact, one might wonder if it’s a sweet ending at all. Or if the story was even about friendship.

What we have here is a happy ending that’s maybe a lie.

And that’s quite a trick on Goodman’s part.

The selection:

“For the future,” Roselva said. Her voice was hushed. “Look,” she said. “The dolphins will rise up. The water will cover the city. There will be no humans left.”

Jimmy opened his eyes. “What type prophecy is that?” he said.

“Armageddon type,” Roselva replied. She lay down on the bed. For the first time that day, she felt some relief.

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